My First Birchbox: Unboxing & Review

WOW WOW WOW, Happy Monday!

I’m super excited to be back on Sparkle and Shine and even more excited to share that my first post back is all about my first ever Birchbox! For my 23rd birthday, three of my best friends got me a three-month subscription to  the monthly service. Thanks to Amber, Julia, and Hope, each month I receive 4 or 5 samples of high-end beauty, haircare, and skincare products- delivered right to my front door!

I was like a little kid on Christmas morning the first time my Birchbox came. I always love trying new beauty products after watching other bloggers and vloggers rave about them or finding new products on my own. With commuting into the big apple for work, the amount of time that I have to go shopping and spend hours browsing through Sephora, Ulta, and even a local drug stores, are very limited. Now, I don’t need to worry about finding new products – they are delivered right to my door!

Check out below to see what I had received in my box and my ~honest~ opinion on what I thought about it all!

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  1. Catherine Malandrino’s Romance de Provence Eau de Parfum: An ode to Provence, the timeless scent mixes fruity and floral nuances with vanilla and patchouli. If there’s one makeup product I am always nervous to try new of – it’s perfume. I’m not a fan of super strong scents. Clinique’s Happy is my go-to because of it’s super light scent. This perfume was a little stronger than my liking. With hot summer days coming up, where I spend my mornings underground on the NYC subways, a strong sample size of this perfume will be perfect in my bag. Quick spritz and the oh so fabulous (not) smell of the subway will be gone. 
  2. Beauty Protector’s Protect & Detangle: This best-selling elixir locks in color, protects from heat damage, and adds silkiness to each stand. During my freshman year of college, I became obsessed with straightening my hair. Later classes, compared to early morning for high school, meant more time to get ready and I would spend each of those extra minutes frying- yes frying- my hair away. Four years later and I am still trying to fix the damage I caused to my hair. I only straighten my hair in certain situations and when I do, I make sure to use heat protector. This is by far my new favorite heat protectant! I usually only straighten my hair once a month, so April was the first time I got to use this product and I loved it. It didn’t have a lingering scent and did not need to use a lot of the protect for it to work. Plus, my hair looked so smooth and silky. If only I had a selfie to show it off! 
  3. Real Chemistry’s Luminous 3-Minute Peel: Apply this acid-free peel to clean, dry skin for luminous results. Massage in a circular motion to exfoliate, then wash skin with a mild cleanser to remove. I always love trying to find new face masks and exfoliants – it’s my favorite. I love how fresh and clean I feel after deeply exfoliating and cleaning my face. As I’ve mentioned, commuting in and out of the city for work takes a lot of my time. By the time I get home, from 15+ hour days, I just want to shower and go right to sleep. I love that this exfoliant didn’t add extra time- no need to wait for it to dry then wash it off. I just simply scrubbed the peel on and it three minutes – I could clean it off. I’m able to use it right in the shower, not waste time, and get super clean skin. Winner, winner!
  4. Manna Kadar Cosmetics’ Lip Locked in Sienna: A primer, lip stain, and gloss in one, this innovative product ensures that your lips stay lusciously hydrated and smooth all day while delivering rich, long lasting pigment. I am OBSESSED – not just with the color, but with how long this lasted. I used this ultimate lip product when going out for Paul’s birthday in Hamden- knowing between sweat, drinks, singing, and who knows what else, my makeup look would take a beaten. At the end of the night, for post-going out Dominos, my lip color was still in tact as if I had just put the lip stain on. From now, if you follow me on Instagram, you’ll be sure to see this lip color quite often!
  5. Dr. Lipp’s Miracle Balm: The natural formula completely rehydrates skin and lips, soothes sunburn, tames unruly brows, and nourishes thirsty cuticles. Apply to dry lips and other areas of the body as needed. Not going to lie, I haven’t used this one yet. Since I do PR for Aquaphor and Eucerin (#client), I have plenty of products to rehydrate my skin and lips at my fingertips. I was super excited when I read that the product helps soothe sunburn. Summer is right around the corner and if you know me in real life, you know that I have a bad tendency of getting sunburnt. I’m excited to use this balm when that day rolls around – which will be soon. Sorry, Gram!

Do you have a subscription to Birchbox? Thinking about it? Comment below and let me know! 

 

Full-time big girl, part-time blogger & am ready for 2017!

Happy Thursday, babes! It’s time to add a little Sparkle and Shine to the start of your holiday weekend and find out more about my blog hiatus.

I mean helllllllo, my blog presence is a present!

In the past few weeks, I’ve posted about College Fashion Week and shared my Ultimate Holiday Gift Guide, but those were my first posts since September. I disappeared. Call me Carmen Sandiego because where in the world did I go?

I know it’s only a little over a month, but it feels like an ETERNITY. I have never, EVER taken a break that long from blogging or from Total Sorority Move once I started contributing for them. Yes, life got stressful when I was at school – tons of school work and extracurriculars, but never to the point that I just completely stopped. Dropped down to only a few posts a month? Yes. Absolutely. But to just disappear out of the blue – never.

And the reason? Because I’m now working in the real world!!

If you don’t know, I graduated in May from Quinnipiac University. Since then, I’ve become an Account Coordinator at the PR firm Access Emanante. I’ve been doing PR for Philips Zoom, Philips Norelco, Philips Sonicare and assisting with a few other beauty consumer brands. I’ll be continuing to expand my consumer beauty/grooming niche in 2017 by adding NIVEA Men to my list of clients.

A little fun fact I wanted to share – I got interested in PR because of Sparkle and Shine. Over the years, tons of different companies and influencer programs have reached out to me. I love getting to know the brands that I am working with, finding out their goals, and helping them achieve their goal. It absolutely I’ve always seen one side of the realm, but wanted to see the other – see the decisions behind working with certain influencers, crafting the program, and activating it. After interning, I was hooked and knew that this was what I wanted to continue to do for the rest of my life. And now, here I am, living out my dream!

I’ve always dreamed of working in the city – that Sex in the City magic in the air, the lights, the people, the hustle and bustle. So landing a gig here was a dream come true. Except, the wonderful hour-fifteen minute commute was not something that got factored into the dream. I’ve traded in my noon classes for 5:30 AM alarms, yoga pants for business casual, and am on NJ Transit more than I am in my own car.

And in all these changes and getting accustomed to my new lifestyle, I had to put Sparkle and Shine on a little hold. I had to focus on myself and my future in the PR world- making sure I’m eating right and sleeping enough hours, finishing and starting tasks on the train to the office, and so much more. Many mornings, I would wake up and say I would start a blog post on the train or would say that I am going to answer blog e-mails. Then after showing the conductor my monthly train pass, I would shut my eyes, open my Nook app, or start answering all the text messages from my friends I was too tired to respond to the night before. Before I know it, I would by at Penn Station and ready for the work day. No blog work done and another promise to push it off later. Later, later, later – but wouldn’t happen.

So here I am now – December 22, 2016. A full-time PR professional, a part-time blogger, and ready to revamp myself as a blogger, re-finding myself in the blogging world, in 2017.

This is more than just an update on where I have been and it is definitely not a PSA about less posts coming in 2017. Instead, this is my promise to you for 2017. I’ve begun thinking about my content calendar, channeling in work strategies to Sparkle and Shine, been in touch with brands, and drafting posts.

Sparkle and Shine may have gotten but on the back burner, but for 2017 it’s the full course Thanksgiving style meal on the front burner.

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Story time with Sami: That time I ran a match-making service for my sisters

Happy Thursday, babes!

I don’t know if it’s because I am a blogger or because I’m addicted to social media, but I love when bloggers are transparent – whether this means on their Twitter, Instagram, or sharing personal stories for their readers. Some of my favorite YouTubers often post “story time” videos about crazy events that happen to them or weird memories they made with their friends.

And if you know me in real life, then you know that I have a tooooon of stories. This is why I decided to create a series called “Story time with Sami” where I share some funny stories about things that I’ve done. So for the first edition, I decided to share about Sami’s Sexy Singles, my match making service.

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Now, Sami’s Sexy Singles originally started as a joke my sophomore year at Quinnipiac. One of our sisters, Tammy, was the sweetheart of SigEp and would always try to match make sisters with her brother – I mean, she made Google spreadsheets and PowerPoints. I would have a lot to live up to! When she graduated, that left someone to try and arrange sisters with dates for all of our events. Somehow, I don’t even know how, the position fell into my lap. I joked about Sami’s Sexy Singles but nothing ever came of it.

All of a sudden, for a grab-a-date last semester, Sami’s Sexy Singles re-appeared. I’m friends with a lot of affiliated men who wanted to come to our grab-a-date, so I thought I would jokingly bring back Sami’s Sexy Singles. Unknowing to me, a lot of my sisters were interested in being matched. So in true senioritis/lack of motivation fashion, I decided to pour my all into Sami’s Sexy Singles – even staying up until 3 AM one night to make a professional Google Drive through the official Sami’s Sexy Singles e-mail account!

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I even had my friends Kristina, Courtney, and Dale get involved! We would send out e-mails to those who were matched and even to our entire chapter reminding them to e-mail us if they wanted dates and the “rules” for the match-making service (including no liability and about customer satisfaction). We would try to keep the e-mails as professional as possible, to add to the humor of the entire situation. Our dates also received e-mails, to help them realize how serious we took our match0making responsibilities that night.

We weren’t the only people taking Sami’s Sexy Singles serious…. We had people tweeting about us with the hashtag “#samissexysingles” and e-mailing us about getting matched. Guys were coming up to us and e-mailing us asking to be added to the list of eligible bachelors! We were a hit.

One day I was getting lunch in a Greek-life populated area and I had some fraternity men that I wasn’t friends with come ask to me and ask if I could match them for their formal. People that Kristina, Courtney, Dale, and I weren’t friends with even knew about Sami’s Sexy Singles and were interested. I bet that’s like what Kim K. felt the first time someone recognized her as more than just Paris’ BFF….

The day the grab-a-date rolled around, we had over 15 couples – that’s more than 30 people who were coming to the event because of Sami’s Sexy Singles. Our phones were blowing up with questions and e-mails, I felt like a real life C.E.O!

In the end, I had a blast at the event, Kristina, Courtney, Dale and their dates had fun, and so did our sisters and their dates!

Here’s my date and I at the event. His little was one of our eligible bachelors who came to the event! Gotta keep it in the family, you know? –

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Here is me and my date, Justin, from the event. All the seniors celebrated the event in a duck-hunting themed (aka my dream theme due to my “Duck Dynasty” obsession). Recognize this picture? If you follow me on Instagram, it’s the picture I posted that night!

Now, I’m not saying Sami’s Sexy Singles was extremely successful (I haven’t finished our customer satisfaction survey yet, but I’ll say it was pretty dang successful), but I am saying that many sisters asked what would happen to it once I graduated. Since Kristina is a year younger, I passed down Sami’s Sexy Singles to her in my senior will, so my legacy will live on.

I would love to know how you feel about Story time with Sami!! Comment below & tell me some different types of stories you would want to hear or tweet them to me @sparkleshinesam!

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I graduated…..now what?

Well, I graduated Magna Cum Laude from Quinnipiac University on Sunday (despite being scared out of my mind to do so).

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And what has post grad life given me so far? A lot primetime The Price is Right specials, naps, and trying to get a hold of this adult thing.

To save some breathe for when everyone asks “what are you ACTUALLY doing post grad?” I decided to just share it with the whole wide world on Sparkle and Shine. 

Starting on Monday, I began my online Master’s courses for Interactive Digital Design from Quinnipiac. I’m excited to dive more into learning coding, Adobe programs, and different multimedia techniques. It’s definitely going to be harder than any of my other classes from my Undergrad years at QU, but I’m very excited to get started. Plus, I’m lucky to have my mom, grandparents, aunts, and best friends as an amazing support system for whenever the going gets tough.

I’ve been in love for the past three years – with Sparkle and Shine. I’ve loved coming up with what I want to write about, putting the piece together by creating graphics and typing the story, sharing it on social media, and watching everything come together. I’m hoping that with my Master’s in IDD and my undergrad degree, I will be able to further my professional career and Sparkle and Shine.

More importantly, since I will be living at home, I will not have as many responsibilities on my plate. As you readers know, I was constantly boggled down with Res Life, my sorority, my school television station, a full-time course load, and so much more. Now, I will have so much more spare time to focus on the Sparkle and Shine blog and video blog. I’m hoping that with my spare time and my new Master’s courses, I will be able to continue Sparkle and Shine and all of its contents.

In the meantime, here’s to sparkling through the next few months as I begin this post-grad journey!!

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MY GUY BFF DOES MY MAKEUP {NEWEST VIDEO BLOG}

Happy Saturday, readers!

If you don’t subscribe to my YouTube channel (which you totally should do like, right now), you may not know that I recently released my newest YouTube video blog.

Check it out: 

My guy friends always complain that I am always late whenever we go somewhere.

The reason? I am doing my makeup!

Give me ten minutes or two hours and either way I’ll be 15 minutes late cause I am doing my makeup. They never understand why it takes so long or what goes into a makeup routine (like helllllo…that ‘no makeup look’ took about 20 minutes), so I decided it was time for them to see what it takes. And then share it with the Internet…

Watch the hilarious new video of Brandon doing my makeup, then comment on the video and let me know what you think!

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Thank you, Seventeen!

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After two years of working with my dream company, I am now passing on my Seventeen Social Club torch to other social media mavens and bloggers. My contract with the company has wrapped up, there is now an end-date listed next to Seventeen Magazine on my LinkedIn, and the chapter in my life has ended.

My favorite memory was during my first year with the company. My little and I got to attend the 2014 New York City Makeup Show. We skipped a day of studying for finals to go gallivanting around the beautiful Big Apple. It was the first time I got to introduce myself as press at a big event, leaving me with butterflies that I could certainly get used to. Once inside the Metropolitan Pavilion, Amber I got to talk to different vendors, sit through tutorials, test our new beauty products, and of course, make some purchases! To find out more about that incredible experience, make sure to check out the post from May of 2014.

Besides being able to attend the New York City Makeup Show, I was exposed to a lot of different companies that I may not have gotten the opportunity to contact otherwise. Maybelline and Milani cosmetics became staples in my makeup bag after receiving so many awesome products from them. I also got hooked on ABC Family’s one-season show “Chasing Life” after ABC Family and Seventeen helped me host a season premiere party for “Chasing Life” and “Pretty Little Liars.”

While working for Seventeen over the past two years, I have gotten to experience so much and realize how much I truly love the media industry. Here’s to hoping I continue to reach more goals, continue to fall in love with this industry, and more as graduation (eeeeek!) keeps creeping up on me.

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Last first day of school {#OOTD}

Hey, readers!

Yesterday was one of the scariest days of my life – it was my last first day of school ever. Yup, that’s right – I started the second semester of my senior year of college. Am I ready for the emotional roller coaster that this semester is going to be? Oh, absolutely not. Which is why I decided to at least dress the part of looking like I have it all together.

So check out the look….

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Jacket: Faux Leather Moto Jacket from Forever 21Sweater: (Similar) from Aerie

Scarf: (This has been my favorite scarf since high school, so it’s old – but here’s a similar one) from Charming Charlie

Jeans: WESTPORT 1962 Signature Skinny Jeans from DressBarnBoots: Diba Shelby Bootie from DSW 

And with today being the second day, I somehow ended up back in yoga pants and a Greek Streak Alpha Delta Pi spirit jersey. Whoops?

In my defense I somehow managed to wake up with swollen blood shot eyes, so I wasn’t trying to waste a cute outfit when I wasn’t going to wear makeup or glasses.

Whatever, maybe tomorrow I’ll look go back to looking put together..

 

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