I’m currently stuck in the 2017 Photobucket Blackmail event like many bloggers who are not rich. I have been storing photos there for more than 10 years, which is older than this blog is. with the sudden and quiet blackmail photobucket decided to lynch themselves with, I’ve lost ALL of my image links across the web. 

including on my professional website that I use for my design portfolio. that is what hits me hardest. this blog is purely for hobby. but my portfolio leads to my livelihood. and since i am an artist and not a doctor, i cannot afford their steep $400/month rates to keep my pictures as a part of the always previously free sham website photobucket.

it will take LOADS AND LOADS of time to download all of my photos and save them to my computer. then they will need to be re-uploaded to another 3rd party site. something similar to what photobucket once was, but free. or at least a heck of a lot cheaper than $400/month. which is a completely insane amount for that kind of service, by the way. especially for bloggers, who seldom make money from their blogs (yes, some bloggers do, but the majority of us do not). then, i will need to re-link EVERY SINGLE IMAGE i’ve ever posted. yeah, it’s going to be awhile.

for this, i apologize. i don’t know what else to do. the internet is calling this blackmail and i completely agree. i haven’t tried to access my images yet because i’m not on my computer and don’t have it with me. some users are reporting that photobucket won’t even allow them access to the images without paying the fee. that truly is ransom/blackmail. i can’t confirm this, as i said, but their website assures me that i can gain access and remove my images. so i hope that’s the case.

why are my photos on photobucket? in order to store images, you need to save them somewhere. putting them on a 3rd party website allows me to link them into blog posts. this is necessary for my own photography and images. but it is also especially important when using photos from other sites. it isn’t acceptable to hotlink to photos hosted elsewhere (like a google image search). photobucket has been the standard for bloggers, amazon / ebay sellers, and other web users for years. this change was sudden, unexpected, uncalled for, and unacceptable. it’s blackmail.

in the future, please expect a blog post detailing this process and how you can do your part to take your business away from photobucket and help put them out of business.


Birchbox Review – June 2015

birchbox_zpsw8fczive1. Dermaclear™ Micro Water by Dr. Jart+
color: N/A
scent: unscented – didn’t have a smell
texture/feel: liquid and water-like, just a slightly tacky residue without rinsing
outcome: this did not make me break out, removed eye-makeup well
full size: 8.4 oz.
full size value: $32
sample size: 0.7 oz.
sample size (estimated) value: $2.67
overall opinion: this was my first time trying a combination toner and makeup remover product. although it did its job well, I do feel it requires rinsing for me personally (directions state it is optional). what stops me from wanting to buy this product is that the makeup remover and toners I presently use are together cheaper than this product and don’t require me to rinse.
buy: probably not

2. Waterproof Eyeliner by Marcelle
color: “Blue Lagoon” – bright blue, azure
scent: unscented – didn’t have a smell
texture/feel: smooth, easy to apply
outcome: color pay-off is decent, not very blendable
full size: 0.04 oz.
full size value: $11
sample size: 0.028 oz.
sample size (estimated) value: $7.70
overall opinion: first of all, I am a little biased on my “to buy or not to buy” decision because this color just doesn’t work for me. secondly, I’m not a huge fan of pencils as colored eyeliner; I prefer liquid or gels. that aside, Marcelle describes this as “perfectly blendable” and I disagree with that completely. when I gently rubbed at it, it only came off of my skin and spread shimmer around. perhaps that is unique to this color? this seemed like a middle of the road pencil, which I’m sure you could get an equivalent to at a drug store for less.
buy: no

3. Good Hair Day Shampoo by Temple Spa
color: N/A
scent: “soothing notes of ylang ylang, eucalyptus, and patchouli” – a little spicy, earthy
texture/feel: clear gel, lathered decently, average concentration (thick lather, tiny bubbles)
outcome: (tested separately from conditioner) hair felt clean after one wash, decently hydrated, shiny, not oily
full size: 6.8 oz.
full size value: $14
sample size: 0.84 oz.
sample size (estimated) value: $1.73
overall opinion: using this shampoo made my hair feel adequately clean and shiny without the use of conditioner. compared to some shampoos which can leave your hair dull or brittle mane when used without conditioner, my hair felt somewhat soft and hydrated. some other products that claim the 2-in-1 capabilities of cleansing and conditioning leave your hair with that “day 3” look by the end of day 1. Good Hair Day doesn’t fit into that category. that being said, my ultimate decision comes down to the cost of this shampoo. I’ve used multiple drug store and salon brands that work just as well and cost less. for $14 a bottle, I just can’t justify it.
buy: probably not

4. In Good Condition Conditioner by Temple Spa
color: N/A
scent: “refreshing blend of […] peppermint, rosemary, orange, and lavender”, “grapefruit and palmarosa” – herbal, minty, plastic
texture/feel: white cream,
outcome: (tested separately from shampoo) hair lightly scented, soft, a little heavy, hair became oily after 1 day
full size: 6.8 oz.
full size value: $14
sample size: 0.84 oz.
sample size (estimated) value: $1.73
overall opinion: “softens, shines, hydrates, thickens” states Temple Spa. I mostly agree with this claim as my hair came out soft, shiny, and hydrated. thickening may be a more long-term benefit, but it was not possible to tell with the sample. they also say that this conditioner “nurses split ends and styling damage” as well as “reduces ‘fly aways’.” this is true, but comes at a cost. even though I know better than to apply conditioning products directly to my roots, my scalp seemed to get oily quicker than usual. by the end of the day, I was ready to wash again! I can’t imagine the outcome if I’d applied this conditioner to my scalp (Temple Spa says “rosemary may help treat a flaking scalp”). after drying my hair, I suspected that this might be the outcome as my hair felt quite weighed down. maybe I had fewer fly-aways and less-noticeable breakage or split ends, but my hair didn’t look good for very long.
buy: no

5. Bianca (Eau de Parfum) by TOCCA
color: N/A
scent: lightly lemony, flowery (rose), a little earthy
texture/feel: N/A
outcome: powerful, long-lasting
full size: 1.7 fluid oz.
full size value: $68
sample size: 0.05 fluid oz.
sample size (estimated) value: $2
overall opinion: this scent is so pungent; I could smell it immediately when I began to open up my Birchbox and it was overwhelming. it has been days and I can still smell it sitting there. it’s difficult to discern if I actually dislike the scent or if I dislike how overpowering it is. perfume is a very personal choice; it can distinguish your mood, change with the season, and help to define your personality. you would never choose something that is just okay or that you don’t like. thusly, I wouldn’t choose to buy this perfume.
buy: no

6. Lace Headband by Pura Vida
color: light blue
scent: N/A
texture/feel: elastic, thick lace
outcome: this would not stay secured in my hair without bobby pins
full size: pack of 8
full size value: $18
sample size: single
sample size (estimated) value: $2.25
overall opinion: first of all, any amount of money for a useless product is too much… this is kind of cute, but just not useful for me with my thick, long hair.
buy: no

items: 1 skincare, 1 makeup, 3 hair care, 1 perfume
variety: neutral
sizes: satisfactory
quality: neutral
brands: neutral
total (estimated) value: $18.08
box cost: $10.00
rating breakdown: minus 1 point for receiving a perfume sample (Birchbox is well aware that their members don’t love perfume samples), minus 1 point for the smell of the perfume sample and the color of the eye pencil both being total misses for me, minus 1 point for the useless headband, minus 1 point for the lack of variety (hair products make up half of the box).
overall rating: 7/10

to be honest, this was more on the end of just meh for me. even though I’ve scored the box as a 7/10, this is based upon me trying to remain as unbiased and fair as I can. to me personally, the June 2015 Birchbox feels more like a 5/10. I was disappointed to see a perfume sample, a blue eye product (yes, brights are in right now, but I still can’t get behind another blue pencil), and then there’s the unusable headband. that’s three of six products that I won’t use – hence the 50% feeling. subtracting those three items from the total estimated price of the box, brings the new estimated total worth for me to only $6.13. having paid the full $10, I can’t help but be a little bummed this time around. and the conditioner didn’t work out for me either. but I completely realize that this box might have been a total winner for other members; just remember that why I disliked some of these things is because of my own skin, hair, tastes, etc.

Birchbox Reveal – June 2015

birchbox_zpsz5crv0c3yesterday there was a package from Birchbox waiting for me in the mail area. I used to subscribe to Birchbox on and off in the past, but this is my first box in quite a while, so I’m excited to dive into the testing process!

oh, are you wondering just what a Birchbox is? it’s a monthly subscription service to try out new general beauty and lifestyle products. for about $10 per month, you get at least five samples, ranging in size from single-use to multiple-use. you can expect samples that include makeup, tools, skincare, hair care, body care (including perfume), edible goodies, home goods (like a candle). these are often sourced from new or expanding brands so members discover products they might not otherwise on their own. Birchbox also works with well-established vendors to bring members newly-launched products and cult favorites as well.

below, I’ve described the six products that came in my June 2015 box. stay tuned for my upcoming blog post, detailing my testing results.

1. Dermaclear™ Micro Water by Dr. Jart+ – $32 (8.4 oz.)
“Made with active hydrogen mineral water, this cleansing water removes makeup and brightens skin. Dispense onto a cotton pad and wipe over face to whisk away makeup and gently cleanse.”

2. Waterproof Eyeliner by Marcelle – $11 (0.04 oz./1.2 g)
“This blendable waterproof eyeliner goes on smoothly and stays put all day.” (I received “Blue Lagoon.”)

3. Good Hair Day Shampoo by Temple Spa – $14 (6.8 oz.)
“Botanical-infused formula that cleanses strands, repairs damage, adds volume, and boosts shine.”

4. In Good Condition Conditioner by Temple Spa – $14 (6.8 oz.)
“Made with refreshing peppermint, this creamy detangler hydrates, softens, and tames frizz.”

5. Bianca (Eau de Parfum) by TOCCA – $68 (1.7 fluid oz.)
“This clean, citrus scent has undertones of rose and sugar for long-wearing, intriguing layers.”

6. Lace Headband by Pura Vida – $18 (Pack of 8)
“Add polish to any style.”

the information listed here is copied directly from the Birchbox insert included in my box. according to my research through their website, not all subscribers will receive the same items nor the same colors, so I’ve also mentioned the colors I received, where applicable.

although monthly subscription boxes are becoming more and more popular, Birchbox seems to be one of the main beauty-based contenders. in my opinion, that’s because it happens to be the most economical option on the market. at only $10 per box, it seems easy to find a little space in your budget for this little monthly treat.

if you love something you’ve received in your box, there’s the convenient option to buy it full-sized, directly through Birchbox. as far as I’ve seen, the prices in their marketplace are right on par with brand stores and websites like Sephora and Ulta. so why shop through Birchbox if you can pick up the same product at your local mall? because of the rewards! for every $1 you spend, you get 1 point. annnnd for every 100 points, you earn $10 towards a future purchase.

but buying products from their store isn’t the only way to gain points. every time you get a Birchbox in the mail, you can sign in and review the products you’ve just tried. for each of those reviews, you receive 10 points. let’s do a little math here: with a minimum of 5 samples in each box (and quite often that number is actually 6), that’s 50-60 points per box. after 2 boxes, you’ve already gained 100-120 points! so, if you buy 2 months at the maximum price of $10 per month, you end up with $10 in rewards. I take this to mean that every other time you purchase a box, you get $10 back – it just happens to be in products instead of in cash. so great!

and I’ve never had a problem finding a product I’ve wanted from their store as Birchbox has offerings from a wide variety of brands (some of my favorites are Origins, Benefit, and Eyeko). points convert only in increments of $10, so once you reach 200 points, you will have $20 available and so on. points are currently valid for one full year from the time of receipt. I often let my points accumulate to $20 or $30 until I can take home a prestige-level item for free or for very little cost. I haven’t discovered a service with nearly this level of rewards to date!

do you subscribe?
– if so, what products were in your June 2015 box?
– if not, you can get your own monthly women’s Birchbox subscription here.


name: Ultra Repair Cream Intense Hydration
First Aid Beauty
facial moisturizer, body moisturizer
hydrate, relieve itch

size: 1oz – 2oz – 6 oz
$6.50 – $12 – $30
price category: 
Sephora, UltaFirst Aid Beauty, etc.

color: white
unscented – very light natural scent
thick, easily-spreadable cream. thicker than lotion, thinner than butter. somewhat noticeable (waxy, not greasy/oily) on skin’s surface.
white squeezable packet with screw on cap (1oz), white squeezable tube with screw on cap (2oz), white plastic jar with screw on lid (6oz)

from manufacturer: apply head-to-toe. meant for severely dry, scaly skin due to harsh winter weather, aggressive cosmetic treatments or any of the following conditions: psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, irritant eczema, allergic eczema, seborrheic dermatitis, keratosis pilaris.
my suggestions: 
I don’t disagree, but I only use it on my face since I don’t need it for my body.

type: no parabens, sulfates, phthalates, harsh chemicals, or colorants. contains synthetic materials.
allergy-tested, dermatologist-recommended, safe for sensitive skin
see manufacturer here.

ease of application: very easy – requires no experience or tools
amount needed:
 dime-sized to scant nickel-sized, depending on dryness level (face)
lasting power: 
this cream creates a moisture barrier which lasts most of the day
during use: 
instantly relieves the feeling of dryness, skin appears more hydrated, reported to instantly relieve itch (due to the colloidal oatmeal ingredient)
after use: 
my skin feels more hydrated, I did not break out
ease of removal/cleaning: 
very easy – makeup remover or soap

shade: light/medium
oily t-zone, large pores (nose), uneven tone

pros: doesn’t feel greasy on skin, hydration quality is great
doesn’t contain SPF, pricey for a full-body lotion in all seasons (without a skin condition)
there is a line of Ultra Repair products, including lip therapy and options with SPF
for being a heavier cream, this didn’t feel suffocating on my face. you can feel the lotion a little (moisture barrier), it is smooth/soft and not oily. makeup applied over it easily.
would I buy: 
yes! for my face, especially in the winter.

I did not pay for this product, nor was I paid to review it.