Birchbox unboxing July 2014

Birchbox unboxing July 2014

ewg skindeep cosmetics database score 1Cynthia Rowley Beauty Eyeliner – cones rule this one out for me personally. Actually what’s odd is that some of the colors of this eyeliner use cones and some don’t so I had a 50/50 chance of being able to use this. They sent me the black which gets a healthy 1 with the cosmetics database. Which means it sucks that I react to cones by breaking out badly.

RUFFIAN Nail Lacquer – Ambrosia – This shade is a metalic orchid / purple shade. I don’t think it’s a good summer color but I do think I will wear it come fall and winter.

RUFFIAN Nail Lacquer swatch Ambrosia
ewg skindeep cosmetics database score 4RUFFIAN Dressing Room Nail Lacquer Remover Towelettes – while not horrible (no nail polish remover will rank a zero and this isn’t bad at a 4 with the cosmetics database) the added fragrance AND no added healthy oils means I will likely stick with the LA FRESH® Eco Beauty Acetone-Free Nail Polish Removers. They are also a 4 but they have aloe, rosemary extract, vitamin E and a few other things that I’ve liked.

ewg skindeep cosmetics database score 4Naobay Body Radiance Lotion – no cones, no parabens, and many of the ingredients are organic. I’m excited to try this one. One caveate … fragrance (parfum) is hidden in there and I don’t know if it’s from essential oils or not. The description says no synthetic dyes but it doesn’t say no synthetic fragrances. If they want to be truly natural, that needs to be clarified. In the meantime, “Fragrance” gets them some point docked both by myself as well as on the cosmetics database report making this a 4. Still not bad but it would be SO much better if fragrance were from essential oils. And it might be which would mean this would rank better than a 4 if that were the case. It’s just not clear from anything on the Birchbox OR the company website whether or not the fragrance is synthetic or from natural ingredients.

ewg skindeep cosmetics database score 2Real Chemistry Luminous 3-Minute Peel – no cones, no fragrances, no parabens… but I don’t expect this to rank well simply because almost no face peels rank well. So keeping that in mind… wow this actually ranked low! It’s a surprising 2 with the cosmetics database! I love peels and exfoliators so I will likely try this.

ewg skindeep cosmetics database score 2100% Pure Gingerade Shower Gel (Honey Cream Wash) – no cones, excellent ingredient list and is a 2 with the cosmetics database. I’m excited to try this one though I hate little packages like this for the shower. I have to remember to cut them open before I get in the shower because they are nearly impossible to open otherwise particularly after you get your hands wet.

There’s also a magazine subscription bonus in here. A year’s subscription to Women’s Health and it doesn’t look like there’s any strings attached! (I’ll have to read the fine print in a bit.)

 Still not signed up for Birchbox? :D

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Birchblogger challenge #RuffianManicure …
or a reverse french manicure (similar to a half moon nail)

ruffian-manicure-birchbox-screenshotsBasically a Ruffian Manicure is a reverse french manicure. Some people also might consider it a half moon manicure (though I think a half moon mani is actually supposed to mimic the moon shape you sometimes see at the nail base.) Whatever you want to call it, it’s as simple … or as difficult as a french manicure!

Your color choice can really affect the outcome so I decided to give several color combinations a try to find my favorite.

@birchbox #Birchbloggers My #RuffianManicure using @ruffian_ny Fox Hunt & several @ZoyaNailPolish accents

@birchbox #Birchbloggers My #RuffianManicure using @ruffian_ny Fox Hunt & several @ZoyaNailPolish accents main color: 

  • Ruffian Fox Hunt nail polish which is a lovely burnt orange color. It’s actually very similar to about 5 other shades I own but instead of a matte, it has some goldish shimmery undertone to it making it a more fall-like shade.

Accent colors that I tried:

  • Zoya Jacqueline which is a neutral cream shade.
  • Zoya Ziv which is a super gold shimmer. More metalic looking than glittery.
  • Zoya Noel which is a deep teal shade.

Additional tools used:

  • Masking tape yup that’s it. I used masking tape to tape off my nail to get the crescent shape at the base. (See photo at right.) It may not be pretty during the process but it does in fact work pretty well.

Putting your accent color on first does in fact work better than trying to put the accent color on after you have your main color on. Also you don’t have to wait for your main nail polish color to dry so this is a fairly fast manicure to do.

My favorite combo I think was the Ruffian Fox Hunt and the Zoya Ziv. I really wanted the Noel to be my favorite accent color because it was the bold and contrasting choice but it just didn’t seem right on my nails. I don’t think this teal was quite dark enough to go well with the Fox Hunt burnt orange.

@birchbox #Birchbloggers My #RuffianManicure using @ruffian_ny Fox Hunt & several @ZoyaNailPolish accents

OTHER Tools that might help you achieve the crescent shape:

  • Painters tape (the blue kind) or french manicure stickers guides seem to work the best in my opinion.
  • Some people like to do french manicures with a special thin nail polish brush that is small and easier to paint a thin line with. This does require a more steady hand.
  • I have tried doing a french manicure before using reinforcement labels for hole punched paper. It didn’t work out well because the dampness of the nail polish didn’t work well with the paper labels. The label did not peel back off correctly after being painted over … peeling off either wet or dry after painting did not work for me.  If the reinforcement labels were plasticy or coated they might be the best option however. So far I haven’t found reinforcement labels that were plastic however.

See more examples of the Ruffian manicure on pinterest!

Here’s how Birchbox did their Ruffian Manicure:

Sorry Ruffian but in the birchbox video above it doesn’t look like your round nail stickers are sticking all that well – love the nail polish though! (I distinctly saw camera angles done to avoid showing smudges in your crescent shape.) If anyone has personally used these and this they work better than they look in the video – please leave a comment!

Even if they work better than they look in the video, the ruffian stencil set is $6. My thinking… masking tape is cheap, versatile, I have it on hand and it works so I’d rather spend the money on another shade of nail polish! (Yeah I probably just disqualified myself from winning a set of nail polish for saying that… sigh.)

Ruffian Nail polishes are sold exclusively at – go sign up! 🙂


Birchbox September unboxing 2013

Birchbox September unboxing video 2013:

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Birchbox September 2013 REVIEW & SWATCHES • RUFFIAN Nail Lacquer in Fox Hunt • Dr. Lipp Original Nipple Balm for Lips • amika Obliphica Perk Up Dry Shampoo • VOESH New York Aroma Spa Pedicure Lotion


In my September Birchbox • a rundown of my items and reviews:

• RUFFIAN Nail Lacquer in Fox Hunt – This is a lovely fall shimmery burnt orange color that I’m really happy to get. Not too orange so you don’t look like you’re ready for halloween a little too early. I expect this to be a very versatile color to wear. I saw photos of some of the other colors and I may just have to go back and buy the olive-y green called Hedge Fund that I saw in some other box photos. These nail polishes appear to be “5-free” so they are less toxic than some of the nail polishes on the market (it was a PAIN to peel off that label to get to the ingredient list so I’ve posted that below. So tiny!)  I’m not quite ready to switch to fall colors yet but I’m really happy to get this in my box! Swatch of Ruffian Fox Hunt shown below side by side with the Nailtini Mai Tai swatch.

Ruffian-Nail-Polish-ingredients-Fox-HuntRuffian Fox Hunt Nail Polish swatch next to Nailtini Mai Tai swatch

• Dr. Lipp Original Nipple Balm for Lips – 100% Medical Grade Lanolin… that’s it! It’s a 1 with the cosmetics database. This company apparently makes one product from one ingredient and it’s healthy. If you are opposed to sheep wool, you’ll be opposed to this but animals are not harmed in this process (so it depends to what extreme you take your “no animal products” stance.) For more info on how it’s processed, visit: So aside from the strange name this stuff is awesome. This actually should be wonderful come winter for chapped winter lips!

• amika Obliphica Perk Up Dry Shampoo –  No dimethicone – yay! Still has synthetic perfume so there’s that but overall I was excited to try this. It IS however a 6 with the cosmetics database as a custom report which is a little higher than I prefer to go.

Review: is that it really does what it’s supposed to do even on brown hair. The main drawback is the scent – it’s a bit overpowering for me so this relegates this product to occasional / emergency use only category. Absolutely going to keep this product around but I would be happier if they also offered a scent-free for those times when you just want to use dry shampoo for added volume and for people like me who are trying to avoid a lot of synthetic fragrances because it can mess with my sinus allergies.

If they could get rid of the fragrances it would have a better score with the cosmetics database as well (hint hint.)

• SARAHPOTEMPA The HALF-UP™ bun tool – No ingredients here to worry about. I sometimes wear my hair in a bun so absolutely going to try this. I DO wonder how long it will last since it seems to be a combination of foam and metal but otherwise looks like a pretty nifty and useful hair styling tool.

This does a decent job of making a bun and it’s comfortable. Where it’s a problem is layered hair – it’s really hard to bring the tool towards the bottom of the hair without loosing pieces IF you have layers. Not impossible but something to keep in mind if you’ve had problems with other bun tools as a result of your layers. I think I’m most impressed with how comfortable it is to wear. We’ll see how much use I get out of it over then next couple of months. I’m curious how long it will last simply because of the materials it’s made of as well. I have a plastic bun tool somewhere and though this is easier to use because it grips the hair a little more it just doesn’t seem as durable.

SARAHPOTEMPA The HALF-UP bun tool in hair • easy low bun

• VOESH New York Aroma Spa Pedicure Lotion – Dimethicone … but it goes on your feet and since I’ve never had my feet break out in acne and my feet are REALLY far away from my face I may still give this a try (if you’re new to this blog, dimethicone causes major acne problems for me.) The synthetic fragrance is the other concern but … my feet could really use some hydrating and pampering after the summer sandals so and I might just have to try it anyway. It is a 5 with the cosmetics database as a custom report. I really prefer scores below 5 … again synthetic fragrance is keeping this from being healthier.



So my birchbox rocked for me this month. It has it’s ups and downs but the last few months have started to make up for the crappiness that was last fall’s boxes. Now if you got the same box as me this month but you were looking forward to makeup, well there was no makeup in this particular box but it looks like a few had makeup items available. This September seemed a little light on the makeup inclusions though based on what I’m seeing in the Birchbox “Shop September” section though. But I’m good with hair tools, nail polish and natural lip treatment. Particularly since they are things I CAN try and I’m not flat out allergic/have a reaction to. YAY!

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