Tuesday, December 11, 2012

2012 Chairty of the Year!

Seasons Greetings Post #2!

Hello again my beloved Shine and Sparkle Report readers!

It is the holiday season. People are rushing around frantically acquiring gifts for their loved ones. They are primping and preening in front of mirrors for holiday parties, shopping trips, and other festivities. While lots of beauty bloggers and enthusiasts are telling you about the latest trends attacked by the glitter gods, I want to take this time to draw some attention to those less fortunate.

I think part of being a beautiful person is appreciating what you have. The holidays in the Western world seem to emphasize consumerism. Thus, I will try and off set this with a little plug for the Shine and Sparkle Report: Charity of The Year (I think I will continue to do this every year around the holidays.)

I would now like to introduce to you, PROJECT PEANUT BUTTER!

Click Here! For an awesome video about Project Peanut Butter, as well as how to donate.

So, why Project Peanut Butter? (The following was quoted from Project Peanut Butter's Official Organization Statement)

Project Peanut Butter (PPB) seeks to advance the treatment of childhood malnutrition, the greatest contributor to child mortality in the world today, using effective, locally produced ready-to-use therapeutic foods.This corporation is formed to provide needed nutritional and medical support to children and adults suffering from severe malnutrition in sub-Saharan Africa and beyond.

Programs and Activities
Project Peanut Butter was formed to treat moderately and severely malnourished children and adults in sub-Saharan Africa, and other countries as needed. We provide locally reduced RUTF (Ready-To-Use-Therpeutic Food), and improve distribution through education and training of local clinical offices and health providers. Project Peanut Butter has facilities in Malawi, Sierra Leone, and a new start-up program in Mali. We have a partnership with clinics in Payatas, Philippines. They serve as the the advisor to several small programs and orphanages that produce or distribute RUTF for use in their programs. Also, Project Peanut Butter continues to contribute to the irradication of malnutrition through improved formulas for treatment of target groups, such as HIV+ Adults. Since the use of RUTF began in the treatment of malnutrition, recovery rates have skyrocket from 25-40% to 90-95%. We strive to improve this rate through improved recipes and improved distribution compliance.

Shine and Sparkle readers, if this is not convincing enough to get you to consider a donation to Project Peanut butter, only 1.5% of your donation is used for administrative costs. Also, for just $25, a child's life is saved! How rad is that? If you don't have the means to donate, that is ok. Just tell someone about PPB. They spend no money on advertising or soliciting donations, so if you just mention PPB to someone, you are helping a ton!

S+SR Giving Challenge!
Did you know that just by reading this post, you could save a child through PPB? Here is how it works:
  1. Share this post! Either on Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter, Email,...anything else you can think of.
  2. Comment on this post about where you shared it (honor system guys) as well as any other charities you think I should look into (possibly for next year's SSR Charity of the Year?) 
  3. If we reach over 25 comments on this post, I will personally donate an extra $25 to PPB on behalf of the Shine and Sparkle Report! 
Thank you so much Shine and Sparkle Report readers! Together we can give the world a little extra shine and sparkle!

Shine & Sparkle! 

A last note, I'm in no way affiliated with PPB. I came across them completely by chance and I have been a huge fan ever sense.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Online Beauty Subscription Service Reviews

Seasons Greetings Shine and Sparklers!

Welcome to the S+SR special online beauty subscription holiday shopping edition! As the holidays approach, gifts are on everyone's minds.  I wanted to break down the most popular online beauty/fashion online subscription services for you guys.  No matter if it is a subscription gift for another person, a way to divide up the things you get to give as gifts, test products to give as gifts, or simply do a whole lot of gifting to yourself; this guide should help you decide what kind of subscription service would work best for you.
Mountains of Products for Less?  Yes Please! As usual, like my last stock image, I'll gladly give someone credit for their image or take it down if whoever owns it throws a hissy fit.

What is an Online Beauty Subscription Service?
I'm glad you asked dear reader!  In a nutshell, for a monthly fee, you get products.  The beauty subscriptions allow you to try new products at a fraction of the cost. Fashion ones allow you to get the latest trends for a fraction of the typical cost.  Most services have you take a quiz so they can customize what you get to better fit your complexion, needs, and style.

Each site has their own types of products and systems so it can get really confusing.  That is what I'm here for!

Other Than My Beloved S+SR, where can I See Examples of the Things Typically in the Subscription?
Their website!  =P Or, if you YouTube the name of the service, there are tons of people who do "unboxing" videos of their subscriptions.  They will often describe or review what they got as well.  Not to mention you can find codes for introductory deals if you sign up.  Go.  Spend your life on youtube.  Check out "No No Cat" while you are at it.

S+SR Recommended (and not) Beauty Subscription Services:

Ipsy (Formerly Glam Bag):
  • Price: $10/month.  Discounts for buying multiple months at a time.
  • Types of Product: Once a month you get a different little make up bag.  In the bag are 4-5 deluxe sample or full size beauty products (primarily make-up, skin, hair, and nails). 
  • How it Works: Sign Up.  Pay Monthly.  Get stuff in the mail.  So simple right?
  • Skipping a month: Ipsy does not let you skip a month.  You must cancel before the end of the month to not be charged for your next bag.
  • Rewards program: Nope.  You get what you get.  There is no advantage to being a member or encouraging your friends to sign up.
  • S+SR Approved?  YES! Simple, elegant, cheap.  I have received 2 months of Ipsy and I am very pleased.  The make-up cases have bee good quality and cute.  The products have been high end and I have been happy with most of the items I have gotten.  The fey I have not like were because they were not right for my skin tone--despite the quiz. I gave them to my fair skinned BFF so it's a win win.
  • Where You Sign Up: www.ipsy.com 

Beauty Subsciption Like Ipsy but are NOT Recommended:
  • Glossy Box:  While almost identical in concept to Ipsy, it is $21.  Yes, it has much prettier packaging, but the samples appear to be smaller (not just deluxe and full size items) and I just have not seen many products that I have been excited about in any of the numerous "unboxing" videos I have looked at.  If you are still interested in a Glossy Box, their link is www.glossybox.com
  • Birch Box:  Also identical in process to Ipsy, it is also $10 like Ipsy.  You do not get a cool make up bag, you just get a brown box.  Another difference is they include "Lifestyle" items.  This can include band-aids, food samples, stain solution, fashion tape, tooth paste....you get the idea.  I mostly did not chose this box because I rather get a cute make up bag and not get tooth paste.  Maybe you really feel passionately about trying new toothpaste.  I dont.  If you are really into getting granola bars with your beauty products, check it out at www.birchbox.com
  • Beauty Fix: $50?! (don't get fooled by that $49.99 is cheaper stuff).  So for more money you get 8 deluxe or full size items.  You also get to pick which ones you want from a gallery of items that their experts pick for you. Maybe the concept of more choice and more products is worth an extra $30-$40 to you.  It isn't to me.  If this service speaks to you (or you are simply more affluent than Ms. Sparkles) check it out at www.beautyfix.com

Other Cool Subscription Service Sites:
Now that you are super interested in subscribing to a beauty service, I wanted to quickly point out a few more sites that have really cool concepts.  I have personally tried them all and will give you a quick review.

Little Black Bag (LLB):
  • Price: $30 or $50/month. 
  • Types of Product: Mostly handbags, accessories, and jewelry.  Some home decor, apparel, and make-up.  There are a ton of brand name designers that participate in this site.  Some things are popular high quality brands (Betsy Johnson, French Connection, Steve Madden, Kenneth Jay Lane, Deux Lux--just to give you a flavor).  However, there are some items that are more cheaply made.  There are also some items that they tell you are worth a certain amount retail, but are on sale else where so the actual cost is less than the rate they say.  That being said, I still love it.
  • How it Works: Complicated, time intensive, ADDICTIVE.  In a nutshell, you pay monthly for either a $30 or $50 box.  You get to pick your first item (up to $70% off of retail) from your customized show room.  Then you get to see the other items selected by LLB (or the designers of the surprise items) before purchasing the box.  Now the fun part-- you get to trade online.  You can trade that crappy colored nail polish for one you like.  You can trade 2 earrings you hate for a bag you love, the possibilities are as endless as the number of women trading on the site.  The website is easy to use and facilitates great trades.  The $30 bag gets 3 days of trading, $50 gets 6 days.  By the time I finished with my first $50 box (with extra items due to first time sign up I had saved over $170 off of retail.  I'm still working on trading with my second box, but I'm looking at saving over $120 with fewer items to start with.   
  • Skipping a month: Yep!  If you want to skip or cancel you can.  For $10 more you can do this without subscribing at all.
  • Rewards program: Yes, you can get extra items in your box by having friends sign up.
  • S+SR Approved?  YES! Oh so addictive.  You have to be careful to really think about what you want and what you will actually wear/use because you get really caught up when people send you multiple items for your one item.  The psychology major in me loves trying to predict how I can trade to get more expensive things I want by trading less expensive ones.  Yeah....it's addictive.
  • Where You Sign Up: With my referral link if you would be so kind for  www.littleblackbag.com (This is the Sparkles Referral Link)
Julep Maven: $20/month.  I tried this during a "try for a penny" deal and then canceled.  You get 2 Julep Brand nail polishes and one other item (foot cream, nail file etc.)  I tried the polishes.  They were simply ok.  They have nice colors and good ingredients.  But I found that they took a long time to dry and in general, were not worth $20 a month, considering I am satisfied with the nail polish I get for much less.  If you are a nail addict, think this is fun, and want two new colors every month, be my guest at www.julep.com 

Just Fab:  $40 for anything you see on the site.  You have a customized shopping closet but you are free to roam to vast selection of shoes, handbags, jewelry, and other accessories for just $40 per item.  They typically have sales and promotions so you can get things for less.  I have been really happy with the quality of my shoes and clutches I have gotten so far.  You have to skip by the 5th of the month if you do not want to get charged for a $40 credit.  They really have cute stuff that is great for getting the latest trends for less.  If you decide to sign up, I'd love if you used this referral link to www.justfab.com (This is the Sparkles Referral Link) 

Shoe Dazzle: It used to be identical to Just Fab.  Now it has things that are more expensive than $40, have less good deals, and the products just are not as cute.  I would have highly recommend them as well until the recent changes.  If you would basically like a crappier version of Just Fab, check them out at www.shoedazzle.com

I hope that my online shopping obsession has helped you navigate the confusing (yet awesome) world of online beauty/fashion subscription services.  Maybe someone will be getting something from your Little Black Bag Christmas ;D

Shine & Sparkle!