Beauty Musings & Rogue Ramblings


Birchbox: September/October 2012

So as I mentioned in today’s earlier post, my subscriptions have been arriving late the past couple months, but Birchbox did email me letting me know the October box would be late (and gave me some Birchbox points). I received it a couple days ago and definitely excited for one of the products included… but first, September, which was equally good!

SEPTEMBER – overall: B+.


21 Drops “Focus” Aromatherapy Blend – .07 fl oz Sample

  • Reminds me of hot tea and the holidays, with its blend of rosemary, peppermint and frankincense oil.
  • I’m not sure if it really helps with avoiding distractions? Hmmm…
  • It says you can apply it to your wrists or neck, but considering its scent, I personally wouldn’t want to go around smelling like the holidays and hot tea
  • Full Size Value: $29.00 (7.5 ml)



Color Club Birchbox Custom Collection “Status Update” – 7ml Sample

  • Good quality polish, in a solid blue-toned soot gray.
  • Full Size Value: $8.00 (15ml)



Mighty Leaf Tea – Tea Pouches – 3 count Sample Pack 

  • I’m a tea lover and definitely enjoyed the ones I received: Green Tea Tropical, Chamomile Citrus and Vanilla Bean Black Tea.
  • Each flavor was as expected and of good quality whole leaf teas.
  • Full Size Value: $9.95 (15 count pack)


Nexxus Pro-Mend Split End Treatment System – Single Use Sample Pouches

  • I always hate these single use pouches… how am I supposed to fall in love with a “system” that I only use once. Included was the Daily Shampoo, Daily Conditioner and Targeted Leave-In Treatment Crème.
  • Warning: Fragrance/perfume heavy products. From what I recall the shampoo is very floral, with the conditioner being floral-fuity and the leave-in treatment being most fruity.
  • Full Size Value: $9.99 (Shampoo), $14.99 (Conditioner), $9.99 (Leave-In Treatment)


twistband Birchbox Custom Lace up for Fall – Single Hair Band

  • Simple, ouch-free – no snag – no tangle hair band.
  • Full Size Value: $22.00 (12 pack)


Vasanti BrightenUp! Enzymatic Face Rejuvenator – 20g Sample

  • Loving this stuff!
  • 99% Natural with Papaya Micro-crystals and Aloe
  • Though I love this, you can definitely get the effects at home and for fairly cheap. Read more on brightening your skin here. 
  • Full Size Value: $34.00 (4.23 oz)

OCTOBER – overall: B+.

This Month's Box


beautyblender – Single Full Size Sponge

  • Okay- so excited! I have never bothered to purchase a beautyblender, but I am familiar with it and the brand. I am actually a lover of the MAC Pro Performance sponge, so it will be great to do a proper comparison of the two!
  • I have not yet used this, but initial observations: extremely light and airy, very small (when dry) and easily fits in my small hands.
  • Look out for my MAC vs BB comparision soon 🙂
  • Full Size Value:  $25.95 (2 sponges)


theBalm cosmetics Mary-Lou Manizer – 1 g Sample 

  • Great multi-purpose eyeshadow and highlighter. Smooth and creamy powder, easily blendable. Can be used wet for a more dramatic finish and high shine look.
  • Full Size Value: $24.00 (8.5 g)



Lucy B Cosmetics Roll On Perfume Oil Duo – Standard Sample Vials 

  • Love these scents! Smell lovely together and on their own.
  • Austrailian Wild Jasmine, with waterlily, white ginger and magnolia, is a little sexy, but still soft with florals. Not overwhelming or overpowering.
  • Pink Frangipani is even softer but more fruity, with pineapple, heliotrope and coconut milk.
  • Full Size Value: $48.00 (exact size unknown, see photo above)

Supergoop! City Sunscreen Serum – 2 Single Use Samples

  • Gel-lotion consistency with an odd scent, but fades quickly.
  • Initially seems greasy, but sinks into skin well.
  • Unsure of its performance under make-up, but too much contact tends to make it feel a little gritty.
  • Okay sunscreen, but nothing special. I still prefer my normal SPF moisturizer.
  • Full Size Value: $42.00 (1.7 oz)

LUNA Fiber Chocolate Raspberry – 1 Full Size Bar

  • Blehhhh… a bit too dry for my liking and where was the raspberry filling?
  • Good for you ingredients but, tasted too much like a diet snack/meal bar.
  • Full Size Value: $14.95 (12 count)



How to Lighten & Brighten Skin Naturally

Most people suffer from some type of unwanted skin darkening at some point and there are many reasons why this can happen: friction, chafing, skin irritations from hair removal, sun exposure/damage (freckles, hyperpigmentation), scarring from injury, acne, skin allergies or rash, contact spots (knees, elbows, back of ankles), or simply genetics, etc…

Skin darkening can be annoying, bothersome, or even embarrassing… luckily, there are ways to reduce or even eliminate those darkened areas.

You can invest in skin lightening or bleaching creams, serums and over-the-counter specialty treatments, or go to your dermatologist for medical remedies.

You can also choose the natural method, using simple and affordable ingredients at home. Natural methods work more gradually than synthetic, chemical, or medical treatments; which can be more beneficial for your skin/health, especially if you have sensitive skin.

Important Note: If you are someone with a naturally deeper skin tone,  due to your ethnicity or race (i.e. African American, Hispanic, Indian, etc.), always consult your doctor and dermatologist before attempting any at-home full body skin lightening or whitening, whether over-the-counter or natural.

Now, onto the easy, natural process of lightening and brightening your skin..

  • If looking to lighten certain areas on your skin, you can choose to do this everyday or 3 times a week, depending on your skin’s sensitivity. Once your desired skin tone is reached, you may wish to maintain it by repeating the process on a routine basis.
  • If looking to brighten your skin, this can be done once a week, bi-monthly, once a month or simply when your skin needs a boost.
  • For face lightening: I recommend that you do not apply this more than 3 times a week, as your facial skin is more sensitive than your body, and you can over exfoliate resulting in dry skin.

This is a three part method, but you can choose to use one, two or all aspects.

Part 1: Exfoliate with Pure Baking Soda

  • Pure Baking Soda is sodium based, pH neutralizing, gentle exfoliant
  • It will help to loosen the  dead skin cells and prep the skin for the next steps
  • Create a paste, usually 2:1 baking soda to water ratio works
  • Gently massage the paste on the darkened skin areas for 30 seconds to 2 minutes, depending on your skin’s sensitivity, and rinse off
  • Bonus: Since it is pH neutralizing, this exfoliant can help with acne and should not cause any irritation
  • NOTE: Since Pure Baking Soda is essentially salt, please take caution if you are on a strict low sodium health regimen, and while you will only be applying it for a couple minutes at most, what you put on your skin is absorbed into your body
  • NOTE: Exfoliate only once a day with the Baking Soda paste
  • FOR FACE: Do not apply to face for more than 30 seconds – avoiding the eye area, and at most once a day, 3 times a week

Part 2: Apply Lemon Juice or Papaya on clean, exfoliated skin

  • Apply an antioxidant- vitamin rich – alpha hydroxy acid, like lemon juice or papaya
  • Alpha hydroxy acid rich fruits, like lemon and papaya, naturally exfoliate skin
  • They also fight free radicals and help with new skin cell growth and turnover
  • Lemons, rich in Vitamin C and citric acid, help lighten skin
  • Papayas, which contain an enzyme call papain, help with hyperpigmentation
  • Slice fresh lemon or papaya (removing seeds) and rub slices over skin, coating the areas with the juice
  • 100% Lemon Juice from concentrate on a cotton pad/square/ball can be substituted
  • Allow to sit and dry on skin for 10 minutes, no more than 20 minutes, rinse with luke warm water
  • For very dark problem areas or spots, apply slices directly onto area and leave for no more than 10 minutes and rinse with luke warm water
  • If using papaya, it may help to dice and create a pulp
  • Remember, this is an acid treatment, meaning your skin can dry out if you fail to properly moisturize
  • NOTE: When treating with an alpha hydroxy acid always use an SPF lotion, as your skin is more sensitive
  • NOTE: Apply no more than twice a day, and if you have sensitive skin, opt for using a diluted lemon juice
  • FOR FACE: Avoid eye area, leaving juice or pulp on skin for no more than 15 minutes  then rinse with luke warm water

Part 3: Use oil to lock in moisture, brighten, help with skin renewal and anti-aging 

  • Oil is a great option for locking in moisture, and keeping skin soft and supple
  • It also helps in loosening dead skin cells, as opposed to a regular moisturizer
  • Antioxidant rich oils help against free radicals, sun-damage, and helping with anti-aging and skin tone
  • Massage the oil into all your skin, concentrating on the darker and more drying areas, up to 3 times a day
  • Remember to choose a light, gentle, non-comedogenic (non-pore clogging) oils
  • I use Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate on my face nightly and Neutrogena Body Oil
  • I also recommend Grapeseed and Evening Primrose oils, both of which I use/have used in the past and loved
  • NOTE: Using oil does not make your skin more oily, in fact it has the opposite effect and can help resolve oily skin
  • FOR FACE: Oil is usually applied in the evening for your face. Using 2 to 4 drops of oil is enough for the face and you can apply your normal nightly moisturizer after a few minutes.

There you have it… A LOT of info, but I hope it helps. Oh…and remember, fundamentally, 2 of these steps are salt and acid – so take precautions if you have cuts, sores or any type of unhealed wound – it will sting! Pass the info on to those you know who could benefit from this – no one should have to feel insecure about this issue 🙂

Oh and of course, remember good hydration – drinking plenty of water – is the best option for keeping your skin healthy!