Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Loot Crate Anniversary Review - December 2014 + Discount Code

I've been subscribed to Loot Crate for a little over a year. And despite the high price, I stay subscribed because I absolutely love it. On average I get a shirt every other month, but sometimes multiple months in a row, always valuing total $15 or more. On the months I don't get a shirt, like this month, I always get something of at least $15 in value as a big item. Pop vinyls, Wallets, etc. You also frequently get promo codes for future purchases at the companies they do business with. So far I've actually purchased from companies like shirt.woot.com and teefury.com because of their service introducing me to them. And that's not even the half of what you get.

It's the perfect box for gamers, lovers of graphic novels, anime and nerd/geek culture alike. Everything from Pop Vinyl figures, gear from upcoming games/major gaming companies (see their Titanfall box, or Valve box), and more. They theme their boxes monthly, and everything within will fit that theme. Is the theme Space? You'll most likely get items from the Star Wars universe, or Star Trek - and perhaps even Firefly. It's a super fun service I recommend highly at least trying.

This arrived on December 20th, which is exactly when they say boxes will arrive by. It's actually extremely early, most of the time it arrives around the 23rd or 24th of each month for me.

The month's theme is Anniversary, celebrating various Anniversaries - including Batman's 75th, Marvel's 75th and Ghostbusters' 30th! I'm not the biggest DC fan (though I love several Batman characters dearly, and I enjoyed all the movies past and present) but I'm an extreme Marvel fangirl. I've read every comic, seen every movie, played every game. Read every wiki article about every character to ensure I didn't miss anything. And who doesn't love Ghostbusters? So I'm beyond excited to say the least.

I'm absolutely thrilled with this wallet. I've previously through Loot Crate received a Batman wallet, and still use it when I don't want to bring my purse and billfold somewhere. I love how vibrant they are, and how well detailed they are. The major selling point for me however is they're eco-friendly. They're made out of 25% recycled plastic, and are fully recyclable. They're made out of High-density polyethylene and so they're extremely durable and waterproof. They may look like paper, and feel like paper, but they're not. Amazing value, especially considering the box costs only $5 more than this wallet would.

Avengers Assemble Vanilla Car Air Freshener, UNKNOWN
I have no idea what the price is of this item, or where to buy it, no matter how hard I search. It's a novelty item, so it's obviously not adding a ton of value to the box, but I think it's cute and fun to have around, and despite Captain America not being my ultimate favorite Marvel character, I still love to show support however I can, so I'll definitely use this. Smells like artificial vanilla. Very normal, but cute.

Tetris Sticker Set, $7.65 @ Amazon
I'm more excited by these than I should be. I don't know a single person who hasn't played Tetris in their lives, and it was especially satisfying for me growing up because of my OCD. Everything falling into place was just the most beautiful thing on the planet to me. And now I can make adorable art with these little stickers. They're high quality, and the adhesive seems pretty strong. A++ for this one. I might even buy more, who knows.

Marvel Guardians of the Galaxy 'I Am Groot' Socks, UNKNOWN
I'm going to say these are my absolute favorite out of the crate. Guardians of the Galaxy was one of the best comic series and easily made one of the best movies in Marvel history, and who can say they didn't adore Groot? The design is adorable, they're high quality and feel super soft, and once again they're Marvel branded so they're supporting the company. If I could find where these are sold, if anywhere, I'd buy every pair. I've previously received a Deadpool pair in a past crate, and I'm happy to say they're still holding up. No seam issues, snagging, pilling or anything. I'd recommend them to anyone who can find them.

This is once again another Loot Crate exclusive, can't find on their website. So you're at the mercy of online sellers here, selling their Loot Crate. It's amazingly detailed, and of high quality as you'd expect of Funkos products. I'm definitely keeping and displaying this one, it's truly unique. Highest valued item in the entire crate, I'd say. I'm impressed.

Ghostbusters' Loot Crate Exclusive Slimer Door Hanger, $7 @ Ebay
So once again, another exclusive item which you're only going to be able to find seemingly through sellers on Ebay, selling their extras. I'm really happy with how many exclusive items there are, it feels like it adds a lot more value. I absolutely adore this little hanger and if I lived with roommates, I'd be able to utilize it to it's best potential. But it's still fun to have hanging around. Excellent addition.

The link I shared is for part 2 of Endgame, and is the normal copy. This is a Loot Crate exclusive copy, and seems to be both part 1 & 2 but I'm unsure. I'll have to double check. I don't really want to open it, it's so pretty. You also get a bonus Digital Download of the first three chapters of Arkham Unhinged, which is bound to be amazing. I've always been more into the villains of the Batman universe than Batman himself. So I'm super interested. Great value, and I love the exclusive comics. I got a Walking Dead one one month and I love it dearly. Great way to celebrate 75 years.

There were also 3 Bonus items not pictured, including a Loot Crate Anniversary badge (they include a little badge themed with the month with every crate), a month free of Crunchyroll which I'll greatly enjoy, and a tiny little candycane which I promptly put on my little 4'5" tree. Fit nicely.

Overall, the value of this Crate was well over $50 just based on the items you can find online right now, but some are unaccounted for still and don't have a determined worth. It was an amazing crate, and one of my favorites so far. Well worth the price, I'd say.

If you like what you see, and you'd like to subscribe, head over to Loot Crate now. You can currently get $3 off your first crate using the code Save3. Order by January 19th to be able to get the January Crate.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Ipsy Review - December 2014

Ipsy is probably my all time favorite subscription service, tied closely with Love With Food. I frequently get full sized products from them and they're almost always exactly perfect for both my skin tone/type/hair type, AND personality. After taking a quick quiz to show them exactly what your style is, you're put on a waitlist. Eventually, you become an Ipsy subscriber and you can look forward to deluxe samples and full size products from brands like Cailyn, Nyx, tarte, Pixi, Elizabeth Mott, Be A Bombshell, OPI and many more!

The best part of this service for me however, is that every month instead of a box, you get a one of a kind makeup bag to contain all your goodies. I may do a post eventually showing my favorites I've received so far. They're always high quality, and have stunning detail. I haven't had a single one fall apart on me in any way. For every review you do, and product you share on facebook you get ipsyPoints and once you rack up enough, you can get exclusive items as rewards. You also get major discounts on all the brands you receive items from. This service is well worth your money.

How much money exactly? A mere $10 a month. Ships across the US and it's territories, APO, DPO, FPO and Canada.

It arrived December 11th. The bag consistently for me arrives anywhere from the 10th-12th, though sometimes I get lucky and it arrives earlier.

My opinion? The makeup bag this month isn't the most stunning or unique bag they've had so far visually, however it's quality is excellent, and it's more spacious and easy to use than some of their past ones which had a front zipper on a flat bag. A little difficult to fit things into neatly. The dark, deep wine/plum mixture of a color accents the black exceptionally well, making for a more elegant and sleek bag. As for the items? Brilliant as ever. Multiple items were favorites in this bag for varied reasons. Let's examine them more closely for a more detailed review.

Beauty Without Cruelty is a cruelty free brand (no animal testing and vegan ingredients), and this particular product is paraben free, and PH balanced. Among it's ingredients are Lavender, Honeysuckle, Camomile, Cucumber and Aloe Vera extracts. Along with Lavender, Ylang Ylang, Geranium & Sweet Orange oils. The '3% A.H.A.' part of the title means it contains 3% beta-hydroxy-acids which slows the effects of aging, improving fine lines and wrinkles, and offers a deep cleansing. The sample size I recieved is a deluxe sample and I've gotten 5+ uses out of it so far. 2.8oz compared to the full size of 8.5oz. 

I've tried this product and I've got to say, from the view of someone with extremely sensitive skin, this product is VERY gentle and very effective. I felt it cleansed my face without stripping away positive oils, leaving it dry, and without aggravating my skin problems. In fact after several uses, I noticed slightly clearer skin. I might pick this up in the future in replacement of my Cetaphil. It's surprisingly affordable, and I love that it's 100% vegan. Ipsy offered me with this product 15% off all products through Beauty Without Cruelty. They don't currently have this cleanser on their site for purchase or I'd definitely use that code.

CAILYN Cosmetics Just Mineral Eye Polish, $15.00 @ CAILYN Cosmetics Website
I received a FULL SIZE sample in the color Orchid. CAILYN is notorious for sending out full size products instead of samples, and they never have disappointed me. The color payoff is very nice, it's a beautiful shimmery pink. Almost light enough to call it more of a highlight. But it blends VERY nicely, and looks absolutely stunning. Wearing it alone with white eyeliner makes your eyes just brighten completely and gives them life and depth. Absolutely perfect shade for someone like me who can't really wear dark colors. And it brings out the pink in my skin tone. 

It has a wonderful soft sponge applicator, and it's 100% minerals so you don't get the smudging and caking you can get from normal eyeshadows. Even a small sample would have lasted me a long time, but being given a full size sample makes this even more wonderful. By far my favorite in the bag. And with 20% off storewide curtesy of ipsy, I'll be buying at least 1-2 other shades.

NYX Butter Lip Balm, $4.00 @ Nyx Cosmetics Website
I received a FULL SIZE lip balm in the color Marshmallow which is a pure nude shade. It's highly pigmented, and smells and tastes very sweet and candy like. The pure nude pairs wonderfully with a nice mauve or pink lip gloss when doing a dramatic eye. Saves me from having to apply a nude lipstick and then gloss, all on top of a good lip balm. It does well moisturizing, and while it feels a bit thick isn't too overwhelming texture wise. 

I pair it with one of my favorite lip gloss by Juice Beauty in the shades Pink or Fig. You once again get a nifty discount of 25% off NYX Cosmetics Glam Collection.

tarte lights, camera, lashes 4-in-1 Mascara, $20.00 @ tarte Cosmetics website
This mascara is a deluxe sample, and claims to be a true 4-in-1. Lengthening, Curling, Volumizing and Conditioning. I already have very long, thick eyelashes that happen to be pretty dark thankfully. So I'm not the biggest user of mascara, I use it to make my eyes more dramatic on nights out or something of the like, though, so I'm always happy to try new samples. Out of all the mascaras I've ever used this is hands down my favorite. My problem with mascaras is because my eyelashes are so thick and long, most mascaras bog them down and make them feel heavy and honestly like I'm wearing fake ones. They also clump, and feel generally disgusting. 

This formula, however goes on very light and smooth, and stays that way. I already have naturally curled eyelashes but it gives them an extra oomph, and looks like it lengthens them a tiny bit. The best part though is it truly seems to condition. It's soft, light weight and doesn't leave my lashes feeling dry or brittle. I'll use this from now on. I'm so pleased to see high end brands like tarte I've always wanted to try in my Ipsy bag, and with a 20% discount through tarte, I just may be able to get a nice palette I've eyed for a long time.

I've yet to use this product, because I don't blow dry my hair, but I'm hoping it works the same with general heat from heating tools. I'll be sure to update this once I have more information on it, but I'm going to preface it with saying I don't like the Sexy Hair brand, and never have. I've gotten countless products through Ipsy from them over the years and have never found one I liked. But I'll keep giving them chances. If it doesn't work out for me however, I'm sure it could go into someones stocking. The best thing about subscription boxes is even if you don't love something, you're always surrounded by people who will.

Total value? Over $30 with two full sized products and two three truly deluxe samples - well worth the $10 price. There's a reason I've stayed subscribed for so long. ADORE. Will use every product!

If you'd like to subscribe, head over to Ipsy now and take your style quiz!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Graze Review - December 2014 + Promo Code!

Graze is one of my favorites, a subscription service that sends out 4 individually packaged snack samplers - all wholesome, and truly good for you. You get the nutrition information in each box, and each package shows what it has to offer. For example one of my favorites, Cracking Black Pepper Cashews has at least 2 sources of Vitamins & Minerals, and is a good source of Protein. They're perfect for small indulgences, or to throw as a snack into your Gym or Lunch bags. The best part of the service? You can see every product they have to offer on their site, and they allow you to rate how you enjoyed the snacks, or even if you'd never like to try certain ones at all. Be it due to an allergy, or perhaps because you don't like certain foods, you can customize your snacking experience. Set your snacks to Love if you want to receive them frequently, or Trash to never see them (again)!

What's the cost, you say? $6 weekly, bi-weekly or monthly. Ships across the US, but there's also a UK version of the service. You can select their traditional nibblebox, which opens you up to all their options or if you're watching your calories try their calorie counter box. Every box has snacks ranging from 50-150 calories, and all the traditional flavor.

My box arrived on December 8th, very quickly after it was shipped. Snacks were perfectly fresh. Sorry I didn't get individual pictures of all the snacks, I'll be sure to next month. Something came up.

My opinion? I think I've already said all the reasons why this box is amazing, and this month did not change my opinion one bit. In fact, it solidified it. I've finally gotten it almost perfectly tailored to my liking. I'm more of a savory/nut person, and so I don't always enjoy the fruit or dippers they send me. But we've almost gotten it down to a science. I only disliked ONE thing from this box, and it wasn't the taste, more the consistency. I'll give a full rundown of my opinions on each snack below.

The Oat, Spelt & Raisin Dippers were the clear loser of the bunch. The delicious Berry Compote didn't disappoint, though I'd love to have had something a bit denser for it. The dippers were very dry, and fell apart upon being touched. They tasted fine but had no body or depth. I would've liked to see some shortbread perhaps, but a denser less dry shortbread. I get it though, healthy for me. I added it to my trash bin but others may truly enjoy it. Especially those counting their calories, as it comes in at 140 calories and contains whole oats, so it's a hearty snack.

Herby Bread Basket is one of my all time favorites, and I'm always excited to get it. NOTHING disappoints and all the flavors go perfectly together. Best of all? Only 100 calories. And really a filling, and hearty snack. You have beautiful little basil breadsticks, which are rich and have a super nice crisp crunch to them. And then garlic crostini, which are dense and super flavorful. And finally oregano rice crackers, which are one of my favorite things ever and are too dangerous for me to be around. They're herby, and sweet, and lightly crispy. A perfect savory snack.

Speaking of perfect savory snacks, the Cracking Black Pepper Cashews top my list of all time favorites. They're heavily peppered, so they give a nice burning mouth feel, they're perfectly lightly salted and roasted so you get that sweet depth from them. The flavors are perfect with one another. This one isn't low calorie, so I'm sorry you calorie counters won't be seeing it. But the 210 calories are so worth it. You're getting healthy fats, Magnesium (23% dv), Zinc (13% dv), Iron (11% dv), Calcium (2% dv) and a hefty amount of Protein (6g/12% dv). It's wonderful.

And finally we have Rock the Casbah. Sweet chopped dates, seemingly only partially dehydrated because they're still nice and moist and chewy. Perfect seemingly blanched/raw Walnuts and what seems to me roasted Pumpkin Seeds. This BARELY falls out of the low calorie zone, at 160 calories, and contains a lot of nice nutrients - so good for you in fact it's a nutritionist pick. You get once again those healthy fats, Magnesium (19% dv), Phosphorous (15% dv), Iron (7% dv) and Calcium (2% dv) along with 4g of Protein. I love it all, it's very raw and healthy tasting but still super flavorful.

See this link for more information on this month's box. If you'd like to subscribe, you can go to Graze now and enter the promo code 4T67GZZTR to get your 1st and 5th boxes free.

Phone Case of the Month Review - December 2014 + Promo Code!

My first review as you can see from the title, will not actually be a Beauty Box service, but is a subscription service I really enjoyed trying out and may remain subscribed to for at least another couple of months.

Phone Case of the Month is a subscription service that delivers exactly what it sounds like - limited edition phone cases for both iPhones and Samsung Galaxy phones monthly. There are several unique cases each month so you may not get the same ones I get, but I doubt you'll be disappointed. They all have truly unique and interesting designs. And while they're not the heavy duty protective cases you most likely own, especially if you own an iPhone like myself, they're really cute fun ones you can slap on whenever you're going out on special occasions or when you want to have some fun.

Wondering about the cost? $10 monthly. Ships all across the US and internationally for an extra $5.

This arrived in the mail on December 6th, after being shipped out December 2nd. I live in Texas, and it came out of Nevada so it's a quick trip here. It may vary depending on where you are in the country (or longer if you're an international customer).

So what do I think? I'm in love with it. I don't know how they hit the nail on the head with me but I'm currently obsessing over owls. I have a fluffy white owl on my tree, I bought an owl themed laptop bag, and an owl necklace. A month later, this arrives. And its faux-wood design is very appealing to me. I love earthy tones and themes, and dark finishes to wood. As you can see from the table in the background of all my photos. So this perfectly suits me, and I like that it wasn't really themed per se, so I don't have to use it only a certain time of the year. It's truly an any time case. Also as a bonus to this subscription, you get little stickers and other nicknacks and you can also download the image used for your case as a wallpaper on their site, which is pretty nifty. Because it's so beautiful, and so cheap, I think I'll stay subscribed for at least another couple of months.

If you liked the look of this subscription service, and are wanting to try it out yourself, you can go to Phone Case of the Month now and enter the code arm8zaoUWZaE for $5 off your first case, a 50% discount.

*If you have iPhone 6, wait until January of next year, they'll be updating to accommodate you!

A true introduction & favorite products :3

Hello! My name is Amberlyn, I'm 23, and I am an absolute beginner when it comes to makeup and beauty. Due to this fact, for the past two-three years I've been getting into 'Beauty Boxes' to help me find products that work for me on every end of the spectrum. Skin care, makeup, hair care, you name it. I've needed - and found, thankfully - a LOT of help.

All in all, I value skin care the most. This I think is due to the fact I have Rosacea and Eczema. And I'm honestly extremely pale, so SPF is a big deal for me. As is finding the right shades for my skin color. When I got started with my first Beauty Box, I felt pretty limited not only in my skin care products, but also on that odd occasion I wanted to look nice I had NO idea what products were both gentle enough to use on my skin and also strong enough to cover up my vast flaws. I think right now would be a good time to mention that I'm sorry in advance if I'm at all biased towards or against certain products. I do have a very specific skin type, hair type, and I'm very very fair skinned. Not all products will work as well for me as they do anyone else, and vice versa. I guess now I should get into a skin/hair/etc profile to kind've give people an understanding of where I'm coming from with my reviews.

We'll start from highest importance/what I'll be most biased with and work our way down. Number one? My skin. As I mentioned before, I have Rosacea. Which for those who don't really know, is a skin condition centered around the nose and cheeks. It occurs all over the face, but mine is absolutely at it's worst around my cheeks. I have oily skin naturally, but on my forehead, cheeks and nose I get the driest patches ever. They flake constantly. It's so bad most days that literally the second I step out of the shower the patches start to heal over and flake. No amount of moisturizer has helped, thus far. The best I can control it is when I use natural oils such as Grapeseed Oil or Coconut Oil with a nice moisturizer. The more chemicals in anything I use, the redder and most irritated my skin gets. I use mostly Vegan products for this reason. This goes for my body, too. I have Eczema all over my arms, and my skin in general is very sensitive all over. I'll leave all the products I'm using currently at the end of this post, and keep it updated so I can really show if any of the products I receive at any point make enough of a difference to change my rituals.

As for my skin's pigmentation - it's honestly so fair that even the foundations I've found marked 'porcelain'/the lightest shade within a spectrum has been too yellow/tan for me. I find more success mixing light foundations with BB/CC cream. They also help control the flaking - I NEED moisturizing foundations or I just look like a flaky pasty mess. So foundations will be a majorly hard thing to win me over with. And anything that can hide redness offers an extreme bonus, due to the redness on my cheeks and forehead caused by Rosacea.

My hair is my second most paid attention to feature. I had fairly bad chemical damage, I won't go into why right now though. The front of my hair has the most damage and feels very fried/kinky. It's always been naturally curly but the damage to the roots - not sure of the exact science - somehow made it a frizzy curly mess. I pretty much had an afro for most of my youth. We couldn't even brush the hair without me ending up a screaming, crying mess and having major breakage for years. So now, I look for products that tame the frizz and repair the texture of the hair. I've DEFINITELY found that through Birchbox and Ipsy alike, thus far. They have to be all natural, or mostly natural though, as I stated earlier. I have allergic reactions to mostly everything. And they're always red, puffy face, itchy all over allergic reactions. Head to toe needs to be super natural.

Aside from my skin and hair, I have no real preferences. I like nude/earth based colors when it comes to makeup, and I love nail polishes more than I ever will makeup - once again, nude and earth colors but I love having glittery polishes, or really intense polishes for those days I want to be colorful and wild. So now you know. Sorry in advance for any bias, and I've said. I'll try to find redeeming factors for products regardless of how I feel about them, for people with different skin types/pigmentation/hair types than me. And now, for my full list of currently used products.


Head & Shoulders Itchy Scalp Care w/Eucalyptus - Dandruff Shampoo, has an amazing tingling sensation like all the shampoos from Paul Mitchell/etc that your local Salons usually have. Keeps hair super clean without stripping it of essential oils. Smells of a nice deep mint/Eucalyptus.


Aussie Moist 3 Minute Miracle Deep Conditioner - I haven't found many conditioners that tackle frizz and help lock in moisture nearly as well as this has. I absolutely adore this, and even though it's supposed to be used as a deep conditioner, I use is as my primary conditioner. I'm sure there's better conditioners out there I just haven't tried yet, but for now I'm fine with this one. It does exactly what I want it to. Helps with frizz, locks in moisture, and adds shine and silkiness. Nice light smell, I can't quite place it but it's not at all overwhelming.

Styling Products

Aubrey Organics Sea Buckthorn Leave-In Conditioner & Curl Activator - I use this daily after a shower. My fiance's mother gave it to me for Christmas one year, and I absolutely fell in love with it. It leaves my hair feeling baby soft, and my curls feel a little more defined. Overall though I use it for how soft it makes my hair feel, and how it keeps in moisture even during harsh Winter months. It smells lightly spiced, somehow. Almost like nutmeg. It goes on a bit harsh but clears quickly and smells amazing on the hair.

Orofluido Beauty Elixir - An organic mix of 3 hair oils (Argan, Cyprus and Linseed) all in one, which I received from Birchbox as a sample. I noticed a major difference in my hair's texture - it began softening immediately - and my curls were coming together on their own in a very healthy way. It didn't reduce all frizz, but it made me actually feel okay about wearing my hair down. I've since re-purchased 3 times. Remember to those trying though - a little goes a LONG way. My first try I put FAR too much on and my hair looked and felt very oily. Now I put on a little after a shower on days I want to wear my hair down, along with some styling cream. I dry my hair a teensy bit first though, towel dry only. Be sure to work from the ends upwards. I found I need NO heat protectant while using this or my other hair oil(s), but I would suggest using one anyway unless you're comfortable risking heat damage. My hair is extremely thick/coarse and can withstand a LOT of heat. Moderately strong smell. Bit like a perfume. I find I don't need to wear ANY body sprays/perfume when using this. Goes perfect with my body chemistry though. Once it heats up I find the smell divine. I don't use this daily, however. The only daily product is the one mentioned above.

Macadamia Healing Oil Treatment - Took me a LONG time to try this one, despite all the raving about it I saw on Youtube/Blogs. I received it in an Ipsy Bag not long ago in a nice size sampler I'm still working on finishing, and I've already re-purchased due to the largest size being on sale currently on Amazon. It's a rich, dense oil that has almost completely won me over from using Orofluido. The two are battling it out right now, but honestly the Macadamia Oil has improved texture even more in a month or two than Orofluido has over the past year. It's VERY nourishing, and my hair actually soaks a lot of it up very easily. It doesn't leave an oily residue even if I sometimes use a little more than I should unlike the Orofluido. And best of all? It's an amazing heat protectant somehow. I was in a rush and decided one day to take my curling iron after it had dried into my hair a good deal and re-define my curls. I brushed my hair out until it was a puffy ball and began in 10 second bursts re-curling my hair. Within minutes I was done and the curls were bouncy, had major movement, and felt like silk. It didn't feel like I had ANYTHING in my hair and my hair looked naturally shiny and healthy. I've been AMAZED with this product so far. Smells like you'd think it would, very nutty.

Miss Jessie's Quick Curls - I've had equal experience with both this and Miss Jessie's Multicultural Curls, and both work equally well. I'm currently just using the first because I received a full size sample through Birchbox one month. And I only received a packet of Multicultural Curls. I liked the latter a little better, because it didn't leave my hair feeling greasy and felt more soft, but overall they both do the one thing I need them to - define my curls. I wear one of my oils with this and the mixture of the two leaves me with soft (instead of crunchy like most products cause) curls that are defined and not frizzing out. It decreases my frizz by I'd say roughly half, there's still a lot of body/poof going on but it looks intentional most days unless humidity is high. I use it when I'm going out for dinner with my hair down, for short periods. It smells light, slightly citrusy. VERY easy to handle smell.

Face Products

Dr. Jart+ Ceramidin Cream - I was sent this product in a sample from Birchbox a year ago, and I instantly fell in love with it. I took it with me to Connecticut when visiting my fiance's family, and I was truly scared of how bad my Rosacea looked, especially the redness. I used this every day when there, and by the end of the 2 week trip I had 0 redness, and my flakiness was controllable for an ENTIRE day. Previous moisturizers still left me feeling bumpy and flaky and needed reapplying multiple times through the day. I apply this once in the morning after washing my face, and it lasts all day. Even if other products have helped my flakiness more, NOTHING beats this in controlling hyper-pigmentation. A little truly goes a long way, too, so despite the higher cost I end up needing to only buy it once a year, maybe twice if I overuse during the dry Winter months. It smells so soft and natural, very green. Like plant extracts.

Real Chemistry Luminous 3-Minute Peel - This is one that I TRULY didn't expect to fall in love with. I received this from Birchbox in I believe September, and held off using it until mid-November. I'm always afraid of chemicals and anything that 'peels' sounds dangerous for my skin. But I decided one time couldn't hurt, and I'd deal with the repercussions afterwards in hopes for results. I was stunned. I thought it'd be much like the whole ear candling fad, and be fake. Like perhaps the formula would clump up to act as if it was dead skin peeling off, making you think something was happening when it wasn't. But I found the TINIEST amount of product worked in sloughing off all my dead skin. All the way down PAST the scaliness level to fresh new skin. After getting out, my face felt baby smooth which I honestly haven't experienced in almost a decade. My problems started at 14, and have only gotten worse. So I call this a true miracle worker. I use is 2 times a week, on average, and since once again a little goes a long way I feel I'll only need to repurchase this around 2 times yearly as well. I'll give an update on how long a tube lasts once I buy a fresh one. Smells of absolutely nothing.

ORIGINS Plantscription Anti-Aging Serum - This is another Birchbox sample favorite, which I haven't repurchased yet but I'm going to immediately. It's AMAZING for light weight days, I feel I'll be using it during the Summer months a lot more than Dr. Jarts Ceremidin Cream - simply because when you sweat it can feel a little greasy on your skin. This soaks right in in RECORD time and makes my skin feel smooth, and soft with a dry silky finish. It really feels like it adds a deep level of moisture to my skin, and feels very fresh going on and not at all like any products I've used in the past. I couldn't recommend it more. I don't know about it's anti-aging claims, but as a base serum it's wonderful. It smells very much like my Ceramidin Cream, very green and natural.

Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser - I'm a firm believer in the products we cleanse our faces with don't do nearly what they promise, I tried countless ones through my youth that promises clearer skin and reduced pigmentation but unless you leave products on for long periods of time, such promises can't be fulfilled. So I opt for this gentle cream cleanser from Cetaphil. Especially since I've been using my Peel, it's been exactly what I've needed. It smells of absolutely nothing, so there's no irritants and it gently lathers the smallest bit but more so feels like you're applying a cold cream to your face and washing it with it. It's very moisturizing and softening. I love it.

ORIGINS Drink-Up 10 Minute Mask - This is a favorite for the Winter months. It's super hydrating and keeps your skin soft and fresh on the driest days. I use it nightly or several times a week depending on how dry it is week to week during the Winter.

S.W. Basics Lip Balm Flights - Another Birchbox purchase. My go to, absolute favorite Lip Balm. Comes in a delicious quad of excellent 'flavors'. They're all moderate in smell/taste, except for the Pepperment. Peppermint is extremely powerful. I love it though. By far Cocoa is my favorite, though. Very true taste/smell of Cocoa Butter. I'm looking into making my own right now, just going to take some investing. It's all organic and fair trade, and is just composed of Peppermint Oil, Coconut Oil as it's main base, Cocoa Butter and a little Beeswax I believe. It's not at ALL waxy or sticky, and if you've ever used Coconut Oil it glides on and rests JUST as Coconut Oil would. It's very melty and just feels amazing on the lips. For those who HATE sticky lip balms, they're perfect. Otherwise, I use Body Drench Lip Drench in Pomegranate - smells and tastes exactly like Wonka Sweet Tarts to me and is nice and hydrating, no stickiness but a little thick. Consistency is like EOS lip balms. Which are my go to when my favorites aren't in stock or available nearby. For EOS I go for Pomegranate Raspberry or Sweet Mint. Their Coconut Milk is nice too.

Body/Bath Products

Aveeno Active Naturals Creamy Moisturizing Oil - My all over, full body lotion. It's exceptional paired with a little Coconut Oil if I need an extra quench of moisture. It's not at all greasy, and has the Aveeno staple of Colloidal Oatmeal and Pure Oat Oil. As such, it's an EXCELLENT product for those who suffer from Eczema. Not gonna lie though - despite being scent free, I think because of the Oat Oil, it does smell a bit like play-dough. It's odd. But you get used to it. Especially if pairing it with Coconut Oil.

Yes to Blueberries Hydrating Body Wash - I've also used the entire collection of Yes to body washes and shower gels, but by far this is my favorite. The others all offer their own benefits, like if you have body acne the Yes to Tomatoes brand might be really good for you. But for me, suffering from Eczema, the Blueberries is perfect. It does the job a body wash should, getting me squeaky clean but also making my skin supple, soft and very hydrated feeling. And because the Yes to brand is so good about using natural products, I never have breakouts or Eczema patches after using it like I do other body washes. The first scent you get when using it surprisingly isn't Blueberries, but Lavender which is added for a calming effect. The longer you bathe/shower however the more the nice slightly sweet scent of the Blueberries arises. It's so relaxing in baths.

Freeman Peppermint + Plum Warming Foot Scrub - I use this on the weekends to repair my dry, icky feet. I start by washing them in depth and if I need to before hand I use a file on my feet to make them nice and smooth and get rid of dead skin. Then while they're nice and warm I use the scrub and it's like a spa day. Give myself a nice massage while exfoliating all the gunk that's left, and then I follow it up right after with some of my Aveeno Creamy Moisturizing Oil and some thick warm socks. It's a savior during the winter, but nice any day of the year you're feeling dry. Nice way to pamper yourself. Smells very light and more like Plum than anything. Nice Peppermint kick though.

Dr. Teals Epsom Salts & Dr. Teals Relax and Relief Foaming Bath - If you're not in Texas Dr. Teals might not be available to you, but there's plenty of other products out there. It just so happens these are my personal favorites, and I use them at least twice a week. They reduce swelling, water retention, aid in pain relief from sore muscles or aching joints especially during the Winter. They make me feel refreshed, relaxed and at peace. I accompany a bath with a Freeman's Mask once a week or so, and a nice foot scrub when I want to pamper myself a little more. The best gift you can give yourself is a relaxing Epsom bath, imo.

That about sums it up I think. May clean up this post/add more in the morning. But until then, welcome and thanks for coming around. I hope these products can help someone else out there <3
- Amberlyn

A pre-introduction, if you will.

I thought my first post should be a preface to all my future postings, so we can clarify what you can expect to see here. I'm only actively subscribed to a few of the boxes I'll be reviewing for the month of December. Most of them I got free codes, or a certain amount off due to a promotion. My current active subscriptions are as follows:

Birchbox, $10 monthly
I've been a subscriber for 2 years now, and I absolutely love the service. Not just for the samples but the points you're able to accrue. Every 2 months or so I've saved up enough for $10 in their store. I've bought around $200 or more worth of items through them simply using credit. It's an excellent service, in my opinion. Especially for beginners in makeup, or people looking to change up their routines and maybe find better products for their skin/hair.

Ipsy, $10 monthly
I've also been subscribed to this service for several years, back when it used to be called MyGlam. This service I think has the most bang for the buck overall. I would call it my favorite service by far, that I've experienced. I average 2 full size products a month, AND every month comes with the cutest makeup bags. They also seem to listen more to my choices and what I love than I've seen Birchbox do through the years. Well worth the $10/month.

Love with Food, $12 monthly
I started using this service over a year ago, when a previous box I enjoyed called the Goodie Box discontinued it's service. I haven't regretted once keeping this service. My fiance even signed up, and recently bought a year subscription for himself at a reduced price because he knows he enjoys it that much. Just this month I raided their online store when they had major sales on some of my favorite products I've gotten through this past year, because some I can't find in my state.

Graze, $6 weekly, bi-weekly, tri-weekly or monthly
I've been subscribed for a year to this service, and constantly switch between monthly and bi-weekly payments/boxes because I absolutely love the snacks. What I love most about the service is unlike most other boxes, they allow you to see EVERYTHING they have and tell them what you absolutely do not want. You're able to customize in such a way you'll only get what you want or are okay trying. So everything I get is custom tailored to my tastes. Well worth the money.

Loot Crate, $19.37 monthly
I've been subscribed to this for a little over a year and despite the high price, I stay subscribed because I absolutely love it. On average I get a shirt every other month, but sometimes multiple months in a row, always valuing total $15 or more. You also frequently get promo codes for future purchases at the companies they do business with. So far I've actually purchased from companies like shirt.woot.com and teefury.com because of their service introducing me to them. And that's not even the half of what you get. It's the perfect box for gamers, lovers of graphic novels, anime and nerd/geek culture alike. Everything from Pop Vinyl figures, gear from upcoming games/major gaming companies (see their Titanfall box, or Valve box), and more. They theme their boxes monthly, and everything within will fit that theme. Is the theme Space? You'll most likely get items from the Star Wars universe, or Star Trek - and perhaps even Firefly. It's a super fun service I recommend highly at least trying. They frequently have promos to get $3 off any box, sometimes even half off. So keep an eye out.

Bulu Box, $10 monthly
I subscribed after seeing many positive reviews for months, when they had a promotion to get 3 months for the price of 1. I'll be reviewing this until February, and then I'll be deciding if I'd like to keep the service.

Each box has been embedded with my referral links, I'd greatly appreciate anyone using them in the future. Also, I will always state if I'm going to remain subscribed to any other boxes after trying them. Because this list is always subject to change.

Sometime within the next week I'll be posting an entry about myself, primarily my skin type and hair type so you can understand the type of perspective I'll have on these products as I try them. And I hope to have a full list up soon of my current products I use daily, in hopes they may help someone else like myself. But for now, thank you for checking out my blog, and I hope it can help you decide whether or not to try these services in the future.