Conscious (un)Box(ing)

I have seen a lot of YouTube videos (remember my secret obsession? Read about it here) about monthly subscription boxes. Companies send subscribers a box of products depending on what type of company they are; for example, some send out only beauty items, others are full of products for your pets. Usually the person is being sponsored, so they received their box for free, and were asked by the company to unbox the package and do a haul/review.

Unfortunately for us normal folk (at least us poor college kids), we actually have to pay for these items that are less than necessary. And some of these subscriptions can get upwards of $50! No way Jose. Luckily enough, I had signed up for weekly emails from a company called Conscious Box because one of the aforementioned YouTubers had hosted a giveaway through the company and signing up was one of the rules.Conscious Box

Usually I just delete these emails because I think that I can use $20 per month on more important things. However, I received one that advertised a free box with the use of the provided promotion code. Now, when I say free, I mean I did not have to pay the flat $20; I did still have to pay $7.95 for shipping and handling. Either way, I jumped on that offer and signed up to receive a box in June.

Now the cool thing about Conscious Box is they are dedicated to providing subscribers with body and earth conscious products ranging from beauty to food to household (You can read their Mission here). They have 3 options: Classic, Vegan, and Gluten Free. So you can choose which type of box you would like to receive and they ship a box of goodies to your door every month. If you are either unhappy or don’t want to continue receiving products, you can simply pause your subscription (Check out their How It Works page here).closeup open box

So anyways, on to my June Conscious Box. As you can see above, the packaging is so neat and cute. The box was surprisingly heavy when I picked it up and was completely full of products, unlike most orders where there is more styrofoam or bubble wrap than actual product. There is also a card inside that lists all of the products and descriptions.[hr]

Chicken Poop lip balm – Although this is not made from poop, I dislike the smell immensely. I think it is the lavender – it is just too overwhelming, especially since my lips are directly under my nose. Like everyone else’s…chicken-poop

[hr]Son For Men Organic, Vegan, Non-GMO Soothe – I am tempted to use this after I shave. No, I don’t shave my face. I am just a little hesitant because I prefer to smell guys, not smell like one. Maybe I’ll have Tom try it and get back to you.son for men

[hr]Bottle Bright Water Bottle Cleaner – This is such an awesome idea! I was actually just talking to my friend about what a hassle it is trying to clean water bottles. I will definitely be trying this out.

bottle bright cleaner

[hr]Sea Foam Face and Body Lotion – This lotion is unscented, and even though I like scented lotions, they are good for those of us with sensitive skin. The sample size is great for traveling, so I will be testing this out for sure.

lotion

[hr]Nature’s Baby Organics Bubble Bath – The smell is nice and fruity – the scent is Tangy Tangerine. I do not have a tub to try this out with but hopefully someday I will get the chance to use it.

bubble bath

[hr]ACTZ Glycerin Soap – This soap claims to save lives…except it is shaped like a cupcake and I might want to eat it! So cute! And it’s in the scent “Shower Candy and Desserts”, so it smells divine.

cupcake soap

[hr]Lotus Moon Hibiscus Flower Facial Moisturizer – I plan on trying this out tonight after I wash my face. It smells nice – kind of fresh and clean. It says it is meant for all skin types and is vegan, gluten-free, non-gmo (that’s Genetically Modified Organism), and 82% organic. So please don’t break me out. kthxbai.

lotus moon lotion

[hr]Slumberland Sleep Squares – These are super intriguing – chocolate squares that help you sleep? And they’re only 15 calories a pop?! This package contains 2 squares, so this is potentially two nights’ worth of chocolate-filled, dreamy, restful nights.

sleep squares

[hr]Organic Flavrz Drink Mixes – I’m not a huge fan of flavored water, so I was kind of disappointed to find 4 of these packets. My philosophy: either give me plain water or give me something with tons of sugar; none of this halfway stuff. I tried one of the berry ‘Revive’ mixes tonight with a bottle of water and it was okay.

flavrz drink mix

[hr]Sneakz Organic Nutrition Milkshake – The name is kind of lame – it refers to adding veggies into your child’s lunchbox without them realizing. You sneaky mom! Unless of course they can read. Then you’re screwed. I’m excited to give it a go. And I can read.

sneakz chocolate milk

[hr]Alt Peanut Butter Cookie Fruit and Nut Bar – You had me at peanut butter. And then cookie. This sucker is gluten free, dairy free, non-gmo, kosher, and vegan. Hopefully we can add delicious to that list.

alt bar

[hr]Skout Bars – These have an even longer list of fancy things: organic, vegan, gluten free, non-gmo, dairy & soy free, naturally occurring protein, fiber, and vitamins, and no refined sugar or fillers. Whew. I tried the cherry vanilla one for a snack today and it was really good!

skout bar

Also included is a $50 gift card for Naked Wines, so that is absolutely amazing! Overall, I am really satisfied with my $7.95 purchase; this was a great box to receive because it was packed with so much great stuff. I don’t even think I would have minded if I had paid the full price for this box. I will definitely consider subscribing for another month!

Jealousy and FOMO

I’ve been pretty jealous lately. And I know I shouldn’t be. But I have been. It could just be that I’m tired or simply a female with emotions. I try my hardest to let things that cause these feelings slide off my back, but it’s not easy.

Lizzie McGuire gifPlus, with the invention of Facebook and other social media outlets, avoiding jealousy has become even more difficult. I can’t go a day without checking my newsfeed (about 100 times) and seeing new pictures of proposals, engagement rings, weddings, baby bumps, and baby pictures. Then there are all the statuses to accompany new jobs, new homeowners, and mushy couples declaring their love for each other. A whole lot of happy people enjoying happy things taking place in their happy lives.

And I get jealous.

Well, now that I sound like a complete crank, let me just say that I am in no way complaining about my life. I understand that this is most definitely a first world problem and I have no reason to be jealous when there are starving people in China, Ethiopia, and, oh yeah, America.

But let us, just for a second, put that aside and talk a little about FOMO. A couple months back, I wrote a post about the “Fear Of Missing Out” or FOMO for short. Basically, in this day and age, we have so many issues involving commitment and “doing stuff” because we always feel like there might be something better going on. We don’t want to lose out on the possible experiences we could have. If we’re already committed to going to that lunch date or that party on Saturday, what other amazing things could we be missing out on? If I take that full-time job, what if something great comes along? Will I want that other job? Will I want both?

Take it from me, I should be in FOMOA (FOMO Anonymous) because I constantly crave doing things. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a night here and there to just relax and watch 10 episodes of Pretty Little Liars or Revenge. But after that night, I’m over it. I need to be doing something. I feel useless and lazy without a task that needs to be completed. When I went home 2 weeks ago, I had almost every minute booked before I even bought my bus tickets.

When I was working multiple jobs at a time, I still felt as though I should have been doing more. I wanted more time with friends. I wanted more hours at work. Now this may be due mostly to the fact that I was living in my house alone, constantly going stir-crazy, but I digress.

And now I’m in NYC and feel as though I have not done nearly as much as I should have done in the first 5 months. Granted, I have gone to a hockey game and a concert and a lot of my time has been devoted to school. I’ve eaten at a few restaurants and have found some good places to run. However, I have only gone to one museum, and it was for a class project. I avoid finding awesome places to eat because I don’t have money to blow on wonderful food. Instead I buy a loaf of bread and make PB and Nutella sandwiches all day, everyday.

Touristy stuff is expensive and shopping costs money. On top of that, I am already taking out huge loans for my brand name education. I do not have a consistent income and I feel completely lost as to what on earth my future holds – what do I want to do with my life? Will I even make it in teaching? Do I have what it takes?

And then I get on Facebook and see all of these posts and photos of friends and family who seem to have their lives together. They are happy and life is just working out for them. They are buying cars and houses and getting married and adulting.

Bridesmaids gif

I understand they too have encountered roadblocks, potholes, dead ends, and whatever other traffic situations that can be applied to life’s trials. But you don’t see that on Facebook or Instagram. And why would you? Other than those annoying people who post their every emotion, pictures are generally happy and show off the best aspects of their lives.

We want to show off the awesome time we had at a bonfire with friends. We want people to envy our newly toned bodies, or the fact that we attended that off-the-wall party this past weekend, or that we got to travel to an exotic place. So, is it all just a game to show how important and awesome we are?

Mean Girls gif

We hesitate to unfriend people because then we will lower our “coolness stats” or Klout scores, and therefore seem less awesome. So then we wonder who would want to be our friend in real life.

So how do we overcome this pressure to look awesome, like our life is completely solid and we know what we’re doing? I guess one option is to disengage from all social media sites until you feel restored of your self-confidence. And I’m serious about this one. If it is honestly hurting your self-worth that much, take a break. Stop obsessing over everyone else’s life and go make your life awesome.

And then come back and post that stuff on Facebook to make everyone super jealous!

Just kidding.

I’ve recently been told the secret is to “fake it til you make it”. Everyone has heard this old adage and I guess you could make that work for you. But don’t you think that’s pretty much lying to everyone, including yourself? I mean, listen, if you have the confidence to just B.S. your way through things, great. Good for you. If it gets you where you want, cool. But I think it could create sticky situations because you’re basically creating a false-self. Maybe it’s a better self, and maybe that’s the boost you need. But not all of us are built for that.

Elf gifI’m not a good liar. I suck at lying and deceiving people because I hate being lied to and deceived by people myself. It makes me uncomfortable. And since I blush pretty easily, being uncomfortable is super obvious with my pale skin. Instead, I do my best, I try to be as true to myself as possible, and hope it works out. I hope and pray that people might just like me for me, even for just a tiny reason.

But I think what people need (or maybe just what I need) are better ways to improve self-confidence without having to resort to shutting out the world or lying our way through. I want to be the best person I can possibly be without constantly feeling the need to compare myself to all of those [seemingly] happy people I see on my computer screen. But it bugs me that I can’t simply be happy for them, and that there has to be that dichotomy between joy and envy.

So anyways, what sorts of strategies do you use to pump yourself up? How do you control your jealousy and self-consciousness in order to be yourself? Talk to friends? Family? Listen to music? Talking yourself up in a mirror?

In the mean time, get it girl (or guy).

White Chicks gif

5 Minute Gel Manicure: A Review

My friend (and fellow blogger) Courtney decided to give a gel manicure a go. We have both heard so much about these manicures and how long they last, that we wanted in. We did not go to a salon (ain’t nobody got time or money for that! Well, we don’t at least) but instead we picked up this nifty kit from Walmart.

Nutra Nail 5 minute gel polish kit

For just about $10, Nutra Nail Gel Perfect 5 Minute Gel-Color Manicure supposedly gives you a gel manicure without fancy lights or other equipment. Unlike other kits like Sally Hansen, you must purchase the light for at least $60 in order to get the manicure, not to mention buying any subsequent colors you want.

Gel Activator and Polish

The Nutra Nail kit (we picked the shade “True Romance”, a soft, rosy pink color) comes with the Activator, Gel Polish, and Brush Cleaner – everything you need to get your gel manicure. The packaging claims the following:

  • Sets rock solid in 5 minutes
  • Lasting patent leather shine
  • No UV/LED light needed
  • Ding-free protection

**We do want to note that we did not prep our nails as suggested, so we have taken that into consideration for our review. We didn’t have files or nail polish remover to prep with, but neither of us had polish on before doing this. Our hands/nails were clean and we did not have lotion on…as you can tell by our dry hands!**

Courtney first coatCourtney went first, and her first reaction was in regards to the smell. Upon opening and applying the gel color she stated, “This is potent – my eyes are watering!” She realized that she should go slower and be more careful so that the gel activator and color polish do not get on the skin because it hardens and sticks to everything. Within a couple of minutes, she said she was impressed because her fingernails felt hard.

first-coat 2pics

After my first coat, I observed much of the same. Towards the end of the first hand, the color became kind of stringy and the brush hardened. I honestly believe that the “activator” is just a glorified term for “nail glue” – it smells and dries much like nail glue. The first coat is very sheer – this may depend upon the color you choose.

Holliday first coat

We also both were annoyed at how terrible our right hands turned out; the most plausible reason is because we are less coordinated with our left hands, therefore it takes longer to polish them and so the polish dries before we get through each nail.

comparison 2pics

We both noted the annoying number of steps in order to complete each step of the manicure. The directions give you a simplified as well as a more in-depth (with tips) version of the directions. We constantly forgot to switch the gel color and brush cleaner brushes, a necessary step in order to keep the brush from hardening with the combination of activator and color polish. It was cool watching the color just kind of clump and fall off the brush inside the cleaner bottle.cleaning brushes

The second coat definitely got rid of a lot of the streakiness; they looked fine from far away, although close inspection revealed many flaws. Courtney noted, “If you put too much activator on, it will pool and that’s where all the gel polish will want to go. You have to find a balance.” We both ended up going for a third coat which simply built the color up and continued to cover streaks. Courtney asked me to apply her third coat and she was happy with how it turned out.

second coat 2pics

So our overall first impressions were not too bad. We only ended up using half of the activator and polish after both of us applying 3 coats, so there is plenty of product. It was interesting the next morning seeing how all the color had settled in the bottom of the brush cleaner bottle.

cleaner bottle next day

We planned to do a 2 week update post because that is usually the time frame that gel manicures are supposed to last. However, mine lasted less than 24 hours. We completed these manicures on Friday evening around 10:30. By about noon the next day, I already had some big chips (see picture). Later that evening around dinnertime, I had even more chips and after texting Courtney about this she responded that she had the same problem.

I decided to pick off any that I could because my nails looked terrible with so many chips. Needless to say, I ended up picking every last bit off of my nails. Maybe we would have gotten better results if we had prepped our nails beforehand, but either way it was super disappointing.

next day

Pros:

  • Dried and hardened within 5 minutes, as it claims
  • Very shiny, as it claims
  • You get a lot of product – we only ended up using about half of everything for 3 coats each
  • Price

Cons:

  • Streaks were very difficult to avoid
  • Must be fast but precise
  • Number of steps and things to remember (for example, swapping the brushes after each hand)
  • Smell
  • Chipped within 12 hours

Did you try these and have better luck? Have you tried other brands that worked better? Let us know in the comments below!

Tweeze your heart out

A few years ago, my mom bought a new pair of tweezers that have a gripped handle and feature an accentuated circular dip for perfect thumb positioning. I guess they worked better for her hands. Meanwhile, I just ended up with her old metal pair. Who cares? They’re metal, they should last forever, right? I mean, it’s not like they could get dull or anything. I’m just plucking out hairs, not removing screws or staples or something (at least, I shouldn’t be anyways).

Present day: I usually pull a few stray hairs every morning, which may seem daunting and overkill to some, but it works for me. If you’ve seen any of my middle school (read: pre-tweezing) pictures, you would see that I inherited my father’s dark, full eyebrows, which grow quickly. Honestly, not only am I told I resemble Anne Hathaway, but I’m pretty sure without managing my eyebrows, I could turn out to be Mia Thermopolis’ doppelgänger. 06

Over the past couple months, however, I have been noticing a heightened difficulty when plucking. I was unable to grab hold of many of the tiny hairs, ending up with a bunch of little black spots around my eyebrow area. Then I would try digging them out a bit, but that only left my skin red and emphasized the tiny hairs more.

So I made it a point to check out tweezers at K-Mart today. I went to the one in Penn Station, which is 3 stories, but I now have the floor plans memorized. I knew there would be a large selection and vast range of prices; not only that, but there are millions more out there on the interwebs and beyond. I’ve heard marvelous things about Tweezerman tweezers, but honestly why should I pay $25 for them? For a small piece of metal that, while they may be able to take out splinters and ticks (gross), they won’t save lives and therefore aren’t worth spending that much on a college student’s budget (cheap or free if you’re lucky).

So anyways, K-Mart had about 5 different choices that I looked at, and the prices ranged from $0.99 to $10. I could choose from slanted; they offered enamel. Or I could get ones with a special carrying case. And then there was a combo set of slanted and extra pointy. I JUST WANTED A PAIR OF TWEEZERS!

With so much pressure and so little money, I said, “To heck with it!” and went with the $0.99 Image Essentials Slant Tweezers. If they suck, I’d only be out a buck right? When I got home, I figured I’d test them out and hopefully they’d be at least a small improvement from the retiring ones. Needless to say, I’m so impressed! For a little more than a dollar (because of stinking NY taxes), I found a pair of tweezers that pulled out all the teeny tiny hairs I missed this morning!

So all in all, I’m happy with this tiny purchase. I cannot say how long they will stay in such brilliant condition, but for now they work fine. If anyone has tried Tweezerman, can you tell me what the big hype is? Are they made of gold? Do they magnetically/magically pull out unwanted hair? Are they worth the $25?

My Secret (until now) Obsession

About three years ago, I stumbled upon the world of YouTube beauty videos. My first video, How To: Miley Cyrus Inspired Curls by a username juicystar07 (reminds me of AIM days…to which I admit, my first username was sweetcuddler88; don’t judge, I’m sure your’s wasn’t much better).

blair fowlerAnd this was only the beginning. From here, I looked through a bunch of Blair’s other videos. These videos included makeup tutorials, Outfit Of The Day videos (OOTD for seasoned veterans), and random talk-y videos. (Blair is juicystar’s actual name, although not her birth name; just one of the many things I’ve learned over the past 3 years. Creepy? Maybe. But she puts it out there for all to know, so there.)

Needless to say, I became obsessed. I started searching for certain makeup tutorial looks, began subscribing to other beauty gurus, and even used my roommate’s face to try and recreate the looks (Note: A huge thanks goes out to Becky: for enduring my cheap and sometimes painful non-makeup brushes, and later buying me actual ones for Christmas!). They show you step by step what products they use, how they are applied, and explain everything in between. There are super natural looks and crazy dramatic looks. Colorful or neutral. The list goes on and on. And not just makeup, but nail polish, clothing…EVERYTHING!

Since I began watching, my makeup collection has grown, as has my respect for these young women who use it on an every day basis. Even more respect for filming yourself doing it and having it come out looking amazing!  I contemplated starting my own channel to create such tutorials, but I realized I’m just not as obsessed with or dedicated to makeup, the latest trends, and fashion as some of these girls are. So I’ll leave it up to them.

Three years later, I am still subscribed to Blair. Although her videos feature less makeup tutorials (I mean, I guess there’s only so many color combinations AND the fact that there are hundreds of girls like her doing the same thing now) I’m still a fan. My subscription box has grown to other beauty gurus; here’s just a few of my favorites:

  • juicystar07 – Blair with her brown hair and brown eyes (twinsies!)
  • AllThatGlitters21 – Blair’s older sister, Elle, who has blonde hair and blue eyes
  • MissJenFABULOUS – she does amazing nail polish tutorials!missjenfabulous
  • shaaanxo – she’s from New Zealand, so her accent is great
  • kandeejohnson – she not only covers fashion and beauty, but she has a super sweet and loving heart as well
  • TheStyleDiet – she has an Irish/American accent that’s simply garjuss. Her older videos feature color combinations based on your skin/hair/eye color – it’s fabulous. And she now has an incredibly adorable 6 month old named Emilia, whom I watch on her and her husband’s daily vlogs (video blogs) on SacconeJolyTV

It’s crazy thinking that this started 3 years ago. Here I was, a junior in college, sitting in my dorm room, just wanting to be pretty and learn how to have hair like Miley (this was around the time when The Last Song was coming to theaters, so her long, luscious (albeit fake) locks were everywhere). And now I am a first semester grad student, sitting in my dorm room, wanting to be pretty, and writing about it. Well, I guess not all that much has changed.

Question: What is your secret (or not so secret) obsession?