Sunday, May 25, 2014

May 2014 Ipsy Bag Review: "Fresh Picks"

Another month, another Ipsy bag in my mailbox. But wait! This month, there were actually two bags in my mailbox. That's right... since Ipsy bags contain 4-5 items out of a larger array of possible products (26 items total for May), and since I have tended not to receive the items I wanted the most in past months, I decided to sign up for a second bag in hopes of receiving a wider variety of the available items. A little over-the-top? Perhaps. But better for you, dear reader? Again, perhaps... but not so much for this month, because I ended up getting multiple duplicate items. Le sigh.

Bag #1, in which I blow your mind with my amazing powers of camouflage.
So since I recently discovered the joy of using my stash of craft papers as backdrops for my photos, I was happy to dig this print up. But then I discovered its fatal flaw... it goes so well with May's "Fresh Picks" vine-printed bag that the bag is practically invisible! It amuses me, though, to make you play a wee bit of "Find the Bag." It's there, I promise. (Side note: I just noticed that this also flows nicely with my blog's background. Mind = blown.)

Okay, fine. Here's the bag.
The bag itself, as per usual, earned mixed reactions from me; I like the print, minus the standard "ipsy" logo incorporated into it, but was disappointed that the print is only on one side. The bag is made from a nubby burlap sort of fabric, which is a refreshing change... but I could see it getting stained up very easily.

Bag #2's contents, duplicates and all.
 Before I delve into reviewing the products, I'd like to take a moment to raise a little hell about Ipsy's shipping. It's included in the $10 price, which yay, but they ship via DHL, which I have discovered is the CRAPPIEST SHIPPING SERVICE EVER. It is so appallingly slow that I almost wish they didn't send tracking numbers, because it's excruciating to watch my packages travel to Georgia only to languish there for days, then get stuck in Hebron, Kentucky, for another ridiculously excessive amount of time before finally being transferred to the USPS and reaching me in Louisville. And then this month! Two Ipsy bags, both shipped at the same time, traveled together all the way to Hebron, but then were transferred to the USPS three days apart! To be fair, in this case, it was actually kind of nice to get my little treats on two different days instead of all at once, but still. How does that make any sense? I wish Ipsy would switch to a more reliable shipping service.

Anyway, let's get on to the important stuff, shall we? I'll admit that I wasn't looking particularly forward to either of my bags, and in fact was having a little buyer's remorse about signing up for that second bag, because I didn't find any of the available options terribly exciting. As with January's Ipsy bag, this month's selections were very skincare-heavy, which isn't nearly as fun as getting pretty colored things. The only item I really wanted from Ipsy's sneak peeks was a Too Faced bronzer, and clearly that's not in either of the above photos. Boo. Hiss. And then when I saw I'd be receiving duplicates of three items, the bloom was definitely off the rose. As usual, though, at least one item pulled through to make my subscription worthwhile!

In both bags, I found:
  • Jersey Shore Sun Sans Tan Anti-Aging Sunscreen with SPF 35 (deluxe sample, valued at $10.00): So sunscreen is always a good thing in my book, because I am a grown-up who does grown-up things like putting on high SPF (usually) and not using SPF 2 oil (anymore). I wasn't particularly enthused about getting these small sample sizes, because I am of the "slather it on and re-apply often" school of thought, so this tiny tube would probably not last a day with me. I also found the price off-putting, because I am not opposed to buying the industrial-sized vat of No-Ad, and I consider buying Hawaiian Tropic for the smell to be a "splurge" in the realm of sunscreen. So, unless Jersey Shore Sun's SPF is SPF-ier than any other SPF, I see no reason to spend that much money on something people won't even be able to see on me. Except... THEY CAN SEE IT ON ME. The bottle says "Pure White Mineral Sunscreen" as though that's a good thing, but it left an unappealing pallor on my skin (see ghost wrist below), which I'm pretty sure was not the goal. I was able to dissipate the white sheen with a crap-ton of rubbing, but frankly, that makes me worry that it has to be spread too thinly in order to disappear on me. No thanks. I'll pass these along to one of my fair-skinned friends, and go back to soaking in the No-Ad.

  •  Pacifica Mineral Eyeshadow Duo in "Duo 1" (valued at $4.45): These duos appear to be exclusive to Ipsy, since Pacifica's eyeshadows are currently all in quad form, so I calculated the value based on shadow weight. Two color options were available, and I was really hoping to get one of each, so of course I got two of the same one. Oh well, off to my little sale/trade box with one of them! I wasn't expecting much from these shadows, because the colors looked pretty bland in photos, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much better they are in person. The golden shade, "Celestial," is a nice "my eyelids but shimmery" color that will come in handy for neutral but pretty work makeup, and the other shade, "Opal," looks like a blah pale beige in the pan but applies with a pretty pink sheen... opalescent, if you will, so I guess it's not just a clever name. Opal is a little powdery, but not too bad. The main issue I had with this product is the cheapness of the compact; upon opening it, the lid popped right off when I pushed it just a little further back than vertical. It didn't break, so I was able to snap it right back on, but still. A little dinky, Pacifica, especially when I'm used to your products having impeccably beautiful packaging. I doubt I'll buy these in the future, only because I already have plenty of eyeshadows and some higher-quality neutrals in the same vein, but I wouldn't throw them out of bed either. I will, however, most likely use the Pacifica promo code to buy more completely unneeded smelly-goods, at which Pacifica absolutely excels.

  •   Hey Honey Take It Off! Exfoliating Peel-Off Mask (deluxe sample, valued at $7.00): This may sound ageist or something, but I'm generally not a fan of peel-off masks, because they just seem juvenile to me... something I used as a pre-teen because they were fun to try to peel off in big pieces, not something I'd choose to use as an adult. That's probably silly of me, but it's just how I roll. Also, this is another sample that I think is too small. I'm not trying to whine, but in terms of skincare products, I feel like a sample should be large enough for multiple uses in order to see how it performs on one's skin over time. I'll be lucky to get two full uses out of one tube. This sample is so small that there wasn't even room on the back to print instructions... instead, it directs users to the Hey Honey website. Funny. Anyway, this mask is a chemical exfoliant featuring alpha hydroxy acid... and upon reviewing said instructions, I have to say I found it odd that users are supposed to put moisturizer on *before* applying the mask. Call me crazy, but it seems to me that treatments like this would work better on a clean face, so I found myself worried that the AHA was going to burn like a mofo. Anyway, it's a thick, clear gel that goes on without much of a noticeable scent at all. Slathered it on... waited... and peeled. Amazingly, unlike the peel-off masks of my youth, this one came off in more or less one giant piece, leaving only a few little scraps that had to be cleaned up. (And some of that was user error... stupid eyebrows getting in the way.) Followed up with some moisturizer, and my skin did feel tightened and a little refreshed, although no visible difference. Since I've got two tubes, that should equal four to maybe five uses, but I doubt I'll re-buy after that unless my skin suddenly starts absolutely glowing, because I'm generally happy with the physical exfoliants I currently use.
"Don't call me honey, honey!"  -Pierce Hawthorne

 Okay, enough with the duplicate items! Hopefully next month, I'll get a better variety of products. When signing up for Ipsy, you fill out a quiz about your beauty habits and preferences, so I've gone back and tried to make sure that there's no overlap between my quiz answers for the two subscriptions. Fingers crossed... but if my bags are dupe-y again, I'll be canceling the second one. Now, let's move on to the items that were unique to each bag.

  • Pur-lisse Pur-Moist Hydra-Balance Moisturizer (deluxe sample, valued at $16.18): While 20-something me would have scoffed at the high price of this moisturizer, then maybe slapped some random body lotion on my face if it felt particularly itchy, 30-something me has become completely okay with the concept of spending exorbitant amounts of money on skincare. I'm very accustomed to people guessing that I'm somewhere in my 20s and being shocked when I reveal my age, and I want to keep it that way as long as possible. I'm not going to pop the seal on this sample yet, because I JUST cracked open some expensive-ass creams from Skyn Iceland that I bought myself as one of my rewards for quitting smoking, so I'm going to keep this little guy to try the next time I'm traveling.

I hate the lower-case affectation. Capitals are your friend!
  • Avene Thermal Spring Water (deluxe sample, valued at $9.00): My first reaction to this: "WATER IN A CAN? You have GOT to be shitting me." I know I used this reference in a past Ipsy review, but to me, this product is really like "The Emperor's New Clothes," in that I picture an Avene executive saying, "But if we put FRENCH on the label and call it something fancy like THERMAL, nobody will notice that we just put WATER IN A CAN!" And then all the Avene test subjects start spraying themselves, trying not to choke as they accidentally inhale water vapor, and oohing and aahing over the restorative magic of Frenchie spring eau thermale. Although I'll certainly never buy this, it will get used... I am saving this bottle for the next particularly hot day that I have to spend outside for some reason. I'm sure it will be refreshing when I'm roasty-toasty at the beach or an outdoor concert or something. I mean, it's water. (In a can.)

Water. In a can.
  • Eva NYC Therapy Session Hair Mask (travel size, valued at $12.00... or less): Beware, faint praise and a bust ahead! I have absolutely nothing bad to say about this product, quality-wise, but nothing particularly good either. It conditioned my hair about the same as my usual conditioner, so I certainly wouldn't say that it's restorative enough to be called something snazzy like a "hair mask." It smells okay, nothing mind-blowing, but not unpleasant. I would certainly never pay the $40 price on Eva NYC's website... which, amusingly enough, appears to be a mark-up by Eva NYC to compensate for the 65% off promo code offered to Ipsy subscribers. For comparison, here is the same product regularly priced at $14.99 at Ulta, and $15.99 at Walgreens. So basically, I can buy the full-sized product at one of those locations for almost the same price that Eva NYC has listed for this travel-sized bottle. Ridiculous.

  • Derma E Microdermabrasion Scrub (deluxe sample, valued at $16.25): I saved the best for last... I almost decided not to keep this, since I have zero problem with whipping up my own sugar scrubs, but then I sniffed it and found myself in love with the scent. It's a beautiful bright lemony aroma, no artificial Pledge lemon smell here! So I figured I'd keep it and see if there was really anything to the whole "micro" part of "microdermabrasion." As it turns out, I may have been missing out all that time I was making my own scrubs! The exfoliating grains in this scrub are super-fine and don't feel nearly as abrasive as my sugar, but my face still feels just as smooth afterward. My only nitpick? The label on the jar is wrinkled in a couple of places, as you can see below. If I'm going to spend $30 on a product, I think it should at least look like it was packaged with care, and since this sample is actually half the amount of product put into a full-sized jar, the wonky label bothers me. Still, this is something that I might actually purchase once I run out... which won't be too awfully soon, because the sample size is pretty generous, and a little goes a long way.

Label wrinkles = OCD tweaked.
Overall, I was not terribly happy with this month's Ipsy offerings. The return on my $20 investment was good from a price-only standpoint; Bag #1 rang in at $51.70, and Bag #2 at $46.63, for a total of $98.33. However, the value plummets if we look at the Ulta/Walgreens vs. inflated Eva NYC price for the hair mask. And then let's break that down to the value of the products I'll actually use.... and at least two of those are products I would absolutely not buy again (the Avene and the Eva NYC), and I probably won't wind up buying the Hey Honey or the Pur-lisse (unless either one surprises me and blows my mind, I'll keep using scrubs and will remain Skyn Iceland's bitch). So the actual value for me is pretty low this month, but I'm still happy enough with a couple of the items that I'm not left shaking my fist angrily and cursing Ipsy's name. I'm already looking forward to June; since this month was so skincare-heavy, I'm hoping for a return to lots of fun makeup next month!

If my less-than-glowing review has somehow left you chomping at the bit to try Ipsy for yourself, please feel free to clicky-clicky here to sign up using my referral link. (As always, a disclaimer: I get points if you use my link, which I can redeem for products, but I would not share my link if I did not find Ipsy entirely worthwhile.)

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