Sunday, September 28, 2014

70 % OFF Vera Bradley

Wow, 70% off selected styles at Vera Bradley 's Online shop and this is valid until September 29Th. Check out those prices! How about some Christmas Shopping ladies!

Click this picture link below to reach the site:

Vera Bradley Designs, Inc.

Here are some of the sales until Monday:

Happy shopping!

Sophia, NJ

This site contains affiliate advertising including Vera Bradley sales above. When you purchase items from my links, I receive a small commission, this is how I support my blog.

Ipsy Glam Bag - August 2014 - Full Review

Hi friends,

Let me start by saying that I have zero, none whatsoever, regret about subscribing to Ipsy! Every month (sometimes around the 12th) I anxiously  check my mail box in the hope that my bag has arrived. Now, most of the time, I would swear not to open it until I can shoot an open bag video, it keeps the element of surprise, but quite frankly in almost 8 months now, I have managed that just once!

For those of you not familiar with Ipsy, it is a monthly subscription to cosmetics and skin care samples. If you heard of Birchbox (which I used to receive) it is pretty much the same , only 1000 times better! Your bank account will be charged $10 each month and in exchange, you will receive up to 5 samples, sometimes a full size, of good brands, high end and drugstore + a cosmetic bag to go along. Now, the bags, I find to be a bit small, sometimes I wonder what to do with them, but they always come handy for travel and purse organization.
August 2014 was yet another great bag, check it out:

Did you spot the Urban Decay Mascara? 


This is not for all budgets, at $45 per tube, I find this primer a tad pricey. That said, it has a great formula and is slightly tinted. In my YouTube video, I have a demonstration of what it did to my pores alongside my nose and the result was pretty impressive. Personally I find it to be similar to my Benefit POREfessional (texture, formula and result) so for a few bucks saved, I would rather stick with Benefit's version. B+.

2. Absolute - Lip Balm in Grape ($5.99/two):

This is an interesting product because of the packaging and the price. Ipsy sent me one of the balms (in grape) but they are usually sold as duos (two balms) in this case grape + green apple or Strawberry + Bubble Gum. At $5.99 for two gigantic tins, I think it is a great bargain.  You do get quite a lot of product in the tin, so I can see this lip balm lasting way more than one season. The formula is very smooth, the scent itself is pretty accurate, it offers a nice shine, is not goopey or tacky on the lips. I only have one negative comment about this product, but it is a matter of preference rather than the product itself: I do not use lip balms that require fingers to apply and "recharge", I don't particularly find them to be hygienic and over time, no matter how careful I have, I end up throwing them out because stuff got stuck inside the can and on top of the balm. It's just gross. Really wish they had the same as a squeeze tube or stick version. B+.

3. Lord & Berry Silk Kajal Eye Pencil-Black ($15):

I heard of the brand, but never tried any of their products. I have plenty khol liners in a similar color, so I was not thrilled to receive yet another one. But, this is a very good formula, it glides on well without tugging at your skin, it also works well as an under and below lash line definer. It stays on pretty much all day and is easily removed with eye makeup remover. So I would say it is exactly what it says it is. Just like the lip balm above, I do have a preference when it comes to liners, I just too lazy to sharpen them, so I do tend to lean towards cream liners that require a brush for application (no sharpening there!). It's a good liner, I would recommend it. Unfortunately I think their website was compromised because every time I tried to go on it to provide you with a link, the page would either crash my browser or my computer all together. Check out this link instead. B+

4. Coastal Scents - Forever Blush Duo (in Fresh & Elegant) ($7.95 per compact): 

I really love Coastal Scents as a brand. I just cannot believe the quality of their shadows and blush when considering the affordable (see very low) price. If you are on the market for an upgrade on your makeup colors but do not want to spend too much money, seriously give them a try. This is a duo chrome type blush whereby you can either use one or the other or both together. Individually they are beautiful, together, even better. The formula is a bit powdery but feels silky and applies well, no blotches. It stays on for a good while in particular the golden/Apricot (Elegant) shade which has a hint of shimmer. Fresh is a light pink with a cool undertone. I recommend these. They are cheap ($7.95), they are beautiful, they are good quality. All together they have 18 different shades in this blush collection.  A.

5. Urban Decay - Perversion Mascara ($22):

This, my friends, is the Holy Grail of all mascaras! I did not think much of it at first, thought it was just an okay formula, but with practice and age (that of the mascara) I guess, it just got better and better and I find myself reaching for that sample every day when putting my "face" on! It provides great coverage with one coat, it has a great formula, color is jet black (wishing they had a black brown version) and stays on all day! No flakes, no smudge, no concerns with allergy. Amazing! The brush is a classic thick brush, no gimmicky plastic prongs that poke my inner lid. Really really good. At $22 I find it to be a good value, I probably would pay more for it with no question asked! So yes, I recommend it and will purchase the full size! A+.


If you did not watch the open bag video, here it is:

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

Sophia, NJ

Connect with me:

Mailing address:

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

************Affiliate Advertisers *********************

NORDSTROM - Choose from 75+ Gifts with Beauty Purchase.

Vera Bradley Designs, Inc.


Is your mascara Better Than Sex? Get 1,944% more volume exclusively at Too Faced. Shop now!

This site contains affiliate advertising. This is how I support my blog. I am not solicited to write reviews for products, unless otherwise noted in my post. I am not affiliated with Ipsy and any of the brands mentioned above. All opinions are my own.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Eco Emi - August 2014 - Full Review

Hi friends,

It was about time for EcoEmi to send out an awesome box this past August, I have to say the rest of the year was pretty lame! Unfortunately, this is another one of those boxes that looked awesome at first, but turned out to be just so-so. 
Here is a full review on all the great stuff I received this month:

1. GimMe Organic - Roasted Seaweed Snacks ($23.98 / 12 pack):
This is an interesting find in this month's box since I am not usually jumping up and down in utter delirium when there is a food item included (i would much prefer receiving makeup!). It just turns out I am an Asian food fanatic and in particular seaweed. It's not for everyone, I get it, but quite frankly there are very few snacks out there that are low fat, low carb, low sugar while being super nutritious and loaded with Iodine which I desperately need for my low Thyroid symptoms. They were gone in 5 minutes, delicious and just what I needed. They are a bit pricey but for me well worth the splurge! A.

2. ROCKin GREEN - Odor Neutralizer and Air Freshener ($4.99/bottle):

This is an all natural and basically  non toxic equivalent of PooPourri (if you've ever seen the hilarious commercial for it). I can't tell what scent I received because the non-aerosol bottle did not mention it. That said, it does a pretty good job at removing simple stench, not the very complex type emanating from my dogs (if you know what I mean), but otherwise pretty good. I don't think I would purchase this item on my own so for that reason I am only rating it as a B.

3. LA Fresh - Oil Free Facial Cleanser (Towelette) ($23.99/ 75 wipes):

I have received some of their samples in other EcoEmi boxes in the past. Generally, I think that towelettes are good for those gals always on the move and traveling a lot, which is not my case. I tried these LA Fresh, they were just alright, it did remove makeup but not as easily as I would have wanted them to, in particular eye makeup. Further, since I had to do several passes in order to get the grime off my face, I ended up finding the texture too rough for my delicate skin. So, this is definitely not something I would recommend.PLus, at $23.99 for 75 wipes, I think it's a bit pricey for what they offer in terms of effectiveness. C.

4. LA Fresh - Instant Body Soother (Towelette) ($19.99/36 wipes):

Not sure what these are for outside of refreshing your neck and shoulders after a good workout. They are lightly scented and may be great for campers, but again, I generally do not find towelettes all that time zaving nor economical. They were just okay for me and again, I just don't see these types of products as being a good value. C.

5. Olomomo - Cherry Vanila Dream Almonds ($19.99/four 4 oz pack):

Another food item. These are organic, lightly coated with a cherry vanilla sugary powder and roasted too. I thought they were delicious. However, these have such great abuse potential, and by that I mean that you just can't simply give me one pack, I would probably eat a ton of them in some kind of trance and regret it later on for days. I have to stay away from this type of snack. That said, if you can eat whatever you want and guilt free no less, if God granted you with this kind of blessing, well just go ahead and binge on these, they are fabulous! Check out their site because they have an amazing variety, even one with cayenne pepper! These are Fair Trade, Glutten Free and non GMO. A.

6. Gourmet Body Treats -  Raw Finishing Powder ($32):

I was very excited to receive this adorable package, full size no less. I like finishing powders, they give you an amazing "finished" and tight look. However, this one came out as too thick, too yellow, and just a big mess to apply because of its weight. Big dud, if you ask me. F.

7. Raw Skin Ceuticals - Foot Powder ($6)

I really wish EcoEmi had sent this sample when it was still foot powder season: SUMMER! That's the only time I use this kind of product since I tend to wear shoes sans socks. Oh well. This is a thick talcum type powder (only it's made out of Tapioca starch) you sprinkle on your tootsies, over and under to soothe the skin and absorb odors. I thought it did an ok job, I wish the mint scent was a bit more pronounced but other than that, it's a good product. B.


So, what do you think? Is EcoEmi still worth the $15 per month for the subscription? I think it is, but I am also starting to get bored with them, I am on the second year (almost) and am thinking about switching to another box, I just can;t get them all you know!

In case you have missed the original open box for August 2014, you can find it on my YouTube Channel, alongside all the other boxes for 2014.

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

Sophia, NJ

Connect with me:

Mailing address:

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

************Affiliate Advertisers *********************

NORDSTROM - Choose from 75+ Gifts with Beauty Purchase.

Vera Bradley Designs, Inc.


Is your mascara Better Than Sex? Get 1,944% more volume exclusively at Too Faced. Shop now!

This site contains affiliate advertising. This is how I support my blog. I am not solicited to write reviews for products, unless otherwise noted in my post. I am not affiliated with EcoEmi or PooPouri and all opinions are my own.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Swatches and Stuff - September 2014 (and a HUGE Giveaway!!!!)

Hi friends,

I am back with another episode of my Swatches and Stuff for September 2014. Stick around for there is a huge giveaway at the end, in celebration of my 44th Birthday!
So, this month, is that one time of the year when I really splurge on myself, and when I say splurge, I am mean big bucks on high end stuff. The rest of the year I survive (LOL) on lowly Drugstore stuff. To me it's all worthy since I only do it once a year and it is my treat to myself. That said, I have a lot of stuff to show you and review, so let's dive right into it!

You can watch the video, if you prefer, on my YouTube Channel:

1. Estee Lauder:

As part of my big splurge this year, I rejoined the Estee Lauder band wagon! 
There was a time in my life (pre-children) when everything on my vanity was Estee Lauder. I have tried every high brand out there (to the exception of a few such as La Mer or La Prairie because really who's got the money for that!) Anyway, I visited my counter again and enlisted the help of a delightful lady who has been working for Estee Lauder for 27 years, so she knows her stuff.

Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair' Synchronized Recovery Complex II
Advanced Night Repair Serum
This is the holy grail of serums and I wrote about it in previous blogs in that my Yves Rocher Elixir 7.9 is as close as it gets to this amazing product. It's not cheap, of course, at $98, but the bottle will last you three months, at least. So when considering the alternative of spending $30 on a drugstore L'Oreal on a monthly basis, I think it is well worth the investment. 
This serum comes in a fairly large bottle with its own dropper. A little goes a long way and it needs to be applied day and night after thorough cleansing. It is meant at boosting cell renewal while fighting wrinkles and nourishing your skin. I was using it for a very long time (again in the past) and always felt it gave me amazing results. While this product glides on beautifully, it does not feel like there is petroleum jelly in it (a common ingredient in other serums). So if, like me, you do not believe in spending top dollars on a Vaseline based product, this one is for you! The company boasts that more than 75% of women found their skin to be more youthful after using it for 4 weeks. It is their #1 seller and has over 25 patents. They also have the eye serum version of this product but my sale representative told me that it was not necessary to purchase it at this time in my life.

Estee Lauder Advanced Time Zone Age Reversing Line/Wrinkle Eye Creme
Advanced Time Zone
Eye Cream

She did recommend however, that I use this cream under my eyes since I insisted on treating this area of my face, noticing signs of aging creeping on me. This is a very light yet emollient cream with a pleasant scent. Again, not cheap ($58) but you do get quite a lot of product. Probably 3 months if not more. Their claim?

Tri-HA Cell Signaling Complex™ helps skin boost its natural production of line-plumping hyaluronic acid by 182% in just 3 days.

That is a big claim!  I have been using it for two days and am already seeing results in a very different way: makeup does not fill in my lines, making them more visible! I really like this eye cream. If you are going to splurge on one Estee Lauder product, try this one!

 Estee Lauder 'Revitalizing Supreme' Global Anti-Aging Creme
Revitilizing Anti Aging

You can use this moisturizer both day and night (saves me some money). I would say this is a blend of their Re-Nutriv line (seriously emollient and too thick for my age) and the more fluid Day Wear moisturizer. It is neither a cream nor a gel, more like a good blend of both. This moisturizer is not greasy on my combination skin. She specifically recommended it as a result of my telling her I was losing weight and wanted to prevent sagginess and fine lines. 
Their claim:
Instantly, skin looks smoother, clearer, more radiant. In just 4 weeks, 92% of women showed significantly firmer skin.
I like this moisturizer, it is easy to use and penetrates very well, even after applying the Advanced Repair Serum.

Estee Lauder 'Pure Color Envy' Sculpting Lipstick in Discreet
Color Envy Lipstick

I bought the shade #160 (Discreet) which is a brick/rose color, more like a true to your lips and a bit more of a fall color. I do like it very much and they offer a lot more colors within the line. The packaging feels like luxury and at $30 per tube, I dare say it is way worth the splurge. Where else are you going to find a magnetized lid...This will be the end of my lipstick tube opening itself inside my cosmetics bag and smearing lip goo all over.

Their claim: 

 I do admit that this is a very hydrating lipstick. It is a satin cream, the Discreet one does not have any shimmer and is very close to Mac's Twig. To be honest, I like this moist formula much better. Other shades I am willing to try (and might just go ahead and purchase at a later time) are: 
Powerful and Tumultuous Pink

CLARISONIC -Mia 2 -  Sonic Skin Cleansing System
CLARISONIC 'Mia 2 - Lavender' Sonic Skin Cleansing System

I have wanted this cleansing brush since the first one came out, so that's a whole lot of years waiting and saving a buck or two here and there for it. Well, I finally did it and $149 later, I got me the MIA 2! 
This is a pulsating (not rotating) brush specifically designed to dislodge grime from under your skin and more particularly your pores. In the end, your skin is thoroughly cleansed and your treatment creams penetrate better, doing what they are supposed to do.
It offers two speeds and comes with a charger, a travel case and one delicate skin brush. I went ahead and purchased the  Deep Pore Cleansing Brush Replacement Head as well because I need a lot of that these days. The Mia comes in different colors and patterns, I picked the Lavender one.

After watching a ton of YouTube videos about this product, I found out that there is a "purging" phase during which your skin is being "purged" of its nasties within a week or so of using the brush, this resulting in bumps and occasional breakouts! No Thank You! So, not wanting to have to deal with that, I purged my own skin ahead of time, prior to beginning using the MIA. What did I do? I gave myself a thorough European Facial (steaming my face and dislodging all that I could). I am hoping it works and so far so good!
I have been using it for a few days and am noticing a difference in the texture of my skin.
The brush itself is on a timer, so you are given one minute to cleanse your face all together, 20 seconds on your forehead, with small circular motions, 20 seconds on your nose and chin and 20 seconds on each cheek. That is it! 
It removes all traces of makeup, you can use whatever cleanser you want to use, as long as it is not a scrub (the tiny beads or crushed shells would damage the brush and motor). love it! Save some money girls and get yourself a MIA 2! 


That was it for Estee Lauder and Clarisonic - moving on to more affordable stuff!

Nail products I really love this month:

1. Essie - Millionails

I have tried most of the drugstore nail treatments available since I stopped biting my nails 13 years ago. I simply cannot grow long nails, they are brittle, they split, they break, they are soft, they are just plain ugly. This month, I gave Essie a shot and was completely wowed by the results! While I still cannot grow very long nail, I guess I am much too busy and clumsy to begin with, I did manage to keep a good length, enough to afford applying darker shades without looking like a 5 year old playing with her mommy's nail polish. This is a very nice treatment, it goes on well, one coat is enough though you can have two then your color. 

essie Nail Care - Millionails     

Instead, I chose to have one coat of this treatment followed by one coat of the Grow Faster. Works great for me, I recommend this product ($8.49).

2. Essie - Grow Faster

When used in combination with the Millionails, this base coat provides a smooth surface while shielding my nails a bit more from damage. Togehter they act as a serious hardener allowing me to do what I need to do around the house without having to constantly fuss over my nails. Same price ($8.49), I recommend both.

essie Nail Care - Grow Faster Base Coat

3. China Glaze in Harmony

I found this gorgeous shade of deep purple at TJMax. Unfortunately, I think it is discontinued since I cannot find it on their website. This was my very first China Glaze purchase and really love their formula and durability. I am on the lookout for more!


Other Lipsticks:

CoverGirl Smoochies:

Last month I raved about the "hot pink" color which was my very first "Smoochie" by CoverGirl. I thought it was outstanding, both in formula and color payoff, not to mention the fact that it would stay on all day! 
Sure enough, I rushed to the drugstore afterwards and purchased these three. (Check the video to find out the numbers and view the swatches). 
These are awful! I mean it, they have no color pay off, matter of fact you can barely see them. They are basic lip balms with a shimmer, one of them coming on as gritty formula that is just uncomfortable to wear. 
Awful, you may run in the opposite direction and I am sorry I wasted my money on purchasing three more, I should have stuck with the one I purchased (and still love). That proves to show that not every item within a line is equal and worth the spending!


Eye Shadows (my favorite topic!)

Coastal Scents Winterberry Palette

Coastal Scents Winterberry Palette

Let me start by saying that my picture really does not give it justice (sorry for the bad lighting).
For those of you not familiar with Coastal Scents , I am told they are perfect dupes to Mac Eye shadows and for the price of one Mac, you can get this entire palette (under $14).
These are all shimmers (you can watch my video for the swatches) and have amazing color payoff. Further, while they are in pressed powder form, they feel like a cream shadow but will not bulge. I mean the stuff is there to stay - all day! They are absolutely beautiful! The packaging is very sleek and heavy duty and to make this an even better deal breaker, the pots can be removed (they are magnetized) and replaced with either new Coastal Scents shadows or MAC shadows! In essence, I could get the matte version of my favorite hues in this palette and create a new one that would be a mix of shimmers and mattes! What a bargain!


Moving on to non skincare and cosmetics stuff:

I am a sucker for anything Steampunk! I really am and it all started when I was a little girl and started reading Jules Verne. These are earrings my husband purchased for my birthday. I completely fell over when I opened the box as they are just gorgeous, wearable, sturdy, very well made and my, oh my, do they spell Steampunk! If you look closely, you can see tiny red dots in the gears, they are meant to look like the rubies you would see in high end watches. 
These have become my signature earrings, and guess what, I am definitely going to check the website (Victorian Curiosities) to see what else they have in stock. Simply gorgeous! 

Unfortunately, when I was writing this post, their website was under construction (*sad face*). You may want to check again at a later time to see their new collection. But don't despair, you can find them on Etsy. (Click Here). 
Kelly, the owner was kind enough to provide my viewers and readers with a 10% coupon code, use code SOPHIA10 at checkout to save 10%, this is valid until 12/31/14.


And now for the big giveaway!
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I am celebrating my Birthday this month. In addition, I am also celebrating a 250k views on this blog and over 4500 subscribers on my YouTube channel, so there are plenty to be thankful for!

Since I spent a lot of money at the Estee Lauder counter, the lady gave me a lot of freebies (the promo gift with purchase x 2 plus some). These are yours to win since I combined them so you would get both the shadows AND the blush in addition to the other stuff she gave me. I am also adding a Sleek Palette in neutral/nude shades (perfect for fall and a natural face), two ELF brushes (shadow crease and concealer) and a Bath and Body Works hand cream and the matching hand sanitizer in my favorite scent: Pink Chiffon!
That's a lot of stuff!

The giveaway is open until October 7, 2014 (two weeks) - Simply follow the Rafflecopter instructions below. One winner will be picked at random.

You must be 18 years or older.
You must be a subscriber of my YouTube Channel.
You must follow me on Facebook.
It is open internationally but understand that I will ship at the lowest rate possible because this is a seriously heavy bag and shipping to, say India for instance, will be costly (though covered by me, so super snail mail for any international winner).

Good Luck!

Thank you all for reading and sharing my blog. Thank you for all your support and wonderful comments on my YouTube Channel, I would be nothing without you readers and viewers. I LOVE YOU!

Connect with me:

Mailing address:

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

************Affiliate Advertisers *********************

NORDSTROM - Choose from 75+ Gifts with Beauty Purchase.

Vera Bradley Designs, Inc.


Is your mascara Better Than Sex? Get 1,944% more volume exclusively at Too Faced. Shop now!

This site contains affiliate advertising. This is how I support my blog. I am not solicited to write reviews for products, unless otherwise noted in my post. I am not affiliated with Estee Lauder, Clarisonic, Essie, China Glaze, CoverGirl, Victorian Curiosities, Coastal Scents or Sleek. All opinions are my own. All items reviewed above were purchased by me (or my husband). Giveaway contents are from Estee Lauder Gift with purchase for September 2014 at MACYS in addition to other items I purchased on my own.

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