Friday, November 29, 2013

Black Friday Deal: 15% Off Bestowed Gift Memberships!

Bestowed is offering a great Black Friday deal: now through Monday, December 2nd, you can get 15% off of 3-, 6-, and 12-month gift memberships.  No coupon code is needed, just head over to this page.

If you're not familiar with Bestowed, they send a curated box of healthy snacks for $19 a month.  I've loved all of the boxes they've sent me, and I think anyone who loves food as much as I do would enjoy this box!  To read all of my Bestowed reviews, click here.

*Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Birchbox Home "Snow Day" Review

I had $40 worth of Birchbox points to use and I didn't want to use them on one overpriced product, so I decided to use them to buy the Snow Day Home Box.  I've never purchased a specialty box from Birchbox before, but this one was really cute.

This box costs $39 and contains a great variety of items.  I think the selections fit the "Snow Day" theme really well, and I liked most of them a lot.  My only gripe is that I wish the skincare/beauty products were larger sizes, but overall this box made me happy.

  • Mox Botanicals Body Soak in Matcha & Clementine ($4.45) - I'm not sure when I'll be able to use this because I don't take baths often (my tub just isn't big enough for it to be a relaxing experience), but I've heard good things about this soak and this brand.
  • L'Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream ($1.78) - L'Occitane is an iffy brand for me, because while their products are not tested on animals, they sell in China, so their products will eventually be tested on animals due to Chinese governmental regulations.  I prefer to steer clear of any testing, so I won't use this--but it makes a great stocking stuffer, so I'll regift it to someone else.
  • S.W. Basics Organic Lip Balm in Cinnamon ($4) - Now here is a brand that is entirely cruelty-free, and amazing!  I have the lip balm flight (set of four) from this company back when they were named Sprout Skincare.  The cinnamon balm is still just as wonderful, and it's definitely my favorite item in the box.  It's incredibly smooth and smells amazing and I just love it!
  • Chantecaille Flower Infused Cleansing Milk ($5.08) - I've never used any Chantecaille products before, and this sample is so tiny (.27 oz) that I doubt I'll really get a feel for how it works with my skin.  I definitely wish the sample size was bigger for this one.
  • Chantecaille Jasmine and Lily Healing Mask ($7.90) - This sample is even smaller than the cleansing milk at .17 oz, and that's really disappointing to me.  I know these are both expensive products, but my issue with tiny skincare samples is that they don't last long enough to see whether or not the product is really a good fit for your skin.

  • Happy Socks Combed Cotton Crew Socks ($10) - I love tall socks for the wintertime.  These are a fun pattern and really soft.  I've worn them a few times under my boots and they keep my toes nice and warm.
  • (MALIN+GOETZ) Votive in Cannabis ($13.58) - I was really excited to get this candle, the scent options were either dark rum or cannabis, and I was actually hoping for the cannabis one.  I think most people who also received this box (at least, the ones who blogged about it) wanted the dark rum scent, but I was really intrigued by the "cannabis" name.  It smells nothing like marijuana (I only know because I was an RA in college and had to call university police often because people smoked in the res halls!); it's a masculine scent with a mixture of lemon, orange, fig, pepper, oakmoss, sandlewood, and amber-patchouli.  I actually have it burning right now as I type this!

  • Scrabble Birchbox Edition Mini Game Set ($36) - I think the $36 retail for this is a little bit ridiculous, but this travel-sized Scrabble board is really cute!  I've never played real Scrabble before, only Words With Friends on my phone, so I'm excited to use this with my friends and family.
  • Askinosie Chocolate Single Origin Cocoa Powder ($3.20) - I'm glad that Birchbox included some food items in this box, and hot chocolate is the obvious choice for a "Snow Day" theme.  This is what I consider "fancy chocolate:" it doesn't have that overly-saccharine taste that the average store-bought kind has.  I actually think this would be better for baking, but I'm too lazy to bake so I've been mixing this in with my coffee and it's delicious.
  • Three Tarts Gourmet Marshmallows in Cinnamon ($2.20) - These marshmallows were really delicious, too.  I (of course) added one in with my Askinosie cocoa, but I soon realized that it was so big that it wouldn't fully melt.  I divided the next one into two pieces and it was the perfect size.
  • Jonathan Adler Fireplace Matches in Purple Flame ($10) - This was my least favorite item in the box.  I don't have a fireplace, but I do burn a lot of candles.  I'll find a use for them, but I was mostly disappointed that this was included because I think it's a stupid product.  $10 for matches?  No thanks.  I understand that it fit with the theme, but I would have rather received something else.

Bottom Line: If my math is correct, and there's a good chance that it might not be, this box is worth approximately $98.  The value is greatly inflated due to the $36 retail price of the Scrabble board, but even if this box was worth only the $39 price tag I would be happy because I got it for free.  I still think it's a really fun box even if you pay full price for it, and it makes a great gift for the holidays, too.

*Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

STEAMCREAM Review: Perfect for the Holidays!

Tomorrow is the first night of Hanukkah, and Christmas is also quickly approaching.  It's that time of year to start stocking up on gifts, and that's where STEAMCREAM comes in.  This cruelty-free, natural cream for the face and body is the perfect gift for the conscious consumer!

STEAMCREAM was fairly new to me prior to this review, as it was not readily available in the US. until recently.  It's an all-in-one vegan moisturizer that's handmade in the UK and Japan.  It's called "STEAMCREAM" because they use a unique steaming process that creates an effective, lightweight emulsion that is instantly absorbed by the skin.  This process fuses the ingredients together instantly, meaning longer-lasting hydration than standard creams.

Those ingredients include an oatmeal infusion, lavender essential oil, orange flower water, chamomile blue essential oil, organic jojoba oil, and a few more natural additions (you can view the entire list here).  They all combine to make a beautifully-scented product: to me it's light and herbal, and very soothing.

Another fun thing about STEAMCREAM, aside from its wonderful ingredients, is that its packaged in all kinds of beautiful, eco-friendly tins!  I chose to review the "Noir" tin because it reminded me of a snowflake.  They're currently stocked with plenty of holiday-themed tins, and have many more to suit a bevy of interests.  Some of my favorites from their design gallery are the Chiyoneko and Hibou (both of which are unfortunately sold out).

I've been using my STEAMCREAM on my face and body, and I'm absolutely in love with it!  My favorite thing about its performance is that it's so incredibly light: it goes on silky-smooth and feels like nothing at all on my face, but it definitely moisturizes very well.  A little bit goes a long way, so I think this tin will last me at least a few months.  When I run out, though, I will definitely be purchasing more in the future.  It ships from the UK, but they offer free worldwide shipping.  My cream arrived within a week, so I consider that pretty quick for international shipping.

Bottom Line: I am so impressed with STEAMCREAM!  It hydrates phenomenally well, it smells great, it's cruelty-free and vegan, and it's gentle on my sensitive skin.  Pick some up for you or your loved ones for the holidays, I'm sure you'll all love it!

*Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by STEAMCREAM.  I received no monetary compensation.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

New Deux Lux Goodies!

Back in October Deux Lux held a "What's in your Deux Lux bag?" contest and I won!  I have been completely obsessed with the brand since I found out about them on Little Black Bag, so to win three brand new pieces was really exciting!

Above is the photo I entered into the contest.  It shows the Mojito Small Tote I was taking to work at the time, along with my Daiquiri PDA, Maldives ID holder (that I kept my work badge in), Skipper Wristlet (that I kept miscellaneous makeup in), and my Gigi iPad Case.

And here's what I won!  These three items were a Deux Lux staffer's favorites from the fall collection: the Essex Tote, Foiled Cosmetic Case, and Double Cross Wallet.  I was eyeing the Essex Tote but decided I probably wouldn't buy it because it retails for $105 and I already have three or four Deux Lux totes, so when I found out that it was one of the prizes I knew I had to enter the giveaway.  It's a gorgeous tote and I love the faux python detailing.  I was also really happy that I got the Plum color, because that one was my favorite of the four it comes in!

The Double Cross Wallet is a great size and could easily double as a clutch.  It's 9" x 5" and can hold up to 12 cards, and it also has a zip pouch for coins and two bill dividers.  I love the color and the gold hardware, and the turn-lock closure is one I've never seen on a wallet before.  I'm not currently carrying this wallet because I prefer my Aurora (also by Deux Lux) with the zip closure, but I would definitely use this as a clutch the next time I go out.

The Foiled Cosmetic Case is also beautiful.  It's just so shiny!  It's a lot bigger than I imagined it would be (6" x 5" x 2.5"), but that's not a complaint.  I'm currently using this for when I go to my boyfriend's house (we're long distance) and I keep my travel-sized hair care products in it.  I received the gold color, and it also comes in silver and navy.

Bottom Line: I'm so thankful that I won this giveaway!  All of the prizes exceeded my expectations, like every other Deux Lux product I've ever owned.  If you've never heard of the brand before, I highly encourage you to check them out.  Every DL item I have is high quality and well worth the money.  If you're on a more limited budget, check out Little Black Bag or Marshall's/TJ Maxx; sometimes they have items from past seasons available.

*Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post.

Check out more two more photos of my items after the "read more."

Saturday, November 23, 2013

October and November Birchbox Reviews

I never got around to posting my October Birchbox review, so I'm going to include it in with this review of my November box.  Birchbox has been so much better since I resubscribed this year that I'm even considering cancelling my monthly subscription and opting for the yearly one (you get one box free that way)!  I subscribed for three boxes in 2011 and tried four more in 2012, but I cancelled after receiving only a few because they were not so impressive.  But ever since Birchbox added more options to the user profile this year I've loved every box I've gotten!

October's theme was "Beauty Buzz," and it featured, well, products that were generating a lot of interest.

  • 12 Benefits Instant Healthy Hair Treatment (~$4.76) - I've said before that I heat style every day, so I'm always looking for hair products that will protect and nourish my dry ends.  This spray works to reverse the damage caused by heat styling, hair dye, and environmental aggressors.  I really liked the scent and I did notice that it made my hair feel softer and smoother.
  • POP Beauty Aqua Lacquer ($14) - At first I wasn't too excited about this lip gloss because I already have a ton of lip products that I don't use, but after trying it I ended up loving it.  I received the shade "Flowering Fucshia," and although it looks intense in the tube it actually gives the perfect amount of color--nothing too overwhelming.  It is very thick, though, so people who don't like sticky glosses will probably want to steer clear of this one.  Oh, and my favorite thing about it was that it gives a slightly tingly feeling when you apply it.
  • Supergoop! City Sunscreen Serum (~$.44) - I was glad that I finally got to try a Supergoop! product because I've been really curious about them since their products started popping up on Little Black Bag over the summer.  I had heard of the brand before, but I was never able to get anyone to trade with me on LBB so I remained Supergoop!-less.  I liked this sunscreen; it was very light and didn't leave my skin feeling sticky as some sunscreens have in the past.  I probably wouldn't purchase a full-sized version, though, since it costs $42 for 1.6 oz.
  • Karuna Hydrating Treatment Mask ($7) - Normally I stay away from cloth masks because I don't like slopping them onto my face, but I was willing to give this one a try.  I'm so glad I did, because it smelled amazing!  It was vanilla scented and I really, really enjoyed using it.  It was incredibly hydrating and my skin felt super soft after using it.  I may or may not purchase a full-sized pack of these (4 for $28).
  • Chapstick Hydration Lock ($2.99) - I didn't include this in the photo above, but it was the "Birchbox Find" for October.  I gave it to my mom because Chapstick is a brand I don't use.

November's box may be the best one I've gotten this year.  The theme was "More Good," e.g. giving thanks, giving back, and generally paying it forward during the holiday season.  I'm not really sure how that ties into the products, but I'm not complaining because Birchbox did an awesome job of sending me things I loved this month!

  • Chuao Chocolatier Chocopod (~$1.24) - I LOVE Chuao, and I actually discovered the brand through Birchbox last year.  I didn't receive a Chocopod in my box until now, but I have bought many a bar from my grocery store in the past.  I got the "Honeycomb" flavor and it was delicious.  There wasn't a very strong honey flavor, but overall I enjoyed it.  My favorite bar they make is the "Firecracker" one.
  • Chella Highlighter Pencil ($18) - I was really interested in trying this out because I've never used a pencil highlighter before, but I don't think the shade is quite right for my skin tone; it kind of just disappears after I blend it in.  I got the "Ivory Lace" shade, but I the other option ("Latte") might be too dark for my skin.  Even though it doesn't work so well as a highlighter for my face, since it applies so smoothly I'm going to use it to line my waterline to brighten up my eyes.
  • TOCCA Crema de Mano Luxe ($5) - I got the "Cleopatra" scent, which is a mixture of grapefruit and cucumber.  It (obviously) smells fresh and citrus-y and I really like it.  It's also paraben-free, which I like, but it does have a few other synthetics that I don't entirely enjoy.
  • Vasanti BrightenUp! Enzymatic Face Rejuvenator (~$5.67) - My skin gets so flaky during the winter, but it's also sensitive so I can't really exfoliate more than once a week.  The label for this states that it's appropriate to use 3-5 times a week and mimics the effects of microdermabrasion.  I enjoyed using it and it's definitely effective, but I think I'll stick to using it maybe twice a week.
  • Color Club Cocktail Hour Collection ($4) - This is the third or fourth Color Club polish I've gotten from Birchbox, and I say: keep 'em coming!  Color Club is one of my top favorite nail polish brands because their formula is fantastic.  I received the shade "Top Shelf," which is a beautiful champagne/gold shimmer that's perfect for the holidays.

Bottom Line: October and November brought another set of great Birchboxes for me!  Have you noticed an improvement in your boxes since they changed the user profile?

*Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Escape Monthly Holiday Bonus Boxes on Sale Now!

Escape Monthly is a destination-inspired subscription that delivers luxury products inspired by places around the world to your door.  Right now they have Holiday Bonus Boxes for sale, but they're only available for a limited time, so snatch one up while you can!

The box is valued at over $100 and promises to deliver "holiday-inspired sweet delights," "luxurious essentials for self-indulgence," and "very special seasonal secrets."  You'll receive 10 different products, and it sounds like they're going to include a good mix of products.  I'm curious to see what the special secrets will be!
  • If you want to pick up a Holiday Bonus Box, they're on sale for $39.99 and as I write this there are 66 left.  The sale ends December 4th.  Click here to get yours!
  • Connect with Escape Monthly on Facebook and Twitter.

*Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post.  Post contains affiliate links.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Indie Gift Box: Introducing Indie Man + a Giveaway

Indie Gift Box is back!  I've tried two of their previous boxes and they were a lot of fun.  The subscription closed for a while, but I believe it's under new ownership and is now launching new and exciting options!  They launched their first Indie Man box this past Monda and are giving you an opportunity to win a free box!

Their Morning Ritual inaugural box contains products from Kehoe Naturals, Craftsman Soap Co., Red Rooster Coffee Roaster, Musician Matt McCloskey, and Sugar & Type.  It's a steal at only $25 for over $40 worth of products, so even if you don't win I still think this box is worth purchasing!  The best thing about Indie Gift Box is that, like the name implies, they support independent artisans and crafters.  I've seen what previous Indie Gift boxes have included, and I've been really impressed.

  • Enter to win an Indie Man box by clicking here!  It's a Rafflecopter giveaway that ends on November 30th at midnight, PST.
  • Or, purchase a box outright by clicking here (if it's no longer on the page, it means they've sold out).
  • Learn more about Indie Gift Box at their website, and check out all of the boxes they have available
  • Read my past Indie Gift Box reviews here.

*Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post.  It contains no affiliate or referral links.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

November Bestowed Review and Coupon

I'm continuously impressed by the high quality products that Bestowed sends out in their food boxes each month!  This subscription is geared towards a healthy lifestyle, and for $19 a month they'll send you a box full of great snacks.

Heather Bauer, Bestowed's founder, selected products for November that would "help kick your workout regimen into gear."  I was really impressed by the variety of items, and I found a lot of new brands to enjoy!

  • LifeIce in Chocolate Crisp - This product was definitely the most intriguing of the box to me.  It's a tray of 30 calorie mini frozen treats that are gluten-free, non-GMO, and have no preservatives.  I haven't frozen them yet but I have a feeling that they're going to taste delicious, and will be an easy way to satisfy my chocolate cravings without having to feel too guilty about it.
  • Skratch Labs Exercise Hydration Mix - I received Pineapple and Lemon Lime and I used the Pineapple flavor today.  These were surprisingly light in flavor, but I liked that.  It was just enough to have a great taste, but it wasn't overpowering.  I am definitely interested in purchasing full-sized packages of these.
  • ZICO Chocolate - Coconut water is not my favorite, but I'm curious to see what a chocolate flavored one tastes like.  If I don't care for it, I know my brother really likes them so I'll probably pass it along to him.  This one has no artificial colors, flavors, or sweeteners and is also gluten-free.
  • Salba Smart Chia Boost - Chia seeds are a great source of natural energy and contain essential Omega 3s (ALA), fiber, and magnesium benefits.  I keep meaning to make smoothies so I can add these in, but I never get around to doing it.  Someday I will try, though!
  • Eat Green Tea - This was another product that I found to be rather interesting: edible green tea leaves.  I'm a big fan of traditional green tea, but it never occurred to me that eating the leaves would be an effective way to reap their benefits as well.  These can be sprinkled on mashed potatoes, pizzas, or really any food that needs a little extra garnish.  I haven't tried them yet, but I'm looking forward to doing so.

  • Crunchmaster Multi-Seed Crackers: I had sampled these crackers before in another box (I can't remember which one), and they are delicious!  They have the perfect crunch and a light flavor.  I used them with the hummus dip, but they're also yummy on their own.  They're made from a blend of quinoa, sesame seeds, and amaranth.
  • Wild Garden Hummus Dip - I received the Roasted Garlic flavor to try, and it was very garlicky!  I'm a huge fan of garlic, though, so I enjoyed it (a little went a long way).  I thought the packaging was really clever and great for on the go.  I could see myself taking a few with me on a camping trip for a healthy snack.
  • Nektar Honey Crystals - I bought some Pumpkin Spice tea over the weekend, so these arrived at the perfect time.  I don't normally add honey to my tea, but I'm not against the idea.  These GMO-free crystals contain all the sweetness of traditional liquid honey, but are much more convenient and less messy.  I actually haven't had them with my tea yet, but I'm going to use them the next time I steep a cup.
  • Quest Bar Chocolate Peanut Butter - These bars are great for athletes, boasting 20 grams of protein and 17 grams of fiber.  They're a clean option for fuel and also assist with muscle recovery.  I am usually not a fan of protein bars, but I'm willing to give this one a try.
  • Perfect Fuel Chocolate - I really wanted to love this chocolate, but I found it to be very bitter.  I think my sense of taste is more sensitive to bitter than other peoples', because I offered it to my friend Linze to try and she loved it.  Either way, these little bars are infused with ginseng to help give you a boost before working out or just to get you through that 3pm slump.

If you're interested in signing up for Bestowed, use coupon code HELLOTEN103 at their website to receive your first box for only $10!

Bottom Line: I think that Bestowed boxes are an awesome value at only $19 a month.  I have really enjoyed all of the boxes I've tried (click here for past reviews), and November's box was another fantastic treat!

*Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Bestowed.  I received no monetary compensation.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Moodsign Review

The Moodsign is a unique way to keep a relationship fun and interesting, and I was lucky enough to be able to review this "new way to flirt."  I received a Moodsign and card set, which combine for a simple and exciting way to send non-verbal signals.

The Moodsign was developed by CEO Chris Choulet, and he explains that it's an effective way to avoid mixed signals.  It can be used to flirt, tease, arouse, or simply make it known that all you're interested in is getting a simple foot rub.  I think that The Moodsign is a really interesting idea, and definitely something that would be beneficial to a healthy relationship.  Body language can be misinterpreted sometimes, and this makes those signals clearer for everyone involved.

The Moodsign itself is a white column that is about five inches tall, seven when the "ears" are extended.  I think it kind of looks like a rabbit when the two tabs are sticking up!  When you're in the mood for something, you can raise one arm of The Moodsign, adjusting the height and intensity of the light to match your mood.  You can also designate certain colors to mean different things, so that when your partner sees it he or she will know exactly what you're in the mood for (or not in the mood for).  The idea behind it is so simple, but as anyone who has been in a relationship can attest, communication isn't always clear, so a tool like this can avoid frustration or mixed signals.

I also received a deck of The Moodsign card game cards, which can be used to enhance your experience with The Moodsign device.  It contains 30 erotic fantasy cards, 12 customizable cards, and six "quid pro quo" cards.  The "quid pro quos" can be used to address frustrations in a playful way, and the other two categories are pretty self-explanatory.  The fantasy cards range in intensity, so I do think there's something in the mix for everyone.  I've been in a long-term relationship for over three years now, and the combo of the card game and The Moodsign have been a fun addition for my boyfriend and me!  Not only did it give us new ideas, but it made the whole experience a lot more fun.  I think it's important to laugh together, too, so being able to connect on that level while using The Moodsign was really great.

  • Visit The Moodsign's website to learn more and purchase one for yourself.  The Moodsign is $29.99, the card game is $14.99, or you can purchase both for $39.99.

Bottom Line: I think that The Moodsign is a really fun tool and game for any relationship.  Communication is key when it comes to love, but saying what you mean isn't always easy.  The Moodsign device makes it much simpler and clearer to relay to your partner what you want, and the cards give you lots of options to try  depending on that mood!

Check out this video from The Moodsign to learn more:

*Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by The Moodsign. I received no monetary compensation.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

November FAIR Treasure Review

I'm always excited to see what gifts will be inside FAIR Treasure's boxes, and I am incredibly thankful to learn that they'll be sending me three more boxes to review.  FAIR Treasure sends a monthly shipment of handmade, artisan products that support fair trade organizations.  For only $30 a month, it's a great way to receive products that you may not find elsewhere and help people from around the world.

November's box contained a jewelry item and a candle.  I've received quite a few beautiful jewelry pieces from FAIR Treasure, and I always enjoy reading the stories of the people who made them.  I'm also a candle addict, so this one was a wonderful addition to my collection.

These Lima Posts earrings from Greenola are made entirely from recycled materials.  Karina of Cochabamba, Bolivia, crafts all of her glass work jewelry from recycled bottles that she collects herself from neighbors and local businesses.  I love that she's creating something beautiful from recycled materials, since environmentalism is another issue I feel passionately about.  These earrings aren't normally a style I would choose for myself, but I really do like them and I'm glad I received something new to try!

This Gratitude Candle by Maroma is from the Auroville community of South India.  Auroville was established as a "universal town" around 40 years ago where men and women of various nationalities could come together to work and live.  There are now approximately 50,000 people working in Auroville.  Maroma crafts provide women of the area with sustainable work, and many of the citizens work in areas of organic farming, renewable energy, and eco-friendly industries.  This candle contains essential oils of orange, grapefruit and lemon, creating a wonderful citrus aroma.  I'm also in love with the gorgeous detailing on the packaging!

Bottom Line: November's FAIR Treasure box contained another selection of items I can put to great use.  I've been thoroughly pleased with all of the past boxes I've received and I encourage anyone who is interested in fair-trade items to give this subscription a try!

*Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by FAIR Treasure.  I received no monetary compensation.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

CV Skinlabs Review

Now that it's winter, my skincare regimen is going to be changing to adapt to the drier air and cooler temperatures.  My hands get especially dry and flaky around this time, and luckily CV Skinlabs came around at the perfect time to rescue my skin from a long season of discomfort!

CV Skinlabs creates cruelty-free, natural and organic lotions and balms that are luxuriously soothing.  They're clinically proven to nurture and repair skin and are also effective treatments for sensitive skin, eczema, dullness, redness, chronic dryness, irritation, and more.  The brand was started by Britta Aragon; a cancer survivor, author, and natural beauty expert.  She wanted to create options for the most sensitive of skin types that would restore radiance and luminosity.

I was lucky enough to try three samples of products from the CV Skinlabs line.  I thoroughly enjoyed them all, and I am definitely interested in buying full sized versions!

  • Body Repair Lotion ($36 for 6 fl oz)- This lotion provides advanced therapy for dry, irritated skin.  It calms inflammation and delivers long-lasting moisture, which is essential to me year-round, but especially in winter.  I loved the silky-smooth formula and would highly recommend this product to people of all skin types.
  • Calming Moisture for Face, Neck, and Scalp ($49 for 2 fl oz) - My face skin-type is oily, but it's also very sensitive.  I'm always looking for moisturizers that are gentle but effective, and this one fits the bill!  It's an antioxidant-rich formula that clams redness (which is a constant problem for me) and deeply hydrates while also repairing the skin.
  • Restorative Skin Balm ($26 for .5 fl oz) - This balm was my favorite product of the bunch because it was perfect for my rough, dry hands.  It's a very potent, thick consistency, so a little goes a long way.  The formula is non-petrolatum, but it does include carnauba wax and beeswax.  Other main ingredients that work to moisturize the skin include calendula, sea buckthorn oil, and arnica.

Bottom Line: I'm so glad I was able to try these CV Skinlabs products, and I will most likely be purchasing full-sized versions in the future.  I especially loved the Restorative Skin Balm.  I think that all three would be a lovely addition to anyone's winter skin regimen!

*Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by CV Skinlabs through BrandBacker.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Beyond Polish Review and Swatches - Zoya and China Glaze!

If you're a nail polish addict like I am, you need to check out Beyond Polish.  They're a small, online store that sells tons of different nail polishes, and when they contacted me to see if I was interested in doing a review I jumped at the chance!

Beyond Polish carries gift sets, gel polish, regular nail lacquer, acrylic supplies, and various nail care and spa products.  They have lots of popular brands, including my personal favorite, Zoya.  They also carry plenty of colors from brands like Essie, China Glaze, and more.

The first color I picked was Cosmic Dust by China Glaze, from their Spring/Summer 2013 Hologram collection.  I had been coveting the holos in this line for a while, so when I saw that they were available at the Beyond Polish site I knew I had to try one!  Have you seen that video of the guy talking about Five Guys (the songified version)?  All I could think when I swatched this polish was, "This is how holos are supposed to be!"  The photo above doesn't do it justice at all.  I tried my best to capture how absolutely shimmery and perfect and wonderful it was, but I promise that it's 10 times more gorgeous in person!  As with all China Glaze polishes, this one had a great formula that applied evenly and smoothly.

My second polish was Put A Bow On It, also by China Glaze, from their Happi HoliGlaze 2013 holiday collection.  As you can see, it's a slightly textured microglitter in a gorgeous shade of fuschia.  I really liked the other swatches I had seen of this polish, and it did not disappoint once I tried it myself.  I would definitely recommend using a pure acetone remover with this one, though.  Even with the pure acetone it was difficult to remove, but it's so beautiful that I think it's well worth the effort!

I had to choose a Zoya polish as my last pick, and I went with LC from the Summer 2008 Gossip collection.  All of the polishes in that collection are named after members of the cast of The Hills, which is a show I loved to watch when I was in high school.  This polish is a bright coral/orange that had been on my wish list for a while.  Zoya is my favorite brand because they're vegan-friendly, big five free, and cruelty-free.  Their formula is also the best I've ever used: application is so smooth and you don't need many coats for it to be opaque (the photo above is with two).  My only gripe about this polish is that when I removed it, it left a lot of staining around my cuticles; but it was nothing that an extra swipe of polish remover couldn't take care of.

Bottom Line: I am so glad I was introduced to Beyond Polish and I will definitely be shopping there again in the future!  I think all polish lovers should check it out, because they have a broad range of products and colors.  They're also currently advertising a 10% off coupon: use epkb4 at checkout!

*Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Beyond Polish.  I received no monetary compensation.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Miessence Skin Essentials Review

Since the skin is the body's largest organ, I'm always looking for skincare that is effective and chemical-free.  Miessence is a wonderful brand that delivers on both!  I reviewed four of their Skin Essentials regimens, which were sponsored by Hannah from TheOliveParent Organics, an independent representative of Miessence.

Miessence is an Australian company that was established under the Organic & Natural Enterprises Group in 2003 by Narelle and Colin Chenery, Alf Orpen, and John Hunter.  It is the world's first extensive range of internationally certified organic skin, hair, body, cosmetic, oral, and nutritional products.  The Skin Essentials products are Australian Certified Organic, and also certified organic to International Food Standards.  They're made with yucca extract, as opposed to harsh soaps or detergents.  They gently remove dirt and oils from the skin with the natural plant saponins found in yucca.

The first line I tried was the Rejuvenating one, and I also used this one the most extensively.  There was a mix-up in the original shipment, and I received 10 each of the cleanser, skin conditioner, and moisturizer in Rejuvenating, so I was able to use this for a longer period of time than the other varieties.  The Rejuvenating line is meant for dry/mature skin, and is formulated with organic geranium, hops, and chamomile.  I have to say that this line was probably my least favorite, as the products had a very strange scent.  They were gently on my skin, but I didn't see any noticeable difference after using this for about two weeks.  My main issue is redness and oil, which is not what this line was created for.

The Purifying line was my favorite and much better suited for my skin.  It's meant for oily/problem skin and the organic extracts it contains help inflamed complexions.  The main ingredients are organic echinacea, plantain, calendula, with hazel, tea tree, and lemon myrtle.  I really liked using these products and I think they worked well with my oily skin.  Unfortunately, I only received one packet of each so I was only able to use these for a total of two days before my supply ran out.  I would have been interested to see how well they worked after a month's time or more.

I also enjoyed using the Soothing line, as my skin is oily but also sensitive and this one is targeted toward sensitive skin.  It contains two soothing chamomiles (German and Roman), protective calendula, carrot, and organic horsechestnut.  I liked the scent of this line the best, too.

Last up is the Balancing line, made for normal/combination skin.  It is a hydrating aloe vera infusion with organic olive leaf, calendula, and marshmallow to refresh and tone the skin.  I felt that this line also worked well with my skin.  Each line came with a cleanser, skin conditioner, and moisturizer, which were to be used in that order.  The cleansers were non-foaming and very gentle, the skin conditioner was a serum-like consistency and very potent (so a little went a long way), and the moisturizer was light but effective.

Bottom Line: I wish I had received more packets to try in the Purifying, Soothing, and Balancing lines, since they all worked well with my skin after a few uses.  I think that the Purifying line would probably be the best for my skin in the long run.  Either way, I thoroughly enjoyed using these Miessence Skin Essentials products and I would definitely recommend them.  I love that they're certified organic, cruelty-free, and available for a wide range of skin types.

  • Learn more about Miessence and browse their full line of products at TheOliveParent Organics's Miessence website.  Be sure to use promo code toporganics for 20% off your entire order!
  • Connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and YouTube
  • TheOliveParent Organics and Miessence are offering two incredibly informative webinars!  If you're interested in attending either or both of them, please RSVP here.

*Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Miessence.  I received no monetary compensation.

Friday, November 8, 2013

October Petit Vour Review

I'm a little sad to report that this will be my last Petit Vour review for a while because I've cancelled my subscription.  The October box was nice, but I'll explain why I cancelled later on in the post.

If you're not familiar with Petit Vour, it's a monthly subscription that sends out vegan "beauty minis" from cruelty-free companies only.  I was initially drawn to the box because I only shop cruelty-free.  It costs $15 a month with shipping included, and is an easy and enjoyable way to be introduced to cruelty-free brands.

I had been a subscriber since May, when the box launched.  With the exception of one box, I thoroughly enjoyed all of the shipments I received.  The reason I cancelled was because although I enjoyed the samples, I found that I wasn't completely overjoyed by the size of the products.  Most boxes had a high retail value, but I'm strange in that I'd rather receive more lesser-priced samples than three or four high-value samples.  So in the end I realized that even though I really did like getting my Petit Vour boxes each month, I felt that I could live without them so I thought it best to save the money.

The first item I received was a Devious Lipstick by The Elixery ($18).  This is a completely new brand to me, and apparently the lipstick is hand poured and compounded from scratch.  As you can see from the photo above, it's a deep red that's great for fall and winter.  I haven't used it yet, but I can't wait to have an occasion to wear it!

My favorite sample in this box was the Skinny Legs Signature Massage Oil by Ally's AromaRemedies ($12), even though I did notice a typo on their packaging (one of my pet peeves).  At first I wasn't sure how often I would use it because of the "massage oil" name, but after reading more about the product I realized that it can be used as a daily moisturizer.  The blend encourages "body purification, circulation, shaping, and relaxation."  It has a warm, earthy scent, and I applied it on my arms and legs after showering.  It moisturizes incredibly well, as can be expected from a body oil.

The last two samples were the Aiyana Natural Eau de Parfum by Tallulah Jane ($1.59) and the Pure Balance Moisturizer by Root Science ($14.75).  I really loved Root Science facial moisturizer right away, but I wasn't so sure about the perfume.  I liked the moisturizer because my skin gets incredibly dry and flaky in colder weather, and a face oil like this really penetrates deeply and moisturizes so well.  This one is organic and promotes a beautiful complexion without any harsh synthetics.

When I smelled the perfume, I was initially turned off because it had very strong floral notes (not my favorite).  I figured it was worth trying, though; so I wore it to work one day and ended up loving it!  The top notes are heavily floral, but the middle notes are spicy and rich and I felt that it was a wonderful fall scent.

Bottom Line: As you can see, the October Petit Vour box had a nice assortment of high-quality samples, which is why I was sad to ultimately cancel my subscription.  It really wasn't a reflection of the box itself, because I love that they're highlighting cruelty-free brands.  The main reason why I cancelled was to save money.