Sunday, December 28, 2014

Eco Emi - November 2014 - Full Review

Hi friends,

I just cannot stop raving about my Eco Emi subscription box and am so glad the team has finally moved the quality and content of the boxes back to its original standard as well. This month's box, aside from one item, was a super win for me!
If you are not familiar with Eco Emi, the company provides a monthly subscription to beauty and food samples from organic, environmental friendly, cruelty free and Vegan companies. It is such a delight to discover, each and every month, brands I have never heard of and would not be able to sponsor if it were not for Eco Emi's concept and selection. You only pay $15/month, shipping is included and will receive up to 9 samples, always a full size included. Eco Emi is now offering smaller boxes and boxes that are customizable (all food, only makeup or simply cleaning products, you get to pick what kind pf box you want) so I am truly encouraging you to visit the website to find out more!

Eco Emi - November 2014

 November 2014 was a great box, I received 9 items - 4 of them are full size!

1. Cisse Dark Chocolate with Cinnamon Hot Cocoa $41 / 10 bags

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Yes, I agree, it is very expensive for hot chocolate. However, this is not your run of the mill afternoon hot cocoa, this is the kind of deluxe stuff that makes you feel oh so decadent, as though you are indulging in something forbidden (you know the feeling) - it does feel very sinful. First, I received one package and that was plenty to fill two mugs. This is packed with not only the actual cocoa powder, but also bits of chocolate as well, which did not melt all the way through and left a gooey fudge like mix at the bottom of my mug, I was all too happy to scrape off with a spoon. This is delicious hot chocolate. If you find it too expensive, have it gifted to you, trust me, this is good stuff! A.

2.Veggie-Go's - Fruit and Veggie Strip, Sweet Potato Pie - $25.80 / 20 packs

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Fruit Leathers are not my snack of choice. It is not that I do not find them either delicious or nutritious, I just don't find them as appealing as the actual fruit and they are also not filling at all. These are particularly expensive for what you get in this tiny package. I get it that is GMO- Free, Organic etc. Basically as healthy as can be and the next best thing to the real fruit. But, while they are good for you and taste actually pretty good too, it is really not something I would reach for, never mind the price, I think it is just mind blowing anyone would spend that kind of money on tiny strips of dried fruit and they are tiny, I could eat all 20 in one sitting and for that reason alone, I will stay away from them. That being said, they are delicious so I still have to give them a relevant grade base on the quality and taste: B

3. Skout Organic Trailbar, Apple Cinnamon - $28.87 / 12 bars

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Can you believe the price on some of these organic products? This is one of the complaints I had about this month's Eco Emi box, it seemed that all the products were out of hand regarding pricing. THIS one is really pushing it though: that's $2.40 per bar! 

Yes, it was delicious and also quite filling but still, way too expensive for me. Overall, this bar had a good texture, I liked it better than the Soy Joy from last month. If I were to rate it solely on taste and quality: B+  but when including the price: C.

4. Coastal Scents African Black Soap - $3.95 / bar

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I don't even know where to start with this product so let's address the texture first. It has the coloring of a granite counter top, an amalgam of colors and chunks which have been pressed together to form some kind of irregular soap bar (truly is the best way I can describe it). It really does not look appealing at all, more like what grandmas used to do with all the leftover soaps around the house, pressing them into a new bar of soap, so you could see the leftover Zest pressed into a quarter size of Dove and more Glycerin type soaps around it. Can you visualize that? Okay, let's move on to the scent:
This has the same exact scent than a road kill on a hot summer day. Mind you the same road kill met its demise on a freshly tarred road where rubber tires have been worked to a screeching burn. Get it? It STINKS!
Supposedly, African Black Soap is ideal for acne prone skin (I can see how no bacteria would survive this stuff) as well as other skin conditions. I know a lot of folks swear by this stuff but I am sorry, I just could not get past the smell so it went straight to the trash and directly onto my Wall of Shame: F. Next!

5. Skin and Co Roma Sicilian Light Serum - $47 / 1 oz

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A bit pricey, but then again, all Serums tend to be. It has good reviews on the web, supposedly reduces dark spots on face and absorbs very well. Unfortunately, my sample came practically empty and I only was able to enjoy one use. It did absorb well, did not leave a greasy film on my face and mattified it a bit. I was not crazy about the scent, a mix of floral and plastic (weird). So because I was not able to use this product as much as I love serums, I simply cannot give it a grade.

6.  Lash'Em - All Eyes on You Eyelash & Brow Enhancing Serum - $33.98

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 I really do not think the tiny sample I received was enough to make a difference on my brows and lashes with regards to growth and or thickness. Sadly, I used products like this one in the past and was never able to really see any kind of difference in those areas. It also has mixed reviews on the web, some ladies said it made a great difference in the softness of their lashes, noticing that they also were not falling off as much. Others felt it made zero improvement.  I think you have to have issues with follicles being damages and lashes being brittle in order to notice any kind of difference with you use a product that is conditioning and straightening, for the rest of us, it probably does nothing more but condition, something a good eye makeup remover can do. The price is prohibitive, if you ask me. I also felt the brush was just too small (smaller than an eye liner brush) which required many applications in order to get the products onto the entire lash base. This is not an essential item for me, at least not at the moment. C.

7.  Muchie's Skin - Scrumptious Body Butter in Lavender Lemon - $38 

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Made with Shea Butter, Goat’s Milk and natural essential oils this is a fabulous and I mean FABULOUS body butter. It smells wonderful, is very thick and applies very well. This is the kind of stuff you want to lather onto your body before going to bed. It is not greasy like many other body butters (a plus when you have clingy pajamas - it's small details like these that make a difference). I have never heard of this company before and am now so psyched about this product, I want to try everything else they make. This body butter comes in other scents including Milk/Honey, Coco/Mango or Cucumber/Melon, they even have an unscented variety. Check out their website and let's support this small American (YES) family run business, straight from Florida! A+

 8. Veda Company - Tea Light Candles - $30 / 15 candles

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 It is hard to resist the cuteness of these candles! I received two tea lights (Topaz and Emerald) as part of their Jewel collection. Dare I say they are overpriced? $2 per tea light? But then again, these are soy, all naturally made, wonderfully scented, they actually last longer than the average bazaar tea light candle, so why not splurge and keep the tin for storing tea?
Really a good product, though I admit I was skeptical at first. Their website is also stunning and the Veda Company offers more than just candles, I might also try their teas. B+ (It would be A if it were not for the price).  

9.  MEDUSA'S MAKE UP Lipstick - Baroque - $12

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I may have found the Holy Grail of all lipsticks! I kid you not. Let me start with the formula: smooth, glides on, not tacky, smells great, wonderful coverage that is sheer enough and therefore can be layered. It feels more like a balm than a lipstick.
The packaging is adorable, a matte back finish with a  carved rose on the top (that is serious packaging right there, not a gimmick).
The color I received is Baroque, a blueish red very similar to Lipstick Queen Jean I love, love, love this lipstick and now I want them all in particular Triple X and Lolita (featured below)!

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I have had nothing but compliments each time I wore this lipstick, so just go ahead and take my word for it, get yourself your own "Baroque" makeover! A+

So there you have it! My full review for the November 2014 Eco Emi box - what a great box that was, I discovered two new hall of fame products (Medusa Lipstick and Muchie's body butter). It was a great box indeed (aside from the soap disaster) and I can't wait for my December 2014 box!

You can see the full open box video here on my YouTube Channel, including a swatch of that fabulous Medusa's Lipstick:

Thank you so much for reading my blog and watching my YouTube videos! Share the love!

Sophia, NJ

Connect with me:

Want to send me a product for review? Have a product request?

Mailing address:

My Great Challenge
PO Box 402
CEDAR GROVE, NJ 07009-9998

This blog contains affiliate advertising, this is how I support my blog and YouTube Channel.  I was not solicited to advertise for the products mentioned above, all opinions are my own. Links to Ipsy provide access to a sign up page allowing you to subscribe to your own monthly Ipsy Bag. I receive points when you subscribe through my link.

E.L.F site is currently offering 50% off on all items, check out this palette, now for only $10.

Too Faced - New Chocolate Bar (#2) is here!

Vera Bradley sale:

Winter Sale! Get 50% off Select Colors and Styles! December 25th-January 15th

Ipsy Glam Bag - November 2014 - Full Review

Hi friends,

You know I love my Ipsy glam Bag and am so glad I cancelled Birchbox in exchange for this little gem!
Not familiar with Ipsy? It's a makeup/skincare monthly sample subscription for which you only pay $10 (shipping is included). If you love makeup and skincare products, love to try new things but do not have the wallet for it all...This is by far the best solution. Every month, you get your makeup fix without breaking the bank and quite frankly, their worst bag was still a great bag. So win-win!

Here is what I received in November 2014:

November 2014 - Ipsy Glam Bag
Let's start with the bag - a really cure, and actually wearable as a quick wallet, silver glitter pouch with a hot pink zipper and pull. I am always wondering what I can do with the monthly pouch (they are all different by the way) and find that they make great purse organizers or as general de-cluttering tools (for instance, I keep all my paper clips and binders in one, neatly stashed away in my desk). On with the review:

1. Marc Anthony True Professional Oil of Morocco Argan Oil Hair Spray, 9 fl. oz - $29.95 

 I am not a big fan of Hair Spray I always find that they leave my hair in helmet style with no manageability. Quite frankly, this was no different. I put my hair in curlers and set them with this Argan Oil spray, it held my hair in shape for the entire day, but I could not brush it off before going to bed, resulting in breakage and my having to wash it off the following day. It sort of defeats the purpose for me, I like the idea of a hair spray keeping the frizz under control but also allowing meto skip daily washing. This is just not supple enough and the amount of Argan Oil is so small, I really cannot see the point, never mind trying to justify dishing out $30 on a can of spray I will not use all that often. It's just a matter of personal preference I guess, so as a result, this did not pass the bar and I am reserving a low grade for it. C.

2. It Cosmetics Bye Bye Under Eye Full Coverage Waterproof Concealer - $24

This is another product for which I have mixed feelings.  First the price, I am sorry but even though a concealer such as this one will last you the entire year, it is still steep. Second, I received a medium coverage which is good for my skin tone but the stuff is so opaque and thick, you just cannot help but noticing it. It is very waxy and just hangs there all day. Which is great when you really have dark circles, my issue with it is that by the end of the day, the rest of my makeup would have somewhat faded away but not this stuff, so I ended up looking like, well, I was wearing a ton of makeup. Again, and like hairspray, concealers are very personal, you either use them or not. I might need coverage for a blemish here and there, but I do not have dark circles. I would use this in a very tiny amount just to highlight around my eyes but you need to be very very light with this product, it does offer some serious coverage in the like of Dermablend. Some ladies swear by it, I can see why. It is simply something I would not use enough throughout the year to be able to provide a serious review. That being said, I thought it did a good job at covering dark spots and other ginormous freckles on my it's not just for under eyes. B.

3. J Cat Long Lasting Wonder Lip Paint - $6.95

Oh my! They are not kidding, this is PAINT! The stuff is not going anywhere! I received this lip stain/lip paint in Red Potion, which and at first, I thought would be a good color for me. Unfortunately, it provides such a full coverage, it turned out to be too dark, and almost unwearable for my taste. So I will have to pass on the color. But, the formula is actually very good. Applies nicely, good coverage, good stay, not too tacky, not gooey. A good lip stain. Overall, I give it a B. I would not mind trying other and more flattering colors.
I am trying to wrap my mind around the idea of anyone picking either the blue or the green one as their lip stain of choice though.

Other colors available in the J- Cat Long Lasting Wonder Lip Paint

4. Sea RX - Birch Sap Moisturizing Lotion - $32

This is from the Sea RX website: 
"It delivers minerals, oligoelements, and sugars combined with birch sap to smooth and strengthen skin while providing long lasting moisturizing effects.Maintains a healthy glow while providing a degree of protection from sunlight."

So, it sounds pretty intriguing. Unfortunately, this is nothing more than a basic and very fluid moisturizer. It has the texture of a serum and while it penetrates well and in fact does not leave a greasy residue, I really cannot say that this is the Holy Grail of moisturizers. Pleasant scent (possibly grapefruit or other citrus). It was just okay for me. B-.

5. Starlooks - Gem Eye Pencil in Ultra Olive - $17

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I have paid more money on high end eye pencils that did not nearly provide as good a result as this one. For those of you who feel this is a splurge on an unnecessary item, I cannot recommend it strongly enough. I received the Olive one (featured in the middle) and while it looks as though a pale almond green, it is in fact quite pigmented and much darker. This eyeliner is loaded with shimmer, so I guess it is not for everyone, but looks stunning on brown eyes and as a an eye shadow as well. The added sparkle makes your eye pop open and it is very long lasting, pretty much lasted all day for me. It is also easy to use, a good texture, not too dry, not too waxy. Applies on easily, basically goof proof.  Really fell in love with this pencil and will consider purchasing more. A.

So there you have it, my Ipsy Glam Bag review for November 2014. I thought that overall this was one of the lesser bags this year as I was not wowed by any of the products, aside from the gem eye pencil. I am hoping December 2014 is a big WIN!

You can watch my "unboxing" YouTube video here: 

Thank you so much for reading my blog and watching my YouTube videos! Share the love!

Sophia, NJ

Connect with me:

Want to send me a product for review? Have a product request?

Mailing address:

My Great Challenge
PO Box 402
CEDAR GROVE, NJ 07009-9998

This blog contains affiliate advertising, this is how I support my blog and YouTube Channel.  I was not solicited to advertise for the products mentioned above, all opinions are my own. Links to Ipsy provide access to a sign up page allowing you to subscribe to your own monthly Ipsy Bag. I receive points when you subscribe through my link.

E.L.F site is currently offering 50% off on all items, check out this palette, now for only $10.

Too Faced - New Chocolate Bar (#2) is here!

Vera Bradley sale:

Winter Sale! Get 50% off Select Colors and Styles! December 25th-January 15th

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Swatches & Stuff - November 2014 + GIVEAWAY!!!!

Hi friends,

I am back with another episode of Swatches & Stuff, and yes, there is a big giveaway again this month, to celebrate you, and the Holidays!

Here is the complete video, instructions as to how to enter the giveaway are at the bottom of this post.

1. Palmers Cocoa Butter Skin Therapy Oil for Face - From $9 up to $14.99.

Who would have thought a face oil that cheap and that simple would make such a difference on a skin like mine! I like to joke that my skin is Bipolar, you never know what I wake up to. Sometimes it is super oily, sometimes it is super dry, at other times, it is a bit of both. This is beyond combination skin, really.
I came across this face oil at my local CVS Pharmacy, having heard other youtubers rave about it, I did purchase it but with some reservation because it is, after all, oil!
It turns out that this is the opposite of oily on my skin, it absorbs and penetrates rather quickly and does not leave a sheen on my skin. Overall, I think it has made a difference in those areas prone to dryness like my jaw line and around my scalp. It is also a good emollient for my cuticles. I really like this face oil. Having tried other brands, this one is well above average.

2. Yves Rocher Pure Light - Light & Luminous Foundation - From $22 to $12.10

Yves Rocher Pure Light - Light & Luminous Foundation
You guys must be so tired of my constant raving about this foundation formula from Yves Rocher. Truth is that if I had to pick one product that makes it to the top of my favorites each year, this foundation would take #1 spot, year after year.
I have tried every brand under the sun, none provides the result that this foundation does. First, the company claims that it will give you a second skin effect, that is true. You can barely see it, yet it covers just enough to even out and conceal. To me, this beats any BB or CC cream out there. The finish itself is beautiful, a velvety sating smooth that leaves enough dewiness to make you look fresh without a shine. I am not sure how they manage the luminous part of the foundation without shimmer, but they do, I simply glow when I wear this formula.
It s currently at 48% off ($12.10) on the YR site.

3. Yves Rocher - Polishing Foot Scrub - From $11 to $6.05

Polishing Foot Scrub
What a fantastic find! This foot scrub is packed with beads and moisture. Unlike other scrubs I have tried in the past, this one does a great job. The package itself is small and appears more like a deluxe size yet, such a little goes a long way. 
I have been using this for weeks and barely made it to the half mark.
Fabulous Lavender scent, it is super concentrated when it comes to scrubbing beads. You can use it on your feet and your elbows. It also leaves a silky finish to my skin, so I guess it is also a good moisturizer. I can't see myself switching to another brand at this time. I really like this one way too much! It is currently at 45 % off on the YR site ($6.05).

 4. Bath and Body Works - Wild Madagascar Vannila Bean Body Scrub - $16.50

Unlike other scrubs from BBW, this one is a creamy formulation. It goes on smooth and really does a good job as a all over body scrub. Their other formula which is more of a sugar scrub with an oil base, will dissolve almost immediately upon lathering (not to mention the gooey residue left behind on the walls of the tub). This one however, will lather and provide a moisturized finish, no glistening oily residue in sight.
It washes good too (which is kind of important since it is a body cream cleanser after all).
I like the scent, it is a rich vanilla, but not as strong as the Vanilla Noel from a different series at BBW.
Most of the time, I would say every two weeks, BBW offers online specials (in store as well) where you can buy 3 signature products and receive three for free. I plan on stocking up on this Vanilla one as well as other scents with the same formulation. 
Use this Coupon Code valid until 12/24/14 and receive $10 off any purchase of $30 or more. Coupon Code: F143259


5. Crown Brushes - Syntho Series Makeup Brushes - Price will vary.

So many people rave about so many different high end brushes, sometimes I can see how difficult it is to make a decision as to what brush you should get.  The bottom line is that just because it is Brand X, it does not mean the quality will be there. 
Case in point, I have an Estee Lauder Brush that is mediocre at best. I came across this brand through an Ipsy Bag I received a few months ago, and was instantly wowed. So much so that I had to rush and splurge on a few more brushes for my vanity (truthfully, I did not need any new brush).
These are wonderful, though synthetic, they feel like mink on your skin. They are dense, malleable brushes that leave a beautiful finish regardless of whether you are using a powder or wet formula as your makeup. LOVE LOVE LOVE!

The best part is that they are relatively inexpensive when considering the quality you receive in return. I think the most expensive one in the bunch on the left was the face blush and I paid under $16 for it. The site currently offers 60% off, so the original price is under $40. Still, at $40 it is less than what you would pay for MAC or SIGMA and the quality is just as good, in some cases, better!

6. Milani - Color Statement - Nail Polish- From $3.99

 I really believe that the quality is there, at least in 3 of the 4 featured on the image on the left.

From left to right:
Ruby Stone,  Ultra Violet, Pink Beige and Imperial Purple .

I kept reading about the red one (Ruby Stone) on line and thought I would check out their formula. Turns out the red one is not my favorite, both with respect to formula and color. I thought that it was a bit too fluid and did not have a great stay-on. Matter of fact, it lasted about 48 hours before chipping.
The pink one however (Pink Beige) lasted almost an entire week, and same with the Imperial Purple and the Ultra Violet, which is my favorite. Just a quick heads up, they are cheaper to purchase from the Milani Site itself.
These are very good when considering the price at the Drug Store which is almost half of what you would pay for an Essie Nail Polish with a mediocre formula.

7.  Yves Rocher - Grand Rouge Lipstick in Soft Coral and  Incandescent Coral- From $16 to $9.50

Grand Rouge Lipsticks
I own several lipsticks in this range and really like them. Having recently discovered that there were new shades in the series, I jumped right in, of course.
The Grand Rouge formulation is a creamy lipstick with a good stay, I also find that it does not bleed and can be worn without a lip liner.
These are currently on sale of the Yves Rocher Site for $9.50 instead of $16. The lipsticks I received by mail were in French and the numbers I provided in the video are not the same as the one on the website, so here are the correct reference numbers:

left is Soft Coral #702: a beautiful pale pink that is the perfect nude with a hint of color.
Light is Incandescent Coral # 1408: I was anticipating a darker shade of pink, it turned out this one is far too orange for my skin tone.

8. Yves Rocher - Quad Eye Shadow in Sophisticated Pink - From $19 to $11

Yves Rocher - Quad in Sophiticated Pink
These are on sale as well currently at $11 instead of $19.
Beautiful colors, great pigmentation. I really wish they had a larger variety of colors in this quad collection because I would love to buy a few more, unfortunately, there is only another 5 quads, all in colors I would not wear. 
This quad has three shimmers and one matte (darker shade) which can be used both dry or wet (as an eyeliner).
I am wearing it in the video above and I think it's a good look for me.  I would recommend these, they are a higher quality than what you find at the drugstore.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++ GIVEAWAY++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

In celebration of over 6000 subscribers on my YouTube Channel as well as the upcoming Holidays, I am doing another giveaway. This is what you could win:


1. Bath and Body Works - A Thousand Wishes Collection (Body Spray - Body Lotion - Shower Gel in full size)
2. Yves Rocher Foot Scrub (Full size)
3. Yves Rovher Quad Eyeshadow in Sophisticated Pink (Full size).

Giveaway guidelines:

You must be 18 years or older to enter
You must be a subscriber of MGC on Youtube
You must follow me on my Facebook Page
You must follow me on either Twitter or Instagram.

The Giveaway is open Internationally and until DECEMBER 15, 2014.

Follow the Rafflecopter instructions to enter the giveaway. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you so much for reading my blog and watching my YouTube videos! Share the love!

Sophia, NJ

Connect with me:

Want to send me a product for review? Have a product request?
Mailing address:

My Great Challenge
PO Box 402
CEDAR GROVE, NJ 07009-9998

This blog contains affiliate advertising, this is how I support my blog and YouTube Channel.  I was not solicited to advertise for the products mentioned above, all opinions are my own. I am affilited with Amazon and  Yves Rocher. I am not affiliated with any other brand mentioned above.

e.l.f. cosmetics

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