Saturday, May 30, 2015

May 2015 Beauty Box Five


The May 2015 Beauty Box Five* features products to to improve our complexions, provide quick makeup fixes, and moisturize. If you are unfamiliar with Beauty Box Five, it is a subscription service that sends its members five cosmetic samples each month. The service is available to those in Canada and the USA, and subscriptions start at $12 per month. The best part is that shipping is free! The brands that Beauty Box Five works with are also very impressive (see them all HERE). 

Now let’s talk about the May items...


1. Essenza Luxury Hand Soap | Retail: $4.99 for 16.9 oz - This luxurious hand soap cleanses, moisturizes, and includes pure essential oils. It also has an invigorating scent. I think this sample would be great for travelling since I would much rather use a liquid hand soap than one of those little bars of soap given in hotels. 

2. Styli-Style Blush/Highlighter Stick | Retail: 5.99 for 0.21 oz - I received this cheek stick in the shade Champagne. It looks like it will be a beautiful highlighter but won’t give enough colour to work as a blush. 

3. Dermalogica Active Moist | Retail: $60 for 3.4 oz - This oil free moisturizer evens out skin texture with silk amino acids. This sounds like a great product for those warmer months when we want moisture without all the extra shine. 


4. Coastal Scents Classic/Synthetic Brush | Retail: $1.95-2.49 - I love how this eyeshadow brush is perfect for patting colour on the lid for an easy everyday look. 

5. Bio Swiss Stainless Steel Mini Tweezer | Retail: $4.99 - I can’t think of how many times I was out and wished that I had a pair of tweezers. This product is perfect for on-the-go touch ups and it’s tiny enough to fit in a purse or pocket. 

Overall, I’m very happy with this month’s Beauty Box Five. Although the majority of the brands do not fit into the luxury category, the selection of products is very impressive. I’m looking forward to next month’s box and can’t wait to see what Beauty Box Five has in store for June. 

Sunday, May 24, 2015

May 2015 Glossybox

May 2015 Glossybox 1

After last month’s beautiful pop-art inspired packaging (check it out HERE) and exciting products, many subscribers were wondering what Glossybox could possibly have in store for May. While the company went back to its signature pink box this month, the products in the May Glossybox*, are just as fun and energizing as those that came in April.

The first few products, packaged in beautiful shades of aqua and lime, are for skin and hair. 

All three products look amazing, but I’m most excited about the Sebastian Professional Stylbrid 9. It’s a heat protecting, volumizing, texturizing, curl defining hairspray that is paraben and alcohol free. I’m always looking for new products to use to help keep my hair safe and my style in place when I’m using a curling iron, and this product sounds very promising. 

Next is Clearista Rexturizing Gel. When I first read the name of this product, I assumed that it was for hair, but it’s actually meant to help perfect skin by smoothing, refining pores, and reducing pigmentation and imperfections. 

Also for skin is the Glamglow Powermud Dualcleanse Treatment which is meant to detoxify and renew. Both products will be very useful for rejuvenating dull skin after a long winter. 

May 2015 Glossybox 2

The last two items are for nails and lips.

As a nail product lover, I was especially excited to receive this Teeez Tend Cosmetics Head Over Heels Nail Lacquer. It provides a super smooth application and glossy texture with at least three days of staying power. I received the shade Cadmium Rush which is a beautiful peach colour that’s perfect for spring and summer. 

The Mineral Matt Lipstick from Doucce is great for the warmer months as well since it contains SPF 10 and vitamin E to hydrate lips and prevent feathering and fading. I received the shade 907 which is a neutral pink that I think will complement many skin tones. 

May 2015 Glossybox 3

Overall, I’m very impressed with the May Glossybox. The nail polish and lipstick are full size items that more than pay for the box. The other items are deluxe samples containing generous amounts of product. I really appreciate how colourful all the items are; it makes me excited for spring and eager to try new products. 

I’m looking forward to seeing what Glossybox has in store for June!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Beauty Giveaway!!!!

Beauty giveaway
This is the first of a few beauty giveaways that I will be hosting to celebrate my new blog design. To learn more about the design, including new features, the design company, and my experience with the process, click HERE.

This first giveaway features pink and grey beauty products in honour of my former design. You can enter to win these items by filling out the Rafflecopter form below.
Good Luck!

****This giveaway is open internationally and will close on June 2, 2015 at 11:59 PM****

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, May 17, 2015

April 2015 Birchbox

April 2015 Birchbox 1
I thought it was about time that I tried the Canadian version of Birchbox. Years ago when Birchbox started offering subscriptions in the USA only, I was so disappointed that I could not subscribe. Now the company also ships to the UK, France, Spain, Canada, and Belgium.

Each monthly box contains five samples from a range of categories such as skincare, haircare, fragrance, lifestyle, etc. You can also fill out a beauty profile so that the company can get to know your beauty preferences. Subscriptions cost $10 per month plus $4.95 shipping.

The April 2015 box features products to celebrate the gorgeous season of spring. As you can see from the photo above, both the box and product packaging include colourful pops of pink and mint. Just the colours alone made me very excited to learn more about the products.

The first two items are for hair and skin. 12 Benefits Instant Healthy Hair Treatment detangles, hydrates, protects, and repairs damaged hair. I have been using this product for about a week before blow drying and I’m really enjoying it. It leaves my hair soft and shiny without weighing it down. I prefer to spray it on my hands first and then apply it to my hair because it is a very thick spray that collects in just one spot when applied directly from the bottle.

For skin recovering from the dry winter months, Perlier White Almond Revitalizing Body Butter improves tone and elasticity. I was very happy to receive this product as I love trying new body moisturizers, especially during shorts weather. It smells nice and is very hydrating.
April 2015 Birchbox 4
The next item, the beautyblender double is something that I have been wanting to try for years. It’s a sponge that can be dampened and used to apply makeup with a smooth, natural finish. While most people use it for foundation, I can’t wait to use it to apply cream blush. It comes with a solid blendercleanser to keep it clean, and this month’s box includes a liquid blendercleanser as well. April 2015 Birchbox 3
The last two items came in a little mint coloured box. The first item is a sample of Harvey Prince Hello Fragrance which boasts citrus and floral notes. While the packaging is very cute and the scent is energizing, florals are not my favourite so I will pas this on to someone else.

The other item in the mint box is a Jelly Pong Pong GLOW GETTER Highlighter packaged in a cute nail polish-style bottle. I love highlighters and can’t wait to try this pretty beige one.
April 2015 Birchbox 2
Overall, I’m very impressed with my first Canadian Birchbox. At $10 a month, it is more affordable than some of the other boxes are out there, and the products sent (at least in this first box) are of great value—the beautyblender alone is worth $35! I feel as though it was $10 well spent since I know that I will use almost all the products. I look forward to seeing what I will receive in months to come.

*This post contains referral links

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Paws & Play Pet Subscription Box Review

Paws and Play April 2015 4
Today’s post features Paws & Play, an exciting subscription service for pets. This Canadian owned company is unique because it not only offers separate boxes for cats and dogs, but also a box for households made up of both feline and canine members.

Members can choose from Premium and Standard box options depending on how many items they would like to receive in each box, and monthly and quarterly shipping options are available. There are four different memberships for dogs based on breed size (small, medium, large, and giant) and one membership for cats. For dogs, there is also a box geared toward those who will enjoy the summer lounging and playing at the cottage. The combined mixed pet membership is the best deal, offering the largest amount of products for households with multiple pets.There is also a special gift box as well as a customizable box for both cats and dogs. The company also offers various charity boxes, a cookie of the month club for dogs, and a special birthday box (to be released on May 15, 2015) filled with new goodies and many freebies. For more information regarding subscription options, click HERE.

All subscription boxes contain safe, fresh, and healthy products for pets. Boxes can be modified for allergies and intolerances upon request. Subscriptions are available to those in Canada and the USA and start at $19.95 per month. Shipping on new memberships over $29.95 is free! You can also save 35% on your first subscription box using the code fur ball.

My pets were lucky enough to try the Mixed Pet Membership Box* which includes 5-8 items and is available for households with one or more dogs, one or more cats, and cat/dog families.

The cat items include Wild Calling Rabbit & Sweet Potato Natural Cat Food (free sample), Purrk! Perky Bird Toy ($8.95), My Mighty Lion Treats ($5.95), and Spot Wooly Worm Toy ($6.95). This is a nice selection of items that allows cats to try a grain free healthy food, grain free cat treats, and two fun toys.
Paws and Play April 2015 2
The dog items include By Nature Dog Biscuits ($12.95), ZiwiPeak Food (free sample), Barkery Love Cookie (free gift), Open Range Natural Pig Snout ($2.95), PLAY Garden Fresh Toy ($18.95), and Modern Dog Magazine ($5.95). The dog products feature a very generous portion of treats and the free samples/gifts were a nice touch. The toy is a great option for dogs of multiple breeds and the magazine is a fun treat for humans.
Paws and Play April 2015 1
Paws and Play April 2015 3
Overall, I think that Paws & Play is a wonderful subscription service for pets. It not only sends a generous amount of products to its members, but also offers many subscription boxes and options that can accommodate a range of pet families. I like how my box included enough products to keep all my pets happy and I didn’t have to spend a large amount of money in a pet store. The company also puts a lot of thought and care into constructing its boxes as it tests all products for safety and quality in a lab and then exposes each product to its real pet testers before adding them to the boxes. In addition I am happy to see a box for families with both cats and dogs that is offered within Canada and is reasonably priced.

To subscribe or find out more information about Paws & Play, click HERE.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Cherry Chip Sandwich Cookies

Cherry Chip Sandwich Cookies 2
I’ve always been intrigued by French macaroons, the colourful, exquisite sandwich cookies offered by specialty shops and bakeries. One day, when I have perfected my baking skills, I will make a batch of pastel-coloured macaroons. For now, I will experiment with other (easier) forms of the sandwich cookie, including this cherry chip version featuring a chocolate ganache filling. Let’s just call them decadent! They are sweet and delicious with their soft texture and smooth, rich filling. The best part is that they are so easy (and fun) to make.

Recipe

Ingredients:

Cookies

1 box cherry chip cake mix
2 tablespoons flour
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
powdered sugar for rolling

Ganache

1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup heavy cream (or whipping cream)

Directions:

*Prepare the ganache a few hours before so it has time to cool and set*

1. Bring the heavy cream to a boil in a small saucepan. Place the chocolate chips in a medium glass bowl and pour the boiling cream over them. Whisk until the cream and chocolate are thoroughly combined become a truffle-like consistency. Allow the ganache to set for a few hours until it thickens. You can put it in the fridge to speed up the process, but let it return to room temperature before spreading on the cookies or it will be too hard to work with. While the ganache is setting, make the cookies.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

3. In a medium bowl, sift cake mix and flour together.

4. In a small bowl, combine eggs, oil, and vanilla. Add to the dry ingredients and stir until smooth.

5.  Coat hands with flour and roll the batter into small balls. Roll balls in powdered sugar and place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Flatten cookie balls slightly.

6. Bake 8-9 minutes or until the edges are slightly golden brown. Let cookies cool on the baking sheet for 4 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack.

7. Once cookies have cooled completely, use a spoon (or a piping bag) to place a small amount of ganache onto the flat side of a cookie and top with another cookie (flat side down). Repeat with remaining cookies.
Cherry Chip Sandwich Cookies 1

Friday, May 8, 2015

April 2015 Beauty Box Five

April Beauty Box Five 1
The April 2015 Beauty Box Five* features products to help us start fresh this spring and try something new after a long winter. If you are unfamiliar with Beauty Box Five, it is a subscription service that sends its members five cosmetic samples each month. The service is open to those in Canada and the USA, and subscriptions start at $12 per month. The best part is that shipping is free! The brands that Beauty Box Five works with are also very impressive (see them all HERE).

Now let’s talk about the April items...
April Beauty Box Five 2
1. Dancin’ Goat Hula Bliss Body Lotion | Retail: $17.99 for 8oz - This hydrating lotion contains natural ingredients such as goat’s milk, coconut oil, lavender, eucalyptus, and rosemary. I’m always on the search for the perfect hand cream, so I’m looking forward to trying this product.

2. Lasting Smiles Passionfruit Mango Organic Lip Balm | Retail: $4.99 for 0.15 oz - This full size product contains organic ingredients and also supports fair-trade global farmers and funds cleft surgeries for children (LastingSmilesCare.com). I really appreciate that Beauty Box Five included a product this month that makes a difference in the world. Not to mention, mango is one of my favourite fruits and also one of my favourite scents for lip balm.

3. Style Essentials TwinGloss | Retail: $2.50 for 0.03 oz - This non-sticky, super-shiny gloss includes two complimentary shades that mix upon application. I really like this concept and am happy to have received a sheer nude shade.
 April Beauty Box Five 3
4. Incoco Nail Polish Applique Set | Retail: $8.99 - This polish strip set is my favourite item in this month's box. As a nail polish lover, it’s always nice to use a product that produces a nice design with lasting results and no drying time. I received a design called Painted Blossoms which features a white shimmery base with blue painted flowers. I have tried many brands of polish strips and Incoco is one of my favourites. In fact, I have reviewed three of their designs in the past, including Very Rosy, Tickle Pink, and Sweet Spots.

5. First Aid Beauty Facial Cleanser | Retail: $20 for 5 oz - This PH-balanced cleanser is paraben-free and safe for sensitive skin. I already use the First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream and look forward to trying this cleanser from the brand as well.

Overall, I am very happy with the April 2015 box from Beauty Box Five. This may be one of my favourites so far! The nail strips and two lip products are full size items and the skincare samples include a good amount of product. I’m looking forward to next month’s box and can’t wait to see what Beauty Box Five has in store for May.

Monday, May 4, 2015

My New Blog Design and Features

You may have noticed by now that writingbeauty.com got a new look. If you haven’t been reading my blog since the beginning, you may not know that this isn’t its first makeover.

When I started blogging back in February 2011 I had very little design skills and was not at all familiar with the mechanics of blogger. Instead of trying to create a unique design by myself, I downloaded a template that I felt had a classy look and a simple colour scheme. It looked like this.

Blog header 5

After using the template for a few months, I not only began to feel that it didn’t fully capture the beauty theme of my blog, but I also noticed that many technical issues were arising on my blog due to the layout. Eventually, I went on the search for a designer who could help me achieve the design I was looking for and found Ana from Peaches & Cream Designs. I had a wonderful experience with her that resulted in a beautiful pink and grey design that looked like this.

Screen Shot 2015 04 21 at 12 20 32 AM

I have a previous post that outlines the entire design process HERE if you are interested. I really loved this design (and still do), but after a few years I thought it was time for something new, so I got in touch with Ana and told her what I was looking for this time. I wanted something with a bit more white space so that my photos would not have to compete with a colourful background, a design that would include shades of black, grey, and mint (my favourite colour!), features to showcase recent or favourite posts, and a menu bar that would be more reader-friendly. As you can see from my new blog design, Ana incorporated everything that I was looking for. She also helped me learn how to use the new features, since, even after all these years, I’m still not an expert when it comes to blogger. If you are looking for a blog designer, I definitely recommend checking out peachesandcreamdesigns.com

I hope that you enjoy all the new features of my blog. If you like reading nail-related posts, the Nails tab offers Nail of the Day posts that include photos of nail swatches and reviews of polishes that I have tried from a range of different brands, Nail Art posts that feature pictures of my nail art designs and instructions for recreating them, Nail Polish Favourites that include pictures of polishes that I have enjoyed during specific seasons, and Nail How TOs that give nail-care and nail design tips.

Next is the Beauty tab which focuses on other aspects of beauty such as makeup and hair. In this tab, you will find posts on Makeup How TOs, Makeup Favourites, and Hair How TOs. As I add more content to my blog, I will add more categories.

My Giveaways tab is still in its usual spot. I will be hosting some giveaways soon with pink and grey beauty prizes to introduce my new design and honour my former pink and grey design.

The Recipes tab is still there is well, but I have reorganized it into categories to make it easier to find certain types of recipes, including Desserts, Snacks, Breakfast, and Lunch/Dinner.

I have also added categories to my Reviews tab. The first is Subscription Boxes. If you are a regular reader, you will know that I review a few subscription boxes each month. To keep everything organized, I have separated this category into Beauty Boxes, Nail Polish Boxes, Food Boxes, Pet Boxes, and Lifestyle Boxes. Aside from Subscription Boxes, the Reviews tab also includes the following categories: Makeup, Nails, Hair, Skincare, Fragrance, and Fashion.

While it took quite a while to filter all my posts into these new tabs and categories, I really enjoyed the process as it allowed me to rediscover former posts that I had forgotten about. It brought me back to my first days of blogging and reminded me of why I started this blog in the first place—to literally put beauty to words.

I hope that you will continue to join me on this beauty blogging journey and enjoy the new blog design and features.

~Beauty Writer

Pastel Confetti Nail Art

 Julep Fifi and Yuki
Julep Fifi and Yuki 4

I created this fun nail look for spring using two of the polishes that came in the Julep Cupid’s Mystery Clutch. The pastel pink base is called Fifi and the heart confetti is called Yuki. I love how this look can be achieved without any special nail art tools. It was also very easy to create.

After painting on the base colour and letting it dry for a few minutes, I used the brush in the confetti polish to dab random bits of white and pink confetti onto the nail on my ring finger. Next, I used the brush to pick up a white confetti heart and place it in the centre of my nail. I finished the look with a layer of top coat. The look lasted a long time and I received many compliments on it. I think this nail design is very versatile—it’s office appropriate yet also a pretty look for a bride to wear on her
wedding day.

What do you think of this spring nail look?