Category: IPSY

ipsy Glam Bag Review: April 2014

Ipsy Post Card

April’s ipsy Glam Bag theme is Beauty Rocks. 

Besides the musically themed bag, I’m not sure how cohesive the theme carries over to the cosmetics.

In case you are unfamiliar with ipsy, it’s a monthly subscription service in which you pay $10 a month and receive a bag of 4-5 beauty samples in the mail. The samples are supposed to correspond to the results of an online quiz regarding your beauty preferences. Each item comes with a discount code or special offer that adds a free gift to a purchase.

This is my fifth ipsy bag. There’s always one sample in each bag I don’t like, but overall, ipsy’s a cheap thrill that has introduced me to many products I use each day.

I’ll unpack my April bag and share thoughts on each sample:

Ipsy Bag.jpg

First, a product I’ve never tried in any form.


dr. brandt claims this exfoliant mimics professional microderm abrasion treatments which supposedly diminish fine lines, wrinkles, soften skin, and eliminate dead skin cells.

The only experience I’ve had with an exfoliating product is St. Ives Apricot Scrub. I’v never liked it because the particles are too large and harshly scrape my skin. Therefore, I was apprehensive about trying this.

This morning, I applied it to my face and rubbed very gently, avoiding the areas around my eyes. The package recommends you use this twice a week and slowly massage it onto your skin for one-two minutes. I found this length of time too excessive and rinsed it off sooner.

I have to admit that my skin is delightfully soft. There’s a lot of empty space in this tube, but I think I can still get at least 3-4 more uses out of it (you only need a dab). I like this product, though $78 is too steep for a full-sized product, even with the 20% discount.

eye shadow.jpg

I also like this eye shadow. Champagne is a neutral, shimmery color I can use as a base or to highlight. Be careful. The powder is very delicate. I accidentally nicked it with my nail and a chunk went flying.

eye pencil.jpg

I also like this eye pencil. Having dark hair, I prefer black eye liners. Typically, I buy black eye shadow and apply it with a small or angled brush dampened with water. I’ve never had success with eye pencils or liquid liners because they smear or flake-off into my contacts.

The reviews on the ipsy site are mostly positive for this product and I can understand why. The pencil glides on smoothly and seems to be mostly waterproof. The test line I drew on my hand yesterday is still there even after a shower and many hand washings. And, it hasn’t smudged around my eyes this morning.

This pencil is not quite a full size but I see it lasting a long time.

Shadow Brush.jpg

This shadow brush is the lowest value item but it’s a practical one that I need.

My current shadow brush is years old and looks like a mess. I remember former art instructors telling us not to give our paintbrushes headaches. Oops.

The fibers are very soft and when I tugged on them, they remained firmly secured.

Lip Pencil.jpg

Now, for my least favorite product this month. A lip pencil.

I conducted an internet search investigating the purpose of a lip pencil. They supposedly help people define the lip shape, prevent feathering, and ensure there is color on the lips after lipstick wears off.

This is not a product I seek and I’m not concerned enough with these issues to buy a product that specifically addresses them. I gave it a try. The nude color is a little peachy and doesn’t compliment my skin tone or dark hair and eyes.

On a positive note, the product glides on smoothly and is made of a more moisturizing substance that differs than those old-fashioned lip pencils you have to sharpen. I remember playing with my mom’s lip pencils during middle school and high school.

Concluding Thoughts
I like most of the products in my April bag and will use them regularly. A hooray for no fake lashes, BB creams, or foundations!

Although my ipsy reviews are getting a lot of page views, I am feeling the urge to try a new subscription service. I just signed up for my first month of NatureBox which offers half-off your first box (the lowest-price box contains your choice five bags of snacks for $20). While I enjoy my ipsy bags, I can’t eat my ipsy bags and we’re always looking for snacks we can take to work. I read mixed reviews about NatureBox, so I’ll share what we learn soon.

I’m also considering cancelling my ipsy subscription and trying a Memebox, a Korean beauty subscription service. The least expensive boxes cost $23 plus $7 shipping. If you sign up and get a referral email from someone with an account you will receive a $7 credit. As a Korean, I’d be curious to try Korean products and see if the colors jive better with my complexion.

ipsy Glam Bag Review: March 2014


My March 2014 ipsy bag is indeed Destination Beauty themed if your destination is somewhere tropical.

In case you are unfamiliar with ipsy, it’s a monthly sample subscription service. You pay $10/month and receive a cosmetic bag filled with four-five beauty samples. The bag’s contents are supposedly based on the results of an online quiz you complete regarding your beauty preferences. You receive some winner and some losers, but after subscribing for four months, I consider it a cheap thrill. 

Let’s unpack this month’s bag:


First, I’ll share thoughts on my two, favorite products.

Nail Polish.jpg

I love crazy, bright nail polish colors. Pinks and reds make me feel too normal, so the gaudier the better. This full-sized product contains gritty material that make it textured. You’ll need two coats followed by a clear coat. By the second day, my nail looked dull and dirty, but a top coat would have preserved the effect.

You may notice the remnants of last month’s ipsy nail polish on the rest of my nails. They always end up looking terrible because I’m too impatient to wait for them to completely dry. Between dog ownership, typing, and cooking, my nails usually look chipped and smushed by the end of the first day. Do you have any suggestions?

Update: My friend who writes Iowa blog On the Banks of Squaw Creek let me know the product actually says, “no top coat.”  I totally missed that. 


I have no complaints about this bareMinerals lipstick. It’s a little less than half of a full-sized product, but will last me a while since my full-sized lipsticks last at least a year. This color suits my complexion and the texture is beautifully smooth and moisturizing.

Eye Shadow.jpg

I have mixed feelings about this eye shadow. As you can see, some of the colors are quite. . .tropical. I tried it out this morning and liked it more than I thought. The shadows are shimmery, but I could subtly apply the brown colors with a brush. Then, I applied the blue shadow with the tiny brush I use to apply my eye liner. It added a discreet sparkle without looking silly.

This full-sized product does not come with an applicator.


Bah! Not another primer. I’ve got to figure out an algorithm on that beauty quiz to avoid primers and foundations.

This one first appears to have a tint, but is actually quite sheer with a slight shimmer. According to the description on ipsy’s site, it’s supposed to even-out skin tones and nurture skin with antioxidants and age-preventing ingredients.

I can’t say there’s anything wrong with this primer; it’s just that I’m not interested this type of product. I’ll never say never, but, for now, I already feel like I’m caking enough gunk onto my face between a moisturizer, sunscreen, foundation, and powder. Fortunately, I found a friend to make an ipsy trade. Nothing wrong with that.

Were you happy with your ipsy bag this month or do you subscribe to another monthly sample service?

ipsy Glam Bag Review: February 2014

This is not a sponsored post. I pay for my own ipsy sample subscription each month. 

It’s that time again.

Let’s explore what I found in my February ipsy bag.

ipsy bag

This month’s theme of, “The look of love,” seems fitting since the bag arrived the day before Valentine’s Day.

Oh wait, that’s today!

I retook my ipsy profile quiz regarding my beauty preferences and wondered if I’d notice an effect:

Foundation edited

At first, I was excited when I pulled this tube from the bag. I am running out of my sunscreen/moisturizer and hoped I could use this next. This foundation appears much darker than I expected and looked practically orange on my skin.

When I looked up the product reviews on ipsy, I noticed others had similar complaints regarding its color and the fact that there’s a miniscule amount of product in the largish tube. Seriously, it’s a waste of good tube. I really had to squeeze and squish it to get the sample dab.

eye shadow edited

I’ve never tried a liquid eye shadow before. I really like the metallic earth tone color, plus it’s a full-size.

The color of the shadow may look concentrated, but appears sheer and discrete when I apply it to my eyelids. I will incorporate this shadow into my simple, morning make-up routine.

Blush edited

This is a striking, pink-peach melon color. I actually don’t even have a blush brush, so I will have to purchase one before I can try it. I’m not in a hurry, though, because I’ve been really enjoying the Be a Bombshell One Stick in Flustered from my December bag. I can apply it with my fingers and it’s a sheer color that’s easy to blend.

This is also a full-sized product, though it has the lowest retail value.

lip gloss edited

I never get tired of lip products. This product claims to function as a gloss, stain, and plumper. I think this is a sample size, but could not find the volume of the full-sized product so I can’t provide an estimated value of what I received.

Personally, I love this raspberry color and think it compliments my skin tone and dark hair. My critique is that the texture is sticky and doesn’t glide onto the skin smoothly or feel very moisturizing.

According to the product’s description, peptides, avocado, and jojoba oils act as plumpers. Personally, I think lip plumpers are scary so I never buy them. I did not notice any significant plumping effect which eases my mind. I also think the description’s use of the word “peptides” is hilarious.

How the use of the word peptides is helpful in explaining this product’s lip pumping properties to customers is beyond me.

Nevertheless, I like it. I will wear this.

nailpolish Collage

Finally, we have a third, full-sized product. Baby pink nail polish in a Big5Free formula meaning it does not contain chemicals including formaldehyde and phtalates.

Usually I avoid traditional nail polish colors in pinks and reds, but I tried a single coat on my index finger and kind of like it. Plus, Jake thinks the color is pretty, so I can see myself trying this  when I want to dress up for a work event or special occasion.

Final Thoughts
As always, it’s fun to receive a mysterious bag full of beauty samples each month in the mail. I’m not sure adjusting my profile preferences quiz had a huge effect, but it was worth a try.

I am enthusiastic about the lip gloss, eye shadow and nail polish, just ok with the blush, and really hate the foundation. Why must you include foundations, ipsy, why?

For $10 a month, though, not bad.

January 2014 ipsy Glam Bag Review: A Mixed Bag

This is NOT a sponsored post. I pay for my own subscription to ipsy. 

It’s that time again.

I just received my ipsy Glam Bag a couple days ago. I left my profile preferences the same this month and was surprised when the bag was filled with skin care products. The little postcard that reveals the theme said, “19 Reasons 2014 Will Be Amazing,” and listed 19 brands.

I opened my bag to find these products.

Here are my thoughts on each one:

These are very affordable tissues. Although they’re not a product I’d purchase on my own, I will give them a try. My only hesitation is the smell.

I checked out the IPSY sight where Glam Bag subscribers can leave reviews and one of the first ones said, “The wipe smelled like a cheap glass of wine, had I been hungover, it would have made me even more sick!”

These wipes do smell nauseatingly tutti fruitti. I would agree with this reviewer if she was referring to Boone’s Farm.

I like that this is an organic product in which I can actually identify some of the ingredients, unlike most of the others.

The body balm has a curdled texture but melts into the skin.

At first sniff, the balm smells pleasantly citrusy, but once you rub it into your skin it smells like rubber.

I also think it’s a little oily. I really don’t want to smell like rubber.

The color doesn’t suit me well. I wonder if including foundation samples in these bags is like trying to buy someone else clothes, as in it’s best to let a person pick out their own.

I only purchase foundation from stores that let me try them so I don’t waste my money on the wrong color. I typically buy mine from MAC and like their Face & Body Foundation since it’s so light. One bottle lasts me over a year so I think it’s $35 well spent.

First, this is a full-sized product which is pretty spiffy.

The mojito description is a little misleading because it smells and tastes faintly of mint. I imagined a mintier, limier quality.

I didn’t take a photo of the balm because it’s a clear gel. It slides onto the skin very smoothly and I will definitely use this on occasion.

However, I try not to use lip balm too often. My herbalism teacher cautions against regular use of lip balms because your body becomes dependant on them. When I’ve regularly used a lip balm in the past, I have to use it more and more frequently for my lips to stay moisturized.

My 2¢ is that when you are dehydrated, your lips seem to become chapped first so stay hydrated and try not to use lip balms sparingly.

Update 1/19/14: This lip balm does last a very long time. Even through a shower!

This product is supposed to “minimize the appearance of pores and fine-lines.” It’s oil-free and contains Vitamin E.

The reviews seem to be mostly positive, though I typically don’t use seek these types of products. I’m not that concerned with my pores or fine lines and am curious how this product supposedly minimizes them. Is it like a putty that fills them in?

I’ve never given the appearance of my pores a second thought, or anyone else’s for that matter.

Final Thoughts
I love the concept of receiving random products each month for only $10. However, I learned I’m not very interested in skin care products. My skin care routine is very simple. I rinse my face at night with warm water and apply moisturizer. In the morning, I moisturize and apply sunscreen before cosmetics.

When I was an herbalism apprentice, my teacher shared that she noticed a client had strikingly beautiful skin. When my teacher asked what her secret was, she replied that in her culture, women just rinse their face with warm water at night. I’ve been doing this ever since with good results, however, my skin leans towards being too dry rather than oily.

The dry North Dakota winters were especially harsh on my skin and the only product that worked for me was emu oil. It sounds like a strange thing to smear on one’s face, but I was desperate for solutions last winter. I’m loyal to a product that’s made from Minnesota emus and is certified by the American Emu Association (AEA).

This is only my second ipsy bag. I will have to tinker with my profile so I don’t receive as many skin care products.

On the plus side, I can always give away the products that I don’t want or trade them with another ipsy subscriber. Plus, who doesn’t like receiving mail?

Do you subscribe to any monthly sample boxes? If you receive ipsy Glam Bags, what were your favorite and least favorite products?

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