A surprise gift and a beauty review!

The other day, shortly after our return from Andrew and Alyssa's wedding, I went down to check my mail and found a surprise waiting for me, courtesy of Target!

Courtney is a business analyst in Target's beauty department...talk about a fun job! She was sweet enough to send along a sneak peek at Target's new Beauty Box for me to take a look at. Beauty sample kits like Ipsy, Birchbox, et cetera have swept the Internet and makeup drawers of women all over the country lately, but I'm super excited that Target's getting into the game. Here's a look at what I received: 

First, the box includes a 20% off credit to dermstore.com, a new-to-me site that specializes in skin and haircare products. Even in the 20 minutes I spent poking around the site, I found dozens of items I'd love to try...but I was most excited to see they carry Clarisonic products! I'll be using my credit to stock up on brush heads.

I've always been a one-brand woman when it comes to makeup. Clinique was my first makeup (to cover terrible teenage acne, ugh), and I've remained loyal to their products for twelve years now. Given that fact, I was apprehensive about the LaNeige BB Cream...even more so because of its unique cushion format. In my experience, BB creams come in tubes...right? Imagine my pleasant surprise when I totally fell in love. The kit comes with a hypoallergenic application puff, and three different shades of the cream to try on a saturated sponge. You simply press the puff into the sponge for just the right amount of product, pat and blend it into skin, and voila!

Flawless. I still battle skin issues on and off, so seeing this porcelain-pretty finish made me incredibly happy...especially the light coverage that allowed the last of my summer freckles to shine through. (Pardon the excessive close-up of my face. Take it from me: this picture would not see the light of day it if weren't for the fact that my skin NEVER looks this good.)

The LaNeige is officially a "will buy in full size" product for me. Next up, I received a Jumbo Eye Pencil from NYX: 

I have to admit, on first look, I was a little baffled by this one. Who wears white eyeliner? I'm terrible at eye makeup in general (I have really deep-set eyes), and the width/heft of the pencil, combined with the stark whiteness, really threw me. So I did what any makeup idiot would do and turned to Le Google. Who knew there were so many ways to use white liner? While some of the looks I found in tutorials veered distinctly space-agey or snow queen, I did learn a few super-helpful tips to brighten and widen eyes. First, inner corners of the eyes can be illuminated instantly with white liner smudged in. It makes small/almond-shaped eyes (UM, ME) appear bigger if used to line the waterline, the inner eye visible above the bottom lash line. It can also be used as a brow highlighter. I messed around a lot with the tips I found and had fun figuring out ways I can use this guy from day to day!

I also received a pretty L'Oreal Paris Colour Riche Extraordinaire lip gloss in "Nude Ballet." I'm terrible with lip glosses because they usually feel sticky and gloopy on my mouth. This one, however, glided on without globbing up, stayed put through a few glasses of wine with minimal smear-age, and looked subtle enough for work...good trifecta!

That's the finished face...not too shabby for a makeup noob whose usual M.O. is concealer and a swipe of mascara, eh?! 

Onto hair: as we all know, I have ridiculously curly, unmanageable hair on a regular basis. It's the bane of my existence. I really struggle with blowouts and heat-styling because it lasts such a short time on me before frizzing out and being generally terrible. The Beauty Box contained two sample-size hair products: the famous L'Oreal Elnett hairspray, and a Frederic Fekkai dry shampoo/"blowout reviver."

I gave myself a "blowout" (aka tortured my hair with a paddle brush, blowdryer, and big-barreled curling iron) on Thursday when I received the Beauty Box, and headed down to my parents' place on Friday afternoon, where I snapped a few selfies of the finished product around 24 hours later. LOOK! IT'S A MIRACLE!

This might really truly be the best my hair has ever looked, ever. Unfortunately, being me, I whipped it up in a ponytail the next day to go hiking and then ended up washing away the really, really ridiculously good hair before giving the Fekkai dry shampoo another day to work its magic. That said, I'm probably buying the full-size on my next Target run because who doesn't love day-after-blowout hair that looks amazing?!

Thanks to Courtney and Target for sharing the Beauty Box with me--I loved an excuse to mess around with my face and hair, and it was such a treat to get to experiment with products I otherwise wouldn't have tried! To check out Beauty Box for yourself, visit www.target.com/beautybox. Have fun!