Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Unboxing/Review: Influenster Maple VoxBox.

My first VoxBox just came in! An on the crappiest of days, no less. Just the thing I needed to cheer myself up a bit!

For those who don't know what Influenster is, it's a site that you have to be invited to or request an invite for. You complete some surveys, write some reviews and if you are active enough you can qualify for boxes of new products for you to review. It takes patience, I've been on Influenster for over a year, and I believe this is their first box for Canadians that I luckily qualified for.

So to keep from blabbering, on to the unboxing!

Here's the info card the box came with:

And here's the goodies I got!

Skinny Cow Milk Chocolate Flavour Heavenly Crisp
$1.29 per bar, $4.29 per 4-pack

First thing to note, the grammarian/Canadian in me really appreciated that 'u' in in 'flavour'. So, thumbs up for that right off the bat.

I've seen Skinny Cow products before, and while I've never tried them, who am I to turn down some chocolate? The one thing about Skinny Cow products, is that I find the name of the brand slightly off-putting. I don't particularly find the word "skinny" to be appealing. I get what they're going for, but I always find people should attain "healthy"... not so much a specific body type that is difficult for some people to attain, or that varies per person's idea of what that body type might look like.

Now, onto the actual bar itself. Firstly, can I note that I have never had more difficulty getting my camera to focus than when trying to capture this wafer? Seriously. My Canon was struggling. The bar is decently accurate to the photo. As for the taste? Not really anything too exciting, to be honest. Just tastes like a chocolate covered wafer, but it's mostly wafer since the chocolate layer is quite thin. I don't think I'd buy these on my own, as for $1.29 per bar, I don't see them as being very satisfying, but that's just my personal taste. I'd say if you like chocolate wafers, then picking up a box of these can't hurt.

Skinny Cow Milk Chocolate Dreamy Clusters
 $1.29 per bar, $4.29 per 4-pack

Oh my goodness gracious do these things look delicious. Caramel is one of my favourite things in the world, chocolate being another one. Smush those two together? A little piece of heaven. Just looking at the packaging made my mouth water a little.

So here's my attempt at food photography for these clusters. I wish I had a macro lens, but alas, I lack one. As you can see, the shape of the clusters aren't too far off from the ones on the package. The caramel is unfortunately not as super ooey-gooey, but I can look past that.

As for the taste? These are scrumptious. Crispy and chocolatey and sweet. Did they satisfy my chocolate craving? I suppose so, yes. But I can definitely believe it was only 120 calories, as there were only 5 clusters in my bag. I don't think I would purchase these on my own, as for what I'm getting and the degree to which I snack while I work, these would get pricy very quickly for me. But I think if you're watching your caloric intake and find portion sizing like this helpful, I'd say try it and see for yourself!

NYC New York Color Big Bold Curl Mascara

Out of everything in my box, this was something I didn't think I would like very much. Not because I have anything against NYC or their mascaras, but because I have a tendency to to be very loyal to mascaras that I find and love. Currently, it's my love affair with L'Oreal's Voluminous Million Lashes that has been going on for a couple years and since finding it, nothing has compared with it in terms with what I look for and like in a mascara. I have tried all sorts of mascaras that get tons of hype, from both of the Benefit mascaras, to all the Maybelline mascara variations. I've never liked any of them. So this guy had a lot to live up to so to speak?

I prefer black mascaras for every day, so I'm happy to have received the colour '855 Extreme Black'. To start off with packaging, the shape is pretty basic, though the turquoise and hot pink colour palette isn't exactly my favourite. It's a little... juvenile? And because turquoise and pink are complementary to one another, it makes the writing a bit difficult to read as it makes the tension between colours vibrate. But that's just me being a colour theory geek, I suppose? The brush itself is a bristle brush, with a slight curve to it. Personally, I hate bristle brushes, so I'm hoping I'll be pleasantly surprised. I like silicone brushes more, as I find them slightly more sanitary, and that I experience less clumping from them over bristles.

But why don't we move on to formula/performance, shall we?

(Apologies for the blurriness. My camera hates me and my lashes, apparently.)

After trying this mascara, I was surprised! I actually quite like it. While I don't believe it increases volume up to 12x more, as advertised, I do feel it's a solid lengthening mascara if you're on a budget. I do feel it added curl to my lashes, and I didn't feel like I should have manually curled them before application like I usually feel I have to with mascaras. And, despite my hatred towards bristle brushes, I didn't experience clumping with this formula and I noticed I got a little bit of volume towards the base of my lashes. Would I repurchase this? Honestly, probably not. I have a lot of sensitivities to certain cosmetics, and while this product is ophthalmologist tested, after first trying it I did feel an itching sensation along my upper and lower lash line. However, if you are looking for an inexpensive mascara that's suitable for every day, I would recommend it. The formula is light and thin, which I do like in mascaras, and at $4.99, I think it's worth giving it a go.

NYC New York Color Big Bold Plumping Lip Gloss

Here's something I have never in my life tried before: a lip plumping product. This one is in the colour '468 Big City Blush' and came shrink-wrapped in the box, which I appreciated since I assumed it was to keep from any spillage in transit. In recent memory I can't say I've tried any NYC products (aside from the mascara, but I tested and reviewed this product first), so testing this little guy out definitely intrigued me.

(Size comparison with a standard size lip gloss. It's twice the size!) (That's American Apparel lip gloss in "Micromesh", by the way.)

First impressions? I'll start with the packaging. It's pretty basic, run-of-the-mill drugstore packaging... nothing to write home about. The applicator is a sponge, which is something I don't have much of a preference about, at the end of a sturdy (surprisingly thick) applicator wand. As for the scent, it definitely has one, so I'm sorry to those who don't enjoy scented lip products. It's not very strong, but the best way I can describe is that it smells almost exactly like a rose salve. I compared it to my C.O. Bigelow Rose Salve I got from Bath and Body Works a while back, and it's pretty spot on. So keep that in mind before purchasing.

So now onto how the product works and looks.

First off, let me sincerely apologize for how ridiculously chapped my lips are. It's winter time and super cold and dry in Toronto. I figured adding a lip balm would be counter-intuitive for this swatch?

This colour is pretty much what my natural lip colour is, so all I can do is call it a MLBB shade and view it from how it works/feels. It's pretty moisturizing, sticky without be way too uncomfortable, and I now understand all that I've heard about the 'tingle' to lip plumping products. It was pretty strange at first, but I got used to it. That saying, I don't think I'm so keen on plump lips to the point of dealing with discomfort for them. I'm fairly happy with the fullness of my lips as is. That being said, I think in photos you can see that my lips do look a bit plumper, (I even onion skinned them in Photoshop, and it is plumper) but I couldn't really tell too much when it was on in person. And since the colour is basically my lip colour, maybe slightly lighter, I can't see this colour as being too out of a person's comfort zone. I like the glossiness, and the colour is a nice neutral, so if you're looking to try an inexpensive lip plumper, I'd say for 5 bucks pick this one up! Better than DuWop's Lip Venom for $16? (Remember that trend?)

Broadway Nails imPRESS Press-On Manicure

I was pretty interested to try these guys when I saw my cheat sheet for my box. However, unfortunately the pattern I received is something I would never pick up for myself. It reminds me of the circus and clowns, which are two of my biggest (albeit, irrational) fears. (If your grandfather took you to a Russian circus at a very young age, you would be too.)

The pattern itself is called Lovestruck, which I personally don't feel fits the polka dots, but oh well. (After some research, I think my box was mislabeled?)

Despite this however, I figured it would only be right to test it out and see how the product itself is, regardless of my aversion to the pattern.

(Natural light, no topcoat)

Goodness gracious me, are these things out of my comfort zone. I have a hard time believing these are the "short" length, but that could be because I have ridiculously small nail beds. I've never found appeal in acrylics, but I suppose this is an easy way to test out at home if I'd like the feel of them. Wonderful if you love acrylics and false nails... but it seems I'm not much of a fan. To put these on is fairly simple, I didn't have too much of an issue. Just washed my hands, peeled off the sticky part and held them on for about 15 seconds each. The size selection is pretty decent, and it was nice for those with tiny hands like myself. I usually have issues with nail stickers and the like since their smallest size might fit my ring finger, but both my pinky fingers worked with Broadway's size 11 nail. I also like how they numbered each of the sizes, so if you did fall in love with these you could feasibly have an easier time picking out sizes when you get a new box since you'd... know your nail sizes, I guess?

(You can kind of see the numbers here? And how long they really were for me... oh. And this is in artificial light.)

One thing that bothered me at first, however, was that they have a tiny lip that's very slight at the tip of each nails and hangs off on the inside of the nail. These bugged the hell out of me at first, but now I'm liking them since they... give me more surface area for trying to type in these? I'm so pathetic, haha.

The pattern is matte, which I'm not sure is the same for all of the patterns you could get. So if you like that, you're good to go, but if you'd like it glossy you could easily add a topcoat. For mine the printing of the pattern was a bit iffy towards the sides of some of the nails, but that didn't worry me too much. I didn't mind the pattern as much on since they are NEON and thus made my skin look less pasty than it tends to in winter. The durability also seems quite good, as I'm always working with my hands and beating up my nails (I used a manual can opener with these on. I am woman, hear me roar?), but these are not budging. I tried taking them off after wearing them overnight... and it was a pain to do which can be good or bad depending on how you look at it.

Main point, would I buy these again? No, because I don't think the lengths of these are really for me. But if you're one who likes the feel of long nails or has deeper nails beds than I, go for it! For max $11 it's cheaper than a trip to the salon, quicker than that trip and small talk, and it's nail art that's quick and durable.

Montagne Jeunesse Clay Spas

I've seen these masks before in Rexall drugstores and Walmarts in the past. When I was young I wanted to try them out, but I never actually got the chance. So now I have that chance! There were three types of masks that were being put in the boxes, and I received the Dead Sea Mud Spa mask. Albeit, this wouldn't have been my first choice. I have family in Israel, so after going to the Dead Sea a couple times and trying the mud out there and bringing tons of that stuff home, it's safe to say my family is of no shortage of Dead Sea products.

That being said, that doesn't mean I don't adore most of the Dead Sea products I have tried! So I was interested to see how this one measured up.

I decided to try this mask when my friend Vicki stayed over at my apartment for a good 'ol fashioned slumber party. I realized quickly why the model on the packaging wasn't wearing the mask... it's very difficult to look cute wearing this mask. Very, very difficult:

Exhibit A: 

Exhibit B:

As I only received one mask, Vicki ended up trying my Queen Helene Mint Julep mask, which she loved. Eventually we embraced the silliness of mask-wearing and... well... 

(Also, bonus points if you check out our ridiculous instavideo)

Slumber party-ness aside, I did actually focus enough to have a review for the mask. Like all dead sea products, I feel certain products are good for all skin types, and others not so much. I feel this mask would be much better suited for those with oily, blemish prone skin, while I on the other hand have very dry skin. The Dead Sea, for those of you who don't know, is famous for its high salt and mineral content that actually allows people to float in the water effortlessly and its mineral-rich mud that people slather all over their bodies. Which I have done, but won't be posting pictures of here ;)
That being said, the sea is very salty, which can dry out skin pretty badly. Once I took the mask off, my skin was incredibly dry and I ended up having to apply moisturizer all over my face. While I do use masks similar to this for my t-zone, as I am prone to blemishes, this was way too harsh for my entire face. My skin was smoother afterwards, but I wouldn't re-purchase this. I'd say it'd be better for oilier skin.
One thing I did like was how easy application was. The mask is in one piece so it only takes a second to put on. I wouldn't say this mask would be good to wear while doing busywork or anything... it would fall right off. I'd say it would be better for a relaxing night reading a book or taking a bath. As the lovely Vicki is demonstrating, the mask is basically a circle with holes for facial features. Not exactly the most flattering thing, and reminded me of when my mother made my brother and I wear balaclavas when we went skiing as kids, but it is functional.

Ice Breakers DUO

Is it weird how excited I was for these? Probably. Once upon a time I was addicted to Ice Breakers. I have since beat the habit, but seeing as I needed some new mints/gum for my purse I was happy knowing this would be in the box. And I love mint and raspberry, so I was curious as to how they would both work together.

Now, aside from the amusing fact that my tin was mislabeled ('solo' dispensing on the 'many' side, and the same vice versa. If you've ever used Ice Breakers packaging, you'd know what I was talking about.), which is not something that really deters me from the product, just a small mistake

 (I tried so hard to colour balance these photos. They are SO red/pink toned!)

Unlike Ice Breakers I've tried in the past, the raspberry side of these have a bumpy texture to them. I'm thinking this is in order to distinguish which flavour side is which when consuming the mint. Whatever "Cooling Crystals" might be, which is what the product advertises, I can definitely taste. The raspberry and mint mix well together, and I believe if you enjoy both flavours separately you would enjoy them in tandem.

My one gripe would be that the mint melts really quickly, which could be a good or bad thing depending on how you look at it. I view Ice Breakers more as a candy/mint hybrid, so I'd just like them to last longer... because they're yummy :)

Hope you guys enjoyed my first Influenster VoxBox review!

Let me know what you think! Any of these products pique your interest? Interested in or received anything from Influenster?

And for those out there who like me celebrate Channukah, belated Chag Sameach!

Stay sweet.


Disclaimer: I  received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes.

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