US Obsessions

So I’m Canadian. And all shopaholic Canadians know that shopping in the United States means BIG deals. OK.  Maybe not AS amazing right now, given the current dollar situation. But it’s still pretty damn good even when you take the exchange into consideration. Last summer, however, felt like robbery. Our dollar was good, really, really good, and prices were cheap, really, really cheap.

This summer, I had to take it easy on my spending during all of our roadtrips to Montana. Sometimes, even with exchange, you can save money. But it’s important to pay attention and do the calculations quickly to make sure it isn’t smarter to just buy it at home.

Two things I can’t resist buying?? Lip Balm and Gum. Yep. Gum and Lip Balm. Why?! Because the US gets so many cool foods and drinks and limited edition cosmetics that we just don’t get at home.

Every time I go, I find new and glorious beauties. Last year, I fell in love with the Stride Sour Patch Kids line of chewing gum. The year before, Extra Desserts Gum won my tastebuds. This year I screamed with delight when I found the Sour Patch Watermelon Gum. Omg, talk about a taste-gasm.

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I’m always way over the top and insist on buying multiple packs to last me through the year. Plus they are so fun to give to my friends. I love that they are sugar free, but totally kick sweet cravings. I’m not lying when I say I have a box (a recycled sephora gift box) filled with fun American gum flavors. Is that weird?!

My other favorite, Lip Balm. A true addiction. Why does the US get all the cool limited edition lines?! Canadians can find them but we have to order them online and spend a small fortune. So I stock up. Why not?! They make great “Happy Day” gifts. “Here have a pack of gum and a Chapstick just because you’re so fucking adorable“. Basically.

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My most recent additions:
• Vaseline Creme Brulee
• EOS Lemon Drop SPF 15
• Chapstick MixStix in Strawberry Banana Smoothie & Raspberry Lemon Sorbet*
• Blistex Orange Mango Blast SPF 15
• Chapstick Tropical Paradise Collection in Mango Sunrise
• Chapstick Tropical Paradise Collection in Aloha Coconut
• Chapstick Cupcake Creations Collection in Cake Batter
• Vaseline Rosy Lips

The best things about stocking up on balms is that I’m fully prepared for the dry winter months!! I swear I searched for the Rosy Lips for over a year before I finally tracked it down (and in stock) at Target in Kalispell, MT. Nothing beats Vaseline when your lips are hella chapped. Adding yummy scents like Creme Brulee, or hints of color like Rosy Lips, just makes Vaseline feel like a legit lip treatment. Compared to the days of digging in the entire Vaseline tub, and getting it all over your hands, just for some lip relief.

Chapstick has really stepped up their game. Long gone are the days of Cherry Chapstick. Their new flavors are amazing. I’m loving the LE collections! And they are only $1 USD. ONE DOLLAR?!?!?!? Shut up. The MixStix are so yummy and I love having the option to wear the balms alone or mix them together for a different experience.

Do you have any products that you stock up on when sales are good?! Do you have an obsession?!!

* I have since found the Chapstick MixStix balms in Canada at Shopper’s Drug Mart. I picked up the Carmel Apple one to complete my collection! ♡

Fab AND Free

Ommmgggggg. Get ready to spend your pennies! Murale (Shopper’s Drug Mart’s upscale Beauty Boutique) is offering a FABULOUS free gift with all $125 CAD purchases. The offer is valid in stores and online until September 20th!

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You get a cute bag filled with 24 samples. And they are 24 amazing samples. I would use every single one! Will you be making a purchase?! Don’t forget to bring your Shopper’s card to get your Optimum points!! ♡

Why I Cancelled Birchbox Canada …

I haven’t talked about Birchbox Canada since April’s missing box mix up. I decided I needed to give Birchbox a minimum of three more months to really get a feel for their products, designs, and business in general. In the end, I decided to cancel. Would I go back? Possibly. Would I recommend them to others? Yes. So why did I cancel? I’ll drop it down low, break it down month by month. Grab your popcorn. This is going to be a long one …

May’s Cupcakes and Cashmere Box

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My box arrived in a complete mess. My Laqa & Co Lip Lube was smeared all over my products. I was able to clean and salvage 4 of the 5 items I was sent. I immediately contacted Birchbox Canada via email. They responded promptly and solved the issue by sending me a brand new box. I though this was unbelievable customer service!! They put a huge effort into making sure to fix the damaged items. Two weeks passed, and no replacement. I emailed them again to get a tracking number on the replacement. They apologized and said it hadn’t been sent out yet (It was now June) and for the inconvenience, they were paying for my July box. Again, amazing customer service. Mistakes happen, and I understand. I love a company that can own up to their mistakes and go above and beyond to make their customers happy and satisfied.

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My May replacement box finally arrived, only a few days before my June box. I got a couple of repeats between the two boxes, but that’s more than ok!!! I got a few different items too. Before we get into my products, I just want to comment on how CUTE these themed boxes are! I absolutely loving finding ways to reuse them.

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First Box
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Products I Received:
• Rusk Paste
• W3LL People The Expressionist Bio Extreme Mascara
• Raw Spirit Fragrance Desert Blush (not pictured, damaged)
• BeeKind Body Lotion
• Laqa & Co Lip Lube in Menatour

I loved everything in this box, except the fragrance (Raw Spirit Fragrance Desert Blush). This was my 3rd Birchbox and already my 2nd fragrance. I have said it before, but I’ll say it again. I’m sensitive to fragrance. I’m picky with my scents. I’m not impressed by receiving samples of things I can get for free with any Sephora order. Birchbox claims to only send a maximum of 6 fragrances in a year, so far they have used up 33% of that promise … Plus, I hated this scent. I’m a citrus, fruity kind of girl. Floral, earthy scents are so NOT my thing. This was the item that was completely damaged for me. The effort to clean it was not worth it to me. Especially since the card it was in was a death trap of purple Menatour stain.

The Rusk Paste is great for taming flyaways in an updo. However, I feel this product would be a better fit for someone with a short hairstyle. It claims to “set” all styles. I have such fine, thin hair, that I found it extremely difficult to find a balance and not appear greasy.

The W3LL People mascara is an awesome all natural mascara. It’s so nice to have a product free of chemicals and dyes. Don’t expect this mascara to mimic the look of falsies!! It’s all natural and gives an “all natural” look. It made my blonde lashes pop and helped to define my eyes, but it didn’t give me extreme, night out worthy lashes. This mascara is perfect for a quick swipe and go, a minimalist look, or an all around easy, daily mascara. The mascara lasted through out the day, but on one day in particular I was out sunning and was wearing sunscreen. The oils in the sunscreen made the mascara smudge under my eyes. Not a huge deal for me, but this mascara will not hold up in any heat/humidity type of situation. I’d suspect the same would happen with oily skin, as sunscreened faces tend to mimic oily complexions.

The BeeKind Body Lotion was a pleasant surprise. I used the tube up almost immediately. It smelled like the most heavenly lemon zest oasis. It absorbed quickly. And it helps support the world’s bee population! My inital reaction was “another lotion …”. But I was quickly turned to “another Fanfuckingtastic lotion that I NEED in my life”. The end.

Last but not least, I finally received a Laqa & Co Lip Lube. I have watched these make the rounds in the subscription box world, but I somehow managed to miss getting them, every time. I received the shade Menatour, a gorgeous purple. I was super excited to get this shade because purple and blue are so hot right now! These pencils are convenient and perfect for on the go, no sharpener needed. They have a light minty scent and are “sheer”. I use the word “sheer” very lightly. I personally found AMAZING color payoff from this Lip Lube. They are glossy and moisturizing. I absolutely love the formula, they are so awesome for an easy no fuss lip without any color compromise. I totally recommend them. In fact, I bought FIVE full size Lip Lubes because I was so in love.

Second (Replacement) Box
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Products I Received:
• Rusk Paste
• W3LL People The Expressionist Bio Extreme Mascara
• Raw Spirit Fragrance Desert Blush
• Naobay Oxygenating Cream Moisturizer
• Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum with Retinol

The Raw Spirit Fragrance Desert Blush is pictured above; this box arrived without any issues or problems. Even though the fragrance arrived without any mess, I still won’t be using it, duh. As for the other items, I’ll just be talking about the two different products that I received.

The Naobay Oxygenating Cream Moisturizer is so nice. It’s made with avacado and olive oils. You can use it on your face or even your body if you find yourself in need of extra moisture. I love how thick this cream is, but it doesn’t leave skin greasy. I brought this mini with me on my trip to Mexico to keep my sun parched skin extra happy.

I’m all about serums lately. I feel like I get so many more benefits out of my moisturizer if I use a serum first. I live in a ridiculously dry climate, and sometimes the most hydrating of moisturizers are still not enough for my skin. I was thrilled to receive the Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum with Retinol. This is a great all around serum, providing anti aging benefits. It also claims to shrink the look of pores, however I don’t have large pores and didn’t really notice a difference. I would be interested to see if anyone did notice a difference??

Overall, May had a few issues but they were resolved and I got a few extra products out of it. Fair! The inital box I was sent was a good fit for me. I had an even mix of makeup versus other beauty products (excluding the fragrance). I was thrilled to finally receive a mini Laqa & Co Lip Lube, even though I had to clean it off of everything. My replacement box was great as a replacement, but I’m happy it wasn’t my inital box pick, too much skincare and not enough makeup for this blondie.

June’s Adventure Box

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I loved (LOVED) the three box designs for June. I loved the sayings and the ombre colors! I was secretly hoping for the “Say Yes” box, even though I loved them all. I’m not engaged yet, but when the day comes, I already know that this box will make an amazing keepsake box. I will save it for years to come, if need be, just to fill it with memories. I was also thrilled that this box arrived without a hitch. That is if you discount the fact that we were all promised a FULL SIZE Eyeko Fat Liquid Liner. A liner that I was very excited to receive. Disappointment arrived a few weeks before my box when I found out that Eyeko was stuck at the border due to “customs issues” and we wouldn’t be receiving it. Naturally, I had hoped Birchbox would send a different full size item, but they didn’t.

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They did send a “bonus” item, a stretchy headband. Although this was a nice addition, it didn’t make up for the Eyeko in my opinion.

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Products I Received:
• Beauty Protector Beauty Wash Body Cleanser
• Coastal Scents Revealed 3 Eyeshadow Quad in Desert Bloom
• PARLOR by Jeff Chastain Moisturizing Sea Salt Spray
• Real Chemistry Luminous 3-Minute Peel
• Skyn Iceland Hydro Cool Firming Eye Gels
• Pura Vida Lace Headband with Charm

Another box with mainly skincare and haircare, and minimal makeup. The Beauty Protector Beauty Wash Body Cleanser came in a super cute white bottle with pink detail. I totally plan to refill this for use when travelling or at the gym. The body wash itself was sub par. It had a slightly sweet scent and did it’s job. I prefer frothy, foamy, sudsy glory. A rich lather and a strong yummy scent. I felt like the wash only semi preformed in those two categories. Yes, I was clean. But I didn’t get to play in mounds of foamy bubbles first.

I was thrilled to receive the Coastal Scents Revealed 3 Eyeshadow Quad in Desert Bloom. First, because I loved my Coastal Scents Blush and Bronzer duo that I received in a past ipsy bag. I have wanted to try something else by this brand for a while now. And second, because I have been dying to try the so called “Naked” dupe Coastal Scents palettes. Now the Revealed 3, specifically, has not been compared as a “dupe” (1 & 2 were), but it would allow me to get an idea of the quality of the shadows. I love the colors included in this quad. Beautiful gold, brown, and burgundy/mauve shades. The quality is decent given the price point. But let’s be real, if the other palettes are a “dupe”, they are really just a budget friendly alternative. These by no means compare to the smooth, extremely pigmented, amazing quality of my Urban Decay babies. The Coastal Scents shadows were still nicely pigmented, went on easily and lasted through out the day. Would I buy the palette? No. I would save my cash for the next UD beauty. Would I recommend the palette to a budget conscious babe? Absolutely.

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PARLOR by Jeff Chastain Moisturizing Sea Salt Spray, Birchbox did you read my mind?!?! I wanted a Sea Salt Spray. Perfect for effortless beachy waves, and even more perfect for when you don’t want to fight with your hair over the heat and humidity of the summer months. The spray was exactly what I was looking for. A non drying product that turned me into a beachy sex goddess. A++++ Birchbox – a hair product that I’m super excited for!!

I’m so nervous to try the Real Chemistry Luminous 3-Minute Peel!! I have super sensitive skin and I’m worried about what this “peel” will do to it. It is acid free and claims to be gentle, but I’m still scared. Has anyone tried it??? I’m also curious if it will take my summer glow away, aka peel off my tan. I’m giving myself a few more months to work up the courage to try the peel. And if I still haven’t tried it, I’ll pass it on to a brave friend. I have a feeling the product will be wonderful and I don’t want it to go to waste.

Finally, I received Skyn Iceland Hydro Cool Firming Eye Gels. These are sooooo refreshing. They are a must for DIY spa days. I feel that they would be AMAZING for relaxing after little sleep. Like on a Red Eye flight, or after pulling an all nighter due to university papers, too much tequila, or newborn babies … (hopefully not all at once). I feel like my eyes instantly looked refreshed and hydrated after use. Eyes are the first to show signs of stress and aging. All the more reason to give them a little extra special love and treatment.

As for my bonus item, the Pura Vida Lace Headband, it is actually super cute. I swear I have an odd shaped head, because headbands never stay on (except for the hard “U” shaped ones). I put the band on, even secure it with bobby pins, and it will just fly off. Legit, fly off. Like pop of the back of my head and hit whatever poor soul is checking out my ass walking behind me. But it was still soooo adorable, so I re gifted it!!

June’s box arrived without any issues, but it was met with extreme disappointment that I (we) wouldn’t be receiving the Eyeko. Overall, I feel meh about my box. I loved 3/5 products (3/6 if you count the headband), and that’s not a high enough ratio for me to be satisfied, especially when my other beauty subscriptions are knocking it out of the park.

July’s Best Health Box

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For the month of July, Birchbox teamed up with Best Health Magazine, even offering a subscription offer. Again, another super cute box design. I think the themed boxes are becoming one of my favorite Birchbox features. It’s a unique twist, exclusive to Birchbox.

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The Best Health Magazine offer was a discount on their subscription service. The promotion was an offer for a year of monthly magazines for $18.97 (45% off the cover price of $34.93). I was expecting a free issue or special deal. This was basically the deal card they include in the pages of the magazine. In other words, available to ANYONE simply by opening up the pages.

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Products I Received:
• Number 4 Clarifying Shampoo
• Vasanti Cosmetics BrightenUp! Enzymatic Face Rejuvenator
• Benefit Cosmetics They’re Real! Mascara
• Acure Organics Sensitive Facial Cleanser
• Bain de Terre Argan Oil & Passion Flower Color Therapy Styling Oil

Right off the bat I thought I had a repeat item. Number 4 Clarifying Shampoo. A repeat after only 5 boxes?! No, it isn’t a repeat, but rather a different type of shampoo. I didn’t like the Number 4 Hydrating Shampoo I got in my March box. The smell was terrible. The shampoo was meh. I’m not overly thrilled to try another type by the same company. However, major points for the cute elephant on the front of the bottle.

Vasanti!! Yes I LOVE Vasanti. This is another item I have seen making the rounds in subscription boxes. I’m thrilled (beyond thrilled actually) that I received the Vasanti Cosmetics BrightenUp! Enzymatic Face Rejuvenator in my box. They are such an amazing Canadian brand! They have great makeup and skincare products. This scrub was just as phenomenal as I had hoped it would be. The micro crystals are so fine and smooth. They polish away dull and dry skin in no time. This scrub didn’t irritate my sensitive skin at all. It left my face looking and feeling fresh and healthy. The recommendation was to use it 3 to 5 times per week. But for sensitive, fair skin like mine, I wouldn’t use it more than twice a week tops.

A scrub and a cleanser this month. Another cleanser to blend into the mix of cleansers I have accumulated. This is a really nice cleanser though! Acure Organics Sensitive Facial Cleanser is, well, organic, surprise. It is also fine to use on sensitive skin and focuses on not striping the skin of its moisture. So so so important for me to find in a cleanser. This is the perfect size to take on a trip or in an overnight bag.

A product I know and love. A “Holy Grail” kind of product for me. Benefit Cosmetics They’re Real! Mascara, my absolute favorite mascara. If I had to pick only one mascara to use for the rest of my life, it would be this one. I love the brush. It’s a plastic brush, but I absolutely love what it does for my lashes. Lifts, separates, volumizes, and lengthens. They really do look like falsies. I have read that people have a really hard time removing this mascara. I personally have never had that problem. A wet cotton pad and waterproof remover works wonders. Coconut oil or cold cream works well in a pinch.

My final item was a mini vial of Bain de Terre Argan Oil & Passion Flower Color Therapy Styling Oil. Another oil from another subscription box. This works to smooth flyaways and can be put into hair wet or dry. I prefer to style my hair by adding it wet. On static filled days I will rub a teeny TINY amount between my hands and quickly run through my dry styled hair. It’s a great product, but it’s a great one among many.

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This was and will be my final Birchbox. I love two of the products I got this month but the other three were just mediocre. It’s not that they were bad products, they just weren’t for me or the types of products I’m looking for in a subscription service.

Here is an overview of the things I found during my five months with Birchbox Canada. The good and the not so good.

The love mes:
• The price ($10 CAD + $4.95 CAD shipping) is in Canadian Dollars. Meaning the price is fixed. Right now with the low CAD to USD, it’s nice to know exactly what the charge will be every month.
• Birchbox has started making themed boxes. They are so cute and so nice to reuse for storage or gifting.
• All boxes come with a detailed card outlining the products with descriptions and full size prices.
• Birchbox has an amazing shop. They have great items available, and you get points for the money you spend. Every month the featured items from boxes ship for free. This is a great deal for Canadian members.
• The points system is one of the best programs available in a subscription service. 10 points for every review (5 items in a box!). 1 point for every $1 spent in the shop. 50 points for every referral. Every 100 points gets you $10 to use in the shop. It’s that easy. And you can use it on any full size product they offer (you can’t use it for your subscription service).
• They have amazing customer service. If there is a problem they will fix it for you. And not just fix it, they make up for the inconvenience. I always heard back in a timely manner. No email went unanswered. Cancelling your subscription is also super easy to do. Literally a click of a button.

The love me nots:
• A missing designer box, a box that was damaged and all over the contents inside, a promised Eyeko that never made it into our box … all of these things were an annoyance. Yes, they were resolved, but it’s easier when everything goes smoothly.
• Birchbox is much more geared to a wide selection of beauty products. Skincare, hair care, and at least one makeup item. I prefer makeup, so this is only a “love me not” because of my personal preferences. If I’m going to get more skincare type items, I prefer higher end brands, to brands I have never heard of. In Canada, finding these unique brands, and having them not cost a fortune to ship, can be pretty difficult.
• Although the shop has amazing products, and a phenomenal points program, there is a hidden fee when Canadians purchase over $20 CAD, an International Handling Fee. It can turn a cheap purchase into a splurge. However, if you save up your points and wait for something you like to be a featured monthly item, you can get a great deal and end up only paying the CAD handling fee. In addition, they sometimes have combo packs for featured products that allow you to get multiple products and save.
• Birchbox CA recently stopped operating a separate social media account. They have now merged with Birchbox’s sites. This can be confusing and frustrating to Canadian customers because not all of the options for US customers available to us. Like products offered or the ability to pick your samples.

Overall, I think Birchbox Canada is an amazing subscription service. Especially if you are looking for a wide range of beauty products and tools. I mean we can’t forget that EVERYBODY got a Beauty Blender. I would totally resubscribe for another amazing offer like that. You can also have faith giving your money to this company. They will make it right no matter what, and you can cancel at anytime with no issues.

So that, my beauty bitches, is why I would “say yes” to anyone who asks if they should try Birchbox CA. But it is also why this girly cancelled!! ♡♡