I hope everyone has gotten over Black Friday and Cyber Monday….and Cyber Tuesday and the rest of the week. I can’t believe it is already so close to the end of the year! The week has been pretty gloomy here in London because it’s all cold and rainy. I secretly keep hoping for some snow because that always makes it seem much more festive this time of year. There are still plenty of deals at Costco to take advantage of though if you didn’t find quite everything you were looking for this year. If you’re in one of the countries where you can shop Costco online (US, Canada, UK, and Mexico), there are definitely some really great gift items that you won’t find in the warehouses. So don’t forget to check them out, plus those can come right to your door.
If you know someone that is a bit of a fan of cosmetics and beauty products that you were trying to find a gift for, I’ve got a couple of beauty items to review today that would be perfect for them, or yourself (there’s nothing wrong with giving yourself a little holiday gift).
eos Smooth Sphere Lip Balm – This time of year can definitely be hard on your lips. The weather outside isn’t great for skin, in general, and lips seem to really get chapped and painful. So, it’s great to have a decent lip balm that can protect your lips and keep them soft and pain free. It’s even better when you can get that job done by something that is all natural and almost completely organic. The eos lip balm comes in a five pack at Costco, in five different scents/flavours, and are in these cute little spherical containers that are a nice change from a tube of Chapstick. Despite being round-ish they are still perfectly portable in your purse, backpack, or whatever, though probably not a pocket. Oh and don’t worry, the containers have a flat bottom so that they will stand up and not just roll away. Once you take the lid off there’s a sphere of smooth lip balm that is pretty good sized. The size makes it easy and quick to apply your lip balm, even making it possible to smooth it onto both lips at once. But of course, the nicest thing is that the lip balm feels great on your lips and doesn’t leave you with that waxy feeling at all. The lip balm glides on so easily because of the mix of natural oils that it is made from, and of course, it helps that there are no petroleum products or derivatives either. The balm is also paraben and gluten free. The lip balm is made from a mix of olive oil, shea butter, jojoba oil, beeswax, and coconut oil. All of that means that your lips are getting a healthy dose of vitamin E with each swipe of the lip balm and that’s what is going to keep your lips looking great all winter long. As I mentioned, you get five different flavours of lip balm: Passion Fruit, Strawberry Sorbet, Blueberry Acai, Summer Fruit, and Sweet Mint. Each of the different flavours are made with a selection of extracts and oils to give them a really nice amount of scent, it also keeps the lip balm from tasting weird I think. Since the balm is 95% organic though, and definitely 100% natural, you don’t have to feel like you’re just exposing yourself to a bunch of chemicals. At night when I put it on, it will definitely last until morning and maybe even through your first cup of coffee or tea. You might just feel a slight layer of protection on your lips after all that time, but it still seems to be working and protecting. I’ve found that only after doing something like brushing my teeth or eating a meal do I really feel like I need to reapply because it has been rubbed off. Though, these natural oils absorb really well into your skin and are probably doing their job even when you feel like there’s nothing on your lips. I’ve been trying this out for a number of days now and really like it. My lips were in pretty rough shape because I’m getting over a nasty cold (thanks to a long flight from the US, I’m sure) and were definitely in need of some soothing intervention. But this balm made them feel instantly better and has healed them up wonderfully. Now that I’ve been using it for a few days too my lips are soft and feel great well hydrated and look cared for, not like I’ve been kissing a belt sander. Since there are five little spheres in the pack at Costco, these would be a great stock stuffer or little gift. But they’d also be great to keep handy at work, home, and in your car, so that you can make sure you keep your lips happy throughout the winter. If you can’t find this in your local warehouse, or can’t make it there soon, you can also find the eos lip balm at Costco.com in a 6 pack of 2 Strawberry Sorbet, 2 Summer Fruit, 1 Pomegranate Raspberry, and 1 Blueberry Acai for $14.99. Or, you can get a package of 3 lip balms and 3 hand lotions (also organic and 97% natural) for $13.99. 3 pack of lip balm with a 3 pack of hand cream. 5, 0.25 oz/7 gram spheres for $10.99. Item #: 676476.
New Beauty Magazine Beauty Box – This would be an excellent gift for any beauty lover you know. Or, it would make a nice holiday season treat for yourself if you could use a little pampering. This is a great bundle of a magazine with seven beauty products, it really is like a little subscription beauty box, like Glossybox or Birchbox. They say there are eight beauty products, but I’m not counting the toothbrush. The magazine is great, even if there are a lot of ads in it. But what magazine like this isn’t chockablock with ads? Inbetween all of the ads there are some really great articles and suggestions though. They talk about a lot of beauty products, beauty and body issues, and ways to look and feel better in various ways throughout the magazine, in a readable style with topical statistics highlighted throughout that I found really interesting. They talk about skin, teeth, and hair, along with body topics like fitness and nutrition. All in all, I really enjoyed the magazine and might actually start getting it on my iPad (because of course, there’s an app for that). But aside from the Fall/Winter edition of the magazine, you get all of these great beauty products to try out. The editors of New Beauty selected some of their favourite can’t-live-without beauty items and created this little beauty box just for Costco, so you won’t be able to find this anywhere else. I haven’t tried all of the products yet but I have given the majority of them (five out of the seven) a try. The beauty must-haves are: Mally Undermakeup Perfector Duo, StriVectin Present Perfect Antioxidant Defense Lotion, Stila Smudge Stick Watefproof Eyeliner in Deep Burgundy, Supersmile Professional Whitening System, TanTowel Classic Self-Tan Towelettes, Jenna Hipp Nail Polish, and Balanced Guru No Frizz Hair Oil.
TanTowel Self-Tanning Towelettes: I’ll be honest, the TanTowels are probably not for me because I’m just not a self-tanning kind of girl; I’m pale and I’m okay with it. However, that said, this seems like a clever way to apply self-tan and I have heard good things about these, like how they don’t leave you looking like an Oompa Loompa, which is always a plus. From what I’ve read and been told, they leave your skin just a shade or two darker than your actual skin tone and you don’t have to do a lot of prep or complicated stuff to apply it. The cloths work as an exfoliator, moisturizer and self-tanner all in one. So, all you have to do is wipe it on and in a couple of hours, you’ll have a nice subtle tan. They say that the formula works with your natural amino acids and proteins in your skin to develop a more natural looking colour. And from reviews that I have read, I think you really do end up with a natural looking tan, like you just came from the beach, even if you have quite fair skin. Maybe I’ve actually talked myself into trying them out.
- Balanced Guru No Frizz Oil: I have curly hair that has a very fine texture, and I live in London, so that’s a really unfavourable combination for those of us that would like to be frizz free. Humidity here is really hard for my hair to deal with, and since I really would prefer something to smooth down that frizzy issue, this was something I had to try almost immediately. I’ve tried a number of hair oils because they are supposed to be good for keeping your hair healthy and frizz or fly-away free, plus they give you a nice shine. Most of the oils I’ve tried though are either just okay with middling results or they are too much for my hair and leave it looking oily instead of shiny. The No Frizz Oil is made from a combination of sesame, grapeseed, argan, jojoba, and tamanu oils, along with essential oils from lemongrass and eucalyptus. The lemongrass and eucalyptus give it a really zingy smell that I really like, but might be a bit strong for some people. The oil combination works quite well for my hair and leaves it shiny and healthy looking. If I put it on when my hair is dry it really perks up the shine without killing all of my natural curl. If I put it on after towel drying my hair it helps my curl look a bit bouncier and more defined. As with any hair oil, you need to avoid the roots or you will end up looking greasy instead of polished. If you blow dry your hair into a smooth style a couple of drops of this smoothed over your hair really does keep it looking smooth and shiny. I also have to say that I like the eye dropper applicator because that means you can really control how much you are using much more precisely than if it were just an open top on the bottle.
- Stila Smudge Stick Eye Liner: I’ve used Stila eye liner for a long time and have some of this eye liner in a different colour. It has really good staying power and doesn’t end up everywhere around your eye but where you want it. And that’s always great since most of us don’t like that dark, smudgy eye area zombie look. The eye liner goes on really smooth without tugging at your skin, which usually means that you’ll keep a shaky looking application instead of a smooth line. After you’ve put it on, if you move quickly you can smudge it to soften the look, or if you really want to smudge away you can also use it for an eye shadow. But really, you can’t take your time about this because the colour sets fairly quickly and becomes much harder to manipulate. I’ve never tried it as a full eye shadow, but have used it smudged out a bit from the corner of my eye to give a bit of oomph to my regular eye shadow. But really, it is all about the fact that it doesn’t end up in every crease and line around my eyes that makes me like this so much. This is great for putting in your purse or traveling too because you don’t need a sharpener, you just twist it up, and it is pretty compact too.
- Jenna Hipp Nail Polish: I bought my sister the set of Jenna Hipp Nail Polishes at Costco earlier this year and she really liked it. I like that the bottles are small, just 0.16 fl oz/5ml because I don’t like to wear colour on my nails all the time. These little bottles are a nice way of being able to use a polish a few times but not be stuck with a big bottle of it forever. This is especially true when you’re trying out really bold colours, or new colours, which you’re not always going to really like. These little sizes are also perfect for travel too. I like that the polish dries really quickly too. The polish is thin though, so you have to be a bit careful when you are applying it. The thinness also means you might have to do an extra coat to get a really vibrant colour and solid polish. I think I did three thin coats but it dries so quickly that it didn’t really take all that long, plus my nails looked really good when I was done. I haven’t had a problem with chipping or peeling, though I had read unflattering reviews that suggest that is a problem with this polish. Of course, sometimes that says more about your underlying nail health than about the polish. The big selling point for Jenna Hipp polish is that it is free from all of the scary stuff that you usually find in nail polish: no dibutyl phthalate, toluene, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, or camphor.
- Mally Highlighter and Corrector Pens: I love things like this because they make applying highlighter or corrector so much easier because of the pen style applicator. If you haven’t used something like this before, the business end has a brush applicator that the corrector or highlighter fluid flows through so that you can apply it. You just twist the end until it starts to come out through the brush and then you apply it to the areas where you want it and then pat it into place with your fingers. The body heat from your hands really helps to make products like this blend in more seamlessly because no one wants this type of product to be obvious on your face. The corrector, which kind of looks like thick foundation, is great for the troublesome under eye area and blemishes of any kind really. It goes on pretty smoothly but you definitely need a moisturizer and/or primer underneath it to avoid it looking chalky. If you are someone that isn’t big on wearing a lot of makeup, or doesn’t like to wear foundation at all, this is a great way to even out your skin and cover up anything that looks not so great, without needing to wear a lot of stuff on your face. I do this a lot during the summer because I already feel hot enough without adding layers to my face. This is a nice light corrector formula that doesn’t seem to feel heavy or waxy in any way and does a pretty good job of making my under eye area look much better, even when I haven’t had a good night’s sleep. The highlighter is the perfect way to apply anywhere you want a natural light look, like across your brow bone or along your cheekbones or even down the center of your nose (makes it look slimmer). I’m used to highlighters that are white or a light pink or sort of a champagne colour, so I was a bit surprised when this came out like a thick, slightly pink, foundation type colour. While other highlighters I’ve used seem to go for a more obvious, sparkly thing, this is a really natural and very subtle highlighter. I will admit I wasn’t that impressed when I first put it on because I didn’t think it was going to do much. However, after I stepped back from the mirror and really saw the results, I was pretty impressed. I like a very natural look to my makeup and this definitely gives you that healthy glow without looking like you are planning a big night out at a club. All in all, I think both of these are pretty nice and the pen applicator makes it really easy to pop these in your purse or take with you when you travel.
- Supersmile Teeth Whitening System: I haven’t tried this yet because my teeth are bright enough since I just had a visit to the dentist. So, I’ll be interested to see how this works out when I try it in a couple of months. The whitening system is made up of two products: toothpaste with Calprox and a whitening accelerator. When you brush you just add equal parts toothpaste and accelerator to your toothbrush and brush for a couple of minutes and this helps you get rid of plaque and stains from things like coffee, tea, tobacco, and red wine without harsh chemicals or abrasives. What I found really great was that they claim this will work on dental work like caps, veneers and dentures too.
- StriVectin Present Perfect Lotion: Unfortunately, this is a pretty small sample tube, just 0.25 fl ozs, which makes it hard to evaluate something like this. This lotion works to fight the signs of aging with antioxidants and things that are good for you skin. I’m a big believer in quality skin care and feel like a good moisturizer, along with sunscreen, are essentials for everyone – man or woman, young or old. I’ve tried other StriVectin products in the past and had kind of hit or miss results. I will say that my skin looks nice and healthy after trying out the Present Perfect lotion for a couple of days. Of course, after just a few days it isn’t like I can really tell too much about how it would work long term.
So, even though I haven’t tried all of these, I like what I have tried. I can definitely see how these would have gotten picked. These beauty boxes are a great way to try out products and brands that you might never know about or would just totally overlook. If you’re in the US, you might want to consider picking this up for beauty fans on your gift list. If I could buy this online at Costco.com, I have at least three people that I would buy this for, so I’m a bit bummed but you can only find it in the warehouses. $28.99. Item#: 940460.
*Update 2014.12.09: The New Beauty Beauty Box is now available at Costco.com for just $18.99.
Even though I did receive these products from a vendor for free, my opinions are my own and genuinely reflect how I feel.