Inspiration Recreation

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

What I'm Reading - Wolf Winter by Cecilia Ekback

I love to read but lately I've noticed myself slipping into watching a lot more television than I used to watch.  Not sure why, I find most of television to be mindless "reality" show dribble that I forget about as soon as I turn off the TV.  There are not too many shows or movies with an actual story line anymore.  So back to books I go!  I bought a Kindle about a year ago for the purpose of reading more on the go and to save a little money by purchasing the kindle version versus the hard-copy of books but ended up not using it very much.  I found that I actually missed the feel of a paper book in my hand.  And reading a book digitally somehow made the story seem less tangible or real.  I guess I'm an old school book lover but I'm not ashamed of it! 

What I'm currently reading:  Wolf Winter by Cecilia Ekback
Amazon pricing: $19.71 for hardcover, $9.10 for Kindle version.  I was able to purchase and ship a hard-copy on eBay for $11.  I discovered this book through the Indiespensable subscription book club, which I recently joined.  It was featured in their #51 installment but my membership starts with the #52 installment (currently sold out).
Synopsis from Amazon:

‘Wolf winter,’ she said, her voice small. ‘I wanted to ask about it. You know, what it is.’  He was silent for a long time. ‘It’s the kind of winter that will remind us we are mortal,’ he said. ‘Mortal and alone.’

Swedish Lapland, 1717. Maija, her husband Paavo and her daughters Frederika and Dorotea arrive from their native Finland, hoping to forget the traumas of their past and put down new roots in this harsh but beautiful land. Above them looms Blackåsen, a mountain whose foreboding presence looms over the valley and whose dark history seems to haunt the lives of those who live in its shadow.

While herding the family’s goats on the mountain, Frederika happens upon the mutilated body of one of their neighbors, Eriksson. The death is dismissed as a wolf attack, but Maija feels certain that the wounds could only have been inflicted by another man. Compelled to investigate despite her neighbors’ strange disinterest in the death and the fate of Eriksson’s widow, Maija is drawn into the dark history of tragedies and betrayals that have taken place on Blackåsen. Young Frederika finds herself pulled towards the mountain as well, feeling something none of the adults around her seem to notice.

As the seasons change, and the “wolf winter,” the harshest winter in memory, descends upon the settlers, Paavo travels to find work, and Maija finds herself struggling for her family’s survival in this land of winter-long darkness. As the snow gathers, the settlers’ secrets are increasingly laid bare. Scarce resources and the never-ending darkness force them to come together, but Maija, not knowing who to trust and who may betray her, is determined to find the answers for herself. Soon, Maija discovers the true cost of survival under the mountain, and what it will take to make it to spring.
Started:  March 18, 2015
Finished:  April 14, 2015
Thoughts:  The first third of the book is a little slow and somewhat confusing getting all the characters organized in your mind.  It took me a long time to figure out who Jutta was and whether or not Maija and Frederika were talking to an actual living person, a ghost or spirit, or just their memory of Jutta.  I didn't like how choppy the sentences read; like random incomplete thoughts that the writer expected you to piece together and make sense of.  Often times, it's difficult to differentiate who was speaking.  Don't get me wrong, I like when a writer makes the reader more engaged with the story by allowing them to figure some things out on their own but in this book, the amount of random, incomplete thoughts/sentences is a bit much at times.  Overall, I like the story Ekback is trying to tell, just not the choppy and confusing writing style.  
I rarely read mysteries but I liked the storyline and the "who done it" twist at the end of this book.  But the sometimes difficult to follow writing style prevents me from highly recommending this book.  I'm doubtful I'll read any future works Ekback.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Petit Vour - March 2015

I received my first Petit Vour box today.  Petit Vour is a beauty box and online store that features luxury vegan and cruelty free beauty products.  Since their subscription box and store offers a lot of natural skincare products, I decided to give them a try.

Here's what was featured in the March box:

Vert Mont Perfumery Eros perfume, 1.5 mL ($5.25 value)

Cost of Box:  $15 per month (free shipping to US)
Total Box Value:  $55.72
Impressions:  I will not be using the Juice Beauty CC cream because I don't wear makeup of any kind.  I've read some reviews of others who tried it that said it didn't provide very much coverage and was too orange/dark for those with pale skin. I haven't had a chance to try the Cacao & Banana face glow mask yet but I'm very intrigued by it.  It looks just like mineral powder foundation and feels velvety smooth when you rub it between your fingers so I seriously doubt there would be any problems with it being to abrasive.  The info card lists the cost at $32 but the online store lists this size at $28.  The Eros perfume is a little too rich and earthy for my preference.  I think it's the juniper smell that may be ruining it for me.  The lip cream is the item I'm most excited about.  I've been on the hunt for a natural lip balm to replace my Blistex with so this came right on time!   Since I'm switching to more natural skincare products, I've been paying closer attention to ingredient lists.  I recently learned that Blistex Medicated lip balm contains two parabens (preservatives) and I've decided to try and avoid using skincare items with paraben preservatives if I can help it.  I was a little concerned about the this lip cream being scented with lavender because I find most lavender scented things to be overwhelming.  The spearmint is the dominant fragrance but neither fragrance is overwhelming to me.  Surprisingly, I like the mint and lavender combo.  And I love how creamy and moisturizing this lip cream is.  I hope Petit Vour features more lip products from this brand!

Overall I am pleased with the variety and size of the products featured.  For the price, I'm getting more products that I find useful than I usually get in my $10 a month Birchbox (which usually leans more heavily on the makeup side).   I plan to use 2 out of the 4 products featured in this box and they should last me for weeks so I would say the $15 price isn't too bad.  I'm looking forward to the April box!

UpdatesI tried the Cacao & Banana face glow mask and it did leave my skin feeling a little smoother.  My face didn't feel tight and dry after using it.  I assume that the "glowing" effects  become more noticeable with regular use.  A complaint that I have about this product is that it didn't rinse away as cleanly as I would like.  But I guess residue is to be expected when you're essentially smearing chocolate on your face!  Also, some ingredient in the mask turned the bristles of my facial brush a yellowish color.  I also noticed this yellowish color on the cotton face pad when I swabbed my face with toner.  I had to go over my face a couple of times before most of the yellowish color went away.  I believe the yellowish color might be caused by the yellow clay and/or turmeric root ingredients.  I plan to continue using the mask but I know now that I will have to be mindful of the potential to stain my facial brush and maybe even my pillowcase if I don't go over my face with toner to remove the cacao and yellow-staining residues.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

PopSugar Must Have - March 2015

I signed up for PopSugar Must Have box in early March when the March box was originally sold out so my first box was suppose to be the upcoming April box (which is also currently sold out).  When I started seeing reviews for the March box, I was glad I wasn't going to be getting it because I wasn't impressed but unfortunately I got an email saying extra March boxes were available and that my subscription would be starting with this box.  Disappointed but it's my fault because I forgot to go back and uncheck the "waitlist" option on my account when I signed up.  The theme of the March box was: renewal, citrus, fresh, and traveling.

Here's what was included in the box:

Bliss Micromagic Microdermabrasion Treatment ($48 for 3oz)
Greenmarket Purveying Co. The Archivist Diffuser Kit ($20)

Samudra Pink Piña Zip Pouch ($40, exclusively made for PopSugar)

Wet Brush The Squirt ($5)

Knock Knock What to Pack Pad ($7)

Halfpops Halfpopped Popcorn ($1.69)

Benefit Cosmetics Roller Lash Mascara and Porefessional (Free Bonus)

Cost of Box:  $34.95 (with $5 discount, Regular price $39.95 per month)
Total Box Value:  $121.69 + Free Bonus
Impressions:  The highest value item in the box, the Bliss microdermabrasion treatment, is one I can't use because it will be to abrasive on my skin and it contains 5 different parabens (preservatives).  Some researchers believe parabens are linked to tumors and cancers.  I haven't come across any articles that have been able to definitively associate the two, but I think I'll still pass on knowingly rubbing that many preservatives into my face.  I do like the smell of the cucumber and lemon diffuser, so I will be using that.  I find the $40 value they placed on the plastic hot pink pineapple pouch that looks like something out of the dollar bins in Target to be quite humorous!  And I have a hard time imagining any adult woman wanting to use this pouch for travel or otherwise so trading or selling it will likely be difficult.  I may just give it to my little niece to use as a pencil/crayon case for school.  As someone with very thick, naturally curly hair, the mini wet brush just isn't going to cut it.  The brush is too small and the bristles too soft for me.  Even the larger, stiffer bristled paddle brushes do nothing but pull out and break my hair because they get tangled in my coily wet hair or they cause a lot of frizzy volume when my hair is dry.  The "what to pack" pad is something I have no use for.  I travel a little but I'm never so scatter-brained or overwhelmed in preparing for an upcoming trip that I need a checklist as basic as this to help me pack.  I ate the popcorn to make me feel better about my disappointment in this box!  And only ended up disappointed with it too.  It was a little too buttery for me and I don't get the concept of half popping popcorn.  Why would you want to eat a bag of hard half popped popcorn kernels?  Since I don't wear makeup, the Benefit mini set is lost on me.  A lot of people on the subscription box community boards I check out have mentioned that these samples are given out for free at places like Sephora so I'm glad they didn't try to add a monetary "value" to this set.

Overall, I am not impressed with this month's box.  I do think the featured items go along with the theme of the box but for the most part it just looks like they ran to Walgreen's or Target and bought a bunch of ordinary and cheap looking stuff.  there was nothing that wowed me.  The diffuser is the only thing I liked out of this box.   Everything else I will be trading or selling because I don't like it, can't use it, or have no use for it.  This is why mystery subscription boxes can be one of those "you win some, you lose some" type things.  This month's box was a loss for me, because the value I paid far outweighs the use I'll actually get out of it.  Although, I've read some other subscriber's reviews that raved about how much they loved the entire box and plan to use everything.  Everyone's taste is different and most subscription box services don't have enough personnel or have way too many members to be able to effectively and efficiently cater to everyone's likes and dislikes each month.

On another note, the FedEx shipping PopSugar uses for this box is probably the slowest and most nonsensical delivery I've ever experienced with any box service.  I don't recall a box service ever taking more than 5 to 7 days to reach me.  This PopSugar box took 10 days.  It went from California to Georgia in 3 days then sat idle for 3 days before being transferred past South Carolina, where I live, to North Carolina to sit idle for another 2 days.  Then, for some odd reason, it took another 2 days to ship only a few hours drive from North Carolina back down to South Carolina where FedEx decided to transfer the package for USPS to deliver instead!  The amount of days that FedEx allowed this package to sit idle just didn't seem reasonable or excusable in my opinion, especially since they were not weekend or holidays. 

Although I was disappointed with the contents of this box and the frustrating delays in shipping, I'm not turned off enough to cancel yet.  I like to give a box a few tries before calling it quits.  I'm hoping April will be a better experience! 

Monday, March 23, 2015


I will be honest and admit that I'm one of those people who wears workout gear more than I actually work out.  But they're just so comfortable when I'm working around the house!  I mean, cleaning and yard work counts as a workout, right?  Although I've been trying to resist the idea of ordering from Fabletics for a long time, I finally gave in to all those Kate Hudson commercials on tv.  Here's hoping it'll motivate me to actually workout more.  You don't have to join the membership program to order from the website, but you will have a higher price tag than members.  If you become a Fabletics VIP Member, you get 50% off your first outfit which is a very enticing discount on a quality workout ensemble, plus discounted VIP prices on future items.  The one negative of taking this deal and becoming a member is the recurring monthly-order program.  At the beginning of each month they email you outfits that they've picked out for you to consider based on your profile preferences and you can choose to order one or indicate that you want to skip ordering that month.   If you don't "skip" by the 5th of the month, you will automatically be charged, whether you pick an outfit or not.  If not, then the money will remain on your Fabletics account as a credit for future orders.  So having to remember to pick your outfit or skip a month before the deadline so you don't have to deal with an unwanted charge could be a little annoying for some people. 
I ordered the Blossom 2-Piece Oufit - Oula Tank & Salar Capri for my intro outfit which cost me $24.97 (Reg. $49.95) with free shipping.  And if you've ever bought pieces from Lululemon, or the like before, you know that you would not get an entire outfit for that price, even on the luckiest of sale days!  I picked this one because I prefer racerback tanks and capri length pants. 
They had many different outfits and color/pattern combos to choose from but I'm a simple, neutrals kind of girl.  And when it comes to clothing this fitted, I think black pants and tops are a little more flattering on me than multi-colored patterned pants and neon tanks!  Maybe I'll try something a little more adventurous in the future. 
I'm 5'5", 135 lbs, rectangular body shape, and I ordered the tank and the capris both in size Small but you have the option to mix sizes.  The outfit fits well and the material doesn't stretch thin and see-through when you bend over, etc.  The pants have just the right amount of compression and the tank is made of breathable lightweight fabric.  I did a 40-minute strength and weight-loss yoga workout wearing this outfit and didn't have a problem with riding up, slipping down, bunching, chaffing or anything like that.  However, I can't speak yet for performance during more aggressive exercise like running.  There was no stretching, shrinking or pilling of the fabric after the initial washing.  I also want to point out that the tank and pants are not made of the same fabric and they're not the exact same shade of black.  The tank is a truer black while the pants are more of a greyish-black.  So even though these were advertised as a outfit, they are more mix and match type pieces rather than matchy-matchy pieces.  Overall, I'm very pleased with the fit and quality for the price so I'll likely order more in the future. 

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Flawless Skin or Healthy Skin?

Flawless skin... does such a thing even exist?  I've certainly never had it.  Commercials and ads say I can fake it with the right concealer or foundation, but what if I don't like makeup?  I avoid it like the plague actually.  I probably always will.  I'm just weird like that.  To me, achieving healthy skin was always a more important goal than developing a flawless looking makeup regimen.  I feel that if my skin is healthy and vibrant, I don't need makeup.  I actually feel more beautiful being able to go out with a healthy natural face than wearing makeup.  For me, makeup was associated with masking imperfections that made me feel self-conscious.  It wasn't something I associated with feeling beautiful or confident.  But to each their own.  If makeup makes you feel more beautiful... wear it and wear it proud! 

My biggest skin problems have been acne (light to moderate), dryness, and large pores.  For years and years I used the typical cleansers, scrubs, astringents, acne creams, and moisturizers filled with God-knows-what that you find at your local drugstores but to no avail.  Nothing proved consistently effective or improved the overall health of my skin.  In February of 2015, I decided to start transitioning to more natural skincare products.  And low and behold... I started getting the results I wanted!  Of course, everyone's skin is different and not all products and routines will yield the same results for everyone.  This is just a record of what has been working for me lately.  Not everything I currently use on my face is purely natural or organic but I hope to get to that point one day.

Olay PROx Advanced Cleansing System - Facial Cleansing Brush ($25, Amazon)
Probably the greatest investment in my skincare regimen ever.  I should have gotten one of these years ago.  I'm currently 32 years old.  And of course, as you get older, your skin cell turnover rate slows down along with reduced collagen, elasticity, etc.  So, if there is nothing else you take from this post... please buy some kind of facial brush to help gently exfoliate and buff your skin, you will be so glad you did.  My hands and face scrubs were never able to achieve in years what this brush has managed to do in a matter of weeks.  And you don't have to invest in one of those fancy $200+ brushes either, I paid $17 (with discount) for this basic Olay brush on Amazon and it has worked miracles for my skin.

Shea Moisture Organic African Black Soap ($5 for 8oz bar, or Target)
I use this as my cleanser and a mild natural treatment for acne.  It has been very effective for me.  And it hasn't been overly drying on my skin like some acne cleansers I've tried over the years.

Dickinson's Witch Hazel Pore Perfecting Toner ($6 for 16 oz, Walgreens)
I did away with using astringents and started using toners with very little or no alcohol.  And I've noticed that my face doesn't feel as tight and dry after cleansing as it did when I used astringents.

Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant ($26 for 4 oz, Birchbox)
I had never heard of liquid exfoliants before I received a sample of this product from Birchbox, but this one has done a great job in clearing my pores, making them smaller and the salicylic acid has helped to treat and reduce breakouts.  It's a little pricey but a little goes a long way so it will last a long time.  I've been using the 1 oz sample pictured for several weeks and I still have about a third left.  I liked it so much, I used my Birchbox points to purchase a full size.

NOW Solutions Sweet Almond Oil ($10 for 16 oz) & NOW Solutions Jojoba Oil ($10 for 4 oz) (
I starting using sweet almond oil or jojoba oil as my face and body moisturizer.  It may look like it would be too heavy and greasy but it absorbs quickly and does such a good job providing all day moisture on my dry skin.  You only need a little, plus it's very affordable for the volume of product you get so these bottles will last a long time.

Biotin Vitamins (varies, not pictured)
Biotin supports skin health, as well as nail and hair growth.  I've been using 1000 or 5000 mcg capsules for the past few weeks.  I'm not sure if or how essential it has been in the change I've seen in my skin.  But my hair seems to be starting to grow a little faster which has been a plus! 

Ignore the puffy morning face :)
After about 6 weeks of using this skincare regimen, I have almost no pimples/breakouts now.  My skin is smoother, softer, much more supple and moisturized, and my pores are smaller.  If I wore makeup, I'd now have a better surface to apply on than I had before.  And it would be more for enhancing my face than for concealing.  I'm extremely pleased with the change in my skin's health (unfortunately I never thought to take a before picture).  And I really like that this regimen was simple and not very expensive.  I will continue to be on the look out to try more natural skin care products because I realize this is definitely the way to go for my skin.  I can't do anything about all the tiny moles I inherited from my mother and grandmother but my next focus will be on finding products to reduce the hyper pigmentation in a couple of spots where I had bad breakouts in the past.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

DermStore Mystery Bag

Lately I've really gotten in to trying subscription box services and mystery grab bags.  Of course there is a risk that you could get a whole lot of stuff you don't like or have no use for, but you can also get lucky with a whole lot of great stuff you love for significantly less than the retail value.  I learn about a lot the these types of subscription boxes and mystery bags through the My Subscription Addiction website.  The most recent one I ordered was from DermStore, a skincare and beauty product web store.  Apparently, they have different versions (for body, hair, makeup, etc.) of mystery grab bags that they sell on occasion.  I ordered the Body Beautifiers Grab Bag (9 piece) which cost $35 but I paid $29.75 with a 15% discount.  The order included a free 2-yr subscription to Martha Stewart Living magazine and free shipping.

Here's what I got:

Zents Attar Oil Concentrate - Pear (5 ml, full size) ($38)

Skylark Memoir Fragrance Collection (3 scents, 0.18 oz each, full size) ($20)
Pevonia Botanica Dry Oil Body Moisturizer (1.7 oz deluxe sample - $10.38 value)) ($41.50 for 6.8 oz)
Burt's Bees Milk & Honey Body Lotion (1 oz, size discontinued) ($1.99)
AHAVA Deadsea Water Mineral Body Lotion (1.3 oz deluxe sample ($3.98 value)) ($26 for 8.5 oz)
Bliss Lemon & Sage Body Butter (1 oz deluxe sample ($4.33 value)) ($29 for 6.7 oz)
Juara Candlenut Body Creme (1.5 oz deluxe sample ($7 value)) ($35 for 7.5 oz)
Dr Brandt Microdermabrasion Skin Exfoliant (0.25 oz deluxe sample ($9.75 value)) ($78 for 2 oz)
Atopalm Moisturizing Cleansing Wipes (25 wipes, full size) ($13)
Medicell Labs Advanced Moisture Eye Mask Duo (1 pair, deluxe sample ($15 value)) ($60 for 4 pairs)
DHC Deep Cleansing Oil and Velvet Skin Coat (free foil samples)
Dr. Hauschka Firming Mask (free foil sample)
Some of the items came stuffed inside a clear plastic makeup bag with handles.  It doesn't zip or unzip very well because it's a cheap quality plastic bag so I doubt I'll be using it for anything.
I'm crazy about skincare and body items so I was excited about these products.  Although they aren't natural, I can still use almost all of these products because this mystery bag was geared more for the body than the face so it was a good value for me.  For the $30 I paid, I received products with a value of about $133.  I've been in need of a toiletries bag for my purse and travel so the patterned cosmetic bag is welcomed!  I prefer bags like these over the typical see-through plastic cosmetic bags.  I probably will not use the microdermabrasion exfoliant because products like this are usually too abrasive for my face.  I don't wear makeup but I'm sure the cleansing wipes will still come in handy for those nights when I'm just too tired to do a thorough face cleansing before bed.  I like that they are Paraben free and contain Vitamin E, olive, grape and jojoba seed oils.  I also really liked the smell of all the lotions, creams and perfumed oils.  I prefer subtle, fresh fragrances when it comes to perfumes but I didn't find these to be too overwhelming.  The perfumed oils have rollerball applicators which I really like, plus they're small and perfect for carrying in my purse.  Most of the lotions are small, convenient tubes perfect for keeping in my purse too.  The bag also included a $10 off coupon but it didn’t mention a minimum order requirement or restrictions; hopefully I can use it on another grab bag!  My only complaint about this bag is that one of the three Skylark perfume vials had about a third less volume than the other two.  But overall, I’m pleased and would be willing to buy another mystery grab bag from DermStore in the future.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Kloverbox - March 2015

Received my first Kloverbox and I'm excited because it's a monthly subscription box service that features natural and eco-friendly beauty and skincare products!  I'm currently subscribed on a month by month basis which costs $25 per month (includes free shipping).  I got this box for $22.50 with a discount.

IMPORTANT NOTICE (3/20/15):  Kloverbox has contacted all of it's March 2015 subscribers to inform them to discontinue use of the Urban Oreganics Rosewater Toner.  There was a manufacturing issue with some of the plastic bottles Urban Oreganics purchased for their toner which caused the toner to have a cloudy appearance and floating particles.  Apparently not all bottles were a problem but they recommended everyone discontinue use.  Kloverbox and Urban Oreganics both apologized for the issue and will be replacing the toner with another product to be shipped out in April 2015.  I appreciate them both openly communicating this issue in a timely fashion and resolving the problem in a professional manner.

Here are this month's goodies:

BAGGU Small 3D Zip Bag in Mint Stripe - Value: $8

Marley's Monsters Reusable 3"Facial Rounds (4 total) - Value: $2.40

Pelle Beauty Luxe Beauty Balm (4 oz) - Value: $9

Jillian Wright Skincare Double Surface Exfoliator (3.7 oz) - Value: $8

White & Elm Pomegranate Renewing Eye Serum (0.37 oz) - Value: $18
Urban Oreganics Rosewater Toner (4 oz) - Value: $14 (Discontinue Use)

Cost of Box:  $22.50
Total Box Value:  $59.40
Impressions:  Overall, I love it!  It's simple, natural, organic skincare... so I'm sold!  I'm most excited about the toner and eye serum (which are full size).   I like having small moisturizers to carry around in my purse so the balm will be nice for that.  I find most exfoliators to be too rough on my face but the bamboo stem powder in the Jillian Wright exfoliator doesn't feel like it would be too harsh so I'll give it a try.  I also like that it has a liquid exfoliator component (lactic acid) which is a concept I recently fell in love with when I discovered Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant in a Birchbox sample box.  Not sure how likely I am to use the Baggu bag because I don't have much use for this size/type bag and it's mint striped, but I completely understand why they chose the color (March... St. Patrick's Day... green clovers).  I think the reusable face rounds are a neat, eco-friendly idea but realistically, I'm not so sure they will become a regular part of my cleansing routine... if I can manage to mysteriously lose socks doing laundry, then I'm pretty sure I'll manage to lose these.  And that's even if I can remember to keep fresh ones washed and ready to use every couple of days.

I think the curation of this box was well thought out... not a bunch of random unrelated items that you can get in some boxes.  I also like that they support and promote small, independent Etsy sellers.  The info card also includes coupon codes that can be used at the different featured brand website stores.  I'm pleased with the products included, and the toner and eye serum should last a long time for me.  This box contains products with ingredients I can use on my sensitive skin and that are actually good for my skin. 

I'm already looking forward to the April box!

Updates:   I tried the Jillian Wright exfoliator and it was definitely effective but a bit to rough for my skin to use alone.  I will still use it but probably only once a week or whenever my skin starts to look a little dull.  To make exfoliators less abrasive, I usually mix a tiny bit with a natural oil like Sweet Almond oil or a creamy facial cleanser.  Using it this way just means the sample with last even longer!  I don't really like the smell of the balm.  And because it's solid and in a small pot, it's not the most convenient way to apply moisturizer all over your hands (especially if you're used to just simply squeezing something out of tube).  I'll probably just use it as a cuticle moisturizer or back up lip balm.  The toner and serum work great.  Not sure if the eye serum is suppose to reduce puffiness but my under-eye area seemed less puffy than usual in the morning after I first used it even though I got less sleep than usual the night before.  I sure hope that it wasn't just a fluke or a coincidence!  Either way, it's still a great eye moisturizer.  The oils absorb into the skin quickly without leaving a greasy shine or sticky residue.  And a little goes a long way, so this vial will last me a very long time.  The nice roller ball application and the different natural seed oils makes the serum the MVP of this box for me.