Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Review: Murad Age Reform Line

These products were sent to me as part of the Murad Brand Ambassador Program.  Thank you, Murad!!

As you have probably gathered by now if you follow me on Instagram and Twitter, I was lucky enough to be selected as a Murad Brand Ambassador.  I am a skincare junkie and am always looking for products that will help my dry, sensitive, rosacea-y skin, so this has been a really exciting opportunity for me.  I was invited to the program around the same time I joined Massage Envy, and had been considering getting a Murad facial there to see if the other skincare products were as good as the Murad Clarifying Cleanser I loved.  But now that I get to test out Murad at home I can dedicate my Massage Envy time solely to my sore back.  Woohoo!

I have been receiving Murad products since late summer, but I wanted to take the time to fully test them before sharing my thoughts on my blog.  I'll show you my daily skincare routine in this post, and special treatments I use as needed in my next Murad post.  Enjoy!

Age Reform (the purple line) is one of 8 Murad brands, and is comprised of 16 different products.  I have been using 4 of the products on a daily basis for at least 3 months now: Refreshing Cleanser, Rapid Collagen Infusion, Perfecting Day Cream, and Hydro-Dynamic Ultimate Moisture.  This is a good range of products for someone who is just getting introduced to the line; the only thing I would add is the Intensive Wrinkle Reducer for Eyes or the Hydro-Dynamic Ultimate Moisture for Eyes

Murad really excels at cleansers, and the Refreshing Cleanser ($32, or you can pay $9 for a mini) is no exception.  Murad products don't have much of a scent, they just smell fresh to me.  It works well alone or combined with my Clarisonic.  It removes the vast majority of my makeup; I just have to go over my mascara with some eye makeup remover and I'm all squeaky clean.  It is medium foaminess and does not dry out or irritate my skin.  Basically, it does everything Murad says it should do.  I think I prefer the experience of Murad's Clarifying Cleanser (and it's cheaper at $26), but that the Age Reform is a better choice for my winter skin because it's such a gentle formula.  A little bit goes a long way and the tube lasts forever, so I will repurchase this product or a similar Murad cleanser (gotta try them all) when it runs out.  Recommended for everyone with skin. 

Unfortunately, I really love the Rapid Collagen Infusion.  I say unfortunately because this love comes with a hefty price tag - it's $78 for 1 oz, and I went through the tube rather quickly.  However, it has that fancy push pop packaging where the little platform raises and scrapes out every last bit of product so at least I know I didn't waste anything.  If you are going to splurge on skin care, treatments are the way to go because unlike a cleanser that is only on your skin for a couple of minutes, this stuff sinks in and is on your face all day / night.  This smells even fresher/better than the cleanser to me, and the fine lines around my eyes have improved since starting this product.  More noticeably, it plumps my skin after putting it on...gotta love a product that delivers immediate results.  It is nice and lightweight and absorbs nicely into the skin.  I will repurchase this product during the Sephora VIB sale or when I have a gift card.  Recommended for anyone with wrinkles or fine lines who can afford it. 

I actually liked the Perfecting Day Cream ($49) better than I expected.  When I first tried it out, it looked really thick and white as I was putting it on, but it actually does absorb into the skin and it doesn't interfere with my makeup (a critical feature for a daily moisturizer).  It's a much lighter weight moisturizer than I expected based on the appearance.  It doesn't smell overly SPF-y; it just has that same light scent as the rest of the Murad products.  This is a nice, basic moisturizer.  I wouldn't repurchase it though, only because my favorite CC cream has SPF 50, and with my rosacea I have to be extra cautious about the sun, even in the dead of winter.  I would recommend this for people who can get away with SPF 30 though. 

I use the Hydro-Dynamic Ultimate Moisture cream ($65) as a night cream since it doesn't have any SPF.  This is a really luxurious feeling cream, I loooove it.  It smells great, it's gentle on my sensitive skin, it makes my skin feel super moisturized without being greasy.  This product is intensive enough to single-handedly combat the dry patches I get from my rosacea during the winter.  I think I am going to purchase the Perfecting Night Cream next to see if it gives me the same results (it's $51 for the same amount), but I would buy this again if that isn't as nice as this cream.  Recommended for people who like to feel fancy and pampered. 

Overall, I am quite happy with my Murad Age Reform products, and with all of the Murad products I have tried in general.  I think Murad's #BetterEveryDay motto is a good one, because I have seen improvements in my skin since starting this regimen. 

I did a little research for you guys since I know Murad is a bit pricey and you know I love a good deal...right now you can get the Younger Skin Trio which has two of my favorite products above plus the hydrating toner when you spend $50 and use the code GIFT.  I would try to hit that $50 by getting one of the kits and combining it with the $18 Youth Bodycare Preview Set (I'm testing this now and I love it).  If you get the Resurgence Introductory Kit (which ALSO has a mini Rapid Collagen Infusion), you also get a $25 Murad Gift Card with purchase, so I'd get those two kits, a gift card, and the Younger Skin Trio.  In fact, that's such a good deal that I'm probably just going to go ahead and do it.  Fingers crossed that nothing wonky happens when I try to get the gift card and use the GIFT promo at the same time; I'll keep you posted!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Enabler Alert: Style Quarterly by Pashbox

YOU GUYS.  After years of searching, I have finally found my dream subscription service.  I am actually kind of nervous to tell you about it, because sometimes when subs get too big it's too hard to keep up with demand and to get as high quality of products...I think that's what happened to Social Bliss, much to my dismay.  But I really want to share this with you because when I find something I'm in love with, I want everyone else to love it too. 

Style Quarterly by Pashbox is a really new subscription service - the December box is only their second box.  You can see the review for September here and December here.  Go look at the pictures, I'll wait.  Amazing, right? Prior to that, it was a monthly scarf sub or a monthly sunglasses sub - I checked out some past reviews and people seemed to love it, so I'm not really sure why the business model changed.  But I'm so glad it did, because the new format is so up my alley it's ridiculous. 

The packaging is GORGEOUS.  The boxes look like they are a really nice quality and they have a beautiful, unique design.  It would make a really nice jewelry storage or gift box.  There are 3-6 beauty and fashion items that also appear to be high quality.  The beauty stuff is focused on bath and body products, which is perfect for me because I already have skincare and makeup out the wazoo due to my other subs.  So far, Style Quarterly has featured small companies whose products have an artisanal feel, like Plum Island Soap Company and Elucx.  Everything seems so luxurious and the perfect way to pamper myself.  The past boxes looked so enticing that I actually just placed big orders with both of those companies because I was so sad to miss out.  I have a feeling that this box will introduce me to a lot of amazing companies I would have never heard of otherwise.

Finally, the customer service is fantastic.  When I first found out about the box, the window for ordering a December box had closed.  I was bummed, so I wrote to the company to see if they had any more December boxes I could purchase.  I received a response within the hour, from Stephanie Bruce herself.  She is the founder and Chief Experience Officer of the company and seems like a genuinely nice person who is really passionate about her job.  She didn't have any more boxes, but she gave me a code I could share with you guys (SQGIFT10), which gives you 10% off the life of the subscription.  It's good through 12/31/14.  I don't get anything out of you signing up other than the sweet satisfaction of sharing something I am really excited about with my friends. 

If this looks like something you would enjoy, go order yourself one and let me know so we can gush to each other about it every quarter!

Update:  More on the code, I apologize for not posting these details earlier!

It will be redeemable up to 75 times and good through 12/31/14. You can use code SQGIFT10 to save 10% off the life of your subscription when you sign up for our Quarterly plan. Subscriptions will start in March of 2015 and will renew on April 1st.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Updates + 33 Days of Decluttering

Update the first: I found my ring after it was missing for a full week.  Not too bad in the scheme of lost rings, but way longer than it should have been gone considering that it was definitely in the living or dining room and Lucy only had it for a few minutes.  The area in front of the fireplace always has a few games and a couple of clothing items from my dress up loving girls.  We looked through all of that stuff many times the first couple nights the ring was missing, then one day I shook the clothes out one last time before bringing them back to the playroom and there it was.  I have no idea how we missed it but I'm happy to have it back.  I am now considering resizing them and maybe getting my wedding band and engagement ring fused.  I always thought I didn't want it fused because I might want to wear the band alone, but I have done that approximately zero times in the five years we have been married so maybe it's time.  Thoughts on pros/cons of ring fusion?

Update the second: My allure box came the day after it went on sale thanks to the fact that I preordered this year's boxes.  I am more than a little annoyed that the Rusk texture spray was a travel size.  Not, like, WINTER RUINED annoyed, but annoyed nonetheless.  

Update the third: I didn't end up getting the UD black friday deal because the more I thought about it, the more it frosted my cookies that the lipstick "deal" was $40 more expensive than the year before.  I did, however, get the following at 50% off from Sedona Lace:

- The Midnight Lace Synthetic Brush Set
- The Se7ven Midnight Lacy Synthetic Brush Set
- The Vortex Synthetic Makeup Brushes (I meant to order the travel set but this was a happy accident)
- The Synthetic Large Paddle Brush
- The Synthetic Tapered Angle Brush
- The Synthetic Rounded Powder Brush
- The Brush Cup Holder

My lovely husband paid for the first 4 items as my Christmas present, which were the ones I actually planned to buy in advance (aside from picking out the wrong set).  But then since I spent $0 and I kind of wanted a brush holder to make up for the fact that the Vortex set didn't come with one and it was all JUST SO EXCITING, I got a couple more brushes.  I am really excited about this purchase because I have never actually bought a set - all of my brushes are random IT Cosmetics face brushes from QVC, tons of Sonia Kashuk eye shadow blending brushes, and a few basic elf eye brushes.  I always thought I'd get the Sigma Make Me Classy set, but Sigma never has enough of a discount to make me pull the trigger.  NOW I HAZ ALL THE BRUSHES!!!  And they all match!  And are pink and black and for some reason this is a thing that appeals to 35 year old me! 

33 Days of Decluttering: I am already dreading the influx of crap that Christmas will bring.  As you may have guessed based upon my goo hoarding and subscription box addiction, plus the fact that I have two kids, we have a lot of crap.  A lot of my fellow makeuptalk-ers are in the midst of a cycle of 33 days of decluttering, which is a concept that originates with Dawn of Minimalist Beauty.  She gets rid of 4 items the first day and 3 every day after that, with the goal of decluttering 100 things in 33 days.  You can donate, gift, or throw it away, but it has to leave your house.  I am hoping to average more than 3 a day, but we will see.  I will probably just mention it here and there and then do a wrap up post showing you all of the crap I got rid of when it's over.  If any of you want to join me we can chat about what we are getting rid of on the twitters. Just let me know.  

Hope you all had a great thanksgiving!