Beauty Battle – Ipsy vs. Birchbox

I might have what some would call a mild obsession with beauty box subscriptions. At the end of 2015 I jumped on the subscription box bandwagon and signed up for Birchbox, Ipsy and FabFitFun. I later went on to order the occasional target beauty box when I liked the product offering, and I also signed up for the Sephora Play! beauty box and the seasonal Walmart beauty box.

Today I’m going to focus on comparing the Ipsy and Birchbox deliveries I received during 2016 and ultimately which one I decided to cancel come 2017. Birchbox and Ipsy are both great ways to try new products for only $10 a month. However, since they’re similar in how they work, many don’t want to subscribe to both. When people realize that I subscribe to both, they always ask which one I prefer. There are pros and cons to each subscription, but ultimately, I do have a preference. Let’s see if you can guess which one I prefer by reading my notes below… [for those of you that want to cheat, I’ll tell you which is the winner at the end!]


January 2016


Ipsy: I liked 3 of 5 products; Hanalei lip scrub, pixi by Petra eyeshadow duo, Skone cosmetics makeup brush, and the bag was just okay

Birchbox: I liked 3 of 5 products; Eyeko liquid eyeliner, Harvey Prince body cream, Real Chemistry 3 minute peel

January Winner: Ipsy

February 2016


Ipsy: I liked 2 of 5 products; Model Co lipgloss in Morocco, IT Cosmetics under eye concealer. Although I didn’t love the Ciate nail polish, I was happy to try it! I LOVED the cosmetic bag!

Birchbox: I liked 3 of 5 products; Color Club nail polish in That’s My Jam, Arrow Boost lip balm, Obliphica hair serum

February Winner: Ipsy (Although I liked more Birchbox samples, I was IN LOVE with Ipsy’s cosmetic bag!)

March 2016


Ipsy: I liked: 4 of 5 products; Global Beauty Care collagen sheet masks, First Aid Beauty serum, Nudestix lip pencil in Mystic, Makeup For Ever Step 1 primer; liked the cosmetic bag

Birchbox: I liked 3 of 5 products; Wilma Schumann collagen eye pads, Amika dry shampoo, Coola spf 50 mango lotion

March Winner: Ipsy

April 2016

Ipsy v birchbox April 2016

Ipsy: I liked 3 of 5 products; Crown blush brush (I use it for highlighter), Trust Fund Beauty That Glo highlighter stick, Tarte cosmetics lip creme in Wonder; I didn’t care for the cosmetic bag

Birchbox: I liked 3 of 5 products; Burt’s Bees tinted lip balm, Briogeo hair mask, Naobay mattifying cream; I was disappointed that a small fragrance sample counted as one of my 5 samples.

April Winner: Ipsy

May 2016

Ipsy v. Birchbox May 2016

Ipsy: I liked 4 of 5 products; GlamGlow supermud mask, Glamour Dolls makeup brush (how cute is the little whales print?!), Crazy Rumors hibiskiss lip balm in coral, Eau Thermale Avene micellar cleanser; liked the cosmetic bag print, but didn’t like that it didn’t have a zip closure.

Birchbox: I liked 3 of 5 products; Coola spf 30 makeup setting spray (great concept but kind of burns your eyes, even when you leave your eyes closed during and after for a minute), Model Co lipgloss, Benefit cosmetics Hoola bronzer (loved this one!); again felt a little disappointed that one of my samples was a tiny fragrance and thought it was strange to get a deluxe sized shampoo but single use conditioner.

May Winner: Ipsy (but kudos to Birchbox for the fab Hoola bronzer)

June 2016


Ipsy: I liked 4 of 5 products; Elizabeth Mott blush in Peach Pink, ColourPop Cosmetics gel eyeliner in Get Paid or Swerve, Delectable by Cake Beauty everything lip balm, Royal & Langnickel makeup brush (in my favorite color, turquoise!); I liked the cosmetic bag

Birchbox: I liked 4 of 5 products; Oribe dry shampoo, Benefit gimmie brow in 3 medium, Coola spf 30 face lotion, Jane Iredale face primer & brightener (I wouldn’t suggest using on entire face, just as a bronzer)

June Winner: Ipsy (but kudos to Birchbox for the fab Benefit Gimmie Brow!)

July 2016


Ipsy: I liked 3 of 5 products; ModelCo powerlash black mascara, Too Faced hangover face primer (so yummy, smells like coconut!), Mellow Cosmetics eye shadow in Plum; liked the cosmetic bag

Birchbox: I liked 3 of 5 products; Milk makeup sunshine oil, Elizabeth Mott It’s So Big volumizing mascara, dr. Brandt pore dermabrasion

July Winner: Ipsy

August 2016


Ipsy: I liked all 5 products; Symphony Beauty makeup cleansing wipes, Sally’s box sheet masks, Trust Fund Beauty liquid lipstick, Beauty for Real gel eyeliner in Black Magic, NYX liquid illuminator in Gleam; I was also obsessed with this cosmetic bag!! This was by far one of my favorite deliveries!

Birchbox: I liked 3 of 5 products; HUM Nutrition Raw Beauty green superfood powder in mint chocolate chip, Beauty Protector protect & detangle hair spray (use before blow drying hair), Stila matte liquid lipstick (not shown in photo, I was so excited to use I forgot to add it to the photo)

August Winner: Ipsy!!

September 2016


Ipsy: I liked all 5 products; DLS Cosmetics eyeshadow in teaser (this is the best base color ever!), Pixi by Petra mattelustre lipstick in Rose Naturelle, Naked Cosmetics aloe cream, IT Cosmetics superhero mascara in Super Black, Whish renewing mud mask; I liked the cosmetic bag

Birchbox: I liked 2 of 5 products; Supergoop spf 50 lip, dr. Brandt pores no more cleanser; I love getting mascara but Milk’s was odd and disappointing and the Klorane dry shampoo might be better used by blondes than brunettes, as it was hard to brush into my hair without seeing the white powder.

September Winner: Ipsy!

October 2016


Ipsy: I liked 3 of 5 products; Pur-lisse daily lip nourisher with mango and shea butters, Tre’StiQue lip pencil in Belize Bordeaux, Essence Cosmetics liquid eyeliner; I LOVED this cosmetic bag!

Birchbox: I liked 3 of 5 products; Oribe dry shampoo, Avene hydrating cream, Make silk cream lipstick

October Winner: Ipsy (that fab cosmetic bag scored major points!)

November 2016

Ipsy vs. Birchbox November 2016

Ipsy: I liked all 5 products; Formula X nail polish in Huntress, Tarte marajuca oil, Elizabeth Mott lip lacquer in Color is Bae, theBalm cosmetics mad lash mascara, Pur-lisse blue lotus balancing moisturizer; I LOVED this cosmetic bag!

Birchbox: I liked 2 of 5 products; dr. Brandt microdermabrasion skin exfoliant, Jane Iredale just kissed lip stain; again I was disappointed that one of my 5 products was a small fragrance sample and the seat salt spray bottle was actually larger than the box, so it awkwardly wouldn’t close. By this point, I decided that I’m not thrilled with my annual subscription and I began considering cancelling for 2017.

November Winner: Ipsy!

December 2016


Ipsy: I liked 4 of 5 products; Symphony Beauty snow cream moisturizer, Hikari cosmetics liquid eyeliner, Tarte cosmetics glossy lip paint in wcw, Benefit cosmetics the Porefessional primer; I liked the festive cosmetic bag.

Birchbox: I didn’t really liked any of the products this time, except for the small mirror

December Winner: Ipsy

Battle of the Beauty Boxes… We Have a Winner!

In case you couldn’t tell from my notes on each month’s delivery, the winner for me hands down was Ipsy. They consistently sent me 2-5 samples a month that I liked, and even the months where I didn’t like a product I was generally happy that I had had the opportunity to try it. Birchbox consistently disappointed, especially in the area of fragrance as a main sample, however, they did have a few months where they delivered well. My profile clearly states that I don’t like fragrance samples (as they tend to give me a major headache), so I don’t even open the samples to try them. (Don’t worry, I give them to family or friends so that they can try the samples and not create waste.)


Don’t get me wrong about Birchbox, I still think it’s a great beauty box subscription option, it just didn’t meet my personal expectations. I think overall, Birchbox has a tendency to offer higher-priced samples, but I found often times I didn’t like the sample offering. I also felt as though many months I missed out on fabulous samples that other subscribers had received that I didn’t. Ipsy has proven to consistently offer good samples and I rarely felt envy over samples received by others that I didn’t get and was almost always very happy with my sample selection.

If you’re interested in signing up for a beauty box subscription, I highly recommend you sign up for Ipsy. It’s a great program for only $10 a month, with no additional shipping charges. Make sure you fill out the profile to match what you like and dislike and consistently review your products so that they can fine tune your sample selections. They also offer daily Ipsy Offers on weekdays where you can get great cosmetics for a reasonable price (and free shipping!). If you’re interested in signing up, please use my referral link: Click Here to check out the Ipsy Beauty Box Subscription! They have a great referral program and I will get rewards points if you sign up, which in turn gives me more products, which I review here on the blog for your benefit. See how it’s a win-win situation?

I’d love to know what beauty boxes you subscribe to. Which is your favorite?

I hope you enjoyed my beauty post. Check back soon for more!

Arielle Joy

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Happy New Year!

The beginning of a new year is always time for reflection for the year that just came to an end. I’d almost be willing to bet that you’re in the same boat as me when I say that I can hardly believe that 2016 is over and that it’s already 2017!! Where in the world did the time go?!

I’ll be completely honest with you… I didn’t meet all of the resolutions and goals that I set for myself for 2016. I met some of my personal and professional goals, but didn’t come close to meeting my blogging goals. I recently read an article in Glamour Magazine about saying to hell with it in terms of making New Year’s Resolutions. That article hit home for me while reading it, and I decided that I’m not making resolutions this year. Instead, I’m going to make a conscious effort to be the best version of myself – body, mind and soul. Period. The end. That’s it.

I’m not going to promise that I’m going to blog consistently or that I’m going to share certain types of posts on certain days based on a pre-determined calendar. I’m going to blog when the mood strikes me (or rather, when I make enough time to sit down at my computer and type up a post). I’m going to blog about beauty products, book reviews, inspirational quotes, recipes, and my life in general. I’m going to live in the moment and enjoy my life the way it is, but work on being the best version of myself that I can create. Don’t misunderstand. This isn’t a declaration of embracing laziness. Instead, I’m going to embrace life and love and let myself create my path as I go.

Whether you’re making resolutions or not this year, just promise me one thing. Enjoy each and every day, because life is short and every day is cause for celebration and joy.

Arielle Joy

WCW Quote – Demi Lovato

Today’s Woman Crush Wednesday quote comes from Demi Lovato, who was interviewed and photographed in the November 2016 issue of Glamor Magazine.


Demi is an empowering and confident role model for young men and women everywhere. She has experienced personal troubles in her life and has worked hard to get back where she is and advocates those going through time times to take care of themselves. Don’t wait until you’re at rock bottom to care about yourself and take care of your body, mind and soul.

Photograph by Carter Smith

Interview Article by Emily Mahaney


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Arielle Joy

Review – Summer at Rose Island

Summer at Rose Island by Holly Martin

summer-at-rose-islandPublished: May 13, 2016

Book Blurb: Darcy Davenport is ready for a fresh start. Determined to leave a string of disastrous jobs and relationships behind her, she can’t wait to explore White Cliff Bay and meet the locals.

When Darcy swims in the crystal clear waters of the bay, she discovers the charming Rose Island Lighthouse. But it’s not just the beautiful building that she finds so intriguing…

Riley Eddison doesn’t want change. Desperate to escape the memories of his past, he lives a life of solitude in the lighthouse. Yet he can’t help but notice the gorgeous woman who swims out to his island one day.

Darcy is drawn to the mysterious and sexy Riley, but when it seems the town is trying to demolish his home, she soon finds herself having to pick sides.

She’s fallen in love with White Cliff Bay. But is that all Darcy’s fallen for?

Book Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

My Review

I loved this continuation of the White Cliff Bay series. Darcy, the main character in this novel, is a marine biologist and shark lover. Her passion links her to the coastal town, and also helps her connect with a young socially withdrawn child in the town. I liked the way Darcy began to build her life in the small town and I enjoyed both her background story that led her to where she was. I enjoyed the growing attraction and relationship between Darcy and a particularly handsome man in town. I loved the way the characters are connected throughout this story and prior ones in the series and the way that the townspeople band together to fight for what matters to them. 

‘Don’t let anyone tell you your dreams aren’t good enough.’ One of the main themes in this novel is working together to fight for something important. You shouldn’t let anything get in the way of working to accomplish your goals, even if you face setbacks along the way. It’s important to fight for what is right, especially if it’s something near and dear to your heart. You might not achieve your goals, but you’ll never know if you don’t try.

4/5 Stars for this wonderful charming story

I received a complimentary review copy from the author via NetGalley. All reviews 100% reflect my honest opinion.

About the Author – Holly Martin

Author Links: Blog | Twitter | Website

Holly MartinAuthor Bio: Holly lives in sunny Bedfordshire in a house with round windows. She studied media at university which led to a very glitzy career as a hotel receptionist followed by an even more glamorous two years working in a bank. The moment that one of her colleagues received the much coveted carriage clock for fifteen years’ service was the moment when she knew she had to escape. She quit her job and returned to university to train to be a teacher. Three years later, she emerged wide eyed and terrified that she now had responsibility for the development of thirty young minds. She taught for four years and then escaped the classroom to teach history workshops, dressing up as a Viking one day and an Egyptian High Priestess the next. But the long journeys around the UK and many hours sat on the M25 gave her a lot of time to plan out her stories and she now writes full time, doing what she loves.

Arielle Joy

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Review – The Christmas Cake Cafe

The Christmas Cake Cafe by Sue Watson

the-christmas-cake-cafePublished: October 14, 2016

Book Blurb: As the Prosecco chills and Bing Crosby croons, Jen Barker just knows that her long-term boyfriend is about to propose.  But instead of a diamond ring nestled in her champagne flute, Jen finds cold flat rejection.  Her once perfect life and dreams of a husband and family seem even further from reach.

A working holiday to the Swiss Alps with her younger sister Jody might not be the Christmas Jen had it mind, but it offers her the chance to recharge her batteries and recover from heartbreak.

When Jen meets handsome ski instructor Jon Zutter her hopes for a happy-ever-after seem within her grasp again. Jon is kind and gorgeous and as they bond over Sachetorte at the picturesque Cake Café, Jen thinks he might just be her perfect man. But a relationship with him comes with a catch – and there are some things even cake can’t fix.

As the snow falls and Christmas approaches, could this be the place that restores Jen Barker’s faith in love?

Book Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

My Review

I absolutely loved this novel, because it conjured up a magical white Christmas for me. Sue Watson never fails to make me laugh, fall in love with her characters, and make me hungry for something sugary and delicious. I like that she tends to write about women in their late thirties/early forties at a point in their lives that they didn’t expect and never thought they’d be at at their age.

I loved watching Jen find herself and slowly learn what life is all about. One of the main themes of this novel is the idea that it’s never too late to be true to yourself and find someone that doesn’t try to change you. ‘I laughed, but what she’d said struck a chord. She was right –I was always trying to take photos, frame the moment, but now it was time to live in it.’ Living in the moment instead of constantly worrying about creating the perfect moment is one of the important lessons jen learns and it’s something we can all learn from. Yes, it’s fun to document fun moments with photos but life isn’t about creating the picture-perfect moment in order to be able to take a photo. It’s about finding those moments organically and embracing them while they’re happening. 

5/5 stars for this delightful Christmas confection!

I received a complimentary review copy via the author. All reviews 100% reflect my honest opinion.

About the Author – Sue Watson

Website | Amazon | GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook

sue-watsonAuthor Bio: Sue Watson was a TV Producer with the BBC who combined motherhood and family life with a busy career. However, one day it dawned on Sue that Cosmo magazine may have been telling porkies about ‘having it all,’ and her life had become a slightly crazed juggling act.

So after much soul searching (and comfort eating) Sue abandoned her TV career, bought a pink laptop and wrote a novel. ‘Fat Girls and Fairy Cakes,’ tells the story of Stella Weston, whose life is a constant struggle with a nasty boss at work, the weighing scales and being a mum, wife and daughter.

Originally from Manchester, Sue now lives with her husband and teenage daughter in Worcestershire. When she’s not toiling over her latest novel, Sue bakes (and eats) cake and enjoys very large tubs of Caramel Chew Chew ice cream all to herself while watching ‘The Biggest Loser USA.’


Arielle Joy

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WCW Quote – Kate Upton

This week’s woman crush wednesday quote comes from Kate Upton who was one of three cover girls interviewed and photographed for the October 2016 issue of Glamour Magazine.


Kate Upton is not only beautiful on the outside, but also on the inside. She does her best to promote the importance of having a healthy mind and body, even if that means going against what society thinks. You should strive to be the best version of yourself by being the healthiest you can be. Don’t starve yourself to try to fit into a skewed image and expectation that society might have for you. Be kind to yourself and allow yourself to be happy and healthy.

Photograph by Carter Smith

Interview Article by Meredith Bryan

Arielle Joy

Guest Post by Julie Archer – The Importance of the Writer’s Retreat

Today I’m excited to tell you about a new novel called Cocktails, Rock Tales & Betrayal by Julie Archer and share a fabulous  exclusive guest post by the author herself! Thank you to Hello Chick-Lit for letting me be part of the book tour fun!

The Importance of the Writer’s Retreat

Guest post written

By author Julie Archer

If you are lucky enough to get the opportunity to go on a writer’s retreat, I have three words for you: JUST DO IT!

I was fortunate enough to stumble across Urban Writers’ Residential Retreats in Devon (prior to moving there – that didn’t influence my decision though!) a couple of years ago. I’ve now been five times (only a few more visits and I will then have stayed in all the rooms in the house!). The house itself is country-style and relaxed, homely and cosy. There are also farm animals and bunnies for company! Plus plenty of lovely views and rolling hills for inspiration.

It’s a beautifully unstructured retreat where you join in as much or as little as you want to. When I researched retreats, I read horror stories about timetabled writing workshops and, even worse, sitting down each evening to read out loud to the group what you have been working on. Those things don’t work for me. This retreat is not about learning how to write, but gives you the opportunity to settle down and focus for an extended length of time. You can escape from your normal day to day routine where you have to put the washing on or sort out the cat’s litter tray.

Put simply, you get quiet time and space to write. Or read. Or take a bath. Or nap. Yes, the afternoon nap is a hugely underrated part of the whole experience. And no-one judges you if you wear pyjamas for the entire day.

And there’s food…oh, the food! Someone cooks you lunch and dinner. And cake. Every day. Which means you can just focus on the writing.

Then there are other writers. Everyone is at a slightly different stage of their writing journey. Some fully formed, fully published authors with deadlines. Several self-published authors with new ideas. Others who are working on non-fiction books. And those who just want to come and explore the creativity they think they have. Being around half a dozen other writers for several days means getting inspiration and support. If you’re having a bad time, you can talk it through. Or have word races to get the creative juices flowing. Or sit around the dinner table and discuss some of the most random topics (most totally unsuitable to put in a post like this!) to get your brain thinking about what you could write.

I’ve made some really good friends through the retreats. And you’ll often find yourself on the same retreat again, even without planning! If you’ve been once, you tend to find yourself boomeranging back again in a few months’ time. Particularly if you’ve got a deadline to meet or something specific you want to write.

While retreat-ing may not work for everyone, it certainly worked for me in getting Cocktails, Rock Tales & Betrayals into the outside world. I’m hoping it will have the same effect for Book 2!


Cocktails, Rock Tales & Betrayals by author Julie Archer

Book Tour Dates: November 27th – December 6th, 2016

Published: September 29, 2016


A bar, a band and a Thorne between two roses…

Caro and Nate are perfect for each other. Trouble is, Nate is really Alik Thorne lead singer of the Next Big Thing in rock music and his girlfriend, Edie, isn’t really prepared to share him…

Caro Flynn leaves behind the sultry nights of Mallorca to open her own bar back home. Romance wasn’t high on her list of priorities, but a last minute fling makes her think again…

Edie Spencer-Newman always gets what she wants. But when she sets her sights on something a little too close to home, she’s about to stir up a whole heap of trouble…

When the consequences of a tragic accident cause relationships to crumble, will anyone find a happy ending?

Book Links: Amazon US | AmazonUK | Goodreads

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About the Author – Julie Archer

Author Links: Goodreads  |  Twitter  |  Facebook

julie-archer-author-photo Author Bio:

Julie Archer grew up in Hampshire and lived in Reading before moving to the beautiful riverside town of Dartmouth in Devon. She still feels like she’s on holiday.

Julie trained as a journalist, then went into teaching (kept meeting the sixth form students in the pub, awkward!). After that she ‘fell’ into recruitment, spending more years there than she cares to mention, where the most creative thing she did was to create a sexy top line for job adverts! Since moving to Devon, she set up her own business offering virtual administration and recruitment services, worked for an accommodation company and is currently moonlighting in the local bookshop…

Also, COYS, Cats, Metal. Underneath this preppy exterior beats the heart of a rock chick.


Visit all the stops on the Tour:

November 27th

Blog on the Run – Promo Post
My Comfy Reading Corner – Book Review
He Said Books or Me – Author Guest Post

November 28th

Steamy Book Momma – Book Excerpt
Judging More Than Just The Cover – Author Q&A

November 29th

Rachel Brimble Romance – Author Q&A
Living Life With Joy – Author Guest Post

November 30th

Book Lover in Florida – Book Excerpt

December 1st

Chick Lit Central – Author Guest Post

December 2nd

Authors & Readers Book Corner – Book Excerpt

December 3rd

Hello…Chick Lit – Book Excerpt

December 4th

Novel Gossip – Book Promo/Excerpt

December 5th

Rae Reads – Book Excerpt

December 6th

Grass Monster – Amazon Book Review

Tour arranged by: HCL Author Services & Book Tours


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Arielle Joy