Month: November 2014

Tutorial: Stormy Skies with Shiro Cosmetics

Hello again beauties! I’ve always wanted to do tutorials on this blog. Now that I finally have a proper camera, I didn’t see a reason to delay! I just ordered the Hobbit Collection from Shiro Cosmetics, a brand famous for it’s fun, geeky collections. I’m already a fan of the brand, so I thought I’d start things off with a tutorial using products from their (now defunct) Notebook Collection (which you can read reviews for here).

Here’s the look I created:

IMG_0352

I used my favorite purple, Shinigamiand a gorgeous silvery grey, Heaven Nor Hell on the eyes. I played up the purple with a coordinating liner, and completed the eyes with dark, long lashes. I kept the rest of the face natural and simple, to keep the emphasis on the gorgeous purple color.

Here’s what you need:

IMG_0257 IMG_0260

-Your face essentials (foundation, concealer, powder, blush, etc)
-1 shimmery purple and 1 greyish blue loose shadow
-purple eyeliner
-lengthening black mascara
-clear gloss or balm
-a short, fluffy brush (like MAC’s 213. I used ELF Professional Shadow Brush)
-a fluffy blending brush (like MACs 224. I used one from Sonia Kashuk)
-water (or mixing medium, or MAC Fix+)

Lets begin the tutorial!

1) First, apply your face essentials as usual (I used Smashbox Foundation Primer, Maybelline Fit Me! Foundation, Maybelline Mineral Power Concealer, and NYC Smooth Skin pressed powder). If you want, you can wait to do this step after you’ve applied your shadow, especially if your loose eyeshadows are prone to fallout.

2) The great thing about loose eyeshadow is you don’t need a base for them to be pigment-rich. Instead, you just use them wet. Pour a little bit of product into the shadow’s cap, or onto another smooth surface you don’t mind getting a little messy. A little goes a long way!

IMG_0261

3) Wet your brush (have a paper towel handy to soak up excess water if you’re dipping it right into the water), and swirl the short fluffy brush into the purple pigment. Apply over the whole lid. Using a dry fluffy blending brush, blend any harsh edges.

IMG_0268

4) Spot clean your short fluffy brush (or grab another), re-wet the brush, then swirl it into the grey shadow. Apply to the crease, and blend. You may need to reapply more purple shadow at this point, and blend them together. Dust away any fallout using a large, fluffy face brush.

IMG_0278

5) Using purple liner (mine is Urban Decay Ransom), line your waterline. Then, connect the purple liner to the outer corner of your purple shadow, and bring the liner down the lower lash line, about halfway. You can use a short, stiff brush or liner brush to smudge the line, if you like.

IMG_0279

6) Curl your lashes, and apply mascara. I used Clinique Lash Power Feathering Mascara. 

 IMG_0289

And you’re finished with the eyes! Here is a photo of the finished eye look. Apply your face essentials now if you haven’t already.

IMG_0316

7) Apply soft, peachy-pink blush to the apples of the cheeks and blend towards the temples. I used MAC Pinch O’ Peach. Finish off the look with clear gloss or a shiny lip balm. I used my favorite balm, Maybelline Baby Lips. 

IMG_0343

And you’re done! I love how easy this kind of look is to put together, but with the right, vivid shades, it looks very intense and dramatic. Loose eyeshadows always seem to boast great pigmentation, and when used wet, blend together and apply so seamlessly. Here’s the finished look.

IMG_0373

Do you love loose shadows, beauties? Have you ever tried any from Shiro? Any other indie brands/loose shadows I should check out? Let me know!

Kat Von D Studded Kiss Lipstick in Wonderchilde Review + Swatches

IMG_0216

Color:
Sephora describes the shade as “iridescent neon lilac.” On the lips, its a mid-tone cool fuchsia purple with purple iridescence. I don’t have a shade like this, and haven’t seen a color this rare. It will be hard to dupe! (5/5)

Wear:
This is a surprisingly long-wearing lipstick. It wore well for 5 hours and looked mostly in-tact after a meal. It didn’t fade, bleed, or feather. (5/5)

Formula:
The formula on Wonderchilde is not stellar. The iridescence in this shade felt gritty going on. Also, it needs to be built up, and even then, I can only get it to about 80% opacity. The base color applies smoothly but the iridescence is a little patchy. However, it didn’t dry my lips out. It also has a lovely creme brulee scent. (3.5/5)

IMG_0217

Packaging:
The Studded Kiss Lipstick line has edgy black studded plastic tubes. I think it’s glamorous and fits Kat Von D’s image perfectly. The size is a little large, but I don’t find these lipsticks any more difficult to store than other brands’. The packaging doesn’t feel cheap, which I like at this price point. (5/5)

Price:
These lipsticks sell for $21 USD and contains 0.1 oz of product (for a total of $210 per ounce). A MAC lipstick is $16 for the same amount ($160 an ounce). So Studded Kiss lipsticks aren’t the cheapest lippies around. However, I think the rareness of a shade like Wonderchilde alone will warrant lots of purchases. Also, it’s not a bad quality lipstick. It doesn’t apply perfectly (or totally mask pigmented lips), but it does a fair job, so I think it’s worth it for a shade this unique. (4/5)

Wow Factor:
Of course a shade like this is impressive, because it’s rarely been done before. It’s one of those eye-catching colors as soon as you open the tube. The sparkling effect it has on the lips is interesting as well, like fairy dust. There’s room for improvement, but generally I was impressed. (4/5)

Overall:
I think Wonderchilde is a special lipstick. It’s got a unique, interesting color that I can see people reaching for when they want to stand out, boost their confidence, go to a party, wear with a cosplay, etc. For a shade this twinkly, it’s long lasting as well. It didn’t dry out the lips despite feeling a bit gritty. If the color interests you and you don’t mind the price, I would recommend it. (4.4) B+

IMG_0221

Where to Buy:
-Studded Kiss lipsticks are exclusive to Sephora

Useful Information:
-This product was purchased by me.
-Kat Von D products are cruelty-free, except where mandated by law.
-This lipstick is made without parabens, sulfates, and phthalates.

BareMinerals READY 4.0 Eyeshadow Quad in The A-List Review + Swatches

IMG_0067

I had been eyeing these beautiful shadows from BareMinerals for so long. I had heard amazing things about the formula and pigmentation, and the color combinations were lovely as well. For my first foray into this line of eyeshadow (and with BareMinerals products as well), I settled on The A-List, a girly quad.

Color:
The four shades included in this quad are Icebreaker (“Pink Pearl”, top left), Fashionably Late (“Pink Sugar”, top right), Swanky (“Dazzling Plum”, bottom left), and Black Tie Optional (“Black Velvet”, bottom right). It’s a mostly girly palette with the darker colors adding versatility and depth to the super feminine pinks.
-Icebreaker is a light, frosty cool pink champagne with silver shimmer. It’s a great highlight shade, soft and shiny but not too stark for the brow. The sparkles kind of got everywhere, though. (4/5)
-Fashionably Late is a cool, baby pink satin. This one had great pigmentation, even without primer. Not the most unique shade under the sun, though. (4.5/5)
-Swanky is a dark matte plum base with golden sparkles. It goes on opaque, even without primer, but the golden shimmer doesn’t translate onto the eyelid. (4/5)
-Black Tie Optional is a matte, medium dark black. It has such rich, opaque pigmentation, great quality for a matte. (4.5/5)
The palette has a great mix of finishes that work well together and can be combined to give a variety of looks, ranging from soft and feminine to more edgy and evening. (4.25)

Wear:
The only shade that gave me any trouble was Swanky. It started wearing down at a mere two hours, and looked markedly faded at 6 hours. The three other shades looked fresh by the end of the 8-hour testing period. (4.25)

Formula:
All four shades yielded great pigmentation that was opaque on the lid. They were also easy to apply and gave me no issues with dryness or blending. They didn’t feel as soft to the touch as I had imagined (Swanky was the worst offender, feeling a bit gritty), but this is inconsequential, since it doesn’t impact application. The sparkles in Icebreaker were a bit messy, but remained contained to the eye area, so it wasn’t too much of a mess. No other shades had any fallout problems. (4/5)

Packaging:
BareMinerals delivered with more luxe packaging that one tends to expect from brands in this price range. The compact is sleek and rubberized, absorbing impact from falls and making it more resilient during travel, but holds fingerprints like none other! It feels nice and not cheap in the hands. Also, the mirror inside is full-sized, making it functional to take along with you. I do feel like there is a bit too much plastic, and that the size could’ve been minimized a bit in proportion to the shadows inside, but it’s not too large or tricky to store. I don’t know if it was just my quad, but the clasp was fussy on mine as well–it stays firmly shut, to the point where I accidentally dropped it trying to get it open! (Thank goodness for that rubber packaging!) So that is an area for improvement. (4/5)

IMG_0066

The rubber packaging can be a bit hard to keep clean!

Price:
One of these quads is $30 USD, for 0.17 total ounces of product. That’s $176.47 per ounce. For context, 1 MAC eyeshadow is 0.05 oz and sells for $16, a total of $320 per ounce. Each pan of product in this quad is a little more than 0.4 oz, which a little bit of a drawback. But 4 MAC shadows would cost you $64, $34 more than what you get here for only 0.3 more oz of product. In that regard, I would say this palette is a steal. (You could get two of these for cheaper than 4 MAC eyeshadows, and end up with more product weight!)

In terms of quality for the price, BareMinerals didn’t skimp. Each of these shadows is stellar. While Icebreaker is a bit less than neat, it’s a unique highlight shade with fab texture and looks gorgeous on. While pink and black may seem like boring shades, both were rich, easy to apply, and long-lasting. And while the plum didn’t impress on wear time, it still looked gorgeous added depth and interest to a palette that could’ve otherwise been one-note. (5/5)

Wow Factor:
I had high hopes for this quad, and it rose to the occasion! Icebreaker definitely impressed as an unusual but well-performing highlight. Fashionably Late looked sweet and feminine without straying into childish or eye infection territory. Swanky could’ve done better, but works well with the others. And Black Tie Optional is a perfect, rich black matte. The formula of BTO is what pushes it over the edge–black mattes are common, and too often are they patchy or dull. This was neither. (4.5/5)

Overall:
At a first glance, it’s not the most unique quad under the sun: just about everyone owns a matte black, pinks can be tricky and highlight shades can be dull. The A-List turned those notions on it’s ear. Each shade impressed me in one way or another! The quality is top of the line, and I think the pigmentation and mix of textures and shades creates awesome versatility. That’s what hooked me the most with this quad: you can create a soft, girly eye or a more dramatic edgy eye, or mix the two for something elegant, or pop-punk–the looks are quite endless, more so than they initially appear! (4.3) B+

IMG_0068

Availability:
-Sephora
-Ulta
-bareescentuals.com
-QVC
-ASOS

Useful Information:
-This product was purchased by me.
-BareMinerals is cruelty free, but their parent company, Shiseido, is not.
-The A-List MAY be in the process of being discontinued :/
-Ready quads are made without parabens, sulfates, synthetic fragrances, synthetic dyes, petrochemicals, phthalates, GMOS, or Triclosan.

Kat Von D Studded Kiss Lipstick in Backstage Bambi Review + Swatches + Dupes

IMG_0213

I had been very eager to try Kat Von D Studded Kiss Lipsticks since their inception. So when I got the chance, I picked up three (and since holiday collections came out, I’ve scored a bit more!). The first one up for review today is Backstage Bambi, a “matte vivid hot pink.”

Color:
As you all know, I live for pink lipsticks. Backstage Bambi is a bright, midtone pink, just like the brand describes. The color payoff is true to the tube as well. It’s a gorgeous shade, but it doesn’t get any originality points–many have compared it MAC’s Candy Yum Yum, and I found it similar to MAC’s Girl About Town, only matte (GAT is Amplified Creme). 4.5/5

IMG_0215

Wear:
This made it to the 5-hour mark, which is my goal for a lipstick, looking flawless. Backstage Bambi had some extra staying power, though. At 6 hours it looked a bit sheerer and felt more stain-like. Despite this, at the 8-hour mark (and after a meal), this lippie still looked fantastic: bold pigment and even wear. It should be mentioned that this promised 10 hours of wear, but that’s a little ridiculous to me. Having said that, it cut it close! 5/5

Formula:
This lipstick is matte, so it tugged at the lips ever so slightly (but still went on easily, just less creamy). It applied, and wore, opaque and evenly. It had that powdery texture on the mouth that most mattes have (that I don’t dislike) and a wonderful scent that I thought was vanilla, but is technically creme brulee. It lasted well and was comfortable all throughout the wear time. It didn’t dry my lips out, to boot. 5/5

IMG_0077

Packaging:
I’m in love with the packaging on this line! It’s so perfect for Kat Von D–studded, shiny black plastic tubes. They’re edgy and cool looking, without the plastic feeling cheap, which is nice from a brand at this price point. You’ll love taking these with you to reapply in public! The circumference is a bit large, though, so while they’re not cumbersome, they may not be a breeze to store (I lay them on their sides in a drawer). The sticker on the bottom identifying the color name is shaded to match the product, though, so I imagine this could help with organization. 4.5/5

Price:
Each Studded Kiss lipstick is $21 USD for 0.10 oz of product. This isn’t the cheapest on the market (MAC is $5 less for the same product weight), nor is the shade so unique it justifies picking this specific pink, at this price, over all others. However the quality, pigment, and staying power is all there with Backstage Bambi, warranting a high “bang for your buck” score. As always, I leave whether or not expensive products are truly “worth it” to the individual. 4.5/5

Wow Factor:
Again, not the most special shade under the sun. But for a matte? It’s very impressive–easy (enough) application, long wear (post meal), vivid pigment, even fading. Those make for a good lipstick to me! What’s truly remarkable is that Backstage Bambi doesn’t dry the lips out–every matte lipstick lover needs that! 4/5

Overall:
Backstage Bambi is a great lipstick. It delivers on it’s promise of bold pigment and “luxe comfort.” While it didn’t reach the promised 10 hour mark, it made it to 8 looking fantastic. If you’re interested in this lipstick, I wholeheartedly recommend it. 4.6 (A-)

Availability:
-Sephora, Exclusively

Useful Information:
-This product was purchased by me.
-Kat Von D’s makeup line is cruelty free, yet follows the “where mandated by law” animal testing policy.
-This lipstick is made without parabens, sulfates, and phthalates.
-This lipstick also contains vitamins A, C, and E to keep lips moisturized.

November Ipsy Unboxing/First Impressions, and why I’m unsubscribing.

IMG_0205

Something I love about Ipsy is the cute little makeup bags/clutches they give you each month. This glittery one is sturdy and durable, and is actually made by Forever 21 for Ipsy (according to the inside of the bag). This month, they were very generous with the samples, so let’s get right into it.

IMG_0206

First is Marc Anthony Oil Of Morocco Argan Oil Hairspray. I’ve heard good things about argan oil so I expect this to be somewhat good for the hair. It’s also Sulfate, paraben, and DEA free. When I sniffed it, though, it had a strange scent that reminded me of antifreeze (not good). I’m not great at doing my hair, but I’m sure this will come in handy next time I try to curl my strands.

IMG_0207

Next is Temptu S/B Highlighter in Pink Pearl. The packaging is a little cheap–a plastic squeeze vial, and its very small–but I reckon with a product like this, a little can go a long way. Its a liquid, so it leaves a bit of residue on the fingers, but shows up very subtle.

IMG_0208

Next is Be A Bombshell Eye Base in Submissive. This is easily the most exciting product in my bag this month. This has the look and feel of a MAC Paint Pot, which I’ve been eager to try. So I’m curious to see how well this works. It’s a very subtle flesh tone that I’m sure will accentuate shadows nicely. Plus, I love any kind of colored cream/gel base for layering glittery shadows over top, so I will definitely get good use out of this!

IMG_0209

Moving on, is Starlooks Gem Pencil in Ultra Olive. This is a nice full-size liner. It’s a wood pencil, and from the packaging  I wasn’t expecting much. But when I swatched it, I was surprised. It felt so smooth and gave great pigment in one swipe. It’s a shimmery khaki green, which I reckon will look great with my hazel eyes, so I can’t wait to give this a proper try.

IMG_0210

And finally, J.cat Wonder Lip Paint in Mad Splatter. This is packaged exactly like OCC Lip Tars, and have a similar mint smell, so I’m very curious how they compare. I love the shade name, very quirky. This is a sheer product, like a tinted gloss, and comes out as a soft raspberry shade, much softer and wearable, more daytime, than it appears in the tube. Which is a bit sad, since I love a vampy lip, but the color is beautiful regardless, so I’m sure this will get a lot of use.

So if I’ve been so happy with these two bags, why am I unsubbing? Sadly, because the unpleasant reality is that I can no longer afford the monthly cost. I’m sad to see the service go from my mailbox, since it was always a pleasant little bundle of joy for me. I look forward to resubscribing one day though! What did you get in your November bag?

03 Graze Box Review

IMG_0195

Graze Boxes are always welcome in my mailbox! This week was especially delicious, so let’s get right into it.

IMG_0196

First was the Twist of Black Pepper Popping Corn. I was interested in the popcorn since I first heard about the brand and was so eager to try it. Naturally, it was super tasty, with the black pepper adding flavor instead of butter. The perk of this snack is that it’s a good source of fiber, and is light (7g fat, 130 calories). The portion they give is also very generous. While it’s still a single serving, it’s bountiful and filling, so you don’t feel like you needed more than they gave you.

IMG_0197

Next is Nature’s Immunity Nuts, a combination of roasted unsalted cashews, Brazil nuts, and raw pistachio kernels. I admit, this was something I was a little meh about at first–how exciting are raw, unsalted nuts? Turns out, I was so wrong! This was mega delicious. The cashews, which I thought might be bland, actually had a great roasted flavor. The Brazil nuts had good crunch and had this very fresh, right-off-the-tree taste. The pistachios were mild, but rich, so the three of them together were very well-rounded and flavorful. This is a nutritionist’s pick, and boasts great amounts of Selenium and Copper.

IMG_0198

Third, Hot Cross Yum. I had high hopes for this, and it delivered big time! This is part of Graze’s Classics Reinvented line, a series of snack foods inspired by tasty desserts. The benefits of this one is that it’s light (130 calories), and is a good source of Vitamin E and Manganese. This was an awesome treat from start to finish–it smells delicious, like a sticky bun. The orange infused raisins were great; they almost had a rum flavor. The sponge pieces aren’t  totally hard but add a nice textural element (since they’re a bit crunchy). They taste a bit like shortbread, only softer in texture. The cinnamon honey almonds were fantastic as well, flavorful without being too strong or sweet. When eaten together, you definitely get the taste of a baked citrus dessert. Graze did a fantastic job with this one, and can’t wait to try more from this line!

IMG_0199

And finally, the Fruit and Seed Flapjack. This was another one of those snacks I was unsure about, and again, I was surprised by how amazingly delicious it was! It’s a rolled oat “flapjack” (think cereal bar) with dried fruit and seeds. The perk is in the whole oats. What was awesome about this was the thickness and texture: they give you three slabs, and they’re thick and dense and so tasty. One at a time is quite filling because of the density of the oat, fruit and nuts. Despite that, it doesn’t feel heavy as you eat it. It’s very fresh and indulgent, one of those “can’t believe it’s good for you” kind of treats.

As always, Graze impressed me with it’s fantastic goodies this week! I’m still a very happy customer and continue to look forward to trying more of their awesome flavors. Want to try Graze for free? Use the code JULIAR8VP when you sign up at Graze.com and your first AND fifth boxes will be free! Let me know how you like your boxes!

Model Monday: Eniko Mihalik

em1

Born In: Bekescsaba, Hungary

Height: 5’10”

Debut: Chanel Haute Couture July 2006

Shot By: Alasdair McLellan, Ben Hassett, Camilla Akrans, Craig McDean, Giampaolo Sgura, Glen Luchford, Greg Kadel, Inez & Vinoodh, Liz Collins, Mario Sorrenti, Max Farago, Regan Cameron, Richard Burbridge, Sofia & Mauro, Terry Richardson, Willy Vanderperre

Campaigns: Alberta Ferretti, Carolina Herrera, Gucci, H&M, Kenzo, MaxMara, Ports 1961, Retro Jeans

Editorials: Allure, AnOther, Hungarian Elle, Italian Flair, Harper’s Bazaar, i-D, Numero, V, Chinese, French, German, Italian, and Japanese VogueVogue Hommes International, W

Walked For: Anne Valerie Hash, Betsey Johnson, Blumarine, Carlos Miele, Carolina Herrera, Chanel, CNC Costume National, Diane Von Furstenberg, Emporio Armani, Giorgio Armani, Givenchy, Isaac Mizrahi, Jason Wu, Jeremy Scott, Jill Stuart, Lacoste, Marchesa, Moschino, Mulberry, Nicole Farhi, Nicole Miller, Ruffian, Shiatzy Chen, Stella McCartney, Tibi, Valentino, Versace, Victoria’s Secret, Viktor & Rolf, Y-3, Zac Posen

Covered:  Brazilian Elle, i-D, Numero, Self Service, V, Japanese Vogue, Italian Vogue Beauty

Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer Review + Photos

IMG_0164

I had been curious about a foundation primer. Who doesn’t love the idea of smooth, doll-like skin? So when I received a sample of the Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer in my September Sephora Haul, I couldn’t wait to try it out. I had heard good things about this product in particular, and wanted to see what the hype was about.

Effectiveness:
This promises to “fill in fine lines and pores for a flawless finish.” It wasn’t quite so flawless: I have some noticeable pores on the tip of my nose, and they were still visible. With foundation over top, my pores were minimized somewhat, but not totally erased. This primer also claims to “smooth and perfect,” which it did a better job at than at pore erasure. With this alone, my skin looked and felt smoother and softer, and looked a bit more smooth with foundation. (4/5)

Wear:
I’m pleased to say this primer kept my foundation in tip-top condition for a full 8-hours. It even kept the foundation around my undereye area looking better for longer than when wearing just foundation alone. (5/5)

Formula:
This primer is a clear, thin gel. It goes on so smooth and lightweight, you can’t even feel it, although it does leave this gross oily feeling on the fingertips (despite the claim that it’s oil free). This did make my extremely sensitive skin a little red at first, but it went away within a minute, and didn’t sting or burn. It had the smoothing, and, to a lesser extent, the pore minimizing effects it promised, and also made my foundation last longer and feel less heavy. (4/5)

Packaging:
My version of this primer is a mini sample, so I can’t say 100% what the full-size packaging is like (although I reckon they’re pretty similar). Mine is a squeeze tube with a screw-on black plastic cap. It works well enough, and there’s plenty of product, even in a tube this size. A quick squeeze from the tube provides a drop large enough to cover the whole face, so a little goes a long way. I would like to see the the opening be more of a nozzle (like on OCC Lip Tars), with the smaller opening allowing more control over how much product gets dispensed. (4.5/5)

Price:
I received this mini sample as a 100-point perk with a Sephora order, but there are two full sizes available, a 0.50 oz travel size that’s $15 USD, and a larger, 1 oz tube that costs $36 USD. This is clearly a bit steep in price, but the product given is very generous. And this is one of the cheapest product-per-ounce ratios I’ve seen so far (the price tag is often $10 lower than equally-sized foundations, and just to give you an idea of how much 1 oz of product is, you would have to buy 20 MAC eyeshadows to get the same amount of product, and it’ll cost you $300!)

However, I don’t know if the quality warrants such a price tag. The oily feel is just something I can’t get over, and didn’t expect from a higher-end brand like Smashbox. And while it performed well, I have a hunch that this isn’t the best primer on the market. (4/5)

Wow Factor:
I was happy with this primer, but it didn’t leave a major impact. It worked well and got the job done, but it also had some drawbacks, like the feel and initial irritation to my skin. (3/5)

Overall:
I like this primer, and I’ll use it until I finish it. However, once it’s done, I want to expand and try other brands’ primers, to see and compare what they’re like. If this is in your price range, it could be worth trying. I reckon it’ll work well for picture taking, so those who spend a lot of time in front of the camera (models, Youtubers, social butterflies) would appreciate its soft blurring effect. But those who want a flawless, doll-like finish in person might want to look elsewhere. (4.1) B-

Availability:
-smashbox.com
-Sephora
-Ulta
-Nordstrom
-Boots

Useful Information:
-I got this product as a 100-point VIB perk from Sephora.
-Smashbox is cruelty free and not sold in China, but it’s parent company, Estee Lauder, is not cruelty free.

 IMG_0165

02 Graze Box Review

IMG_0159

My bi-weekly Graze Boxes are always something I look forward to. I think everyone means to eat well, but lifestyle and finances are just  a few of the things that can get in the way. Graze helps curb that by providing four healthy, delicious samples (out of 90 options). Each snack food contains at least one health benefit, indicated by an icon on the upper-right of the individual package. My second box provided a mix of of unique flavors, and was decidedly more savory than my first box.

IMG_0163

I wanted to try the Wholegrain Banana Caramel Dippers first (largely because they looked delicious, but also because I’m not sure how well the sauce would keep). The perk of this snack is that its light, only 150 calories, which is impressive, since it feels decadent. It has a delicious banana scent. The dippers are a pretty good size, with more than I expected included. They have a nice texture, soft and a little crumbly without falling apart. It was sweet and definitely banana flavored, but not overwhelmingly cloying. The caramel was a little bland though, not too thick, sweet, or sticky. Its an impressive treat that definitely feels a lot more indulgent than 150 calories.

IMG_0161

Next is Jalapeno Fiesta. I was looking forward to trying out this blend of jalapeno peanuts, salsa mesquite almonds, and roasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds. This snack has two perks: it’s a good source of protein, and is a good source of vitamins and minerals (Vitamin E and Magnesium). I really liked the peanuts (the bit of heat kicked in a little late) and the almonds (which had a mild but distinct and delicious flavor). The seeds were a bit meh (they’re just roasted, nothing special). I liked the taste, but I would’ve preferred if it was a bit stronger, more noticeable (its not spicy at all, and I’m not one for too much heat. But this tasty flavor is a bit watered down).

IMG_0162

The third item I got was Tropical Daiquiri, a portion of lime-infused raisins, dried pineapple, and dried green mango. I was least excited for this, because I’m not wild about dried fruit, but I ended up enjoying it. It had a pleasant lime scent and the flavors were better than I anticipated. I’m already a fan of raisins, and the lime infusion made them feel very summery and refreshing, almost margarita-like. I adore pineapple as well, and was pleased that even in it’s dried form, it still retained that juicy, ripe flavor. I was a bit leery about green mango, because I had never tasted it, but it had a fresh, sweet taste and pleasant texture that I ended up enjoying. Apart from this obviously being a serving of fruit, it’s also light, clocking in at only 100 calories.

IMG_0160

And finally, the Herby Bread Basket. Always a fan of savory, Italian flavors and carbs, I was most looking forward to this bundle, and it did not disappoint! This is a mix of mini basil breadsticks, garlic crostini, and oregano rice crackers. This had a lovely herb-y scent and was wonderfully savory. The basil breadsticks were delicious with a firm, almost pretzel-like texture with a great flavor that reminded me of pizza. The garlic crostini were just as good, with a nice crunch. As a garlic fan, I would’ve liked to see the flavor more pronounced, though, as it’s very subtle, almost missable. The oregano rice crackers surprised me, as they had a slightly sweet flavor, but it was tasty and paired well with the other flavors and textures included here. This was definitely my favorite of the four samples this week! And surprisingly, all this flavor comes in at only 100 calories.

So I was happy with my Graze box, and enjoyed the mix of flavors I was able to try. But sadly, I felt like a lot of the flavors were watered down, and could stand to be upped in intensity. But otherwise, I’m satisfied, and I’m continuing to looking forward to the next box and the unique combinations in store for me.

Ever tried Graze? Or any other food/lifestyle boxes? I’d love to know what you’re thoughts are!