Pinterest Play

Monday, June 18, 2018

**REVIEW** Sonkir 3-in-1 Soil, Light, PH Tester

For those of you who don't read my Plant It Earth blog, first, shame on you and second, I'm cross-posting this review here and there. (Did that make sense? My brain is acting crazy cakes this morning!)

That is the Sonkir 3-in-1 Soil, Light, PH Tester.  To be honest, I still don't understand plant PH (but my soils are usually packaged as balanced for the particular plants), and I've already got the hang of placing my plants in the right lighting. The water though...  Yeesh. The only plants I have ever killed have died from over- or under-watering.

Of course, I have read plenty of books and articles on providing the right amount of water to my plants, but the thing is trying to judge how moist or dry they are. I tried using a wooden stick (didn't always work) and I tried using my fingers (I'm squeamish about dirt!).

This meter runs about 11 bucks and I think the plants are worth that much.

When I was looking to choose a meter, I was on the hunt for something around this price, but it would have to actually work. I read reviews for a handful that fit my price range and most had too many negative reviews. The one I was hopeful about after reading about just a few reviews, dropped off after I read a few more. One reviewer did an awesome job of testing the meter on a large variety of plants - both freshly watered and dried out - and he noticed that the moisture meter never fluctuated from "dry" reads.

I tested this one the same way - checking plants that I knew were due for a watering and a couple that I watered about 15 minutes before testing. The reads came out pretty accurate for me. At least, I know that it read moister for the wetter plants and dryer for the one I had not watered.
If I use the camera's zoom, I can read the meter!
There is one thing I don't like about the meter. I need to use a magnifying glass or my phone to read the results. The print is tiny on the readout and in the instruction pamphlet. And the instructions include a handy little guide for the water and light needs of some commons houseplants.

The plant that I worry most about is my beautiful Monstera. She is thriving and sprouting new greenery by the minute, but her pot is too deep for me to accurately tell when to add water.

This is the Monstera (I call her "Monster") on about May 1st:

This is her June 5th:

she's sprouting more as I type this 

Wow, right? This plant is pretty effortless. I play violin classical music for her and every day I spray her leaves with filtered water. She is growing so much that I am going to have to anchor her with some sticks or something and learn how to prune her. Just yesterday, my Facebook plants group pals suggested turning her occasionally.

This soil meter is really going to help me keep on track with watering. Plus, if I have to go away for a few days, my neighbor will be able to use it while she plant-sits for me!

By the way, if any of you Being Free readers need some info on plant watering, here are a couple of useful links: Our House Plants has both a watering guide and a really helpful "hub" of plant info.


Sunday, June 17, 2018

**REVIEW** Dirty Money: Payday

The Netflix series "Dirty Money" has covered some interesting stories that make the average-to-poor person gape at the screen. The episode that floored me though was the one about Scott Tucker. Aptly titled "Payday", this one got to me because of the moral blindness of the 'bad guys'.

(if you don't have Netflix, check bottom of post for some links to info)

To sort of recap (difficult with my memory and such), Scott Tucker was the leader in the field of "payday loans" that target the down and out and hard up. I've been down and out, Lord knows, but I never got caught up in that scam. What I do know about them is that, like pawn shops and liquor stores, they are usually found in the OSOTT (other side of the track) and lower-income working neighborhoods. Matter of fact, just like some neighborhoods are marked by the lineup of a Bed, Bath & Beyond, Hobby Lobby, Burlington Coat Factory, some are marked by the lineup of a liquor store, payday loan office, and pawn shop.

Back to the show though.

Tucker and his brother were a couple of smart dudes. Driven and ambitious, they worked together to take the payday loan business out of the strip malls and onto the Internet. And business exploded. Tucker made enough money to buy himself the life of a race car driver. Apparently, this was a dream of his. He likes cars and speed but, mostly, he seemed to like the celebrity of it all.

During the film, you get to see Tucker spending a lot of time on his exercise bike. The man and his wife are both fit people. They seem to be concerned with having a certain look - even while they are being sued to pieces, having the government taking away cars and other material possessions to satisfy a gigantic settlement. The wife is nice-looking but in that tight, managed way that doesn't seem to speak of just having good genes. I thought it was pretty weird that she walked around the house in a jacket with a fur-lined collar. She was, even at such a dire and trying time, worried about presenting a certain image to the cameras. Completely vain and silly.

I always have a hard time understanding greed and selfishness, but the part that made me saddest was how oblivious the Tuckers seemed to be. It's like there are just black holes where their hearts are supposed to be. I wanted to feel a little bit bad for these people and I just could not, God forgive me.

When Tucker got busted for shady business practices - basically all kinds of lying and covering up to fleece customers - he actually tried to play the victim himself. The worst part of the film for me was when I learned that his brother actually committed suicide when all the cards started falling in on the scheme. I began to feel bad for Tucker and his family until he did this whole fake-crying thing for the cameras. After about 3 minutes of trying very hard to look as if he was wiping away tears, he managed to squeeze out a couple, but...

you will love his answer...

It was sad that his brother took his life, but that didn't seem to make Tucker think of how he may have driven his customer to that same fate. I'm sure that some of the people he ripped off and drove even further into debt (under the guise of helping them, mind you) had thoughts of suicide. He certainly some of them into a worst position than he'd ever been in.

When all was said and done, Tucker (and his lawyer) went to jail and supposedly lost everything material. Who knows what they had set up beforehand to protect some assets. Tucker's wife sure seemed worried about that! At one point in the film she's upset that because she's married to him, her money and credit is on the line along with his. Well, boo hoo, honey. You were sure glad to claim the marital bond when it suited you.

The blindness of Tucker (and his lawyer) is just stunning. They both seem to make the argument that they shouldn't be punished for making money by dirty tactics. After all, it's just smart business.

The Netflix show did a good job of covering a complicated and layered story. There was a lot to this - the racing, the loans, involvement with an Indian tribe, and stories of some of the victims.



Thursday, June 14, 2018

**REVIEW** Clairol Nice and Easy Permanent Hair Color

Remember back when I raved about the Walmart Beauty Box?  Well, while I liked everything in that neat little $5 box, I had a couple of favorite items. One was the Foam Conditioner by Pantene (of which I plan to buy a full-size when I'm in need of more conditioner), and the other was the Nice and Easy Hair Color that I was able to get FOR FREE with the generous coupon provided.

Question: When you buy something that is less than the coupon amount, why don't you get the change back? Just saying. The coupon was for $8.99 and I think the product I got at Walmart was priced at $6 and some change. Oh well. The important thing is, I found the product and was able to use it.

Normally, I've used L'Oreal's Colorsilk hair coloring (Dark Soft Brown or Brown Black shade). The price is what attracted me several years ago (even in Anchorage, I didn't have to pay more than $4 for a box) and I found it easy to pick the right shades for my hair so just stuck with it. Had it not been for the coupon, I never would have tried the Nice and Easy. I'm SO glad that I did. So let's talk about this.

When I have dyed my hair with the L'Oreal, I always liked the results, but until now, I never noticed that it was slightly harsh on my hair. It doesn't strip my hair or totally dry it out and I love the conditioner that comes in the kit. Next to the Nice and Easy, though, I have to say the L'Oreal is not as good. There was more of a conditioning effect with the N and E and the color was definitely richer and covered the grey better. The one downside is that, because I am not used to the color charts for the N and E, I went a little too dark... As in, instead of the soft off-black or brown-black I was going for, I ended up with crow-black results. I have since tossed the box, but I want to say that I got the Dark Brown to put on my own Dark Brown hair.

This is what my hair looked like pre-Clairol coloring:

And this is my Jackie Chan Black hair post coloring:

I was going to re-color it to tone down the black but my neighbor told me that it's actually very flattering. I don't photograph well so you don't get the full effect. That color is the same color as my eyebrows.

After coloring and conditioning, my hair was very soft and manageable. The color was very dark and it covered every inch of my grey. I can tell that this dye penetrates much better than the L'Oreal. After I use the L'Oreal, I can rinse some of the dye out a day later. With this dye, there is no residual loss of color so soon after coloring. As a matter of fact, the next time I use this dye, I have to be more careful not to get any on my skin because this stuff stains more than the other brand.

So yeah, I do love this brand and I'm going to be switching away from the L'Oreal. Now if I can just find the best shade.


Sunday, June 10, 2018

**REVIEW** Birchbox June 2018

First off, let me set this down right here... Trudy Sent Me! Yeah, that's in case you want to credit me with sending you to Birchbox.

This is my third Birchbox and, while it brightened an otherwise crappy week, I have to admit it's not as awesome as the May box (which contained 3 items I loved). This June box only had 1 thing I'm crazy about and 1 thing that I like a lot. The rest was... We'll get to that.

Let's just go ahead and start with the best item of the box. That would be this amazing Waterfall Moisture and Shine Lotion from R+Co.

5oz full size = $29

This stuff is so good on these dry, afro-natural naps of mine. It's so hydrating without being greasy, tacky, sticky, or heavy. I applied it to my already styled hair and was blown away by how soft and touchable the curls felt. The smell is light and nice and the moisture actually lasted all day and through the night. For me, the biggest advantage was the softening effect. I could not stop touching my own hair!

The only downside is the price of the full-size tube. Thirty bucks is right up there with a full tank of gas, right? And I'm not sure how long a tube of this would last me. Right now, my hair is short (remember I did that big chop the other week) and I could stretch this sample size out for maybe a week if I'm creative. Eventually, though, my hair is going to be growing back out and,,, I don't know if I could afford this product. Still, I will definitely be telling all my afro-natural buddies about this.

My second-fave from this box is this Deep Dive Water Cream from Red Earth.

1.8oz full size = $29

Other than that creepy and new-agey upside down as-above type A, I do like this stuff. I've used gel moisturizers before but there was always something 'off' about them. Mostly it would be the texture - sticky or gluey - that made me dislike them. This one gets it right. It's really light and goes on like water. Seriously.

Once again, though, the price is the biggest flaw. I'm sure there are a lot of hidden costs in bringing a product to market, but I wonder about the markup. From reading the ingredients list, I'm pretty sure that I could pick up most of what I need from Making Cosmetics to throw together a generic version of this stuff. I like the product, but I don't like it enough to pay $30 for 1.8 oz. And, also, that Satanic-looing A really does creep me out...

This next item would possibly have been the second favorite but I can't really tell because the sample was too small for me to test it well.

I think most of us women have tried (or at least seen) the Beauty Blender makeup sponges, right? I don't wear foundation every day and I even have some of the sponges.

Like I said, this one from the Birchbox was too small to do anything with. I couldn't even grip well enough to test it with foundation. The one thing that was kind of cool about the sample - though it's not a feature I would use because I don't wet my sponges - is that you can increase the sponge size two-fold by adding water. The sample even came with its own water. And this actually did enlarge the sponge. It didn't make it big enough for me to use, but it did swell.

The watered sponge is on the right

Oh yeah, and the price - $20 for a full-size sponge - is, as with the other products, ridiculous. However, in the case of the sponge, I can (and have) found them at a much more affordable price. For under twenty bucks, I've gotten up to 3 sponges that work just as well.

The sample, by the way, is not round. It's flat as well as small.

in the center of my watch

Next up is this Glow Serum from Beautaniq.

0.67 oz full size = $22

I didn't like the gritty feel of this highlighter and the color was way too light for my dark skin. After falling in love with the Glowtion from the May box, this was a big flop. And that's about all I can say about that.

The next sample isn't bad but it's not something I could be crazy about. It's the Davines SU Hair & Body Wash.

250ml full size = $24

First off, I'm not a huge fan of this kind of thing. My hair and skin have totally different needs and issues. Second, I don't need anything to help "prolong my tan".This tan of mine ain't going nowhere, thank goodness. Third, I wasn't crazy about the smell of this. If there was any citrus scent, it was drowned out by the castile soap smell. So this was just kind of meh, but kudos to Davines for supplying such a nice-sized sample. That was cool because I know that some folks will probably really like this. It's getting almost 5 stars on Birchbox.

Finally, let me just say that the prices are probably the most disappointing thing. If a product knocks it out of the park and offers something you can't get just anywhere (think Whal Myung), then okay. But even the best stuff here seemed overpriced, in my opinion. What I do like about Birchbox is that when I love something in a box and can't afford to run out and get the full-sized version, I can always order a second box for $10. That's what I did with the Whal Myung until I can get somebody to remember it on my birthday! Haha.

So, yeah, that's this month's box. Not (terribly) horrible, but not my fave. That hair lotion though... Man, that right there made the box worth it.


Thursday, June 07, 2018

Breakthrough and Breakdowns

Last night, I had a stunning breakthrough in understanding myself. Stunning, scary, wonderful, liberating, and all those things. I feel so relieved and so sad at the same time.

For years, I thought that the way I am is just part of my unique personality and I wondered why I never met anyone who seemed to ever feel the way I do. This is why the breakthrough I've had feels like such a relief.

I've made choices in dealing with serious things that have caused a lot of regret and confusion. Possibly knowing why is what makes me sad. Why did I never find this out before? How different all my life could have been had I known.

My "breakthrough" came from learning about something that's called Depersonalization and/or Derealization.

Because I spend so much time inside my head, trying to figure myself out, I finally decided to look up reasons for the way I think and feel. I ran across a forum where someone was asking the same question I was: "Why do I have such a constant feeling of surreality?" There are apparently a lot of people who wonder the same thing.

Now that I have some idea that this inner personality of mine is not unique to me, I have to figure out what to do about it. For the time being though, I just need to wrap my head around what it all means.

Once I learned about "DP/DR" (and I believe that Derealization is my main problem), the first thing I did was cry for about an hour. Then I spent most of the night having flashbacks of my life. So many things have been screwed up because of the way I have handled things. At the time I was making certain choices, I didn't even understand why but I'd sometimes look back and wonder what the hell was I thinking. There are major regrets from some of those choices.

most of my life feels like this - unclear or misdefined

I don't know when I started having these feelings, but I do know that without God, I would not have been able to deal with the constant regrets and consequences caused by them. Still, I can't help but think that it took me until middle age to know about this. So much wasted time! I was thinking last night that this is probably why I write stories to make myself seem more real to the world. I think that when I write I'm trying to live the life I can't grasp any other way. I'm still trying to deal with learning about the DP/DR so I'm probably not making much sense right now.

It's not easy for me to put myself out there (and I'm going to hurry and post this before I change my mind), but I don't want anyone else to not know about this. There may be someone out there, like me, who never heard of this and so have been wasting precious time from their life just wandering through thinking that they are alone.

I guess I will have to find the courage to talk with my doctors about this. Just knowing about it myself is almost too much to handle and, ironically, seem to be creating even more of a surreal feeling.

Here are some references I have found, in case you want to understand what I'm talking about:

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

**REVIEW** Klean Kanteen Insulated Wide-Mouth Mug

Although I'm not a bio-mom, I did help for a while in the care of some of my nieces. Though a couple of those kids are only 15 years my junior, they still honor me as a mom-by-proxy. This past Mother's Day, one of the nieces (who is also my Goddaughter) got me a bag of delicious coffee and a mug from my all-time fave coffee roasters. I also got a plant, but I'm here to talk about the Kaladi Brothers-stamped Klean Kanteen that I'm so in love with. (And I say that mine is stamped with Kaladi's logo because you can get a non-Kaladi one by going to the Klean Kanteen site.)

When Klean Kanteen said that this particular style would keep my coffee hot for up to 14 hours, they lied. I have opened the Kanteen after sixteen hours and my coffee is still quite toasty. No kidding. For keeping things cold, I can tell you this: I filled the Kanteen with lots of ice cubes and just about a cup of water one morning around 10. My brother and I were going to be out running errands and it was over 90 degrees that day already. I sipped from the Kanteen and kept it in the shade on the floor of the car whenever we got out. I went home around 4 because my brother had to pick up his wife from work. I just put the Kanteen on the kitchen counter while I went to take a shower. The next time I even thought about the Kanteen was after 9 that night. I was getting ready for bed and was going to refill the Kanteen with more ice and water to keep on the nightstand. I will be doggone if there was still some ice in the container. I'm horrible at math, but you can add it up for yourself. From about 10 in the morning to just before 9 that evening, my Kanteen was still chilled and chilling.

I do notice that for coffee, it helps to warm the Kanteen beforehand by filling it with really hot water while making your coffee. For the cold, I just add the ice and use cold water. I'm still amazed at how long the Kanteen worked for ice water. That's pretty vital here where we've been getting temps up over 100 degrees. In the winter, we can get as low as 15 below zero (as I learned a few months ago!).

The one thing I don't like is the lid. It's difficult to take apart for cleaning. Also, the Kanteen will spill if tipped the wrong way. Not a lot, but it does leak. Those are the only (and minor) things about this mug that I've run into. The Pros far, far outweigh the Cons though.

So, yes, the Kanteen can be a little pricey and I probably would never have tried it had I not gotten mine as a gift. Now that I know how well they work, I would not hesitate to buy one.


Saturday, May 26, 2018

**REVIEW** Long Aid Curl Activator Gel with Aloe Vera Extra-Dry

People, I have solved my dry hair problems. In the past, I have tried so many products that I can't even remember half of them. Oddly enough, I was shopping for an old standby product that was cheap and had worked for me in the past. It's that IC Fantasia Hair Polish (I love that stuff), but happened to run across this:

That right there is my new fave hair product: Long Aid Curl Activator. I got the one for extra-dry hair. Just like the Fantasia, it's got a decent price. They looked so similar and I was in such dire need of something, so I snagged it. It was also nice and cheap - about 4 dollars for a 16-ounce jar.

The Fantasia is more of a styling/holding gel and it does work great for adding moisture to dry hair like mine. The Long Aid is a curl activator and it is super moisturizing but doesn't have the holding factor. That's fine because I use it for when I twist my hair and for finger-styling in some curl. (By the way, I cut my hair super short yesterday because of these 90-plus temps we're getting!)

Older photo but same hair as pre-cut

Much cooler in this heat!
But it's time for some dye..

What I also love about the Long Aid is that there is no strong smell. Just like with the Fantasia, a little bit goes a long way. That means that you get a lot for your less-than-5 dollar investment.

Here are the ingredients for the Long Aid and Fantasia side by side:

LONG AID                                                                  FANTASIA

Aqua/Water                                                                   Purified Water (Aqua)
Glycerin                                                                        Glycerin
Triethanolamine                                                            Carbomer
Carbopol                                                                       Triethanolamine
OLETH-20                                                                    Aloe Vera Gel
Fragrance (Parfum)                                                       Dimethicone Copolyol
DMDM Hydantoin                                                        Tocopheryl Acetate
Methylparaben                                                               Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein
Disodium EDTA                                                            Polysorbate-20
Hydrolyzed Collagen                                                     Benzophenone-4
DL-Panthenol                                                                 Methylchloroisothiazolinone
D and C Violet                                                                Disodium EDTA
Aloe Vera                                                                        Fragrance (Parfum)

Notice that the Aloe is last on the list for Long Aid and much higher up for the Fantasia. 

Anyway, like I was saying, the Long Aid will be my go-to for moisture. When my hair grows back out, the Fantasia will be for styling on the more humid days. Both are awesome. I do know that some folks - especially among my fellow Afro-Natural-Curly ladies - don't like the 'cones and the other chemicals. I have to work with what I can on a very limited budget. I've tried other products that may have had 'cleaner' ingredients but not-so-great results. For a short stroll down memory lane, I can point back to posts I did on these products:
And there were so many other (often pricey) products that I tried. Some worked but were too costly, and some were pricey and failed.

So for those of us on squeaking-tight budgets, this Long Aid might be the best thing. 


Thursday, May 17, 2018

Let's Take a Moment to Breath, Shall We?

Was it just a few weeks ago that I was complaining about the snow? Well, that's all done and over with for the season and, baby, it's been hot outside! It was a humid 83 degrees today (81 at 8pm just before I started this post...) But I asked for the sun and got what I wanted.

In celebration of feeling a little better today than I have for several days, let's get into Summer mode with the blog.

If any of you are houseplant enthusiasts, check out my plant blog that I so cleverly (I think) named The Plant It Earth. For you FreeBeing readers, I'm giving you (and myself) a break from product reviews and sharing some of my plant photos and stories today.

I started out just trying to dress up my barely furnished apartment. It's just a 1-bedroom and I'm not a social person so my living room was not a huge priority. I have a great bed and that was the thing. I'm thrift-shopping for a chair and some more shelves but plants are cheaper than furniture so...

This is what the place looked like not too long ago:

I had the Cordyline/Ti plant & Echo for sound effects

And this is what it looks like now:

The apartment belongs to the plants

Plants are amazing, right?

Not only do plants beautify spaces, but they also make great air-cleaners. Some are better than others - like the Spider plant and the Snake plant. I used to use wax warmers and citrus air spritzes whenever the air got stale, but I haven't had to use any of that stuff for the past few months.

Lately, I started collecting kitchen herb plants. I've been clipping the mints for my green tea and I cooked with some of the fresh Basil the other night. Now I know what my sister-in-law means when she says she will only get plants that she can use for eating and/or medicinal purposes.

Before now, I had all the little 4- and 5-inch pots lined up on the bar counter to the kitchen. It was a little haphazard looking. Today, I noticed that someone had put a whole mess of artificial flowers and a couple of wicker baskets out on our community table. That's where we all put stuff we don't want so that someone else can maybe put it to use. This is what I did with the one basket:

lined the bottom with a trash bag, old cotton tee, and some rocks from outside

And this is what I did with the flowers and a vase, shells, and stones I already had to dress up the bathroom a bit. The blue around the Peace Lily is very calming and I spray the flowers with some Geranium and Grapefruit essential oils to combat summer insects and bathroom odors.

Those artificial flowers...

The other basket is sitting aside until I can collect some more flowers or stones or something to display.

I think my favorite of all the plants is the Monstera. She's beautiful and so easy to take care of.

Here is what I always say about plants and why I collect them now. They are not just pretty, but they really help relieve my depression and anxiety. When I get really down in the dumps, I go sit in the living room among the flowers. I will sometimes use Echo to play nature sounds to add to the sense of being in a garden. I swear that there was an awful day last week when that little setup saved my sanity. Now it's up to me not to kill the Geranium plant I was warned could be finicky!

This one is a little heffa-ish!

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the pictures and I hope that you check out The Plant It Earth sometime.


Sunday, May 13, 2018

**REVIEW** Whal Myung Skin Elixir

UPDATE: If you sign up for Birchbox because of this post, do a gal a solid and let me get the referral points by using this link: TRUDY SENT ME!

When I reviewed the May 2018 Birchbox, I listed one of the samples as my 4th favorite out of 4 products. The reason I didn't rank it as Number 1 is that the price of a full-size bottle would be about half of my monthly grocery budget. Seriously, folks, I am not exaggerating for effect. This Whal Myung Skin Elixir right here is what runs about $60.

See what I mean about not kidding?

The first time I tried my sample bottle, I liked this and liked it a lot. But that price. I kept using my sample, patting on a little bit every morning, and on about the third day, I was doing what I do almost every single night (inspecting my skin and tweezing out blackheads and such in the magnifying mirror...

You know that mirror I mean, right? One of those mirrors that show every skin imperfection in the world? 

Yeah, that mirror.

...and I noticed something wonderful: there were no blackheads or whatever those tiny spots are that appear around my nose and on my chin. Not one. Trust me. I use the mirror and a spotlight looking for them.

I also noticed that my skin looked more even and sort of balanced as far as the moisture. Usually, I have a t-zone issue that fluctuates between oily and dry. This is probably how I end up with those spots that I always thought were blackheads but recently heard may just be little dirt hairs from dust and other air pollutants.

Anyway, I see that this elixir is really working to give my face a nice look whether or not I'm wearing makeup - even when I'm standing in the full-on sun. I remember my skin being like this about 20 years ago. I'm actually blessed with good skin but I still try to take care of it to counteract all my other bad habits (especially my sometimes-horrible diet) and I love what this elixir is doing for it.

Once again, though, I have to come back to the price. I mean, if only they sold this is smaller jars so that I could buy about 20 drops at a time! The best way for me to get more now is to order another of the curated May Birchbox for $10 (plus $5 s/h).

Right now, I'm telling everyone I know about this serum. I have friends who can afford it and, because we are all in about the same age group, they will be looking for something to keep their skin looking good.

A little goes a looong way

Before I forget, I want to tell you that, even a small bottle with last a long time because a little goes a long way. I've been using every day since I got the sample and I haven't really put a dent in the amount as you can see from the above photo.


Saturday, May 12, 2018

**REVIEW** Ipsy Subscription Box

Walmart has a good box, Birchbox is awesome, FitFabFun is great for those who can afford it, and Ipsy is...

Well, I got the first Ipsy box and I did like almost everything in it. It's priced right in there with Birchbox, that's a big Plus. Also, it comes with a little cosmetics bag, another Plus. So, if there are 2 great subscription boxes, both at the same low $10-price, how to narrow down which one to keep?

If this Ipsy box had included better profile-matched samples, I would have had a harder time choosing between it and Birchbox (which I loved for May). Let's take a look at what was in the Ipsy box and what I thought of each item.

The delivery came in a cute little hot purple (pink?) puffy envelope.

I removed the label so that I can repurpose the mailer for sending my little nephew a gift next month. He will love that color.

This photo reps the color better than the
above photo
There were 5 items in a cute little cosmetics bag that I will be able to use.

Patterned side of the bag

I will start with the one thing that I liked most and that is the Trestique Mini Matte Blur Stick.

It works great - easily tamping down shine and absorbing excess oils on the face. It was nice to see something like this in a stick instead of in a squeeze tube or bottle. There is a mild, powdery feel that is pleasant on the skin and I thought that this would be something I would actually use Ipsy points to purchase at some point. That's what I thought. I will come back to that in a moment.

Lord & Berry's Maximatte Crayon Lipstick is my 2nd favorite from this box even though I hated the color sent to me.

The shade choices for the bag were to be either "Spicy" or "Intimacy". Despite my profile indicating my dark complexion and preference for darker hues in lip products, Ipsy sent me the lighter shade of "Intimacy". Just looking at it, the shade wasn't so bad, but when I tried it on... Ugh. So why do I name this as a favorite from the box? Because although on my lips, the color makes me look like I'm in need of a water infusion, it works beautifully as a color for just under my brows. The soft, peachy shade is similar to colors I've chosen in the past to highlight my eyes. Still, Ipsy loses points for ignoring my profile preferences.

My 3rd favorite: Air Repair Skincare's Complexion Quenching Facial Mist. 

This almost tied for 2nd place because it did do a nice job of hydrating my face. The reason it came in third is that I wouldn't be able to use it "on the go" as is touted. When I sprayed it on, it left a slight residue and shine that would require me to blot my face. That's fine if going bare-faced but so much an on-the-go deal if wearing makeup. I do think this is excellent for having on hand during hot days when you want to cool and hydrate your face.

Next in the bag is this Slmissglam Eyeshadow Brush. It's cute and if I were younger maybe, I'd like it a lot for the playful colors of the bristles. If I used such brushes.

"Tools" was not a marked preference on my profile and neither was eyeshadow. 

The one item that I absolutely hate is the Jivi Lavender Moisturizer.

First off, there was nothing in my profile to warrant a product to "counteract redness". Second, this is so heavily scented that there is no way I would put on my face. I did a very small patch test near my jawline and my skin automatically began to react by feeling itchy and warm. Yeah, whatever Jive Jivi. (EDIT: Hated this so much I forgot to include a photo first time around!)

So, not only did Ipsy seem to care very little about my beauty preferences, I also found the samples to be skimpy and somehow not as high in overall quality as those in Birchbox. That's Reason #1 for not being impressed.

Reason #2 was that even for the products I liked, ordering them was inconvenient because of the odd shipping calculations Ipsy uses. Since I had earned some "points" to use toward a purchase, I wanted to see what the ordering process would be. Apparently, every product/brand has their own shipping prices. Um... what?

Now, remember when I mentioned maybe being able to use my points to ease the cost of future purchases - like if I wanted to order that Mini Matte Blur Stick? Well, whatever points I earned were eaten up in double when shipping was calculated.  I wouldn't mind losing just the points, but shipping went way over the points I earned.

Now, you know how you are going to cancel something (like one of these subscriptions) and you get roped back in because you are offered all kinds of incentives? Well, there is nothing Ipsy could offer to get me to stay with them after the hassle of canceling my account. It was tricky to find the cancellation page, then  I had to be sure to respond to a verifying type of email by a certain time and without closing the Ipsy page - or else my cancellation would be invalid. What the happy hell kind of runaround is that???

Whatever. I jumped through all the hoops and got the subscription canceled and now I have to add Ipsy to my SPAM folder to make sure I don't get any more of their "are you sure" emails. Why would I stay with them if I can't afford to buy any of the products because of the stupid shipping policy? And why would I want to stay with them when they don't care a flip about that pretty detailed "beauty profile" I filled out?

Between Ipsy and Birchbox, I can only keep one monthly subscription  - especially since Walmart has such an excellent quarterly box - and Ipsy didn't try that hard to win me over. At least with FabFitFun, it was just the price that scared me off. Also, I'll admit that shipping would eat up any "rewards" I would use after 1 month of Birchbox, but at least the shipping charges are consistent and set.

Of course, I know the whole "to each his own" rule of life so I'm not knocking anyone who prefers Ipsy over Birchbox. The whole idea of these types of services, I think, is to do a little something for ourselves. Birchbox just fits me better.

Oh, and I didn't do the price lists for the Ipsy box items because once I canceled, I couldn't access the Shop pages... Yeah, Ipsy, I see you being petty.