Thursday, January 27, 2011

Like Birchbox? Then you'll love TestTube!

If you follow the beauty community on YouTube, you will know that Birchboxes are one of the hottest things right now.  But it's not the only game in town.  

I can see the value of receiving samples of products - many of which I have never even heard of - to try out before taking the plunge and spending a great deal of money on full size products that I may only use once.

So, I took the plunge and signed up for several other sample programs.  

Enter, New Beauty Magazine's TestTube!  

New Beauty TestTube
TestTube is more expensive than Birchbox, but only because you do have to pay $8.95 for shipping per TestTube.  Each TestTube costs $29.95.  So you are paying $38.90 per TestTube, and you will receive one every three months.   Whereas you would pay $30 (including shipping) for three Birchboxes.  The number of samples would be about the same, or a little less for Birchbox.  But Birchbox does not include gift cards or a great magazine!

New Beauty Magazine and the TestTube
In this TestTube I received 15 large samples (actually, the mascara was a full size item), plus a magazine, plus a $20 Gift Card.  It's honestly an unbeatable value.
Inside the TestTube
TestTube contains about the same number of samples (or even more) than Birchbox, and it includes a $20 Gift Card to use at, and a New Beauty magazine which retails for $9.99. 
In the TestTube there was 15 deluxe samples!
A brochure was included with the TestTube that contains information on each sample, how to use it, the ingredients (VERY  IMPORTANT!), and an About The Company segment.

This month I received:

Tantasia - Jane Iredale
Age-Defying Marine Collagen Cream - Pevonia Botanica
Volumizing Mascara - Mally
Sensitive Touch Cleansing Wipes - Lumene
Photo Finish Foundation Primer - Smashbox
Youth Accelerator - Beauty Society
Rehydrating Neroli Cleansing Milk - Kerstin Florian
Quick Refiner - Bioelements
Nano-Peptide, Natural Eyelash Conditioner - Lashfood
Hydroshield Ultra Moisturizing Face Serum - Dr. Denese
Toning Cleanser & Dermud Body Cream - Ahava
Root Awakening - John Frieda Collection
Soft Ergonomic Toothbrush - Supersmile
Gummy Vitamins for Adults - Slice of Life
New Beauty Magazine
$20 Gift Card

The $20 Spalook Gift Card makes TestTube an incredible value!
I enjoy Birchbox, but I absolutely LOVE TestTube!  If you are really serious about beauty products, the fact that TestTube includes large samples, some full size products, a $20 gift card, and an informative magazine, makes it the best beauty sample program out there - and absolutely the best value for money.

Sign up for New Beauty Magazine's TestTube here: 

- The Sassi Wench

Monday, January 17, 2011

My First Birch Box! January, 2011

I was very excited to find out about Birch Box on YouTube.  If you watch my video above, I explain that I was aware of a similar type of subscription many years ago when I still lived in South Africa.  I think my aunt Lola used get a box of makeup and makeup tools each month for a reasonable monthly subscription fee.  So when I heard about the Birch Box I knew that I would like it!  

I signed up for it at the beginning of December, and I received my first Birch Box two days ago, about five weeks after I first joined.

I signed up for the monthly $10 subscription.  You can cancel it at any time, and you earn points to put towards the purchase of full size products that you enjoyed from your sample selection. 

I was very excited to find this little pink box in the mail, and when I opened it up, this is what I found:
The January 2011 Birch Box.
For January 2011, the Birch Box is filled with skin care samples, and some Chai (tea)!
This Birch Box contains Chai Tea, Ahava Hand Cream and Hair Serum.

This Birch Box also contains a skin peel and a face mask.
The Birch Box website has videos and makeup tips, and you can expect to find deluxe samples from brands like Laura Mercier, Benefit, Stila, Nars and Too Faced, amongst others.
Birch Box products pricing.

If you like Birchbox, sign up for the monthly $10 subscription.  You can cancel it at any time, and you earn points to put towards the purchase of full size products that you enjoyed from your sample selection.

Click here for a link to their website: Birchbox

Click here for a link to my January 2011 Birchbox: January 2011 Birchbox
Click here for a link to my February 2011 Birchbox: February 2011 Birchbox
Click here for a link to my March 2011 Birchbox: March 2011 Birchbox
Click here for a link to my April 2011 Birchbox: April 2011 Birchbox

Click here for a link to TestTube: TestTube
Click here for a link to Beauty Fix: Beauty Fix

Click here for a link to my YouTube Channel: The Sassi Wench

Until next time, 
The Sassi Wench!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Body Shop Sale Haul

If you haven't visited The Body Shop online for a while, it's worth taking a look.  They have been having huge sales with incredible savings!

I picked up a few goodies at unbeatable prices:

I have owned The Body Shop Kabuki Bronzing Brush for about a year now, and I love it!  It is a soft, dense, synthetic fiber brush that can be used for bronzing powders, face powders and even blush.  I always wanted to try out other Body Shop brushes, and I couldn't pass up this great deal.  The Body Shop Brush Roll was originally $90, and I got it on sale for $15!!  The brush roll itself is black and pretty, with a black glittery ribbon bow.

The Body Shop Brush Roll was only $15!
 Inside, are five useful make-up tools.
The Body Shop Brush Roll brushes.
The Body Shop blush brush, brow/lash comb, smudger, eye shadow brush, lip/concealer brush.
The blush brush reminds me a little of the MAC 189 Face Brush with regards to the size and shape, although the Body Shop brush is slightly smaller and not as dense.

The Body Shop Smudger alone costs $10.50.  It has a non-latex foam tip that is rather large, but I can see myself using it for blending anywhere on the face.
Close-up of the blush brush, brow/lash comb and smudger.
Close-up of the eye shadow brush and the lip brush.
At the time of this posting, I have not yet had the chance to use the tools and brushes in this set.  I'll do an update at a later date.

Next up, the Spiced Vanilla Shower Scrub & Soften Gift Set. - it was only $12.95... and bear in mind, I got free shipping!
The Body Shop Spiced Vanilla Shower Scrub & Soften Gift Set.
I know that some of the balms and creams from The Body Shop can be quite overpowering, so I thought I'd try out a mini Strawberry Body Butter ($5).  I'm glad I bought the mini because it really has a very strong strawberry scent, and even though I do love it, I'll use it sparingly.  I couldn't imagine wearing with this body butter and any kind of perfume together - it just wouldn't work.
The Body Shop Spiced Vanilla Lip Balm and Mini Strawberry Body Butter.
The Spiced Vanilla Lip Balm is lovely, but it is also very a very strong scent.  It got it for $3.

I also bought 5 Vanilla Spice Two-Tone Bath Lily's at $1 each!

All of these lovely items are fair trade and cruelty free, and considering the fact that I paid a total of $40.95 (before tax) for everything that would normally cost around $146, I consider that it's one of the best bargains out there!

- The Sassi Wench


Saturday, January 8, 2011

Sassi visits Washington, DC!

The White House, Washington D.C.
My friend Minx came to visit me from London, and we took a 2 day road trip to Washington, DC. At least I was able to video that (and not lose the footage to faulty equipment!).

We took a 2 day hop on, hop off bus tour for around $38, and visited all the usual suspects - The White House, The Washington Monument, Lincoln Monument, etc. We shopped at The Fashion Centre at Pentagon City. All of this during a heat wave! Thankfully, I packed sunscreen, otherwise we would have been scorched by the relentless sun. We did forget to take hats though!

We visited Arlington National Cemetery and watched the Changing of the Guard, which was very moving.
That night we dined at The Hamburger Hamlet in Bethesda, Maryland, where the food was fresh and delicious, the portions were huge and the waiters were friendly.  The Hamburger Hamlet has a Hollywood connection.  In 1950, actor Harry Lewis and dress designer Marilyn, opened the first Hamburger Hamlet on Sunset Boulevard.  The fresh, tasty food was so popular that they expanded their restaurant chain over the years, and they now have locations throughout Southern California and in the Washington, D.C. area.  They have a really good website with lots of pictures of their superb food.  Check them out hereHamburger Hamlet

We stayed overnight at the Hyatt Place in Sterling, Virginia, near Dulles International Airport. It was clean and safe (great for women traveling alone!), and they had a delicious complimentary breakfast selection.  It is also close to the infamous Tysons I and II Shopping Malls, Old Dominion Brewery, the National Air and Space Museum and the Potomac Lake Sportsplex.  If you are in the Dulles area, check out their site here: Hyatt Place Sterling/Dulles Airport-North

The next morning, we visited Gunston Hall Plantation whose original owner, George Mason IV (1725-1792), was the author of the Virginia Declaration of Rights. Gunston Hall Plantation was breathtakingly beautiful, and a must-see.
Gunston Hall Plantation, Virginia.

Gunston Hall Plantation

10709 Gunston Road
Mason Neck, VA 22079
Phone: 703-550-9220

So if you ever find yourself in Virginia, be sure to check out Gunston Hall Plantation.  It is seeped in history.

All in all, we had a fabulous weekend!  Good food, interesting and exciting places to visit, and we met more than a few very nice people.  It's everything you would expect to get out of a jam-packed weekend away!

- The Sassi Wench

Review: The Stila Breathtaking Beauty Palette

Watch my review and see me use the step by step guide included with the palette, here:

Having been a devout Stila girl for around 10 years now, I was excited to check out their new range of E! Red Carpet Palettes.

Considering the fact that a Stila Lip Glaze alone is $22 - $24, I thought that $25 for this palette was an almost too-good-to-be-true deal.  The Lip Glaze, the colors, the price, and the fact that this particular palette included an All Over Shimmer Powder in Kitten sold me! Kitten is my all time favorite (and most versatile) eye shadow color, and it should be a staple in any Stila makeup collection.  I didn't have a Kitten powder, so this combination was just too good to resist!

I promptly ordered the Breathtaking Beauty Palette!
Stila Breathtaking Beauty Palette.
Stila Lip Glaze in Guava is included!
When I got the palette, I was concerned, because the palette is made in China!  After my disastrous experience with the China-made Smashbox Wish for the Perfect Palette I have vowed to never purchase Smashbox again.  EVER.

At least the Stila Lip Glaze is made in Belgium.  I really thought that this palette would be made in the USA. The last Stila palette I purchased was a Stila Kitten It Girl Trio palette, and it was made in the USA.

At first glance - The Stila Breathtaking Beauty Palette.
The Palette is on the small side.
The eye shadows are silky.
Kitten is gorgeous, as usual, and Breathtaking compliments the guava pink in the Lip Glaze.
Close-up of the Stila Eye Shadow Base colors.
Close-up of the Stila Eye Shadow Lid colors.
Close-up of the Stila Eye Shadow Liner colors.
I found Academy to be my favorite pick from this palette.  It is a simply irresistible gold shade, perfect for highlighting the brow bone area.  

Stila Breathtaking Palette Academy swatch.
Cinema and Theater and the lip colors are matte and the rest of the palette is shimmer.  But bear in mind that this is supposed to be a "Red Carpet" inspired palette.  I experienced a noticeable amount of fall-out from the darker eye shadow colors.  

The colors are easily blend-able, and even though I didn't use an eyelid primer, both the base colors and the lid colors lasted all day.  Academy on the brow bone could have been touched up a little if I had been planning to continue to wear the look after around 7 o'clock.

In addition, I was surprised by the Convertible Color in Breathtaking.  I love the Convertible Color formulas, and when I first got a look at this palette I was a bit surprised at how pinky/orangey it appears.  But once you apply it, it's a pretty guava-pink that compliments the Guava Lip Glaze perfectly.
Stila Convertible Color in Breathtaking

I do think that Guava and Breathtaking were strange choices to combine with the rest of the colors in this palette.  To me, the eye shadow shades here beg for bold red lips, or, nude lips.  Guava and Breathtaking are perfect for a fresh summer look, and I couldn't imagine anyone really wearing these colors on the "Red Carpet".

Eye Shadow: 
  • Cinema - pale nude, base shade
  • Best Picture - shimmery lavender, lid shade
  • Film - black with shimmer, liner shade
  • Academy - pale gold, base shade
  • Theater - shimmery brown, lid shade
  • Drama - rich purple, liner shade
Powders and Lip Colors:
  • All Over Shimmer Powder in Kitten
  • Convertible Color in Breathtaking
  • Lip Glaze in Guava.  Guava is a deluxe travel size.
  • Unbeatable Value for Money at $25!
  • Blend-able, silky eye shadow that is Stila's trademark.
  • Staying power.
  • Compact.  Will easily fit into even the tiniest of purses.
  • Mirror.
  • Makeup instructions inside.
  • Strange (but beautiful!) summery lip/cheek color choice to pair with the more dramatic eye shadow shades in the palette. 
  • A little fall-out from the darker shades.
  • Small amount of actual eye shadow product.  The 6 eye shadows combined is only .23 oz./6.45 g.

I absolutely love this palette!  After I got over the small size, I realized how practical and compact it is.  It was easy to throw in my purse and very easy to use, especially with the built-in mirror.  Also, if I continue to use the palette regularly, it should last several months before it's finished (I have a thing about using up all of my makeup!), and by then I'll be bored with it anyway, and it will be time to move on to the next collection.

I'll save the gorgeous guava-pink lip and cheek colors for summer.

Simply put, the value for money is extraordinary for the number of looks you can create with this palette. 

There are two other palettes in this collection - the Stunning Starlet Palette, and the Glamour Goddess Palette, also at $25 each.

You can find them online here.

- The Sassi Wench

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

MAC - A Cham-Pale Haul

Like hoards of women, I completely fell in love with MAC's Cham-Pale Collection. But when I went to check out the goodies, I found that it is all so shimmery, it's probably not a good idea to wear too many of them together!  Some ladies do love frosted lips, nails, and frosty highlights, but I'm a little more low-key.  

I loved the Caviar Dreams Eye Shadow Palette, but I had just purchased brulé for my new MAC Pro Palette about a week before info about Champ Pale was released.  So I decided to skip that and get Retrospeck for my MAC Pro Palette instead. I saved a little money there, because I got the two colors from Caviar Dreams that I really wanted for $22 (or, $11 each), as opposed to $36 for the whole palette.
MAC Cham-Pale Haul.
I skipped Caviar Dreams and purchased Retrospeck instead.
When news of Cham-Pale hit the web, I headed out to my closest CCO and guess what I found?  The MAC lipstick in Quiet Please!  It was being repromoted for Cham-Pale, but happily for me, I didn't pay full price for it and I had it weeks before the re-release.  So I saved a little $$ here, too!
MAC Quiet Please (Lustre). 
I was mesmerized by the pearly, pinky metallic I Get No Kick Eye Kohl!  It'll be a welcome change to my usual black/brown/white look. 
MAC I Get No Kick Eye Kohl

 I Get No Kick Eye Kohl is a pearly metallic.
 I was equally enthralled with the Paint Pots in Chilled on Ice (shimmery pink) and Vintage Selection (shimmery peachy pink). I find this kind of makeup the easiest to apply.  Even when I'm in a rush, just dabbing these colors on and buffing them a little, adding a little eyeliner and a decent coat of mascara, can give you a very sophisticated but elegant look.
MAC - Chilled on Ice, Vintage Selection
 So all in all, I got the items I wanted the most out of Cham-Pale, and I'm very pleased with myself!
My Cham-Pale Haul - for just a little less...

I also fell hopelessly in love with the two Special Reserve Highlight Powders in Rose Ole and Chez Lame, but they are $28 each and I know I won't use them that much.  I'll wait a few months until they hit the CCO's.

- The Sassi Wench