Saturday, October 10, 2015

Gifts with Purchase + Sample Kits = maximum bang for your beauty buck


When I read online that Shoppers Drug Mart was offering a deluxe 5-piece bonus with purchase, I was so glad when the cost of the product I wanted to buy would qualify for the bonus all on its own. Thus I am now the happy owner of a full-sized jar of this delicious-smelling Biotherm Biosource Balm-to-Oil Cleanser. What's even better is that it came along with 5 little friends and a lovely, large travel makeup bag. But first, a few words on this balm, which I am loving. It goes on thick like cold butter but instantly melts into an oil on the skin, and then rinses away with water, leaving skin fresh and hydrated.


This shape-shifting balm smells so good that I hardly need an excuse to smear it all over my face. I'm usually hypersensitive to scented products, even all-natural ones, but this one has not made me react badly in the least. None of the Biotherm products I've tested in the last few weeks have resulted in any irritation, so far so good.


This is likely one of the best gifts with purchase I've seen in years, and not only is the value of the bonus far greater than what it cost, but all five (!) products are absolute winners, there's not a weak link among them.
These two deluxe samples are from the Blue Therapy line. I'm enjoying both the day and night moisturizing creams, which again are lightly scented (albeit naturally, which is likely why I haven't reacted to them). The night cream in particular is so thick and rich, I feel like it makes my skin feel like moisturize is locked-in for more than a day, it's so intense and long-lasting.


Next is a small bottle of Life Plankton Essence, one of Biotherm's newer toners. It's less drying than many toners which makes this a nice product to use to hydrate before moisturizing. Finally, the bonus contained a tube of Biosource's Daily Exfoliating Cleansing Melting Gel, along with my favourite, Biocils eye makeup remover, which is handily one of the best at removing stubborn eye makeup without causing irritation. I'm also very happy with the bright, large perforated faux-leather travel toiletries bag that the products were in. Shoppers Drug Mart offer has this on offer over the Labour Day weekend, and will certainly have many more gifts with purchase in the lead-up to the winter holidays.



Shop around online for coupon and promo codes before you purchase and you're likely to get much more than you paid for. Such is the case at Shu Uemura, which has been one of my favourite beauty splurge brands for decades. It makes me feel extra-posh to use one of his exquisite products, and my pick for this order did not disappoint. The Creamy Eye Shadow Definer in Medium Brown 871 is a sultry, sparkly cream eye base, exactly the thing to keep dark, dramatic eye shadow in place while adding depth, or worn alone as a universally flattering shade that won't crease or budge for hours.
I made the decision to buy this product in refill format, so I could add it to my favourite DIY palette with a little square of magnet stuck to the back, which is working like a charm. But of course, the best part of this order was the gift with purchase, which included 4 mini-samples of this line's most-beloved product, their facial cleansing oil - another one of my beauty staples for more than twenty years now (!) together with a really cute little leather-look clutch. This suits me in every way since I get to try many more products than I would ever buy at full size, and when I do find one I like, I'll often immediately put the deluxe sample aside and buy the full-sized package, so that the mini version can go into my travel toiletries bag. I find if I pre-load certain really effective/holy grail items into my travel bag ahead of time, I'm less likely to forget those products when embroiled in the throes of packing.


Now who on Earth thought I would be able to resist this "Most Loved" sample kit by Too Faced? Whenever I see deluxe kits with a nice, wide sampling from a line's product range, I look forward to giving them a try to help make up my mind about that brand. I've loved Too Faced ever since they were an obscure indie brand with cute eye graphics on their black packaging decades ago. Even then, their shadows were unique and so richly pigmented they blew my mind. Company founders Jerrod Blandino and Jeremy Johnson have remained faithful to their original vision to provide beautiful, unique yet playful cosmetics that have only gotten better over the years. Too Faced has become one of the best-loved lines for fashion-forward women and girls who love to collect makeup thanks to their continual focus on novelty packaging and new formulations. Every product in this kit is an instant favourite, especially the Melted Liquified Long Wearing Lipstick in Melted Fig, and the Deluxe Chocolate Soleil Matte Bronzer in Medium/Deep (which I de-packaged and added to my favourite DIY palette for regular use).  The two primers are massive fan favourites, including Shadow Insurance Anti-Crease Eye Shadow Primer and Hangover Replenishing Face Primer, which are quickly pulling into the lead as my favourite primers in each category - no wonder so many beauty gurus rave about them both. Finally, this Better Than Sex mascara; it is stunning. If I didn't have such a fetish for tube lashes, this mascara would easily be in my top 3, since it provides tons of volume plus dramatic lengthening, in a thick consistency with a nice big wand. But the real mascara tests for me includes how badly it smudges under my eyes in the heat/moisture and how easily it fully removes without residue. I'll need a few more weeks to decide if I'll buy the mascara based on those criteria, but even if I don't, I absolutely love having it to both try and travel with.  I am very pleased with this purchase and am looking forward to the upcoming holiday season when many brands will offer similar samples, gifts and value sets to compete for our seasonal beauty spending.