The Monkey Is In.

So be prepared. Bring a banana.

I'm a writer of horror and dark fiction. I've been doing this since 1999 and believe me when I say, it's cheaper than therapy and safer for the world at large.

Filtering by Category: Monthly Reviews

Notoriously Morbid Mystic Monthly 3-Month Review

Gaaaahhhhhh…. yeah.

Okay, so I’m a little behind. You can go read my latest Monkey Musings to know why. Instead of doling out this monthly review one at a time, I’m just going to talk about the last three months, and leave the final month review for January. I also had the timing wrong on my past reviews, so for this post, we’ll disregard the designations from the past and talk about September, October, and November from Notoriously Morbid’s Mystic Monthly subscription service. And because I’m behind, I most likely will be missing a few details and pictures. Sorry about that.

For the newbs, NM has a monthly lip product subscription service. For $10, you get one full sized Mystic Matte liquid lipstick, plus one other full sized lip product. The lipstick is exclusive to this service, and each year they follow a specific theme. For 2018, it was The Dragon’s Tail.

(I pay for this service with my own money and all opinions are my honest ones)

SEPTEMBER

I only have pics of the lipstick from this month. I can’t remember what else came with it, nor did I keep the slip of paper that has all the mythology on the month’s dragon, though its name is Fafnir.

Ugh, I suck.

However, the color of this month’s lipstick is gorgeous! A beautiful, mid-toned orange with a pink base, and some kind of sparkle - I wanna say silver, possibly gold as well. I smudged the swatch on my hand so you can see the pink base.


OCTOBER

For this month, the dragon is from Slavic mythology, and named Zmey. This is a cool toned pinky-purple with copper sparkles - you can sort of see them along the edge of my lower lip in the second lip swatch pic. You also get Smoke & Fire, one of the cosmic glosses. A gorgeous dark berry color that smells like strawberry cake. The pigmentation on this one is so much better than the one I got in their advent calendar.

NOVEMBER

This month’s dragon comes from the Welsh flag - Y Ddraig Goch, the red dragon. This lipstick is a warm toned red with red shimmer. You also get a Slumber Salve, Entombed, flavored with sangria and vanilla.

At first I though the red was going to show up more orange, but with the red shimmer, it’s a perfect Christmas holiday color - which was NM’s thinking behind this shade. SO PRETTY!

All righty. I’ve got one more month coming for the 2018 Dragon theme and then I’m going to cancel the subscription. Not because I don’t like the formula or any of the colors I’ve received (well, one was kind weak.) I just don’t need dozens of the same kind of lipstick. Does that make sense? But if you’re in the market for this kind of product, that comes in some unique and gorgeous colors, by all means, sign up! It’s been worth it for me!

Universal Yums August 2018

Sorry I missed out on July, folks. The weeks just got away from me and I never got a chance to write up a review.

For those who don’t know, Universal Yums is a food subscription service. For $14, $25, or $39 a month, you get 6+, 12+, or 20+ snacks and candy from a different country. Check them out here: UNIVERSAL YUMS

(I purchase this with my own money and all opinions are my honest ones)

August brings us goodies from the UK! Here’s some trivia for you (answer at the end of the post.) True or False: Another name for the UK is Great Britain.

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I have tried everything in the box this month but I didn’t I got close ups of each snack. Sorry about that!

Mackie’s Sea Salt and Cider Vinegar Chips: I think these are more like those composite potato chips - they definitely have that texture. The initial taste of vinegar is good, but it disappears in about 1.7 seconds, leaving you with a boring potato. Meh.

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Dean’s of Huntly All Butter Minis Chocolate Chip Shortbread: Holy cats and dogs this stuff is awesome. But, really, how can shortbread ever be NOT good? These have a great, crumbly texture and fantastic flavor. The chocolate chips are few and far between, but this shortbread doesn’t need them anyway.

Walkers Nonsuch Dreamy Creamy English Toffee Bar: Toffee usually makes me think of the hard, crunchy variety we get here. This stuff is a bit different. The notched squares are stuck together in one bar but after you slam it against a hard surface, it breaks apart into individual servings. THEN they actually soften up in your mouth (oh geez) and become chewy. So damned delicious.

Johnny’s Pickled Onion Rings Corn Snack: Where the vinegar chips fail in tang, these make up for it in spades. It’s almost a little overpowering, to be honest. But that didn’t stop me from eating 5 or 6 in a row. They’re kinda like Funyons, but with less crunch, and definitely more sour.

Wagon Wheel Jammie-Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookie with Raspberry Jam: Gah, that’s a lot. I was so excited for this one. I’ve heard the term jammie thrown around in British television and movies, but never really knew what the hell it was. Now I know. And I have to say…I’m underwhelmed. The cookies were hard and dry, the jam barely there, the chocolate was not very flavorful, and the marshmallow was okay. Sorry, UK. You can keep this one.

Mackie’s Haggis and Black Pepper Chips (contains no meat): I love that they have to include that disclaimer…Like the sea salt and vinegar, these chips BARELY have that haggis flavor. I tasted mostly pepper, then potato. Some of you may think this is good, but haggis actually isn’t that bad. Yes, I’ve had the real deal in Scotland.

In the Yum Bag (a small plastic bag holding all the tiny stuff,) we got three things:

Kir Royal Chews Blackcurrant and Champagne candies (contains no alcohol): These were AWESOME. Not sure I could taste the champagne (which is why they were good,) but the blackcurrant was nice. The candies are soft and chewy.

Stockley’s Chocolate Limes (lime candies filled with chocolate): These were wonderful. Hard candy filled with a soft chocolate center. Anyone who thinks citrus and chocolate don’t go together needs to try one of these. So good!

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Prosecco Fudge (sparkling wine flavored fudge - contains no alcohol): These tasted like a butter based vanilla fudge but with something…different. That was probably the prosecco, which I’ve never had and wouldn’t know it if it was poured down my pants. Loved the texture and flavor on these.

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That does it for this month. Overall, pretty decent selection! The clue for next month has us baffled. It’s probably someplace in Asia, but we can’t really figure out exactly where. Can’t wait to find out!

TRIVIA ANSWER: FALSE. Though it’s a common mistake, these two names aren’t actually interchangeable. The United Kingdom and Great Britain are two different entities: the UK includes England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, while Great Britain includes only England, Scotland, and Wales.

Notoriously Morbid Mystic Monthly September Review

For those who may not know, Notoriously Morbid is an Indie brand makeup company that has a monthly lipstick subscription service. For $10, you get an exclusive Mystic Matte liquid lipstick, and one other full-sized lip product. They are also cruelty free! Check them out here: NOTORIOUSLYMORBID

(I purchase this with my own money and all opinions are my honest ones)

The theme for the 2018 Mystic Monthly is Dragon. This month we get Bisterne, a dragon killed by a knight. After the dragon dies, and its corpse becomes a hill known as Boltons Bench, the knight mourns his actions. After visiting the hill for 30 days and nights, the knight dies on top of the hill and becomes a Yew tree - that can still be seen today!

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First let’s look at the Sinister Sprite Lip Shimmer in the shade, The Bench and the Yew Tree. It has a deep berry base with red and orange shimmer. It’s a nice middle ground between sheer and opaque. Beautiful color, though it’s hard to see the shimmer, except in person. Feels great on the lips!

The star of the show, of course, is Bisterne. It’s described as “a true dragon green with a slight olive tone, and blue to purple shifting sparkles.” The sparkle comes out after the lipstick has set and you press your lips together. It looks like silver to me. I have absolutely NOTHING like this in my collection. And I love it.

The first lip swatch is right after application. The second is after it’s dried and I pressed my lips together to see the sparkles. Again, it’s hard to see in pictures. However, I prefer the lipstick color without the sparkles.

These liquid lipsticks feel very comfortable and last well, too. Naturally, if you eat or drink, they will wear off - usually from the middle first - but otherwise hold on pretty well.

I have been loving these liquid lipsticks, but not sure if I want to keep getting the subscription. I feel like I’m becoming overwhelmed with lipsticks and then don’t want to buy any others to try out. More than likely I’ll finish up the Dragon theme, then move on to something else. But don’t let me influence you from getting this yourself. It’s a great subscription, particularly for those who may not have as many lipsticks as I do!

Notoriously Morbid Mystic Monthly August Review

For those who may not know, Notoriously Morbid is an indie make-up company. They have a lot of products, but this monthly review is for their subscription service, Mystic Monthly. For $10 a month, you get a signature liquid lipstick, the Mystic Matte, and one other full-sized lip product. Also included is a code for a discount, but that's for subscribers only! They are vegan and cruelty free. Check them out here: NOTORIOUSLY MORBID

(I pay for this service with my own money and all opinions are my honest ones)

 Usually a piece of gum or candy is included, but I already ate it....

Usually a piece of gum or candy is included, but I already ate it....

The Mystic Monthly theme for 2018 is Dragons! And August brings us Ladon, a serpent-like dragon that guarded the golden apples on the tree in the garden of Hesperides. Hence, the lip color is a light taupe with a pink undertone and a coppery sheen.

The first two swatches, on the lips, are right after application and after setting. Once the lipstick sets, you mush your lips together to bring out the shiny undertone, but it's really hard to see in the pictures. Just trust me that it looks super pretty.

These are very comfortable formulas. They don't really need lip liners, unless you don't have a steady hand to apply the product cleanly over your natural lip color (which, most times, I don't). Though, because the lipstick is very watery, it can bleed a bit at first. But with this color, it doesn't seem too noticeable. 

The swatches on the hand are the same: first is freshly applied, second is after it set. I smudged it a little on the right to try and bring out the pink/copper colors but, again, it's hard to tell. You can really see the copper in the tube, though (pay no attention to the white marks - those are just scratches on the bottle, not the product separating.)

If you remember my first month's review, I got a smaller plastic tub that was supposed to contain the slumber salve. I don't know if they reformulated it or what, but this stuff is 10x better than what I originally got (not counting this tub is actually filled and not half-assed like the first.) The original seemed more petroleum based and was not as thick as this new one. You can see the stiff peak I got here (I...uh...carry on.)

I think I say this each month, but THIS color is my favorite so far. I've worn it half a dozen times already. It's a great color to just swipe on and go. Even if I fuck up the line along my lips, you can hardly tell. Great go-to, every day color. I'll let you know how the salve does as an overnight product!

 

Notoriously Morbid Mystic Monthly July 2018

For those who don't know, Notoriously Morbid is an indie make-up brand and they have a monthly subscription service. For $10, you get one of their Mystic Matte liquid lipsticks and one other full-size lip product. They are also Cruelty Free and subscribers get a coupon code every month for future shopping! Check them out here: NOTORIOUSLY MORBID.

(I pay for this service with my own money and all opinions are my honest ones)

The 2018 theme for the subscription is The Dragons Tail so this month we have a color inspired by the Japanese ocean dragon, Ryujin.

It is a dark ocean blue with silver and gold shift and gold sparkles. I'm not sure I can see the gold but the silver makes it look like more like an icy deep blue. FUCKING GORGEOUS. (It matches my hair a little too much so I'll be remedying that with more purple soon...). Again, it's a very thin formula, more like water, and one layer can be sheer and little streaky/patchy.

So I let it dry down completely then added a blue lip liner to hide the natural pigmentation of my lips before applying a second coat of the lipstick. I've only received three colors so far but this has got to be my favorite.

They included a piece of bubble gum this month so I took an action shot because...why not?

The other item is a lip sugar scrub (it must be new because I can't find it on their site). Basically it's the Slumber Salve mixed with sugar. And it works beautifully. It doesn't taste too sweet, either, so I wasn't tempted to lick it all off before the oils and waxes could soften the skin.

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Very happy with this month's items. I look forward to see what else comes my way in the future.

Universal Yums June 2018

Wow, halfway through the year already...dayyuuummmm.

For those who don't know, Universal Yums is a monthly subscription service. For $14, $25, or $39, you'll get 6+, 12+, or 20+ snacks and candies from another country. Cool, eh? Check them out here: UNIVERSAL YUMS.

(I pay for this service with my own money and all opinions are my honest ones)

The month of June brings us goodies from BRAZIL! Here's some trivia for you (answer at the end of the post): Brazilian prisoners can reduce their sentences by: A.Weaving baskets; B.Reading books; C.Attending church; D.Exercising.

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Lots of yummy stuff this month. While a couple were kinda meh, I have to tell you that all but one or two items have been eaten!

Cory Pao Dimel (Chocolate Covered Honey Bread): My first mistake was tasting this after a really sweet treat in the box so this, in comparison, tasted disgusting. I tried it again the following day and it was just so-so. I think the honey with the combo of cloves, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg threw it off. The bread part was also SUPER dry. That said, I had all of them eaten two days later. So...there you go.

 

Amori 1000 (Chocolate Covered Wafer with Coconut Filling): This was very tasty. Little on the over-sweet side but not too bad. The chocolate was smooth and the coconut filling was pretty awesome. Not a heavy treat by any means, either. Very light.

 

Docigoma Gurt (Yogurt Gummies): I know that sounds weird but trust me, these were the best (for me) out of everything. The gummies were more like gum drops (as opposed to gummy bears) and the flavors were very nice - not very sugary either. Strawberry, peach, banana, and coconut - YUM!

 

Squil Churrasco (Barbecue Corn Puffs): More like corn discs but with a puffy texture! I don't know how they do it but these tasted like pork fat with a mild corn after taste. Very light, great flavor, not too salty.

 

Delicitos Pimenta (Pepper Crackers): These were kinda blah. Apparently, the malagueta pepper is the hottest thing in Brazil and it's used a lot in cooking. But us Americans aren't ready for it so we got these jalapeno crispy crackers instead. And they don't have a lot of flavor and there's barely any jalapeno heat - which is as hot as I can stand, so if I'm bitching about it being too mild, that's pretty weak. 

 

Bananada com Chocolate (Chocolate Covered Banana Bar): HOLY HELL this was terrible. The pamphlet stated that Brazilian bananas are the best in the world but most of them stay there. If this treat is any indication of their flavor, THEY CAN KEEP THEM. The texture was fine but the banana flavor tasted like it was too ripe or almost rotten. UGH.

Frutabella Amendoiks (Chewy Peanut Bar): This had the same texture as the banana one but the flavor was like peanut butter fudge, just not overly sweet. Very, very good treat!

 

TRIVIA ANSWER: B. Reading Books. It' not quite a "get out of jail free" card, but it's close! Prisoners in Brazil can reduce their sentence by four days (up to 48 days per year) for every book they read and write a report on. In addition, some prisons allow inmates to reduce their sentence by pedaling stationary bicycles to product electricity. (BLOGGER COMMENT: I'm pretty sure that was one of the forced labors in the Russian gulags but I could be mistaken...)

According to the clue, we think it might be Taiwan next month. We'll see!

Morgue Drawer June 2018

Here we are again, folks. As the temperatures remain in the nineties, it feels safer to me to stay inside and write up a few blog posts/reviews. So let's start with my trash, eh?

 

AND SO....I DIE...

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These make me sad. There's still product in each container but either the formulas have changed, they smell off, or they tingle against my lips and they're not supposed to do that. So I need to trash them.

Medusa's Makeup Lip Paint Remover: This stuff works great on MM's lip paints but after a while, the smell got horrible and the cap is all sticky and crusty with dried oil. It's basically almond oil, grapeseed oil, and fragrance so I imagine just almond oil will work fine. But they're having a sale right now and it's half off! I might keep the bottle and reuse it for something else. (CF)

Elf Luscious Liquid Lipstick in Nude Pink: I love this color and the formula. It started out smelling like mint but now it smells like menthol so into the garbage it goes. Would totally buy again, though, if they still had this shade. Which they don't. (CF)

Colourpop Lippies: These are probably the oldest CP lippies I own so it makes sense that they smell funny now, or the formulas have changed and actually burn when I put them on. As I have a ton of other lipsticks and glosses, I don't NEED to repurchase. Doesn't mean I won't, though...(L to R) Ultra Glossy Lip in Tight Fit; Ultra Satin in So Wavy, Lost, Petit Four, and Marshmallow (Tight Fit, Lost, and Marshmallow are still available on the CP site). 

 

SCRUB-A-DUB AND SMELL GOOD

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Paul Mitchell Instant Moisture Conditioner: I've been enjoying a lot of Paul Mitchell products lately and the hubby loves this conditioner (and matching shampoo), too! It works pretty well to keep hair clean and moisturized, which is good for me since I bleach my hair now. I ended up buying the bigger size so hubs and I can share. (CF)

Phyto Color Enhancing Hair Mask: I got this sample with an Ulta order, I think. Though it worked really well (at least at moisturizing), it's not a Cruelty Free brand so I won't be purchasing it in the future. It's also $59 for 6 ounces. Uh...no. (NCF)

Purlisse Coconut Oil and Coffee Sugar Scrub: This was a decent scrub, smelled great, but I only got one use out of this sample size. You need to use a lot to cover the whole body (I did, anyway, and I'm not very big). (CF/Vegan)

Mitchum Stick Deodorant: This worked okay. I like the clear gel formula much better. Pretty sure any deodorant that isn't one of the 'natural' brands, isn't cruelty free. (NCF)

Nature's Truth Sweet Almond Oil: I like to use this on my feet and toenails after I shower. It's a nice, light oil, that absorbs quickly into the skin. Good for all over the body, actually. Almond oil is used as a base for other moisturizers because it has no scent. Will buy again (it's not all gone but I poured the remainder into an empty pump bottle for easier dispersement). (CF - ?)

Purple Cat Apothecary Body Butters: Two more from the 5-pack sample set I ordered. The Lemon Chiffon was divine! Lemon and butter cake. The Frostbloom was okay. Kinda floral, kinda minty...hard to pin down. This formula was much thicker and drier than the Lemon one but both worked very well, especially over the almond oil I talked about above. (CF) NOTE: This was originally an Etsy store with art and body products. Apparently, Etsy is making is difficult and more expensive for people to use it as a store front so this woman only has an on-line art store at a separate website. Dammit.

 

SQUEAKY CLEAN

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TN Dickinson's Witch hazel: I like to use this after I do a mud mask. It's great for cleaning off any excess or left behind product without drying out my skin. I know a lot of people hate the smell of witch hazel but it doesn't bother me at all. Very gentle and could be used every day. I think I got mine at the grocery store but it's sold everyone it seems. (CF/Vegan)

Everyone Lavender and Coconut Hand Soap: We've tried a few scents from this brand and I really have enjoyed them all. This and the Lemon/Mandarin one have been been my favorites. Great for the kitchen! (CF)

BBW Good Vibes Only foaming hand soap: I bought this scent to get a deal at Bath and Body Works so I wasn't expecting it to be great but I love it. Even the hubby, who's not one for a lot of scented cleansers, really liked it. But...because it's BBW, and they sell to China, I really have only been keeping my purchases to candles (I love their candles and haven't found anything else to replace them yet). (NCF)

 

 

CHOMPERS AND THE LIKE

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ACT Restoring Mouthwash: I used this stuff every day with Invisalign and now it's just a habit I can't quit. Which is good! My teeth need a lot of help so this fluoride rinse is perfect. Doesn't burn like a mo-fo, either. (NCF)

Tom's of Maine Maximum Strength Sensitive toothpaste: Love this stuff. Will keep buying. (CF)

Simply Creative Living Honey Cherry Almond lip balm: I believe I talked about another lip balm from this company. I got it at my city's Farmer's Market or the 4th of July fair. Can't remember. This was just okay. Probably won't repurchase. (CF)

 

ALL ABOUT THAT FACE

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NO:HJ Sheet Mask: Got this from my monthly subscription, Facestory. It was really nice and it had all these gold colored flowers all over it. I felt so fancy! It's a Korean brand so the cruelty free status is hard to know/confirm.

The Ordinary Buffet serum: I've raved about this product before here but lately, this stuff hasn't been working all that well. It's actually been breaking me out. I know skin can acclimate to a product, making it less effective, even develop reactions to some. Seems that's what's happened here. So while my backup bottles sit unused, I'm trying something else. I'll let you know how it goes. (CF)

Ole Henrickson Banana Bright Eye Cream: Got this in one of my last Ipsy bags, I think. The cream is yellow but not sure it's brightening. It's thick but doesn't absorb that well. In fact, it didn't really do shit. (CF)

SkinRX Labs MadeCera Cream: Another sample product but can't remember where I go it. I really enjoyed it, though. Felt great on the skin and did a good job of moisturizing. Again, SkinRX is Korean so can't confirm or deny cruelty free status.

Formula 10.0.6 Day/Night Cream: I've been using the day and night creams for a while. Still loving them. (CF)

 

ALL SORTS OF STUFF

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The Ordinary Fluid Primer (forgot to put this with the makeup): This stuff is pure shit. When I bought it, the bottle was barely half full (but it wasn't wet or sticky so nothing leaked - it just wasn't filled). Can't get it out of the bottle THROUGH the dropper so I'd just wipe off enough OFF the dropper to put on my face. And then I felt like a total grease ball. I can't even use it up because it feels so gross and my skin hates it. (CF)

Burt's Bees Cleansing Oil: I really like cleansing oils so I thought I'd give BB's version a shot. It's...okay. Smells a little weird and doesn't do a great job but it's fine. I actually didn't finish this yet but I put the remaining product in a travel bottle. (CF)

Nip + Fab Glycolic Cleansing Pads: I got a sample pack of these years ago when I was still getting the Walmart box. And I really liked them so I got this full size at the drug store. Turned out they didn't really do that much for my skin. But I like the travel friendly pre-soaked pads (as opposed to a bottle) even though these felt kind of dry. Maybe that's why they didn't seem to do much. I'd be willing to try them again, though, in case I got a bad batch. (CF)

Manyo Factory Herb Green Cleansing Oil: I'm pretty sure this sample was what started my love of cleansing oils. This stuff was great. Smelled good and did a great job of removing makeup, especially after the heavy stuff I use for convention appearances! It's another Korean brand so I don't know if they're cruelty free.

First Aid Beauty Hydrating Serum (not sure why I didn't put this with the previous stuff): I've used a couple products from this brand before and while I did like them, I don't feel the brand is so superb to be worth the higher price tag. I did really enjoy this, though. (CF)

Notoriously Morbid Mystic Monthly June 2018 Review

In case you missed my post last month, the indie make-up brand, Notoriously Morbid, has a monthly lipstick subscription service called Mystic Monthly. For $10, you receive one full-sized, exclusive Mystic Matte lipstick, plus one other full-sized lip product. And they're cruelty free! Check it out here: MYSTIC MONTHLY

(I pay for this service with my own money and all opinions are my honest ones)

The theme for the 2018 MM service is, "The Dragon's Tail". The slip of paper contains info on the theme, the particular Dragon's name and history, plus ingredient lists for both products (sorry, the coupon code is just for subscribers). And, like last month, they included a little Dum Dum sucker!

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Let's talk about the 2nd item first--the Night Kiss Lip Balm. I'm addicted to lip balms. I always need them, and I keep them in almost every room in the house (along with Kleenex). And, unlike last month, I'm pretty sure this IS full size. The balm is wonderful. Thick but not sticky or greasy. It lasts a really long time on the lips. And the smell is divine (baked goods). Super happy about this!

And now for the star of the show--the Mystic Matte lipstick in Bolla. Bolla is from Albanian folklore and is known as a transforming dragon, with three stages of change: starts as a snake, changes to the Bolla, then finally transforms into the Kulshedra. I don't really know what any of that means, but it sounds wicked-cool.

It's a cool indigo base with a warm violet sheen, and it's stunning, folks. The hand swatch shows you how thin and sheer the formula is. The first lip swatch is just one coat. The second lip swatch is two coats. I didn't go to a third, which was suggested, because it does start to feel really dry after that second application.

Because of its transformative abilities, this lipstick can be worn three ways (just like the dragon - see what they did there?). First, the sheer formula can be worn as just a light wash of color. Second, it can be built up to be more opaque. And third, it can be worn OVER another lipstick to change its color. Nice...

So let's see what happens when I apply it over two different lipsticks. The first is Wet n Wild's Liquid Cat Suit in the shade, Missy and Fierce (gorgeous red). It's a liquid lipstick, so I let it set before I put Bolla over it. The second pic shows one layer. The third is two, letting Bolla dry between coats. 

I'm not the most precise applicator of lipsticks, but you REALLY have to have a steady hand when trying it this way. If you don't get all the way to the edge, it looks like you're wearing a lip liner that is absolutely the WRONG color, which looks goofy in my opinion. But the color goes from red to a magenta-orchid purple. Which is TITS.

The second to last pic is Colourpop's Lippie Stix in Bull Chic, which is supposed to be a matte formula, but it never really sets, and feels more like a creme finish. When I put Bolla over it, (as you can see in the final lip swatch), it amped up the blue-purple aspect of the lipstick. Which is also TITS. It didn't matter if I put one or two layers on, it looked the same. But again, you have to be very precise with your application, and the watery formula of Bolla makes that difficult.

So until I get the hang of it, I think I'll just put on a blue or purple lip liner and wear Bolla on top.

Loved the products I got this month and look forward to playing with Bolla more!

 

Universal Yums May 2018

For those who don't know, Universal Yums is a monthly food subscription service. For $14, $25, or $39 you get 6+, 12+, or 20+ snacks and candies from a different country. Check them out for yourselves: UNIVERSAL YUMS

(I pay for this service with my own money and all opinions are my honest ones)

May's box comes from the Philippines! Here's some trivia for you (answer at the end of the post). Filipinos send more ________ per person than any other country. A.Texts; B.Fan mail; C.Emails; D.Packages

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I don't think there was one item I didn't like. Granted, they weren't all fantastic but I enjoyed everything.

Boy Bawang Barbeque Flavored Corn Nuts: I loved that these aren't the same texture as a corn nut we know in the states. These are much crispier than their US cousin and they've got a lot of garlic added. Pretty dang good, unless you don't like garlic. Then you might want to avoid these.

Pinipig Polvoron Toasted Rice Flavored Shortbread: This was probably one of my favorite treats. I love short bread and this stuff was similar in texture to the purple ube one we received in the last Philippines box. But the flavor is milder, not too sweet, and you get that toasted rice finish at the end. Delicious!

Cupp Keyk Nutty Chocolate Flavor: This was okay. It was a little on the dry side but the flavor was good. The peanuts added a nice layer to it.

Leslie's Cheezy Corn Crunch Cheddar Jalapeno Flavored Corn Snack: These are a lot like Cheetos but with a muted, more natural cheese flavor. The jalapeno is not spicy (which, apparently, hot and spicy is not the norm in the Philippines) but adds a nice flavor.

Fudgee Bar Cake with Salted Caramel Filling: The cake was so much better than the cupcake. Moist, very flavorful, almost too sweet. I didn't get much in the way of salted caramel in the filling but it was super sweet.

Oishi Pillows Ube Filled Crackers (technically cookies): I loved these, too. Little crispy pillows filled with ube cream. Ube is a potato common in the Philippines and they use it a lot in desserts. These also kind of tasted like when you eat a sugary cereal and the milk left behind becomes sweetened and flavored by the cereal itself. Really good!

Mr. Mais Chewy Sweet Corn Candy with Butter Filling/Mr. Buko Budo Pandan Chewy Candy with Milk Filling: I forgot to take a pic of the corn candy but it looks just like the Buko one, only yellow instead of green. Same texture - starts out hard but softens as you chew. The corn candy SERIOUSLY tasted like summer corn on the cob, maybe a titch sweeter. The pandan candy was truly unique. I can't think of what it tasted like but they were pretty awesome.

TRIVIA: A. Texts! The Philippines is considered the texting capital of the world - and for good reason. Every day, 35 million Filipinos send about 450 million text messages.

 

That's it for May. The clue for next month makes us think Colombia might be on it's way for June. We'll find out soon enough!

Ipsy May 2018 (FINAL REVIEW)

All righty folks. This will be my last review for Ipsy. It's been a (mostly) fun run. I've been subscribed for about 4 years but it's time to move on. Getting a lot of the same products and colors that do nothing for me and the value seems to be decreasing, in general. I'm also finding more non-cruelty free brands (or at least unknown) so buh-bye, Ipsy. 

But if you don't know what this is, Ipsy is a monthly subscription service. For $10 you get sample (sometimes full) sized makeup, skin care, and hair care products, as well as a reusable makeup bag. Check them out here: IPSY

(I paid for this service with my own money and all opinions are and have been my honest ones)

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I think the theme is about travel or whatever. The theme each month is completely irrelevant and that little card just spews generic positive platitudes and other bullshit. No product information or pricing EVER comes with this bag. Maybe someday that will change but I won't be around to find out. Oh well. The bag is kind of cute but I don't think I'll be keeping it. Let's get to the products.

Trestique Mini Matte Blur Stick: This product does actually mattify my skin but it does NOT minimize pores. Not by a long shot. While I like the portability of a primer/blur product in stick format, this feels very slick and almost greasy on my skin. Which is weird. But the little nub wore down a lot after one use so I can't imagine I'll have it for very long. Can't find any info on the weight of the full size product ($28 but comes with blotting paper) so don't know how much this 1.1g sample is worth. Also it's on the "Pending" list for Cruelty Free status at Logical Harmony so I'll probably just avoid this brand until I see differently.

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Hydrating Serum: I've had good luck with FAB in the past so I'm excited to try this. My skin loves gel formula anything and since my Ordinary "Buffet" serum has not been working well (so I stopped using it a couple weeks ago), I need to get this in my rotation. I though it was a moisturizer so I haven't used it yet. But now that I'm digging into the details, I see it's a serum and will start incorporating it into my skin care routine tonight! It is a pricier brand but from what I've tried, it seems worth it. Full size is $36 so this .25 ounce sample is worth $9. (CF plus has some vegan options)

PureHeals Centella Green Tea Mask: Got two sample pods of this mask to try. I did like it. Didn't burn or do weird stuff to my skin. Felt nice going on. I probably used more than necessary because these pods don't reseal and I didn't have anything to put it in to keep it from drying out. *shrug* My skin felt good afterwards, too. Full size goes for $27 so I think each pod is worth about $2. Can't find info on CF status but it is a Korean brand so it's a toss up.

SLMissGlam Sparkle Everyday Glam Beauty Sponge: Oy, that name. It's a piece of foam, people. Calm down. Got a brush from this company before, I believe, and yep, it's the website that looks like a unicorn puked cotton candy all over it. The sponge is fine. Doesn't get super squishy or much bigger after wetting it but it workswell. This is full size and costs $17.50. (CF)

Ven Effect Micro Exfoliant: I got something from this brand two months ago and I liked it. But these kind of exfoliants usually fuck my shit up. It's a super fine grain, almost like baking soda, but through user error, I go too ham with it and shred my skin. I'll probably still give it a shot but I'm not expecting much. Full size is $60 so this sample is $6 (CF - ?).

I think I'm going to value the mini blur stick at $1.50 (cut full price in half then take 10% of that and round up a titch). So this bag is worth approximately $38. That's decent. 

Thanks for the memories, Ipsy. I hope you can improve for future subscribers and good luck!

Universal Yums April 2018

Been dragging ass on this review. Sorry it's late!

Universal Yums in a monthly food subscription service. For $14 or $25 or $39, you get 6+, 12+, or 20+ snacks and candies from around the world. Check them out here: UNIVERSAL YUMS

(I pay for this service with my own money and all opinions are my honest ones)

The April box comes to us from Spain! Here's a little trivia for you. Answer at the end of the post. TRIVIA: The national anthem of Spain: A.Is 16 minutes long; B.Has no words; C.Was written by a 10-year-old; D.Is played only twice a year.

 Lots of yummy stuff in there, people!

Lots of yummy stuff in there, people!

I have tried every product but one this month. And they've all been pretty tasty!

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La Abuela Nieves Artisan Potato Chips: I'm not sure how they did it but these Iberian ham flavored chips TASTE EXACTLY LIKE HAM! The chips are nice, textured like regular potato chips with fantastic flavor.

Carmen Lupianez Tortas de Aceite (Olive oil cookies): I know, it sounds weird. But I made an olive oil cake one time and it was delicious so these did not scare me. Soft and moist, delicate flavor but not super sweet. Very good.

Lacasitos Gold Caramel White Chocolate candies: HOLY HELL these are good. They are really REALLY sweet but the flavor is beyond awesome. They're the same size as an M&M but taste like dulce de leche. Very creamy and wonderful.

Montecado Doble de Limon (Lemon Shortbread Cookies): These are those kinds of cookies that completely crumble when you touch them. So the consistency is very dry. The flavor is more like butter than lemon, there's just a hint of that, and they're not very sweet. I enjoyed it!

Leticias Naranja al Chocolate (Chocolate Covered Candied Oranges): Second favorite item this month! The dark chocolate is bittersweet which contrasts nicely with the candied orange slice - yes a real orange slice - which has a touch of bitterness to it, too, with the peel. It was awesome!

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Puntazos Mix Cocktail de Maiz: This is the one I haven't tried but it's Spain version of corn nuts. It's apparently a very popular bar food and they're mixed with rice puffs and corn chips.

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Shiki Shin Barbacoa (Barbecue Potato Snack): These are not potato chips in the regular sense. I think this is one of those potato snacks where they mash up the potato, mix in the flavors, then form the paste into shape then fry it. These actually taste pretty good, like bbq beef, but with that slight styrofoam texture. Which doesn't bother me at all.

El Caserio de Tafalla Crema Pistacho (Pistachio Toffee): Third favorite thing from the box this month. Though it's called toffee, it's not the hard crunchy version most of us are used to. This is soft and chewy, but not sticky at all, and tastes like sweet pistachio cream. SO GOOD!

El Caserio Chocolate con Pinones (Chocolate with Pine Nuts): I forgot to take a picture of this before I gobbled it down. Another soft chewy candy but it tastes like chocolate and pine nuts. Very flavorful and delicious!

 

TRIVIA ANSWER: B. Has no words. The Spanish national anthem, the "Marcha Real", is one of only four national anthems in the world (along with Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, and San Marino) that has no official lyrics. It was originally composed as a military march in the 18th century, and though attempts have been made to add lyrics, none have ever quite stuck!

Good assortment of tasty treats this month! We're a bit stumped by the clue for next month. It's gotta be an island chain or something like that. I guess we'll find out soon enough!

Notoriously Morbid Mystic Monthly Subscription May 2018

I really thought I'd be on the waiting list for much longer before a space opened up on this lip product subscription service. But here we are! Right now this will be more of an introduction than a review. I have my Invisalign trays for only a few more weeks (gods willing) and once that's done, I can get a better idea of how most of these products will work. But let's get better acquainted with Notoriously Morbid, shall we?

Notoriously Morbid is an indie cosmetics company based in West Virginia, in the Appalachian Mountains. They are also cruelty free (hooray!) which is what made me check them out in the first place. From their site:

We pride ourselves in creating unique cosmetics that are
perfect for those who embrace their beautiful darkness.

Notoriously Morbid makes a ton of different beauty products, from eye shadows, face powders, body lotions, primers, blush and bronzers, lipsticks, and more. You will find a lot of the more 'unusual' colors, like deep greys, blues, greens, bright fuschias, etc., that many people may not find comfortable to wear on a daily basis (or can't due to work restrictions or what not) but there are tons of 'wearable' colors, too. None of that shit makes me uncomfortable and I work from home so further into the fray I went.

I discovered they have 2 subscription services. The Vanishing Cabinet is a monthly beauty subscription that costs $13.25 (domestic US) for 4-5 items, usually mini, with a pop culture theme. The Mystic Monthly is their lipstick subscription service with a yearly theme. It runs $10 for US customers (shipping included) and you get one full size exclusive Mystic Matte lipstick and one other full size lip product (could be another lip stick or something else already in stock). The theme for 2018 is "The Dragon's Tail". HOW COULD I NOT SIGN UP???

I signed up for the lipstick one because, unless you're new here and don't know, I'm a lipstick whore. I hopped on the waiting list and figured I'd get in long after my Invisalign was done. 

SURPRISE!

As I type this I'my wearing the Mystic Matte I received so I could at least get an idea of how it looks on my lips and how it feels. Not really trying to test the longevity yet but so far it's doing a pretty bang up job. Hopefully next month I can be a bit more thorough! But let me share a few pics I've taken of the products I received in my first month.

 Free Dum Dum? HELLZ YEAH!

Free Dum Dum? HELLZ YEAH!

Notoriously Morbid includes a little info sheet with an explanation of the theme, lipstick name, the ingredients of both products, plus a shopping code (which is not for the unbelievers...I mean, non subscribers), and a sucker. Awesome! I think I got the cherry flavor because of the Slumber Salve.

The Slumber Salve is exactly what it sounds like. You put it on at bed time, sleep, and wake up with soft lips! The scent/flavor is cherry, strawberry, butterscotch, and pink lemonade. The lemonade is the strongest and it's seriously smells like a glass of pink lemonade. I haven't tried it overnight yet so I'll update you in another post. The little jar isn't full and searching the pics on the site, though the tubs look a little different, they are definitely more filled than mine. Keep in mind the product in my subscription is coating only one side of the jar (I'm guessing it melted a bit in shipping but it hadn't leaked or anything) and even after I scraped it out and set it right, the container was not full or even close. It might be filled by weight but even then, I have a hard time believing it's correct.

The Mystic Matte liquid lipstick is the main event here. I don't know if this color is the same for all subscriptions but it's called Katla. There's an explanation for that on the little sheet of paper, which is kinda cool. This color is a beautiful light copper with a pink base. Once you let the lipstick set a bit, and press your lips together, a bright gold sheen pops up. It's stunning. I don't think I captured it in the swatches, though. I like that the tube comes with a little mirror, too!

First pic is the lipstick freshly applied, still wet. The second was after it set a bit and I opened my window shade to let in some sun. You can really see the gold sparkles there! The gold sheen is a little apparent in the 3rd pic but my phone camera just didn't do it justice. The last photo shows that even after its set, you can still smudge the color (and that really shows the pink base). So while it IS set on the lips and kiss proof, it will come off when eating or drinking. 

Not sure if you can see how damn pretty Katla is in these last pics but trust me, she is. And now that I've had it on for a couple of hours (playing with the dog, drinking water, licking my lips as I struggle to figure out how to move forward on my current story...), you can see how it's faded on the inner rim of my lip. Which makes sense because that's the wet part (that's what he said) and most lip products will not adhere there for any period of time. It also hasn't bled or feathered into the lines around my mouth and that's awesome. I did NOT use a lip liner before applying Katla to my lips.

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So for my first exposure to this brand, I have to say I'm happy. The full size Mystic Matte goes for $12.50 and the lip salve is $4 (though, again, I don't think my jar was full which is fucking weak). But I don't want to judge anything to high or harsh after just one month's experience with the service. I'll keep you all posted!

Ipsy April 2018

For those who may not know, Ipsy is a monthly subscription service. For $10 you get 4-5 sample sized (sometimes full sized) makeup, skin care, and hair care products along with a reusable makeup bag. Check them out here: IPSY

(I pay for this service with my own money and all opinions are my honest ones)

 April's theme: Social Butterfly. Because yes, that's EXACTLY what the introvert in me wants.

April's theme: Social Butterfly. Because yes, that's EXACTLY what the introvert in me wants.

Each month Ipsy creates a theme for the bag. While I hate them most of the time, this being no exception, the bag itself is so frakkin cute! The pink toned butterflies are pretty, the rose gold accents are beautiful, and that little card can go fuck itself. Don't ever count on that card to have useful information, by the way, unlike every other service out there. 

Anyway, let's get to the products. I'm pretty sure I'm excited about all these and mildly okay with one.

H20+ Oasis Hydrating Treatment: I want to say I've tried at least one product from this brand before thoughI can't remember for sure. But I'm excited to try this gel-like moisturizer. I've had good luck with all brands that come out with this kind of formula so I'm hopeful this will be amazeballs, too. Full size is $38 so this sample runs about $7.50. (I can't find ANY info on their cruelty free status so I've emailed them directly.)

Purlisse Coconut Oil and Coffee Sugar Body Scrub: I've used face products from Purlisse that can suck my dick but this body scrub is awesome. Gentle but effective exfoliation, the oil leaves your skin soft (it does coat your tub/shower so be careful of that!), and it smells divine. Not like sweetened coffee - just a good strong coffee scent. You can actually purchase this sample size tube on their site and it goes for $10. It's good for one use, though, and that's it. If you're bigger than me, it won't be enough (Says CF on their site but no other website backs that up).

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Ciate London Starstruck Double Ended Stamp liquid liner (black): At first I thought the stamp was going to be wing shaped, which I would not be opposed to trying because the struggle to get a good wing on my eyes is real. But this is a star because it's festival season (Coachella - who outside of California fucking cares) so I was a little disappointed. However, it looks so cute on the face (don't mind the lines on the hand stamp - product got on the base of it but you can get a clean stamp if you're careful). So since the liner end works pretty well, nice and black, easy to use, I'll let the star stamp slide. This particular eye liner is not available on the Ciate or Ipsy site so it must be an exclusive. The link I provided is for their regular eyeliner and it goes for $18 (CF).

Paula Dorf Bronzer in Bora Bora: I seriously thought this was an eye shadow until I went to Ipsy to get info on the product. Whoops. But that just proves they always send bronze or browns or neutral shades all the time so it was easy to mistake this for eye shadow. That would explain why it's not too warm or cool a color. It's a nice neutral shade that should look nice on everyone (at least with fair skin). I only use a little bronzer, if at all, and I have 3 of them already so I might not keep this. It's a nice shade, though, and feels nice on the skin. Full size is $32 so this sample is about $6.50 (Says CF on their site but again, can't find confirmation anywhere).

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Glamour Dolls Romantic Rose blending brush: Never mad to get a brush! And I think this has replaced my favorite Real Techniques brush for crease work. This is the perfect mix of precision shadow placement and blending. It's soft but not too soft, tapered to get the shadow right where you want it but doesn't plop down color that won't blend out. It's pretty perfect. Full size and is $5 (CF and Vegan).

Overall value runs about $47. Not too bad. I'm not completely surprised that I couldn't find CF status confirmation on several sites. A lot of brands are not well known and/or don't pay to have PETA or Leaping Bunny certify them. But it does leave me a little leery of what brands Ipsy is committed to working with for the bag each month. 

Universal Yums March 2018

I think I may have missed February....ooops. It was from France and I don't think either the hubs or I enjoyed it that much.

For those who don't know, Universal Yums is a monthly food subscription service. For $14, $25, or $39 (new giant size), you get 5+, 12+, or 20+ snacks and candies from a different country. It's pretty awesome! Check them out here: UNIVERSAL YUMS

(I pay for this service with my own money and all opinions are my honest ones)

This month's box is from Poland (which I know we've had before so let's see how it compares!). First some trivia - answer will be posted at the end. TRIVIA: Craving a pizza? In Poland, you can expect it to be topped with: A.Sour Cream; B.Sauerkraut; C.Ketchup; D.Mashed Potatoes.

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Tapsy Cheese and Onion Chips: The flavor on these is good. Not strong by any means but enjoyable. But their version of potato chips is kinda like eating styrofoam. They process the potatoes then mix them with rice flour which makes them fluffy. Still pretty good though!

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Wawel Milkizz: This is a chocolate bar filled with a smooth milky center. I can't say I enjoyed it that much. The chocolate is fine but the milk flavor is overpowering, as much as milk can be. Though I love the packaging. Apparently, sweetened condensed milk is sold in tubes and people eat it as a snack. The work, "smak", means flavor so the line EXTRA SMAK should mean it's good. Just not sure I agree.

Krowki Milky Cream Fudge: I think we got this in the other Poland box from a couple of years ago. Again, that milk flavor is a bit off but I love the texture. It's like what we Americans know as fudge but maybe a teeny bit drier.

Soleo Caramel Pretzels: If you like Pocky, you'd probably like this stuff! But instead of a covered cookie stick, it's a pretzel. Which I think makes it a bit better because the caramel coating on these is SUPER sweet.

Dobosz Chocolate Plum: I think we may have gotten a chocolate covered plum in the Austria box (?) but whatever other country did this, did it better than Poland. The chocolate coating was fine as was the thick layer of cocoa filling. But the plum was tiny, gritty, and not good. It kinda ruined the whole thing for me. 

Aksam Peanuts with Paprika: These were awesome! I'm going to try to not eat a lot because the hubby REALLY like them. These are peanuts with a kind of cracker coating that's been covered in paprika. Not the boring after thought decoration I've come to know as paprika but a nice smoky, spicy, sweet flavor that compliments the peanuts really well. Perfect paprika peanuts!

Raczki "Lobster Tails": I believe these also came in our last Poland box and they're still good. The shell has a slight mint flavor and the filling is a peanut-rum mixture. Very good!

Can't say I enjoyed this Poland box as much as the other one but a couple of the savory snacks were really nice!

Judging by the clue for next month, we think it's going to be Spain! Ole!

TRIVIA: C. Ketchup! Even the biggest ketchup fans might find this surprising, but it's the thing to do in Poland. Polish pizza, or zapiekanki, is made with halved baguettes topped with mushrooms and cheese, then covered with a heavy squirt of ketchup. Now comes the existential question: just because it has cheese, tomatoes, and crust, is it still considered a pizza?

Ipsy March 2018 Review

For those who don't know, Ipsy is a monthly subscription service. For $10, you get 4-5 sample sized (sometimes full sized) makeup, hair, and skin care products, as well as a reusable makeup bag. Check them out here: IPSY

(I purchase this service with my own money and all opinions are my honest ones)

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March's theme has something to do with creating. Whatever. I don't particularly like the bag but I do enjoy being able to color it in. That's kinda cool. But let's get to the products!

Labotica Transforming Liquid Foil Mask: While this stuff looks super cool (like you're mutating into the Silver Surfer), the description of "gentle" and "great for sensitive skin" can SUCK MY BALLS. This stuff bonded to my face like the Man in the Iron Mask. It was not gentle to remove, my skin was irritated as fuck, and I broke out in a couple places across my chin. It's made by Leaders Cosmetics, a Korean brand, and it's on the "Pending List" over at Logical Harmony (which means they've reached out to the company about their cruelty free status but haven't heard back yet). Full size is $32 so this sample should be valued around $6.50. (CF - UNKNOWN)

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VenEffect Pore Minimizing Cleanser: This company's products fight hormonal aging (that lack of estrogen we produce as we get older contributes to signs of aging). I enjoyed this face wash. Smelled like a spa but not overpowering. Gentle and my face felt really nice afterward. It'll be a nice travel product. Full size (150 mls) is $60 (yikes) so this 15mls sample should go for $6.00. (CF? - can't find any info)

Hikari Cream Pigment Eye Shadow in Shine: I wish I could have gotten the green color instead of gold but wutyougonnado? Very pigmented, soft eye shadow and it looks great on the eye. Not sure I want to keep it because I have a couple gold shadows already and it's not a color I use a lot. I can't find the exact amount but most shadows are around 2g so I'll assume this is full sized and worth $13. (CF)

Tarte Cosmetics Sex Kitten Eyeliner: I think I've only ever tried one Tarte eyeliner before and it wasn't great (which might explain why it was on clearance when I bought it). But this stuff is pretty bomb. Though it doesn't break through the Hikari eye shadow (not sure if you can see but it goes green on the eye over the shadow), I put it on my waterline & tightline after I took the picture and that shit didn't budge. Well, some of it did, which is to be expected, but most of it stayed in place. In fact, it took about 2 days for it to completely wash off my eye. This might be my go-to eyeliner for convention makeup I need to last at least 10 hours. Full size is $20 so this sample is worth $10. (CF)

Steve Laurant Beauty Lip Oil in Orchid: It looks pink but this is a clear oil. It feels thicker, like a gloss/oil hybrid. Sort of like what Milani did a few years back. This stuff feels nice, it's not sticky, and it smells like vanilla butter cake. NOM. This is full size and goes for $18. (CF)

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Wow, looks like this bag is worth about $53.50. Pretty good deal though I'm disappointed that two of the products are not cruelty free/unknown CF status. I can usually forgive one but...to be honest, I'm thinking of phasing out of this subscription and trying something else. We'll see.

Ipsy February 2018

For those who may not know, Ipsy is a monthly beauty subscription service. For $10 you get 4-5 sample sized (sometimes full sized) makeup, skin care, and hair care products, as well as a reusable makeup bag. Check them out for yourself here: IPSY

(I purchase this service with my own money and all opinions are my honest ones)

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The theme this month is "Unzipped". I think that's in reference to being naked (not necessarily physically) or our true form or WHO THE FUCKING JESUS GOD CARES? The bag is pretty cute so I'm hanging on to it for now. Let's get to the products.

PUR Fully Charged Mascara: I haven't tried this yet because I'm trying to Project Pan another mascara (plus I have another one from Catrice that's open). But the reviews look good. I love trying new mascaras. Full size is 15mls for $22, so this 4 mls mini is around $5.50. (CF)

Beaute Basics Eye Shadow in "Lavish": While this shadow is described as a warm, shimmery bronze, it looks more coppery on my skin. Which is fine because I'm sick of bronze shades. It's very soft so can kick up some powder but the pigmentation is nice. Haven't tried it on my eyes yet, though. This looks like a full sized pan (4g) and goes for $15 on the BB site. (NCF - so I'll probably donate it)

Mellow Cosmetics Liquid Precision Pen Eyeliner: I haven't tried this on my eyes, either, but the swatch looks nice and black! It didn't smudge after it dried, unless I put water on it. Pens can be a little tricky to work with as they can dry out fast or get covered in eye shadow and not work as effectively. This also looks full size and goes for $14. (CF)

Luxie Beauty Blending and Shading Eye Brush 249: I love getting brushes and I've enjoyed every Luxie Beauty one I've received. They are super soft but not flimsy. Since it's double sided, it's not available on Ipsy or LB's site (naturally). But it looks like a combo between the precision shader ($14) and the tapered blending ($12) brushes. So let's average that to a $13 value. (CF) 

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Sand & Sky Pink Clay Mask: Now this stuff can go fuck right the fuck off. First of all, look at that picture. If you're gonna skimp on a sample then don't put it in a tube 4-times the size you need, asshats. Also, the package said it contains .45 ounces of product (the Ipsy site says .5). I cut that sucker open and weighed it. There was somewhere between .38 and .40 ounces (I used a titch on my face before it caught fire and I had to remove it, and whatever was left in the tube that I couldn't scrape out, which wouldn't be usable product anyway). I don't know how much is in a full sized jar but it goes for $49. I'd say this sample is worth $1, if even that much. (CF)

Overall, the value is around $47 (I'm not counting the clay mask because fuck that shit). So even without that this ain't too bad!

Ipsy January 2018

All righty. Here we are, 2018, new year, new Ipsy bag, same lame ass non-info card bullshit...

For those who may not know, Ipsy is a monthly subscription service. For $10, you'll get 4-5 sample (sometimes full) sized makeup, hair, skin care products, and a reusable makeup bag. Check them out here: IPSY

(I pay for this service with my own money and all opinions are my honest ones)

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January's theme is Game Face, I think. To be honest, I usually throw away the card the second I take it out of the bag. It's covered in bullshit platitudes, heavy handed 'inspirational' crap, and I can hardly believe it but I'm sure it's even smaller than last year. To play devil's advocate with myself, they're probably saving $$ by not making it larger and are able to get companies like The Balm, Ole Henriksen, and other well-known brands to get their products in here. But still....SO FUCKING WEAK.

The bag is an absolute hideosity. I just can't even...the contrasting colors are so 80s, which might be on trend but as a child of that era, I don't ever wanna see it again! However, I'm digging the products this month!

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Absolute New York Eye Artist Single Shadow (Posse): This shadow is soft but not crumbly, decently pigmented, and does look very pretty on the eye. It swatches like a warm orange/brown but it's actually a rose-taupe color. It's nothing super special so I'll probably donate it. Looks full size and goes for $5. (their website says CF but I can't find any corroboration on that from my cruelty free resources so...?)

The Balm Mary-Lou Manizer: I've tried quite a few products from this brand through Ipsy and I've been satisfied with most. I've never tried this cult favorite and now I can! Though I hate the size of their samples (sometimes the small pans are difficult to work with) I'm usually happy to get something from them. I'm sort of okay with Mary-Lou. It's described as a warm honey color but it looks more light gold. Can look like a wet, high-shine accent on the skin, which is nice. In some light, though, I can see all the sparkle (mirco glitter, at least, and not giant chunks). So I do and don't like it. When I'm in the mood to look like a micro fairy jizzed on my face, I'll probably reach for this. Full size is $24 so this 1g sample is around $3. (CF)

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Cake by Cake Beauty Heavenly Cream Intensive Body Balm: I still have 2 or 3 other lotions from Cake Beauty but they are all different formulas! This stuff smells fantastic and absorbs well. It's 20% shea butter and also contains aloe and camellia leaf extract. I look forward to smelling like vanilla frosting for the next 6 months. Mmmm...frosting (disclaimer: don't be an asshole and eat lotion. That's just dumb.) Full size goes for $22 so this 1 ounce sample runs around $4.50. (CF)

Ole Henriksen Banana Bright Eye Cream: Holy hell the website claims this eye cream can do ALL THE THINGS - brighten, reduce dark circles, firm, instantly reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and is great for under concealer. Then there's a long list of data including lots of "100%" and asterisks and on and on. Personally that comes off as trying too hard but that's just me. The first time I tried it, it felt thick and sticky and didn't brighten anything. BUT it did feel moisturizing and it absorbed rather quickly for such a thick cream. I thought it would be too heavy under concealer but damn if the Tarte Shape Tape didn't look great! If nothing else, at least it'll provide some moisture during this frigid winter season! Full size is $38 so this teeny sample is maybe $7.50. (CF)

SLMISSGLAM L36 Tapered Highlight Brush: I love getting brushes. And I'm not usually a girly-girl, but the pink glittery handle on this is adorbs. The synthetic bristles are super soft and it works perfectly with the Mary-Lou Manizer highlight sample! Apparently it works with powders, creams, and liquids but...because it's kind of flimsy, I'm not so sure about that. I'll have to test it out. Full size. This brush is not available on the SLMISSGLAM site (which actually makes me want to throw up it's such a pastel rainbow unicorn glitter shit show) so it may be an Ipsy exclusive. I've linked the closest looking set of 6 brushes which goes for $80. So maybe this brush is around $13. (CF)

All told this bag is around a $33. Not terrible but I've had bags that are upwards of $50-$70 so it's kinda weak. However, I do think I'll get a lot of use out of the products this months so it's still a win for me!

 

Universal Yums November/December 2017 Review

As per usual, I got a little behind on my reviews. Partly from hubby's busy season at work but also I stared Invisalign in August. As of October, my teeth hurt pretty much all the time. Snacks that are too crunchy or chewy are impossible for me to eat so I can't try everything and I want to give as thorough a review as possible. Well, I still have 5 more months to go with Invisalign so I figured I'll do the best I can during that time and get back to detailed descriptions in the summer. 

For those who don't know, Universal Yums is a monthly subscription service. For $14/$25 each month, you'll get 6+/12+ snacks from a different country. Check them out here: UNIVERSALYUMS

(I pay for this service with my own money and all opinions are my honest ones)

NOVEMBER - TURKEY

Here's a little Turkey trivia for you (answer at the end of this section): We have Turkey's diverse climate to thank for bringing about which popular spring flower? A.Easter lilies; B.Daffodils; C.Tuplis; D.Azaleas

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First let's look at the stuff I haven't tried:

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Today Croissant with Thyme, Basil, and Olive Oil: Interesting fact, without the Ottoman Empire (modern-day Turkey) the croissant never would have existed. The empire planned to attack Vienna in 1683 during the middle of the night using underground tunnels. The bakers in the city could actually hear them coming, since they were already awake and at work. They warned the Austrian army who fought off the attack. No reward wanted, the bakers instead baked bread in the shapes of crescents (the symbol on the Turkish flag) to celebrate the victory. How cool is that? Though I have to say the description on this snack didn't intrigue me and it felt VERY weighty for such a small treat. If the hubs ever eats it, I'll let you know if it's any good.

Clip Sesame Stick: Basically these seem like your basic breadstick completely covered in sesame seeds (they're based on the sesame encrusted bread normally served for breakfast). Crunchy sticks of bread are just too difficult for me but I image these taste pretty good.

Torku Cocoa Helva: I'm pretty sure we've had this type of sweet from half a dozen other countries. It's dry and crumbly but melts in your mouth. This is a sesame paste based sweet. According to the info card we DID get something similar in the Israel box so I just never got around to trying this one.

Miniki Turtacik: This was my favorite treat this month. The cookie was nice and the tangerine jelly was tart and sweet. Don't think I got much flavor from the sprinkles but that's okay. Divine cookie.

Baharatli Ulker Krispi Kraker: I was worried this might be too crunch but it definitely had a texture more like a Ritz, maybe a titch firmer. The flavor was great, too. Nice and salty and the spices were wonderful (onion, parsley, garlic, thyme).

Ibon Yogurt Candy: We got the banana flavor and it was yummy! It could have been chewy but I ended up sucking on it to soften it up and then my teeth could grind it down a bit. Very tasty.

Toffix Mastic: Mastic is made from tree sap and it takes a year to extract! It's a very unique flavor but I really enjoyed it. Tasted a little like bergamot (which is an oil from the bergamot orange peel) but really it's hard to describe the flavor. Did the same thing with the Ibon - I just sucked on this until it got soft (holy hell, really, Peggy?). Another tasty treat.

Miniki Milk Cream Chocolate Bar: This reminded me of a 3 Musketeers so much but a lot sweeter. If that's even possible...Nice soft texture but way too sweet, even for me. Not my favorite.

Torku Sade Mevlana Seker: These candies are nearly identical in texture to a butter mint (if you've never had one of those, you NEED to try them). These are made from sade (bergamot oil). Bergamot is used a lot in perfumes so when I say these things taste like perfume, that's why I mean. But not the alcohol and other additives - just like a slightly sweet and bitter mixture of orange. It's really unique and they are my 2nd favorite treat from Turkey!

TRIVIA: C.Tulips. We credit the Dutch for tulips but they actually originated in Turkey. Tulip bulbs brought to Europe from Istanbul in the 1500s were so intensely popular that by 1634 they had caused "tulipmania" in Holland. Aside from tulips, Turkey is also home to approximately 9,000 other species of plants!

DECEMBER - EVERYWHERE!

To wrap up 2017, the final box for UY contains a variety of snacks from a variety of countries - BUT NO REPEATS. Fucking A, man! Still have some trivia for you! (answer at the end of this post)

TRIVIA: Latvia claims to be the home of the very first_______? A.Christmas tree; B.Christmas stocking; C.Christmas carol; D.Christmas lights

(as of typing this I haven't tried any of these treats yet - I hope that will change over the next day or so)

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Garlic Straznicke Bramburky: These garlic chips are from the Czech Republic. Apparently garlic is thought to provide strength and protection and it's put under the chairs of your holiday guests. They're nice and thing chips so they're easy for me to eat. And they taste like garlic butter. Sooooo nice....

Brevas con Arequipe: Colombia includes figs as an essential part of their Christmas dinners. And this fig is stuffed with arequipe, caramelized condensed milk (kinda like dulce de leche). It's a little too sweet, even for me, so I can't say it's a favorite. At least it wasn't sticky!

Golden Flake Dill Pickle Chips: Leave it to America to turn a not-so-popular German Christmas ornament into a best seller. Woolworth's sold German ornaments since the 1880s but the fruit and veggie shapes (particularly the pickle) were not in high demand. So a salesman made up a story about German folks putting a pickle in their trees and the first person to find it would have good fortune in the coming year. How can we be so inventive and so gullable at the same time? And these do taste like straight up dill pickles. Awesome! But I can only eat a few at a time because the briny flavor does get overpowering.

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Hillier's Mini Christmas Puddings: In Australia, Christmas pudding is a hold-over tradition from their UK roots. This candy has the traditional fruits, nuts, and spices used in the pudding (sans the bread) and wraps it all in chocolate. Hillier founded the first Aussie chocolate company and was known for his creative chocolate fillings, as well as injecting his candies with booze to sneak it past the local governments!

Jabri Baklava: Eid Al-Fitr is celebrated on the last day of Ramadan and is known as the 'sweet' holiday. This is where you will find baklava during the celebration. Subhi Jabri & Sons is a famous restaurant in Amman, Jordan, where you will find this brand of baklava. If you've never had this confection before, WHAT THE EVER LOVING HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU?

Yugwa Candy: South Korea has been making this candy since the year 918. Dayuuum. The making of this treat is regulated by the SK government and it MUST be made by a Korean Food Grand Master. Mr. Kim Kyu-Heun is the master who made the batch for this box. He's been studying the practice of yugwa making for over 20 years. And while I respect the tradition here, the snack itself doesn't really taste like much. Kinda like rice cake air with a little chewy sugar coating.

Mince Pie Candy: This English candy is based on the original mincemeat pie popular during the 12th century, sans the meat. You will find traditional spices of the time (cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg) plus chocolate. I didn't really get the chocolate flavor off it but the spices were wonderful.

TRIVIA ANSWER: A.Christmas tree. Germany is usually given credit for the Christmas tree but the first recorded use was in 1510 in Riga, the vapial of Latvia! Maybe we should be singing, "Ak, Ziemassvetku eglites" instead of "O, Tannenbaum"?

That wraps up 2018! Hope you all stick around for my less in-depth reviews for a while and I promise I'll be back at full strength by summer (barring any horrendous complications!).

Ipsy December 2017 Review

The end of 2017 is upon us. And so is my last Ipsy review for the year. For those who don't know, Ipsy is a monthly subscription service. For $10 you receive 4-5 sample (sometimes full) sized makeup, skin, and hair care products. Check it out here: IPSY

(I pay for this service with my own money and all opinions are my honest ones)

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I guess the theme this month is Snow Globe, whatever the fuck that's supposed to mean. Who cares anyway? The bag, though, is awesome. It looks like some kind of fancy clutch you'd take to a party or something. So yeah, that's a keeper. Let's see what's inside this month!

The Chok Chok Green Tea Watery Cream: Doesn't sound to great, does it? Who wants their creams watery? But, according to the on-line description, this is supposed to be a great gel based moisturizing cream with 63% fermented green tea extract (instead of water). I do like the gel based ones. They're kiind of cool. Haven't tried this and I probably won't because Tony Moly is not cruelty free. Full size is $25 so this sample should run around $4. (NCF)

Nip + Fab Dragon's Blood Fix Pumping Serum: I love the glycolic cleansing pads from N+F so when I got this in my bag, I was pumped! No pun intended. Haven't opened it yet because I've still got half a bottle of The Ordinary buffet serum to use up. Full size is $20 so this sample is worth about $8. (CF)

Luxie Beauty Precision Shader Onyx Brush 239: I'm never mad at brushes, y'all. This is a nice compact shader with a slight taper to it. It really can put shadow RIGHT in the crease. It's not as good at blending that color out if you got too precise and heavy with a shadow so keep that in mind. This is full size and is valued at $14. The link is to their Rose Gold style - the black handle might be an Ipsy exclusive. Not sure. (CF)

Pixi by Petra Mesmerizing Mineral Duo in Orchid Ornament: I've never tried Pixi shadows before. I've heard mixed reviews so I've never wanted to spend the money on them. They're not high end pricing but they're not drug store either. These are two very soft and beautiful shades. They actually seem different in the pan compared to on the skin. I can't quite put my finger on it! You can see in the swatches that these shades can be built up but for my eye look, I just powdered my eyelid and swept a little of each color on (the gold on the lid and the dark rosy brown in the crease). These particular shades aren't available on the Pixi website (again, might be exclusive to Ipsy) and the mesmerizing minerals only come in 6-pan palettes. But they all look really pretty! Full size is $12 so this little duo is probably around $3. (CF)

NYX Faux Blacks Eyeliner in Obsidian: I actually own two other colors in this line. They're not great (one is Oxblood, the other is Olive but I kept the red one because I have no other color like it) so I was a little bummed about getting this. AT FIRST. Boy was I wrong about Obsidian. First, you'd think the name would indicate it's black but it's actually a dark, dark blue. Second, I've never encountered an eyeliner that stayed on my tight line and waterline as long as this one. MAYBE the Urban Decay 24/7 came close. So holy fuck me I love this pencil. It goes on super creamy so it wears down very fast. But I can live with that! This is full size and goes for $8. (CF)

Total bag value is around $37. Not too bad considering only one of the items isn't cruelty free and I'm stoked for everything else, including the bag. Nice little holiday wrap up (heh, see what I did there?) for 2017. Hope you all have a wonderful, safe, and happy holiday! See you in 2018.

FINAL Medusa's Makeup December 2017 Review

Well, the time has come. December is my final month for the Medusa's Makeup monthly subscription box. It's been fun and I've really enjoyed about 50% of what I've received. Not the best score, not the worst, but not enough to keep going. At least for now. The good news is I've gone out on a pretty dang good note!

In case you'd like to check them out, head to their website for all pricing, inventory, etc. MEDUSA'S MAKEUP

(I paid for this service with my own money and all opinions are my honest ones)

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The makeup bag included this month is new (valued at $8.00). It feels like it's made out of canvas, something sturdy. It's actually kind of nice but I don't know if I'll keep it. I have so many from Ipsy....oh fuck it. I'll toss one of those and replace it with this! The personalized note is also new. Very nice touch!

Contour Brush: I've received their eyeliner and angled brushes in past months and I've enjoyed them. The eyeliner one is too thick for precise lines but it still works if you don't mind a little messy application. This one is a flatter, denser brush with a slight point. It will be great for getting into the eye socket/crease. $6.00 (on their site they only have the whole set for sale but if you've never tried their brushes, $18 for the set is a good price to find out how they work for you)

Lip Balm: I was so excited to get this. I really wanted to know how it is, since it's new. I've only used mine once so far (since I have about 6 already opened around the house) but it feels really nice, seems to last a good while on the lips, and smells great. $8.95

Eye Dust in Golden Boy: DEAR FUCKING GODS WILL YOU LOOK AT THAT GORGEOUS COLOR!!! If I've learned nothing else from MM, it's that their eye dusts are fantastic (not the Mystical Eye Dusts - those are kinda lame). And that's not a built up swatch. I had very little product on my finger when I made that. So pigmented! I've already planned out a look for a convention I'm working this weekend so I can wear this. Ah...I feel faint...so...beautiful........ $8.00

Lipstick in Triple X: I've only received one regular lipstick from them before and it was beautiful. This is just as creamy and comfortable so I do recommend a lip liner. I was worried this was going to be way too bright of a fuschia for me. But the top pic is just one layer and it's rather sheer. It's perfect if you just want a little bit of a brighter color but aren't ballsy enough (or maybe bright fuschia doesn't work with your skin tone) to go full saturation. It can be built up so the second swatch shows that. Took 3-4 swipes across each lip to get this opacity. I have to admit I really like it both ways (hey now...). $12.00

So including the bag, this month's value is $42.95. Great value and great items to close out my subscription. In case you forgot, or are new, Medusa's Makeup is also a vegan and cruelty free brand so if you'd like to explore that route, this isn't a terrible place to get started!