The June 2017 Allure Beauty Box Challenge

Megan Salerno, Allure special projects editor and self-proclaimed creature of habit, challenges herself to snap out of her beauty rut with an Allure Beauty Box subscription. Come back monthly to find out how she uses the items in the box — the ones that earn a permanent place in her medicine cabinet, and the ones that don’t quite make the cut.

Eight months ago, I embarked on this challenge because I wanted to shake up my monotonous beauty routine. Along the way, there have been quite a few products I was reluctant to try, but this is the first month that I can truly say that I was terrified (and maybe definitely hyperventilating into a brown paper bag) because of a product in the Allure Beauty Box. Here's what happened...

Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask and Juice Beauty Stem Cellular Anti-Wrinkle Booster Serum

As the saying goes “You are what you eat.” So why, if we are so particular about what we put in our bodies, are we not as discerning about what we put on our bodies? It was a question that first occurred to me years ago as my scalp was soaking in an egg-yolk mask, which the Internet assured me would stimulate my hair follicles after an unfortunate haircut that I still not-so-affectionately refer to as #accidentalmullet. And even now, it’s something that I ponder as I peruse the personal care aisle of Whole Foods while stocking up on organic groceries (for my dinner, not for DIY beauty concoctions). Despite all of the contemplation, I still haven’t thrown myself full-fledged into a natural beauty routine, but this month’s Allure Beauty Box might change all of that. It came with not one, but two natural skin-care products. One of those was the Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask. First impressions: the mask looks like honey and smells like honey, but it’s not the slightest bit sticky. After spreading its soothing gel-like formula on my face, there was a slight tingling sensation, but it dried quickly into a lightweight film. Ten minutes later, I rinsed it off to reveal a noticeably brighter, smoother complexion. The following morning, I decided to continue my foray into natural beauty with the Juice Beauty Stem Cellular Anti-Wrinkle Booster Serum. And what I really wanted to know was if this serum would sit under my somewhat-watery foundation without pilling or slipping. (To date, I’ve only found one other serum that doesn't pill or slip — No7 Protect & Perfect Intense Advanced Serum). I wasn’t expecting much — and perhaps setting the bar low made this victory even more deeply felt — but I was completely blown away by this serum. It not only plays nicely with my foundation, but after almost a month of using it every morning, my fine lines are visibly finer.

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Verdict: Win, win! This just might be the extra nudge I need to adopt an all-natural beauty routine.

Yves Saint Laurent Touche Éclat Blur Primer

There are two types of people: those who like glitter, and those who don't. I happen to fall into the latter category. It was, of course, the glint of the dainty gold flakes suspended in the Yves Saint Laurent Touche Éclat Blur Primer that first caught my eye and made me think twice about trying it out. Before I’d even consider slathering it on my face, I dabbed a small amount on the back of my hand. As I rubbed it in, it imparted a subtle gold-flecked shimmer that was actually quite flattering. But then my concerns turned to its rich, almost-buttery quality. The formula is a medley of four nourishing oils: Corn oil, apricot kernel oil, passiflora oil, and rice bran oil. And now, that might be music to the ears of someone with dry skin, but I have oily skin (especially during the summer when my sebaceous glands refuse to take a vacation). As expected, the oil-based primer did not sink in and sat on top of my skin. On its own, it’s lightweight enough, but after layering on my makeup it felt way too heavy and slick (especially with heat and humidity added to the equation). I quickly abandoned it as a primer, but in the days afterward, I realized it could double as a highlighter. I started dabbing a small amount along each cheekbone for some extra dewiness with gorgeous results.

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Verdict: I am tucking this away for winter. When my oily skin becomes combination/oily skin in the colder months, this stuff will be worth its weight in gold.

Deco Miami Nail Lacquer in Feeling Fuego

Nothing says summer like a punchy pinkish-orange nail polish. But here’s what I've discovered about coral: It’s not the universally flattering color that it’s often made out to be. Olive- and dark-complected people can pull off the full range of pink to orange, but for those of us on the pale end of the spectrum, it takes a little work to find just the right shade. The vibrant, hyper-pigmented Deco Miami Nail Lacquer in Feeling Fuego was promising, but just a tad too orange for my taste. On the other hand, I was thoroughly impressed by the formula itself — it was more manageable than other polishes I’ve used, and after swiping it onto my nails, it provided opacity that I would not have expected after just one coat and it dried quickly.

Verdict: I wasn’t really feeling the fuego, but I don’t think I got burned on this one either because the polish is perfect for a fool-proof at-home manicure. I think I’ll be back to test the waters with Deco Miami’s electric blue shade, Namaste by the Pool, but Feeling Fuego will get passed on to a friend.

John Frieda Frizz Ease Keraflex Flexible Hold Hairspray and St. Tropez Self Tan Express Bronzing Face Sheet Mask

Usually I rely on the 420-degree setting of my curling wand to get soft, loose waves that will last throughout the day, but mid-June brought some hot, sticky days that did not bode well for my hair. After two days of limp curls, I broke out the John Frieda Frizz Ease Keraflex Flexible Hold Hairspray that's in the July Beauty Box. You can spray hair before styling, but I opted to spritz it on as the last step in my routine. The scent was vaguely floral without a hint of alcohol, and it did exactly what it promised to do. It preserved the volume and bounce, without leaving my hair stiff, crunchy, or slick. I honestly found myself wishing I had tried this hairspray sooner.

The St. Tropez Self Tan Express Bronzing Face Sheet Mask was a different beast entirely. When you apply a self-tanner a lot could potentially go wrong: streaks, missed spots, uneven fading, just to name a few. And then you have to live with these mistakes for a few days at least. The mere idea of a sheet mask drenched in DHA gave me serious pause, and it took me until the very last week of the month to even muster the courage to remove it from the box. When I finally gathered the nerve to rip into the pouch, unfold the mask, and place it on my face, my mind went to a dark, deeply bronzed place. As I stared intently at the dwindling minutes and seconds on my phone's timer, I started to imagine that when it came time to peel off the mask, it would reveal a bioluminescent glow that would be seen from space (deep breaths, deep breaths). With a minute still left on the timer, I ripped off the mask, then massaged the formula into the spots that the mask didn't cover. After washing my hands thoroughly (no Cheeto-stained finger tips here), it was time to wait. Gradually, a subtle bronze developed. A few days later it's still going strong, and I'm relieved to say that I have not been mistaken for a cast member of Jersey Shore.

Verdict: The hairspray can stay, but I threw in the towel on tanning years ago, so the mask won't be making the cut.