Hot Natured Tuneage and My Birchbox Haul

boxes

Confession time. Guys. I have something that I just have to get off my chest: I'm a closet girly girl. YES, IT'S TRUE. There's nothing I love more than any excuse to put on a nice dress, accessorize, and slather on fun and exciting makeup. This year I've kicked my game up a notch for a few reasons. Firstly, I'm a 20something female living in New York City and I'm surrounded by fabulous people all the time. Secondly, my best friend is one of the most fashion forward people I know and I need to keep up. Thirdly, it's an incredibly fun way to express myself. And lastly, I just feel better about myself and more confident when I put in the effort to look good. In January I was gifted a three month subscription to Birchbox. In case you haven't heard - Birchbox is a New York based company that offers a unique and personalized way to discover, learn about, and shop the best beauty, grooming, and lifestyle products on the market. For $10/month you get a box of tried and tested samples delivered to your mailbox - and they've even launched a program for men! Once you receive your first box, you can register for an online account and write reviews, buy full sized versions of your favorite products, and customize what might come your way in the next box!

It's a fantastic service and, as a women, it's insanely fun to play with new products without having to buy a massive (and expensive) bottle at the store. Thanks to Birchbox, I think I've finally perfected my 'natural,' 'everyday,' and 'nighttime' looks!

So last week, to celebrate their three week anniversary (and also to coincide with NYFW I'm sure) Birchbox hosted their first EVER pop-up shop in Chelsea Market. A very dear friend of mine was invited to the store to claim a free box of samples and try some free beauty services guided by experts in the industry. And she invited me to go with her as her plus one. Thanks, lady!

The store itself was magnificent - it's everything I had ever imagined a live and in the flesh Birchbox shop to look like. At the front of the store they had a WALL of samples where you could build your own Birchbox with up to 5 items. Then a bunch of displays where you could purchase full-sized versions of your favorite products. And at the back, they had set up about 12 beauty stations sponsored by big name brands like Color Club, Stila Cosmetics, and Dr. Brandt. Free appointments were offered for hair styling, manicures, skin treatments, and makeup applications. The champagne was poured by well groomed waiters and mini cupcakes were passed around. Guys.... This might have been my version of heaven....

Signature Birchboxes
Signature Birchboxes
Samples for Days
Samples for Days
Samples for Days
Samples for Days
Complimentary Services
Complimentary Services

My friend Alex and I started with some champagne and a free sample box. Here's my haul:

My Haul!
My Haul!

I'm officially obsessed with all of these products, so I'm gonna do a quick review for you!

First up is my Yes to Grapefruit CC Cream - which is something I really wish I had all summer. It's a tinted moisturizer that hydrates and protects my skin while evening out my skin tone and it smells like delicious grapefruit. It's super light weight and would have been the perfect base for my summer makeup routine. Noted for next year!

Next in line is my Smashbox Photo Finish Primer. I've heard nothing but good things about this product and I can't wait to test drive it for realsies this weekend. It's supposed to be the BEST at keeping your foundation in place and even... so naturally I'm going to put it through the Nikbear Weekend Dancing/Raging/Sweating test this weekend. I'll let you know how it goes.

Just above that is my Beauty Blender. It's that weird pink egg-shaped thing. But don't knock it till you've tried it, because this is the COOLEST THING EVER. It blends out my concealer and foundation perfectly, is super fun to use, and might be the easiest makeup tool to clean ever. Obsessed. Peace out brushes, I have a new blending best friend.

Next to the primer is the Inika Light Reflect Highlighting Cream. This year I've been putting my toe in the contouring/highlighting waters. Up until recently I was using a shimmery eye shadow to highlight my cheek bones, but then this cream came into my life and I'll never go back to powder highlighters. Ever. This product does everything it's name claims and then some - and it's super long lasting! Definitely worth an investment.

Lastly, on the far right of the box is Benefit's Gimme Brow volumizing gel. Now, I've never understood putting makeup in one's eyebrows. Maybe it's because I've been blessed with bushy brows that need to be tamed, not expanded upon. But this gel? This gel is amazing. It does the perfect job of filling in my eyebrows so that they look lush, but not drawn on, AND (this is really the best part) the gel holds my brows in place all day without feeling like I had plastic eyebrows. Love love love this product.

I was worried that faced with an entire wall of samples I was going to pick all the wrong things, but I think I did well. I'm super happy with all the products I picked up and will probably definitely buy the full-sized versions when I run out of my free samples.

After loading up on free goodies and free bubbly, Alex and I migrated through the store front towards the back to see what beauty services were being offered. We each had our faces cleansed and exfoliated by Dr. Brandt. They've got an eye makeup remover coming out next month that I need in my life. After preparing our facial canvases, we moved on to the Stila Cosmetics makeup counter and learned some new makeup tricks too!

Stila Cosmetics
Stila Cosmetics
Dr. Brandt Skin Care
Dr. Brandt Skin Care

All in all, I give Birchbox Local two VERY enthusiastic thumbs up. Although the pop-up shop closed yesterday, you can still sign up for your very own Birchbox online and have all kinds of grooming goodies delivered to your doorstep!

Do you guys have favorite beauty products, services, or tips to share? I'm always on the hunt for the next big thing when it comes to makeup so be sure to drop your comments below! And of course I couldn't forget this week's TunesDaze pick... check it out below!

With flawless skin and stiff brows, xx Nikbear