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Top 5 Birchbox products

By Libby Allnatt

I think samples are one of the greatest things about life on earth. If you don’t grab a little cup of pasta at Costco or nab some perfume samples at the department store, are you even living? While it’s nice to develop a routine and go to your basics, it can be fun to graze and try new things. Who knows, maybe you’ll even end up finding a new favorite. 

Birchbox is basically heaven for beauty and sample addicts alike. With a subscription, you get a little box of goodies delivered to your door every month. The samples are customized to your preferences (hair type, skin type, etc.), but the variety means that every month is a fun surprise. 

I was pumped when my sister got me a subscription for my birthday, meaning I had six months of beauty goods to look forward to. Score! Each sample comes with roughly five or six items, so I’ve accumulated a couple dozen products. Here are my top five faves. 

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1. IPKN Moist & Firm Beauty Balm SPF 45 
I am very picky about what I put on my face thanks to my sensitive skin that’s prone to allergic reactions. If it has any fragrance or harsh chemicals in it, you can bet it isn’t going anywhere near my face. I even avoid foundation just to be safe and try to go au natural when it comes to my skin. But I was truly impressed with this BB cream. The light-medium shade matched my skin perfectly, and it went on so smooth and hydrating. It didn’t dry out my skin at all, like many other products do. It was so light you could even layer other products on top if you want, but it has SPF 45 so it’s already doing double-duty. This stuff made me a BB cream fan. I would definitely recommend it for makeup newbies. 


2. Whish Three Whishes Body Butter

Bath and Body Works is so firmly my lotion go-to that my skin probably doesn’t even know anything else. But it definitely loved this cream. Thick but not greasy, this lotion hydrated my skin and made it feel super smooth. The almond smell was my favorite part, giving it a unique and lasting scent that I could smell on my skin all day. There are other flavors too (I’m intrigued by the blueberry option), so there’s something for everyone. 


3. amika Bombshell Blowout Spray
This. Product. Is. Life. Changing. I kicked some major ass the week I started using this. When I use this (spraying it generously on my hair before blow-drying) I feel like I’m walking on a glittery cloud in a heaven where everyone has fabulous hair and never trips or gets food stuck in their teeth. As someone with fine hair, I am pretty volume-challenged, making a blowout nearly impossible. But this yummy-smelling spray gives my hair soft volume that lasts for a solid two days. I just might have to buy a full bottle of this stuff. (Birchbox gives you mini samples, and you can earn points – for instance, by reviewing your samples – to cash in for full products.)

4. Cynthia Rowley Brightening Illuminator
As I mentioned earlier, I’m not super savvy when it comes to face makeup. But when I bought some sick bronzer recently, I thought maybe it was time to learn how to contour like a Kardashian. I’m definitely not there yet, but this illuminator certainly helps. Dabbing the pearly-pink stuff under my eyebrow arches, on my cheekbones, and down my forehead and nose helps give me a little glow. This illuminator is hard to see at first, but if you dab on the right amount, it will gleam and look super pretty when the right light hits you. The one thing I’ve learned on my contouring journey so far? Make the light work for you. 


5. Eyeko Black Magic Mascara 

This mascara came in my very first Birchbox. (Aww.) Your first Birchbox comes with customer favorites, then every one after that is customized for you. I can definitely see why this mascara is considered a top-notch item. The tube says it’s designed for “after-hours seduction,” but you can also wear it to class when you want to feel a little extra glam. It makes your eyelashes so long and curled that every blink will probably fan some air at whoever you’re talking to. In my eyes (ha), bigger is always better when it comes to mascara. The curved wand makes it easy to get super-long lashes without being too clumpy or faux-looking. A+ stuff right here. 


I would definitely recommend checking out Birchbox if you haven’t. It’s a great resource for high-end beauty goods in all price ranges, and the subscriptions are a great gift for the beauty addict in your life. It’s like giving them a treat every month!

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Fandom Fashion

By Angelica Cabral

What you like—as in the movies and shows you watch, the bands you listen to and the books you read—plays a big role in your life and in forming what kind of person you are. If you start to like something enough, people may even begin to associate it with you.

Sometimes people who like something get together on websites like Tumblr and form something what’s known as a fandom.

 

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Courtesy of Urban Dictionary

 

This basically means they’re all fans of one specific thing. Then all those people can share in the art, fanfiction and theories that revolve around that thing.

Personally, I’m a fan of a lot of different things: Star Trek, Harry Potter and Archie Comics, to name a few. I love to buy jewelry and clothing that reference things that I’m a fan of, and it’s often a great conversation starter! Etsy is a great place to find unique merchandise, but you can also get creative with what you already have in your closet to embody your favorite character.

A great website/app for this is Polyvore because it allows you to make a collage for an outfit and set the price range when you’re looking for specific pieces of clothing. It also has details for each piece, so you can even buy it if you want to!

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Image obtained from Insidious Pigeon

The first one I made is a reimagining of Katara from Avatar the Last Airbender, a TV show about people who could control different elements that was on Nickelodeon for three years.

set 1The show is set in a time before technology, so they dressed quite different than we do now. I based my outfit more so on Katara’s overall aesthetic so I could translate that to modern styles.

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Jensen Ackles as Dean Winchester. Image obtained from SPN Clothing Styles

The second one is based off of Dean Winchester from Supernatural, but with a stereotypically feminine twist.

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I tried to embody the simplistic nature of the way he dresses while adding a vampy details with red lipstick and the devil earrings and necklace set (the design is a heart with pointed ears and a matching tail). I also found a bracelet that features the same anti-possession symbol that matches Dean’s tattoo.

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Lin-Manuel Miranda as Alexander Hamilton. Image obtained from Qnary.

For my last one, I went for a presidential look to celebrate the increasingly popular musical, Hamilton.

Screen Shot 2016-04-15 at 9.29.18 AMI included a blue trench coat both because it is an American color and a trench coat like this screams “revolution” and “espionage” to me. The white shirt is classic and also gives an air of political sophistication. I also included a House of Cards cell phone case because—let’s be honest—if Alexander Hamilton was alive right now, he would totally be a fan of that show.

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Outfit Inspiration: Rachel Green from “Friends”

By Haley Wehner

The 90s revolutionized the world of fashion as it was. Rachel Green, perhaps the most stylish of the six main characters on “Friends”, ingeniously exemplified the classic fashions from the decade. From working shifts pouring coffee at the Central Perk to playing a game of football on Thanksgiving, or going to see her ex-lovers, Rachel always knew how to dress for the part. The best part of it all: re-creating three of her iconic looks is as simple as buckling your overalls.

Rachel Green was the queen of all things denim. One example of her mastery with the timeless fabric, in Season 1, Episode 20 (The One with the Evil Orthodontist), she wears a light, floral cami under a pair of pant-length overalls, with a windbreaker tied around her waist. This outfit is perfect for this time of the year and dressing for weather that alternates between slightly warm and a little chilly. If you’re lucky, you can find a good pair of overalls from a consignment store like Goodwill or Savers. However, if you don’t feel like scavenging through endless racks of clothes, you have some other options.

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Picture obtained from Buzzfeed

Old Navy, Pacsun, Urban Outfitters, Levi and Free People also offer the fashion staple in various fits, styles, and lengths, such as these two options you can find here and here.

The fashionista knew how to dress to look cute and classy, but she also knew how to pull together a glamorously casual look. In Season 3, Episode 9 (The One with the Football), Rachel showed the world you can look cute while doing anything. Her first genius move with this outfit was layering, which is such a simple style to recreate. Just pair one of your favorite casual tee shirts with a long sleeve tee under, scrunched up to the elbows. Then, don your coziest pair of sweatpants, or mix it up and throw on some running shorts. Now you have a cute look to wear to the gym, on a run, to a super casual day to class (#finalsweek), or maybe even to play a game of football in with your friends and family on Thanksgiving.

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Picture obtained here.

Finally, my all-time favorite Rachel Green outfit was worn on Season 1, Episode 19 (The One Where the Monkey Gets Away). She paired a soft-colored plaid skirt with a thick, cotton, cropped three-fourth sleeve sweater. Her hair thrown in a messy updo and knee-high varsity socks finished off the ensemble. This outfit is so fabulous because it’s simultaneously classy and a tad flirty.

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Picture obtained from Pinterest.

Urban Outfitters caters to your high-rise, plaid skirt needs here. Emulating the rest of this look is also fairly simple–throw on any plain three-fourth sleeve sweater or top and some knee- or thigh-high socks and you’re all set. This trendy outfit is ideal to wear when grabbing lattes with your friends, heading to the bookstore, going to the movies, or getting late night takeout Chinese food.


Editor’s Note: For more outfits inspired by Rachel Green (with shop links included!) or to create your own, check out these sets on Polyvore.

 

Stepping out of your fashion comfort zone

By: Conall Casey-Waid

Stepping out of your comfort zone can be intimidating at first but once you do, I promise you won’t regret it. Buying that pair of overalls, that pair of cheetah printed boots or that faux fur coat will not only step up your closet but it will also make you get out of your comfort zone and experiment with fashion.

If you’re wondering where to start, looking at fashion blogs or even people walking around the streets is a great way to get inspired. Using fashion bloggers outfit posts is a great way to discover new pieces or trends to add to your closet that you might not have thought to wear on your own.

One of my favorite fashion bloggers and style inspirations is Danielle Bernstein of We Wore What. Bernstein is often photographed wearing overalls, chokers, or her latest vintage find on her blog. Even though Bernstein wears items that are more expensive than the average college student can imagine spending, recreating her looks for cheaper is definitely within reach while still looking stylish and trendy.

 

A chic & comfy way to wear overalls in the city

A chic & comfy way to wear overalls in the city found on weworewhat.com

Bold and luxurious crushed red velvet boots found on weworewhat.com

Bold and luxurious crushed red velvet boots found on weworewhat.com

After you’ve found the pieces that you want to try to wear, I suggest starting off slowly by wearing one daring piece at a time. If you are used to wearing jeans and a t-shirt everyday, jumping right into wearing loud prints and bright colors may scare you off. By gradually introducing new and daring pieces into your closet you allow yourself to become more comfortable in them as time goes on. Also, once you become comfortable with your new pieces you will then be able to add even more daring pieces to your closet.

Remember, fashion is not supposed to be scary or daunting. Fashion is for you to experiment with and figure out what you like and what you don’t like to wear. So, go out and buy that item you’ve been eyeing and wear it out.

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Opinion: diptyque Paris

By Holly Hillsten

There is something to be said about luxury products. There are the classics: Chanel No. 5, Tom Ford Lipsticks and, the latest to join the family, diptyque Paris candles. I stumble across these candles on beauty blogs and YouTube all the time.

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Photo from diptyque Paris

Naturally, I looked up diptyque to see what all the hype is about, and the first thing that I noticed was the $60 price—and that’s just for their “Standard Candles.” diptyque’s “Colored Candles” are $90, and their “Outdoor Candles” are $290.

I can’t deny the high-quality packaging—to be honest that is probably half the price—but what makes these candles so special?

The french perfumer has over 50 unique fragrances split into five categories: fruity, floral, herbal, spicy and woody. Each candle contains eight to nine mineral waxes, and a few have plant-based waxes (In other words, it is a vegetable/paraffin wax). The natural candles burn up to 60 hours and the wick is made from lead-free cotton.

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Photo from diptyque Paris

There are many natural fragrances on the market, but the depth of fragrance is what makes diptyque candles so lusted over. For example, the Gardenia perfume doesn’t just smell like gardenia. Its scent has more layers and complexity that makes it smell luxurious and expensive.

Candles, however, weren’t diptyque’s first product. In 1961, diptyque’s founders sold house furnishings in their Paris store and, on the side, introduced the Parisians to traditional English perfumes.

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Photo from diptyque Paris

Flash-forward 50 years and diptyque is concocting distinct fragrances for both the home and body. Their candles are said to be bursting with aroma even when not burning.

The unique quality of diptyque’s candles is really just the complex scent. But I am afraid that candle lovers are getting caught up in the high-price and mistaking the product for its true nature. It is a candle; it’s made to make a room smell good. These candles are produced with high-quality materials, but the high price makes it seem more luxurious than it really is, further increasing its desire.

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Photo from diptyque Paris

diptyque’s indulgent candles have luxury-loving fashionistas hankering over the perfume/candle counter, shelling out their hard-earned pay.

Although I applaud diptyque’s business model and chic classic design, the $60 price is not for me. When it comes down to it, there is no way I am paying that much for a hunk of wax that smells like roses, no matter how pretty I imagine it sitting on my vanity.