I've got a (Miga)BEE Allergy

The one good thing about getting sick is that it forces you to slow down. I've had the My Honey Box from Memebox sitting around my house for a few days now, and I was finally able to play with it. This isn't a new box by any means, so I already knew what to expect when I bought it on a restock at the beginning of the month. I was mostly intrigued by the Edmong Honeybee Water Cream and the Migabee Antipollution RE-Peeling Gel. It wasn't until after I purchased the box and it shipped, that I went back and read the product descriptions for the two more closely, and picked up on a potential problem. The Water Cream was fine, but ...

"MIGABEE Antipollution RE-Peeling: This is a peel-off type of facial pack enriched with natural ingredients renown(ed) for (their) nourishing and brightening effects - honey, bee venom, propolis, (and) royal jelly. It'll work to exfoliate dead skin cells, blackheads, and whiteheads, and to control excess oil and sebum, by maintaining the skin clean and well balanced." (I don't even know how to edit that last fragment to sound like English, sorry.)

Honey, propolis, and royal jelly - I like all of those things. Bee venom, on the other hand, is one of the only allergies that I have not managed to grow out of. Unfortunately, no one on any forum, blog, or Facebook group could tell me whether I would have a reaction to this stuff. They only thing anyone could recommend was to patch test it. My bee sting allergy isn't life threatening, but it causes severe discomfort. I get red and swollen and develop hives. Since I was already feeling kind of gross, I figured today would be the day to risk it and try the stuff out. Not on my face, because I'm groggy, not insane, but on my hand.

Geez, I really wanted this stuff to have an insignificant amount of bee venom. I like to exfoliate dead skin cells and control my oil and sebum. But alas, it was not meant to be. The results of my patch test above tell my sad tale. It was fine upon initial contact with my skin, but after 10 minutes I could see that my hand was noticeably more red than before. After I peeled the dried gel off, my skin was much redder and felt pretty itchy, as well as burned a bit. It took a while before the swelling became apparent, but it came just the same.

So long, Migabee. I wish I could say it's been a pleasure. My swollen hand made me feel otherwise. Luckily, the swelling did subside after about 2 hours. I wish I could give a review on the actual product performance, because so many people adore it and have it on their holy grail skincare list. Unfortunately, all I can say is, anyone with a bee allergy, stay away.

Note: I've included my Memebox affiliate link in this post for anyone interested in checking it out. You can use the code XP1OWK to get $5 off any order of $30 or more. They are having a Black Friday sale tomorrow, but it seems to be only in their US Shop. Boo.


Heelloooooo Poppets aka Ettang's Mrs. Doubtfire Mask Review

I've been pretty impatient waiting for my Competition Box supplies to come in. In order to stop myself from getting upset over the fact that the face charts I ordered on Ebay were on regular computer paper and I could have printed them myself at home, or that my safety pins still have not arrived from Germany, I end up trying every 'miracle' product I've been hoarding in my bathroom cupboards. Whoa, run on sentence.

Anywho, I've been fiddling with these Ettang Modeling Take-Out Cup Masks, which I purchased in Memebox's Memeshop, for two weeks now. I could not get the consistency right for the life of me. It doesn't help that the instructions are barely in English. But today was the day ... I did it.  My Calendula and Oatmeal masks were casualties of my first experiments, so this time I fiddled with my least favourite mask of the bunch, Peppermint. Figures this would be the one I get right. I mixed it at about a 1:1 ratio of powder to water. I tried it at a 1:2 and 1:3 and both were just too watery. The masks ran down my face, neck, and chest, and didn't firm up like they were supposed to.

I got most of the information on these products from Amazon. I do wish Memebox provided at least a translation of the selection being included in the Ettang Take-Out Pack, and the purpose of each mask, but at least the information is out there somewhere on the interwebs. According to Amazon, the Peppermint Modeling cup is for skin soothing, skin refreshment, and skin conditioning. Nothing too earth shattering.

So, did it do it's job? I think so. I mean, when I took it off my face was baby soft, even though my skin itself felt a bit tighter. The photo above is a close up of what the mask looked like when I peeled it off my face. Besides air bubbles I don't know what the heck is on there. Could it really have pulled all that junk out of my pores? If so, the mask was probably worth all the attempts and the 20 minutes I had to sit around doing nothing while it dried.
Would I buy this product again? Maybe. They are pretty messy. I had powder and little bits of rubber everywhere by the time I was done. I might save the rest of the cups for special occasions only.

The funny thing is, regardless of the texture I achieve, I always feel like Mrs. Doubtfire. You know the scene where the case worker stops by and Robin Williams gets his disguise run over, so he he has to improvise and ends up shoving his face into a lemon meringue pie and calling it a  beauty 'mask'? That is what you look like in these masks. They even melt off your face 'like a snowcone', again, even after perfect mixing. In case you have no idea what I'm talking about, I refer you to the video clip below:

(I'm sharing this clip from Yeah Okay's Youtube account. They had a Blogger share button so I hope it's ok to do so.)

Note: I've included my Memebox affiliate link in this post for anyone interested in checking it out. You can use the code XP1OWK to get $5 off any order of $30 or more.


The Competition Box's Box Competition

 A few days ago I fell out of love with both Topbox and Ipsy. My November bags from each service were less than stellar. Because of this, I decided to take a long, hard look at my monthly subscriptions and see if there were other places that gave me more value for my money. It was time for a beauty box showdown! It's just like shopping around to find the bank with the offering the best interest rate. Even if subs are luxuries and not serious financial investments, they still have to feel worth it.

The Cost Breakdown:
Ipsy: $10 USD + $4.95 S&H = $14.95 USD total (or $17.19 CAD with the exchange rate)
Top Box: $12 CAD + HST = $13.56 CAD total

What I received in each box: 

ClariSEA Sea Salt Solutions Instant Glow Powder Exfoliant
Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Skin Protectant
FULL SIZE Elizabeth Mott You're So FINE Eyeliner
Marc Anthony Oil of Morocco Argan Oil Volume Shine Hairspray
FULL SIZE Nicole by OPI Nail Polish in Guys & Galaxies

Out of this bag, I tossed the ClariSEA since it needed to be mixed with my own cleanser (which already has an exfoliant) and most of the ingredients I could combine in my own pantry if I wished to do so (I don't). I also got rid of the Elizabeth Arden cream because I'm not a fan of the brand and the sample sent was too tiny to trade. I'm saving the eyeliner for the Holiday Party Season, where I'm sure to get use out of it. Even though I didn't care for them, my mother found use for the hairspray, and my little girl fell in love with the polish. If these two items weren't confiscated, I could have have at least traded them for something I really wanted.

Usefulness: 3/5
Full Size Products: 2/5
Total Value: $27.99 CAD (I only count the value of the full size products since all of the other ones are basically 'free samples')

Eyeko Black Magic Mascara
Elizabeth Arden Flawless Future Powered by Ceramide Caplet Serum
UniqOne All in One Hair Treatment
Benefit stay flawless 15-hour primer

I was so disappointed when I opened the bag, mostly because I was expecting five products, not the usual four. Topbox sent out an email claiming that Benefit would be throwing in an extra sample into this month's bag if they received 17,000 followers on Instagram. They met their goal, but instead of receiving the primer as a bonus item, it was included as one of the guaranteed four. I really did not appreciate this. First off, I basically had to 'work' for the sample, even though I was legitimately paying for it, and secondly, it made me assume that they had always planned on including this product in the bag, whether Benefit met their goal or not. The upset kept on coming though, because all of the samples this month were tiny, except for the mascara, and the hair treatment was actually labelled "free sample". I gave the mascara to the DD for when she plays makeup, tossed the primer in with my multitude of Benefit samples (all from Topbox), and trashed the other two items.

Usefulness: 1/4
Full Size Products: 0/4
Total Value: A whopping $0 CAD

In the end, I decided to cancel my Topbox subscription and give Ipsy one more chance to impress me. I also subscribed to Birchbox Canada. I took a look at the boxes sent out in the previous months and felt confident in spending the $14.95 ($10 + $4.95 S&H) to test out their December offerings. Another plus that I noticed after signing up? Birchbox was charging in Canadian funds. No fluctuating exchange rate to worry about! Glossybox was also an option I was looking in to, but for $26 USD per month with shipping, I couldn't bring myself to pull the trigger. I usually pay about the same for my Memeboxes, and they are at least guaranteed to include 6 full size items.

Note: This post contains some affiliate links.


Kiddie Mani feat. Makeup by One Direction

A few days ago I was sent some Makeup by One Direction samples to review from BrandBacker (This post is powered by BrandBacker). Unfortunately, before I could even open the boxes, they were confiscated by my little girl. After some begging and pleading on my part, she decided she would 'allow' me to take some photos of her using the products to give herself a mani.

First off, she decided to use their neon pink shade, "Moments"

She really loves the polish because the lid is large enough for her to get a good grip on, and the brush is the perfect size for tiny fingers and fingernails. This is probably the first time she's managed a solo-mani without getting polish all over herself and my nice towels.

Next came the glitter in "Kicks", which is described on the box as a "snow cone blue".

I noticed a few things about the 1D polish while she was doing her nails that I really liked. The color is buildable, which makes it age appropriate for young kids (like the little 7-year-old in these photos) AND their moms (the neon pink is coming with me on my next beach vaca). All the DD needed was one layer of polish and glitter for her sweet pink mani, while I would probably use about 2-3 for a seriously fun pedi.

 The nail polish and glitter are also supposed to be UV-reactive, which may get tested the next time we go Cosmic Bowling. 

The newest collection should be in stores already, so after seeing how much the kiddo enjoyed this set, I'm thinking I need to head over to Walmart before the holidays to pick up some stocking stuffers. She would probably get a kick out of their hair mascara and go nuts over their full beauty tins. If only she could decide which member of 1D is her fave, it would make my shopping much simpler. Obviously each member has his own 'collection'.

All the info on the Makeup by One Direction line can be found on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/MakeupbyOneDirection

You can also enter to win some of it here: Makeup by One Direction Giveaway


It Takes Me Twenty Minutes to Wash My Face

For the past few months I have been ranting and raving to anyone who will listen about The Face Shop. They are a Korean beauty retailer who bought out the Fruits and Passion chain in Canada and converted all their stores into perfectly lit slices of kitsch heaven. My mall actually has two of them.

Besides a few masks here and there, my Face Shop purchases have been strictly makeup. I am pretty sure I own their full line of lip balms, lip tints, cheek blushers, nail tattoos and Mini Pet hand creams. When I decided to branch out to find other Korean makeup retailers, I came across Memebox, the online K-Beauty 'subscription box' service. Everyone knows I can't resist a sub-box.
I've received a few masks, cleansers, and serums along with the makeup I was after, but used them casually. I tried to integrate them into my Western skincare routine, but I didn't really think they were making much of a difference. It turns out, I was doing it all wrong. Each one of these potions and lotions serves an important purpose, which I'm still trying to understand. Honestly, I didn't realize the composition of the products and the order they were used in was such a big deal until I read this amazing blog post over at Harlot Beauty.
Today I tried it ... and my face feels like a baby's butt. I actually unwrapped all of the items I received in my Skinfood Memebox, picked up the missing essentials at The Face Shop, and did a full run through. It took twenty minutes and it was twenty minutes well spent. I mentioned previously that the skin on my face is comparable to that of an elephant, well, not anymore!

I'm going to give it a few days before I write a glowing review of these Skinfood and Face Shop items, only because this euphoria could be temporary. But for my face's sake, I hope not!

Note: I've included my Memebox affiliate link in this post for anyone interested in checking it out. You can use the code XP1OWK to get $5 off any order of $30 or more.


The Perfect Makeup Removal Technique for Tiny Eyes & Errors?


Trying to get a child to stay still during the stage makeup process is almost impossible, especially one who is as hyperactive and restless as my little dancer. She's like a bobble-head; if I'm not holding her steady, she ends up with lipstick in her ear. The absolute worst is when her face is on perfectly, then I go to apply that final coat of mascara or lipstick, and she decides it's about time for some sudden movements.

There isn't always time to re-apply a full lip or re-do a whole eyelid right before a number or during a quick-change. I was so frustrated during our final competition last season, that I was about ready to throw in the towel and let the DD go on stage with black eyeliner all over her upper eyelid. Of course she thought it would be a good idea to have a ferocious blinking contest with a friend after just getting a fresh coat of MAC liquid liner! Luckily, right before I had a nervous breakdown backstage, a seasoned dance mom felt sorry for me and fixed up my girl. She then taught me how to make two of the staples in my dance bag work together to fight those irritating makeup mishaps.

I give you the Q-Tip and the Makeup Wipe Combo:

Sure, they're pretty handy on their own but, when they work together, these two little items make magic. You just wrap the wipe tightly around one end of the Q-Tip and use that on any makeup oops you need to get rid of quickly.

 Using a Q-Tip dipped in a liquid makeup remover may seem fine; however, when you're kid is on stage with the lights hitting that visible streak down her face from the extra liquid that you forgot to squeeze off the tip, you'll be kicking yourself. Makeup Wipes on their own don't work well, because they don't provide the precision that the Q-Tip does. I end up removing half of the DD's eye makeup with one swipe. What works for my own makeup flubs doesn't necessarily translate when I'm working with a face that's half the size.

I learned this trick just in time for our studio's year-end showcase. I saved myself a lot of grief, and my girl a lot of lectures on the virtue of sitting still. No problem is too small to fix now. I will definitely be including these two products in my kit, as they are a must-have for any dancer/dance parent at a competition!


Slowly Building the 'Brand'

 Once I decided to really give my Competition Box idea a try, the first thing I did, besides set up this blog, was look for little ways to get the word out. Aside from spamming everyone on my social media accounts, I needed something I could physically give to people I encountered at studios and conventions. When I came across a deal on Groupon for personalized stamps from 2712 Designs, I figured it was a great place to start. I ordered a few different styles and sizes so I could stamp anything I had on hand. I know eventually I will also end up using them on whatever 'packaging' I offer the bag contents in.

My first stamp came yesterday, and I'm obsessed. It's the largest stamp I ordered, and the one containing all the basics - name, email, and blog address. Once I get my domain up and running, I am definitely ordering another one. It's the perfect size and style to create my own minimalist business cards. Right now, though, this one is perfect to label the samples I give out, and to leave my mark on any other random surface I feel will be seen by the people I want to reach. It's self inking and compact enough to carry around in my purse, so along with the kraft tags and scrapbook cut-outs I bought, I'll always be ready to stamp up a storm and promote myself when I need to.

I could have probably gotten a stamp made for the same price at Staples or OfficeMax, but the styles at 2712 are too adorable. Plus, each stamp is made by hand and the crafts-person leaves their own little signature on your invoice. It just has a nice, personal touch you wouldn't get from one of those big box office supply chains.

I can't wait to receive my mini wood stamps!

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