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MOA Brand Spotlight

Natural Brands for a Natural You!

Thursday, 14 June 2018

I have been following Pure Natural Box for absolutely ages now, and I have had major box envy every time a new edition was released.  Their collections are all hand picked to include products from boutique and luxury green beauty brands, and the value is always exceptional.  Plus, I love that everything is cruelty free, paraben free, and natural!

The box I received is edition 12, and it has an overall value of over £70 -- considering I paid around £25 this is an incredible savings.  Plus, out of the six items, four are full size, one is an exclusive release, and only one is sample size.  I love that everything is a substantial size, as this is the best way to try out new items.  If you get a face mask that is only single use to test out, it can be really tricky to decide whether or not that product is actually suited to your skin.  This way, even if you decide something is not for you, you have given it the ol' one-two.

Optiat Feel Great Coffee Scrub in Mouthwatering Mandarin:
RRP: £9.99
Size: 220g

I have used two other versions of this item, so I was excited to take a sniff of the Mouthwatering Mandarin, and guess what -- the mouthwatering part is so accurate!  This scrub smells incredible, an amazing mix of rich coffee and zesty citrus, and I love how uplifting the scent is for both mind and body.  The formula is perfection, as the consistency is neither dry or runny, but a great middle ground that means the scrub applies smoothly and easily.  There is little to no mess when putting it on, though you want to be sure to be ready to rinse down the shower or bath when you are finished.  I find putting down a cheese cloth or coffee filter over the drain helps catch all the grounds, then you can just pop them in the bin or in the garden afterwards.

Optiat gathers from cafes and restaurants around London, meaning this is brilliant for "giving old grounds new life."   I love the whole ethos behind the product, and know that beyond just the great smell and feel of the product that the ingredients are genuinely great for the skin and can help target cellulite, has the ability to calm redness, and brightens tired and dull complexions.  Pretty amazing for something so simple!

Ingredients: Coffea Arabica Seed Powder (Arabica Coffee), Sucrose (Brown Sugar), Sodium Chloride (Sea Salt), Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Prunus Amygdalus Var Dulcis (Almond) Kernel Oil, Citrus Nobilis (Mandarin) Peel Oil, Citrus Sinensis (Orange) Peel Oil, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Oil, Benzyl Alcohol, Dehydroacetic Acid, Benzoic Acid, Sorbic Acid, Limonene*, Linalool* (*Naturally-occurring)

Optiat Nourishing & Hydrating Face Mask:
RRP: £17.95
Size: 30g

Like the coffee scrub, this face mask from Optiat re-purposes something that normally ends up in the bin and gives it a new use.  Dried hemp husks are combined with clay and activated charcoal to create an all natural detoxifying treat for your skin.  The Nourishing & Hydrating mask utilizes the soothing powers of marshmallow root and calendula which work to provide an added moisture boost to your face, making this ideal for the lead in to summer!

I found this mask mixes easily and creates a light but smooth paste that you can then apply with your fingers.  The texture is slightly grainy, but this means you gets a mini-exfoliation as well as the nourishment.  Once the mask is on, simply leave it on for ten minutes allowing it to dry, then rinse thoroughly and enjoy your fresh face.

Ingredients: Kaolin Clay, Sucrose (Sugar)*, Moroccan Lava (Rhassoul) Clay, Cannabis Sativa (Hemp) Powder, Althaea Officinalis (Marshmallow) Root*, Calendula Officinalis Leaf*, Activated Charcoal Powder, Citrus Limon Peel Oil*, Boswellia Carterii (Frankincense) Oil*, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Flower Oil*, Pelargonium Graveolens (Geranium) Leaf Oil*, Anthemis Nobilis (Chamomile) Flower Oil*, Limonene^, Citral^, Geraniol^, Linalool^, Citronellol^. *Organic ingredients. 36% organic of total. ^Naturally-occurring.

Pura Cosmetics Perfect Pout Lip Scrub:
RRP: £4.50
Size: 24g

I love a good lip scrub, and this one is fab.  There is no plastic in sight with the packaging, and the jar is a very generous size.  My last pot of a similar product lasted me about five months, so I expect this will be a similar run.  I only exfoliate my lips once per week, as otherwise I find it can do more harm than good.  Done properly though, I find my lips look fresh and radiant without any product on, and when I do choose to wear lipstick it goes on much more evenly and without any unseemly rough patches.

The pina colada smell of the scrub is delicious, and it brings to mind warm summer nights and sunshine and beaches.  The grain of the sugar is not too large, making it easy to use and a great exfoliant that is not too rough.  I find it moisturizing as well thanks to the apricot kernel oil and coconut oil, which makes it great for keeping lips smooth and healthy.  Definitely one of my favourites in this edition of Pure Natural Box.

Ingredients: Golden Caster Sugar, Pure Coconut Oil, Apricot Kernel Oil, Mica Colouring and Flavouring

Bodhi and Birch Lemon Water Hydrosol Tonic:
RRP: £25
Size: 50ml

Floral waters are one of my favourite skincare products, and I tend to use them throughout the day every day.  However, for this one I am using it a bit more sparingly as it is so lush I don't want it to run out -  I'm treating every last drop as precious!

The Lemon Water Hydrosol Tonic is part of the newly launched Superfood Series from Bodhi and Birch, and as the title suggests, it is made up of botanicals specifically chosen for their effectiveness.  This specific spray contains lemon, bergamot, neroli, pomegranate, pea, and cucumber, plus is infused with healing properties of clear crystal quartz.  It combines all aspects of nature, both mineral and plant, to target skin health and boost moisture levels, increase skin tone, and strengthen the cells.

I find the fragrance so uplifting and fresh, and you can feel from the very first spritz what high quality this actually is.  While the full size is much pricier than what I usually go for, I really think I will have to splurge on a bottle when I run out, as this is too good to go without for long!

Ingredients: Citrus Limon (Lemon) Hydrosol, °Citrus Aurantium (Neroli) Hydrosol, °Citrus Bergamia (Bergamot) Hydrosol, °Glycerin, Aqua (Water), °Punica Granatum (Pomegranate) Fruit Extract, °Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Pisium Sativum (Pea) Extract, Sodium Levulinate, Sodium Anisate, * Crystal Quartz Sphere
°Certified Organic *Natural Mineral

Indigenous Beauty Uplifting Natural Deodorant:
RRP: £1.50
Size: 5ml

A great natural deodorant is something everyone needs, so I was happy to see this trial size included in Edition 12 of Pure Natural Box.  The deo is free from aluminium and is handmade in small batches to ensure high quality, high performing product.  I love how all the ingredients are chosen with a purpose in mind.  For example,

"Bicarbonate of Soda and Arrowroot work to combat odour and help keep wetness at bay. Extra Virgin Coconut Oil has antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, and is very moisturising for skin. Unrefined Shea Butter and natural Vitamin E help soothe skin."

This deo has a smooth consistency and is not very grainy meaning it is comfortable and easy to apply.  I find it works really well, and I do not have to touch up like I do with some other natural deodorants.  This is definitely a product I will have to get a full size pot of in the future!

Ingredients: Sodium bicarbonate, maranta arundinacea root (Organic Arrowroot), cocos nucifera (Organic Coconut) Oil, butyrospermum parkii (Organic Shea Butter), a-Tocopherol (Vitamin E), citrus sinensis peel oil (Organic Sweet Orange essential oil), citrus grandis peel oil (Organic Grapefruit essential oil), limonene*
*Natural constituent of essential oil listed.

BalmKind Alpine Rose & Lysine Lip Balm:
RRP: £12
Size: 10ml

This lip balm from BalmKind was a Beauty Shortlist Awards finalist for 2018, and is meant to be great for parched, chapped, and troubled lips.  The formula is "never sticky" and packed full of antioxidants that help leave you with a natural shine.

I have to be honest, I am not sure I will be using this as the label is not up to my usual standards and it contains one of my dreaded ingredients, phenoxyethonal.  This preservative really irritates my skin, especially my face and lips, and I do not want a repeat of my winter lip disaster.  I will read a few more reviews before making a final decision, but I think I will be gifting this to someone who does not have the same sensitivity to this as I do.

Ingredients: Ricinus Communis Seed Oil, Bis-diglyceryl Polyacyladipate-2, Hydroxystearic/Linolenic/Oleic Polyglycerides, Avena Sativa Kernel Oil, Cera Alba, Punica Granatum Sterols, Rhus Succedanea Fruit Wax, Aqua, Polysorbate 60, Sorbitan Olivate, Caprylyl Glycol, Tocopherol, Lysine HCL, Glycerin, Ammonium Glycyrrhizate, Parfum, Rhododendron Ferrugineum Extract, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Citral, Citronellol, Geraniol, Linalool, CI77891, CI77491

Overall I am loving this box, and find everything so good for the lead in to the warmer weather (that is hopefully coming soon!).  The lemon water from Bodhi and Birch has to be my favourite out of the collection, but everything is honestly fab and I am so pleased I finally got my hands on an edition of Pure Natural Box after so much time. 

Unfortunately, if you are interested in getting one of these boxes you will have to wait until the next edition as this one has been sold out since soon after launch day.  If you want to be guaranteed Edition 13, you can subscribe at any point before the full reveal -- there are loads of options to choose from, so every budget can be matched.  And while we wait for a hint about the next collection, let me know which green goodies were your favourite from Edition 12 of Pure Natural Box in the comments below!

Monday, 11 June 2018

I am so excited to be reviewing Full of Kindness this month and to share my thoughts on the June collection with all you eco-lovelies! This ethical subscription box is dedicated to making the lifestyle easy for everyone by bringing customers tried and tested vegan, cruelty free, and natural products straight to their door each month.

The monthly box contains five ethical beauty items and is sent off on the 1st so you can look forward to a variety of goodies to test out at the beginning of each month - the perfect start!  And, not only are the products inside your box full of kindness, but for each edition bought, 50p is donated to an animal friendly charity. 

I love that the June edition is so cohesive - the shades all work well together and everything is perfectly chosen for the upcoming summer.  There is a pop of colour to compliment the neutral lips and eyes, and a super hydrating balm to touch up any dry spots before breaking out the swimsuits.  It is a lovely collection with fantastic brands, and I was happy to see some names that I have not had a chance to try before!

Zoya Nail Polish in Darcy: I have used only one Zoya polish before, but I really liked it so I was excited to be able to test out another bottle.  Zoya is a 10-free brand, meaning they are free from formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, dibutyl phthalate, toluene, camphor, TPHP, parabens, xylene, ethyl tosylamide, and lead, all of which are found in most high street nail products and pose potential toxic effects.

This is such a bold colour I really was not sure about it at first, but after painting my nails and seeing it on, I love it!  The shade is a sunshine yellow, and it is full coverage creme polish making it a great swipe and go product.  It is fully opaque in one sweep, but I always opt for at least two coats just for lasting power when I wear a creme polish.  The Zoya base has lasted about five days and is still going strong - so far so good!  Plus, I love how cheerful it is, and think it will be so cute once the weather starts to warm up a bit again.  For now, I have paired the shade with a dark blue (almost black) mixed pattern which makes the yellow really pop.

Ingredients: Butyl Acetate, Ethyl Acetate, Nitrocellulose, Acetyl Tributyl Citrate, Isopropyl Alcohol, Sterikonium Hectolite, Acrylates Copolymer, Styrane / Acrylates Copolymer.

PHB Eye Shadow Brush: I actually have one of these brushes already, but I like it so much that I am really happy to have a second one (especially since I am absolutely the worst at washing my brushes so it is good to have a spare!).  The bristles are super soft, and the shape is especially great for blending and highlighting.  Plus, it is made from eco-friendly sustainable materials!

Benecos Natural Eyeshadow Matt in Mauve Me: I usually go for a bit of shimmer on my eyes as I am pretty basic with the rest of my makeup, so this was a really nice change for me.  Mauve Me is a soft and neutral light chocolate shade that is perfect for a natural and sophisticated eye.  The colour is said to be good to "illuminate and define" your look, and I have to agree!  A light sweep across your lid and you have a great casual style that can work for on the go or a day out at the beach.  The lasting power is pretty impressive, and I like how smooth the formula is.


Pacifica Color Quench Lip Tint in Coconut Nectar: I love a good lipstick, and I love a good lip balm, and this tint from Pacifica fuses the two together so well.  The product itself feels really moisturizing thanks to avocado and coconut oils, and even after just one use I could feel the nourishing qualities helping my parched lips.  I really like the design on the box and on the tube, and was happy to see the packaging is 100% recyclable -- a big deal to me since I am trying to cut down on waste!

The product smells amazing and I appreciate that Pacifica achieves this without adding artificial fragrance.  It's like a sweet coconut, and it brings to mind clear sunny skies and sandy beaches.  The colour itself is lovely too - it's a sheer and subtle bronze with a bit of shimmer to it which I find the perfect sunkissed shade.  It doesn't last all day, but it is great for a short trip out. Plus you can always touch it up periodically if needed.  Since this is a tint rather than a full coverage lipstick you don't have to worry about having a mirror handy - just apply like a chapstick and you are good to go without worrying about having a bright smudge all around your mouth.

Ingredients: cocos nucifera (coconut) oil [emollient/ moisturizer], glycine soja (soy) wax [emollient/ mositurizer], euphorbia cerifera (candelilla) wax [emollient/ mositurizer], theobroma cacao (cocoa) seed butter [emollient/ mositurizer], persea gratissima (avocado) oil [emollient/ mositurizer], natural flavor [flavor], vitamin E [emollient/ mositurizer], rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf extract [beneficial]. May contain [colorants]: mica, titanium dioxide, iron oxides.

Beauty Kitchen Free From Wonder Balm: I love everything about this balm.  No plastic in sight, fragrance free meaning it is suitable for sensitive skin and those who have allergies, and a super handy size perfect for carrying around -- it is all fab!  The balm is multipurpose, and can be used on lips, elbows, knees, and more.

The balm melts onto your finger when you go to get some product which makes it super easy to use and pretty mess free.  I've mainly been using it on my heels and cuticle as those areas still need a bit of TLC after the long dry winter and all the weather changes lately.  I have already seen some improvement, so the oils in this item seem to be doing the trick - will definitely be looking into trying more from Beauty Kitchen in the near future.

Ingredients: Hydrogenated Olive Oil, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter, Crambe Abyssinica Seed Oil, Citric Acid

Overall, the value of the June edition of Full of Kindness is over £35.  I am really happy with the quality of each item, and I love that I have discovered some green goodies that I had never tried out before.  The product that surprised me the most was the Zoya nail polish, as the colour is one I never would have picked out for myself -- it is bold, bright, and perfect for sunshiny days.  I especially like the shade when combined with funky prints!

If you haven't checked out Full of Kindness yet, I highly recommend you do -- their boxes are packed with natural, vegan and cruelty free products, and the variety is really great.  Just be sure to subscribe before the 20th, as that is the cutoff date for the following edition!  You can choose from a monthly rolling subscription or a quarterly option, and prices start from £18 per box (plus postage).  If you are starting out on your journey with ethical living or just want some lovely handpicked treats every now and again, Full of Kindness has got you covered!

Saturday, 9 June 2018

Dafna's Personal Skincare is an award winning luxury skincare brand made in Spain that values honesty, effectiveness, passion, and responsibility.  Their formulations use 100% pure and bio essential oils, certified ingredients (many of which are organic!), and clean biotechnology, plus they are cruelty free and free from all the common nasties.  What's not to love??

One thing that sets Dafna's apart is their belief in going beyond skin deep.  They proudly state that all of their products "undergo Ayurvedic philosophy: (Ayur’ = life, Veda=knowledge), the body and mind are directly related and we believe in the power of the mind to transform and heal the body."  By using a fusion of science and nature, they achieve high quality skincare that target a variety of needs, from dehydration to stressed cells.

This luxury range covers all the key products, including serum, eye care, cleanser, moisturizer, face masks, and more.  And guess what -- I was lucky enough to get their perfect for summer cream!  I was thrilled to receive a bottle of their Moisture + Light moisturizer to test out as part of the LLABP, as I have been eyeing up the brand for ages now, and I have been beyond happy with the results.

The moisturizer comes in a 30ml beautiful black glass bottle with an easy to use pump system.  One push provides the ideal amount of product to apply to your skin, so there is no guesswork involved.  I have to admit I am pretty terrible at knowing how much to use, so this is a huge plus for me.

Dafna's Moisture + Light was created to revitalize the skin and uplift the senses, and includes hydrating ingredients like argan oil and hyaluronic acid as well as calming calendula and fig, making for a moisturizer that works even for more sensitive skin.

I was not sure exactly what to expect in terms of the consistency, as the 'light version' description made me think it might be more of a serum than a traditional moisturizer.  I was happily surprised that it looked and felt like a highly moisturizing formula, and the only difference is when it is applied -- it sinks in almost immediately.  I have never used something that absorbs so fast, and it felt like I wasn't even wearing anything which is so refreshing!  Since my skin tends to be a bit more problematic in the warmer weather, I was really excited by how lightweight the moisturizer feels.

Another thing I love about this product is that there is a whole ritual recommended for using it -- the formula is not just about hydrating your skin, but revitalizing and uplifting your senses as well.  Your mood is actually a factor in your overall skin health, so if you are stressed or upset, you can prematurely age your cells.  Neroli and rosemary essential oils work to energize, relieve anxiety, and raise your spirits before you even start to massage the moisturizer onto your face.  Just take three slow, deep breaths in of the scent, then finish with the application.

Overall I am loving the Moisture + Light from Dafna's, and I love that I have already found my perfect summer product before the real humidity and heat kicks off.  It is the perfect texture for my skin, and I really appreciate the aromatherapy benefits as my mood can go up and down so it is great starting my day off right.  Now that I have given this a go, I am even more excited to start trying out more of the range -- maybe I will go for the Bio Active Beauty Mask next!

Ingredients: Aqua, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract*, Vitis Vinifera Seed Oil, Glycerin, Olea Europaea Fruit Oil, Glyceryl Stearate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Sodium Hyaluronate , Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, Hedera Helix Leaf Extract, Mimosa Tenuiflora Bark, Ficus Carica Fruit Extract, Rosa Damascena Flower Water, Cera Alba, Plantago Major Leaf Extract, Bambusa Vulgaris Extract*, Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil*, Citrus Aurantium Amara Flower Oil*, Potassium Palmitoyl Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Helianthus Annuus Seed Oil*, Rosmarinus Officinalis Leaf Extract, Potassium Sorbate, Sorbitol, Cetyl Alcohol, Sodium Benzoate, Tocopherol, Pelargonium Graveolens Flower Oil, Rosmarinus Officinalis Leaf Oil*, Lavandula Angustifolia Oil Citral, Eugenol , Maltodextrin, Geraniol, Silica, Citronellol, Linaloo

Have you tried out Dafna's Skincare range yet?  I would love to hear your thoughts on the brand and on the products you have tried!  And if you are interested in getting a bottle of this perfect for summer moisturizer for yourself, you can find it over on Love Lula -- if it is your first order you can even grab 15% off your first order by using code LOVELULA15.

Thursday, 7 June 2018

If you know me or have been following me for a while, you might have noticed I have a few ride or die types of items that I always have on hand -- floral waters, nail polish, oils, and possibly my all time favourite, bath products.  We take a bath every weekend, and I adore the sheer amount of choice there is when drawing the perfect soak.  There are salts, oils, bubble bars, truffles, bombs, liquid bubble bath, milks, and more.  A scent for every situation, and a style for every need!

So, you can imagine how excited I was when I found what could only be my PERFECT subscription service -- one that delivers a full bath ritual right to your door every month!  Stars & Sage is the only beauty box that caters specifically to bathtime, and they curate cruelty free mind and body care kits that create the perfect ritual.

Each box contains between three and six products that are ethically minded, and Stars & Sage strive for organic, natural, plant based, and transparent brands whenever possible.  Based on this month's selection and the previous two boxes, this aim has been met!  I also love that there are both cult classics like Isla Apothecary's Blood Orange & Vanilla sugar scrub alongside lesser known artisan names like Forage Botanicals.  This makes for a great variety and ups the excitement for me as I love discovering new brands just as much as I like testing out products from tried and true favourites.

Another plus is that each box is themed - for May it was "Stop & Smell the Roses," and since I am super keen on the scent, I was really looking forward to opening up my box and trying all the amazing green goodies.  With six main items, two crystals, three chunks of pure Himalayan salt, a handy bath accessory, and an adorable "La vie en ROSE" sticker, this turned out to be more than I could have hoped for!

Inside the May box is a gift set from Nathalie Bond Organics that includes a 60ml jar of Rose and Patchouli Bath Salts, a 30ml bottle of Rose and Patchouli Body Oil, and one of their 60ml soy candles in (you guessed it!) Rose and Patchouli.  There is also a full size bottle of Balm Balm's lovely Little Miracle Rosehip Serum, a full size bottle of Yellow Gorse French Pink Clay Facial Mask, and a full size pot of Cornflower, Rose & Jasmine Floral Rinse from The Dirt Creative.

This month's "rosy additions" are five rock crystals including 3 chunks of Pink Himalayan Salt, one beautiful piece of Rose Quartz, and a stunning White Howlite gem, plus there is the adorable sticker and a helpful reusable 'tea bag' that helps eliminate any mess.

Ingredients: Cornflowers (centaurea cyanus), Rose Petals (rosaceae), Jasmine Flowers (jasminum)

Soy Candle Ingredients: natural (GMO free) soy wax and pure essential oils

Body Oil Ingredients:  carthamus tinctorius (safflower) seed oil*, simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) seed oil*, pelargonium graveolens (rose geranium/géranium rosat) flower oil*, cymbopogon martini (palmarosa) oil*, pogostemon cablin (patchouli) oil*, tocopherol (vitamin e). */COSMOS organic ingredient

Bath Salts Ingredients: sodium chloride (himalayan pink salt), caprylic/capric triglyceride (coconut), pelargonium graveolens (rose geranium/géranium rosat) flower oil, cymbopogon martini (palmarosa) oil, pogostemon cablin (patchouli) oil

Ingredients: Rosa Canina (Rosehip), Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba), Borago Officinalis (Borage), Boswellia Neglecta (Frankincense), Pelagonium Graveolens (Rose Geranium), Cymbopogon Martini (Palmarosa), Juniperus Communis (Juniper Berry), Citrus Nobilis (Mandarin).

Ingredients: french pink clay

The box also came with a booklet that describes every item in detail and includes instructions as well as full ingredient lists.  I seriously love this little touch, as I sometimes struggle to figure out how to use items and this made the whole 'ritual' really come into its own.

My pamphlet lists four simple steps for my routine: Prep, Recharge, Mask, and Hydrate.  To prepare for the ritual, you just need to get a drink ready, pre-fill your bath teabag, and grab a small bowl of water and a lighter.  Well, that and fill your bath with warm water of course!

When you are all sorted, the next step is to light your candle, get into the tub, and begin to relax.  You can throw in a piece of Pink Himalayan Salt and a handful of Nathalie Bond Bath Salts before meditating (there are some great tips included in the booklet to get you started!), and when the smell of the infused essential oils begins to fade you can add your teabag full of The Dirt Creative Floral rinse for "a renewed floral intensity."  The bath salts are divine, and fill the whole room with their floral fragrance, and I found they did not dissipate much so I ended up saving my 'tea' for step three.

Stars&Sage have a fab Spotify account with several playlists provided to listen to while soaking, and I found the "Water" one ideal as it is 33 minutes long, and the recommended time to spend in the tub is about 30 minutes to avoid dehydration.  It is a soothing selection of nature sounds, mainly rainfall and trickling water, and I found it was perfect for self-reflection and relaxation.

Right before you are finished in the bath, you can mix the Yellow Gorse french pink clay facial mask into a creamy paste and apply to clean, dry skin.  Then, for the remaining ten minutes of your bath you can just sit back with your eyes closed and wait for your mask to dry.  My sensitive skin found this mask gentle enough to use without any issues, and I was happy to say my skin felt detoxified without having any angry spots immediately pop up.  I rinsed the mask off with The Dirt Creative floral water which gave my skin and hair a bit of a hydration boost, then began to drain the bath and got ready for step four!

Once I had drip dried, I applied the body oil (which like the salts and the candle, smells amazing!!)  and then moved on to gently massage in the facial serum.  I have to say, at the end of this bath I am surprised that I myself did not turn into a rosebud or something, as I was so fragrant!

Overall, the collection's six main items are worth over £53, so with the other added treats I would estimate over £60 altogether.  For a box that costs just £27 plus postage, this is a fantastic savings and a perfect pamper present to yourself or for a friend.  I adore every item included in the May edition, and I found my bathtime ritual was seriously improved by all the amazing tips and tricks inside the Stars & Sage booklet.

If you want to subscribe for the June box, be sure to do so soon -- boxes ship out on the third week of every month!  The theme will be "Summer" and the contents are worth £52.  I took a sneaky peek and it is full of lovely beach inspired products and summer scents, so if you are keen to bring the sunshine into your bathroom, check it out!

What do you think about this bathtime ritual subscription service?  Is Stars & Sage something you would be interested in?  And if so, what would you love to see included in future boxes?  Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Monday, 4 June 2018

I thought I would end up using less this month, but turns out I had a lot of full size products that were nearly empty!  I ended up finishing 32 items in the month of May - woah! 

Foreo Night Cleanser (100ml): I really liked this, and found the formula incredibly unique.  It contains meteorite powder (yes, you read that right!) which helps detox the skin and gives the cleanser its gorgeous shimmer.  The formula turns milky with water, making it super silky when applying and rinsing off.  Definitely a product I will be trying again at some point.

Esse Refining Cleanser (5ml):  This is still a favourite of mine, and I am sad to say I am almost out of samples!  The smell is so uplifting and you only need the smallest amount for your whole face.  I will have to get the full size, as it really helps my combination skin and keeps my hormonal acne under control. 

Esse Gel Cleanser (10ml):  Again, a favourite of mine!  I love this stuff -- everything about it is seriously great.  The smell is minty and fresh, the gel consistency is perfectly smooth, and the formula helps keep my skin clear and radiant.  I will be buying a full size in the near future, as it is too good not to have on hand!

Kimberly Sayer Gentle Face Cleanser (1.5ml x3): I liked this slightly more than the light cleansing lotion, as the consistency was nicer (a bit creamier).  The smell was really light, and the formula felt like it was hydrating as well as cleansing.  It was super gentle, and my skin seemed to like it, so I will definitely be looking into buying a full size to try in the future.

AA Bergamot & Chamomile Cleanser (4ml): I adored the smell of this, and really liked the consistency.  It filled my shower with such a relaxing scent, and calmed both my nerves and my skin.  It was the perfect gel cleanser, and helped clean and refresh my face.  This one is especially suited to problem skin or as a preventive cleanser, so it is one to check out if you suffer from unruly spots or hormonal acne.   Will definitely be buying a full size soon.

Elemental Herbology Facial Detox Mask (15ml x2): This mask is one of my favourite ready to use clay masks, as it dries down quickly, does not suck the moisture from your skin, and is effective without being harsh.  It is designed to purify and improve radiance, and I find it works perfectly in both areas.  This is one mask I will continue to use!

Balance Me Pure Skin Face Wash (50ml):  This is one that is both hit and miss for me -- the smell is so odd and not entirely pleasant (I think it is the potato starch?) but the formula does leave your face feeling clean and fresh.  If you are looking for an inexpensive option, this is definitely a good one, but if you are fussed about scent there are other options out there.  I probably won't buy this again, but it did the trick while I used it.

Balance Me Congested Skin Serum (7ml x2):  A recurring favourite in my empties posts, this is my go to daily spot prevention treatment.  I find it super effective and keeps my hormonal acne to a minimum.  It is really gentle so it does not dry out the skin like other spot treatments, and lasts quite a long time I find.  Will continue to use and buy!

Christopher Courtney London Antioxidant Chocolate Face Repair Balm (5ml): This balm smells incredible - literally a chocolate lovers dream - and it is much lighter on the skin than I expected.  I used it as an overnight mask a few times, and it did not leave my skin with any spots which a lot of products tend to do if I leave them on for long.  I have one more sample pot, but once that is gone I have some thinking to do about whether or not I want to splurge and get the full size jar -- it is pricey, but it does do a great job at replenishing and nurturing my face.

Voya Dusk To Dawn Night Cream (50ml): While this was a little too rich and heavy for my skin, it was incredibly moisturizing and would be great for mature skin or anyone wanting something to regulate excess oils.  It is also meant to be ideal for helping with sensitivity, and I have to say it did soothe my skin after I had a terrible experience with a high essential oil product.  This is on the more expensive end for what I usually pay, but it would have been more than worth it if it was more suited to my skin type. 

Human + Kind All Hair Types Conditioner (200ml): I genuinely loved this conditioner, as I found it incredibly rich and perfect for my dry ends.  It rinses out well and did not leave my hair feeling heavy or gross at all.  I actually used this in place of shampoo occasionally when I felt my hair needed a break from regular washing, and it worked fab.  Will be checking out the other versions soon.

Human + Kind In-Shower Body Moisturizer (250ml): When I first got this I had no idea what to expect from it, and was not entirely sure how to even use it, but it turns out to be a great hydrating shaving lotion -- at least that is what I mainly used it for!  It left me with no bumps and helped keep my legs soft and smooth.  Plus, it is so affordable!  I probably won't get it again anytime soon as I have a fair amount to use up, but perhaps in the future.

Aromatherapy Associates De-Stress Muscle Bath and Shower Oil (55ml):  As I have mentioned before, I started out loving Aromatherapy Associates, but I have lost some of that in the last year.  The scent of this is really lovely, and I did find it helped relax sore muscles, so this is a good bath and shower oil, but it is not as moisturizing as I would hope and the company's CF status is currently questionable.  I will use up the bottles I have, but will not repurchase for the time being.

Friendly Detox Bar Soap (95g): My favourite bar soap I have tried to date, and I love how effective it is as both a detoxifying soap and gentle exfoliant.  It costs less than a trip on the underground, and lasts for about four weeks the way I use it.  Have already repurchased.

The Salt Parlour Hydrate Scrub (20g): Every salt scrub from this brand I have used has been fabulous, and this one is no different.  The Seaweed & Cucumber one is great for giving a deep cleanse and a hydration boost, and while it is not my favourite scent, it is a great exfoliant!  I have a full size one to use up, so won't have to repurchase for a while.

Naobay Moisturizing Peeling (100ml): To be perfectly honest, I am still not sure what this product was meant for.  The instructions on the bottle were vague, but I ended up using it as an all-over body exfoliant.  I am not keen on using most physical exfoliators on my face, as I find them a little too harsh, but my arms, legs, back, etc are another story.  This worked alright, but it was not anything special I found.  I probably would not buy this again, as there are better things on the market.

John Masters Organics Scalp Stimulating Shampoo (60ml): I have used a few samples of this shampoo in the past, and I adore it.  The smell is so refreshing (it is spearmint and meadowsweet) and it makes my hair so clean and feel really healthy.  I only have to use this twice a week, as that is enough to keep my hair looking fresh.  I panic bought all the bottles I could find that used the old formula when I found out it was changing, so I have several 60ml sizes and one full size to get through.  However, after that I think I will be sticking to plastic free so I probably won't repurchase.

Apple & Bears Luxury Body Wash (50ml):  I mentioned this in my Apple & Bears post, and it still remains one of the best smelling body washes I have ever tried.  This is the honey and hemp one which is my favourite of them all as it is so sweetly fragrant, and it is really gentle, moisturizing, and incredibly luxurious.  I think I will buy this again at some point as a one off treat, but as I am trying to cut down on my plastic use I will probably stick to other products.

Balance Me Rose Otto Body Wash (100ml):  As a body wash, this is pretty average, but it does the trick.  I like that the formula is gentle but still allows a bit of bubbles when it is added to a bath, and the smell is really relaxing and lightly floral.  If you want an affordable product that is natural and good for either a bubble bath or a body wash, this is a solid option, but if you want something a bit more nourishing then perhaps go for something else.  That being said, this is an older version of the product, so the new one might be a lot better (it is in a glass bottle by the looks of it, so that is a great improvement!).

Balm Balm Rose Floral Water Hydrosol (100ml): A staple in my beauty stash, I have gone through a few minis of this before and will continue to buy the full size as it is organic, reasonably priced, and in a glass bottle instead of plastic.  The smell is very light, the water is refreshing, and it has so many uses!  One of my favourite products from the brand.

Organdle "Vitality" Focus & Clarity Candle (75g): This is my favourite scent from Organdle, and I can honestly say it helped with my attention problems.  I would start to burn it about 15-20 minutes before starting my work, and it helped get me in the right mindset to sit down and get stuff done.  Will be buying a full size soon!

Imperial Candles Melts (40g x3): As I mentioned in previous empties posts, I am using up what I have left from IC but not buying anymore.  I prefer to buy from smaller companies and from people who source responsibly and ethically.  These scents are lovely (other than Library Book which just was too far off and a bit sickly) but there are so many great places to buy from, I want to give more natural ones my attention and backing.

Pretty Woman Nail Polish in I Can't Deal (10ml): I was absolutely gutted when this bottle broke (it was precariously placed in my cupboard and smashed on the floor one day when I opened it) as it is the perfect shade of grey -- it has an undertone of lilac to it and is so stunning.  I have already bought a new bottle to pick up when I visit my parents in NY in July.

Badger Balm Sleep Balm (21g): Multi-use products are hit and miss with me, and luckily this was a hit.  I found it was great to use on my feet and pulse points before bed, and it did not leave me feeling greasy or gross at all.  The scent is so calming, and it really did help soothe my mind and get me ready to sleep.  Will be repurchasing once I have used up more of my stash.

Jelly Pong Pong Light Pulse Gel Stick Illuminator (3g): This stuff is so beautiful! I think I got a defective product, as I could not get the stick to twist up as it was meant to, but I ended up snapping the bottom off and using a bobby pin to get the remaining product out.  I scooped it all into a tin and used it as and when I needed.  The illuminator gave a really natural glow, though it did have a bit of glitter to it, and I found it was especially gorgeous on my pale as a vampire skin.  I would most definitely get this again.

Overall, I enjoyed almost everything I used up in May, and the only products that did not live up to my expectations/standards were the Naobay peel and the Library Book wax melt.  It was a great month in terms of quality of products, and I would be hard pressed to pick a favourite.  I think my top 3 would be the AA cleanser, Pretty Woman 10-free nail polish, and Friendly Detox Bar. 

What did you use up last month?  I would love to hear about your favourites and least favourites in the comments below!

Thursday, 31 May 2018

Several months ago I stumbled upon a new online beauty retailer that specializes in eco-friendly options, something that always excites me.  However, this one had something really special about it, something that made it really stand out.  It was entirely free from plastics.

Still not sure why going zero waste is the way forward?

There are actually a few main facets to the harmful nature of plastics -- their lifespan, absorption abilities, and the way in which they breakdown are the big ones that come to mind.

First off, plastics do not biodegrade like other materials.  Sure, they eventually turn into smaller and smaller pieces, but the chemical bonds mean that this process happens *very* slowly -- I'm talking up to 1000 years for some plastics!  This means teeny tiny fragments in the soil, the water... Bits of plastic in the food we eat and the air we breathe.  Because yes, these plastics end up in the stomachs of fish, birds, and larger predators (including people who eat these creatures) and it has been recently revealed that pollution has become so bad that these fibers are now airborne.

And, as they break down, all the nasties contained in the material (like BPA) are released into the surrounding environment.  The chemicals leach out and can be absorbed by crops, but there is more to it than that -- plastics also absorb what is around them.  They are like little sponges, and soak up substances that can be lethal such as mercury and lead.  Plastic fragments that were already considered hazardous become like little shards of toxic waste.  Then, through a process called bio-accumulation, these chemicals become more and more powerful, and more and more dangerous.  If you have seen Blue Planet 2, you know how fatal this can be for wildlife.  We are slowly poisoning our world, killing off species, and endangering our own lives.

I haven't even talked about the less scientific impacts like seals and turtles becoming entangled in soda rings or being impaled by drinking straws, or dogs dying from intestinal blockages caused by consuming plastic wrappers.  Birds nesting with plastic bag fragments that then poison their young.  Newborn babies being exposed to phthalates and BPA from heated bottles.  It is genuinely horrifying when you start going down the rabbit hole.

And if none of those reasons persuade you, then there is one more to consider.  Money.  When you buy a bottle of shampoo, part of what you are paying for is the packaging.  By switching to a shampoo bar that has no excess packaging (and no plastic in sight!) you can save up to £80 (or even more!) per month.  One shampoo bar can last up to a year (usually around 60-90 washes), meaning you only dish out your money once every twelve months instead of every 1-2 months.

But where do we go to find plastic free options like this?  Where can all these magical products be found?  Well, Plastic Freedom is one option (and a great one at that!).

Plastic Freedom brings together daily essentials such as shampoo, toothpaste, makeup, sun cream, and more, all without any plastic packaging.  No wraps, no caps, no crinkly waste whatsoever!  Every company featured on the website shares the same ethos, so you know that your purchasing power is supporting ethical brands out to make a difference.

I was lucky enough to win a giveaway hosted by Beth from Plastic Freedom, and my prize package arrived in a nicely arranged cardboard box, no plastic in sight.  Included were two solid soap bars and a knot wrap, all hand made, and all in minimal packaging.

The knot wrap is from Marley's Monsters, a brand that is focused on providing safe, colourful, reusable options for both mums and babies.  The material is 100% cotton and machine washable, and I love how multi-purpose this little bag is.  While originally used for bento, the satchel can be used for lunches, carrying produce home from the market, storing toiletries while traveling, or for housing all the little toys your little one "needs" to bring on that 15 minute car trip.  The pattern is super cute, and there are eight options to choose from on Plastic Freedom.

The other two prizes I have not actually been able to use yet, as I am currently finishing up my final plastic bottled shampoos and conditioners. However, I am very much looking forward to making the switch to these bars as soon as that last wash is done!  Both are small businesses that make all their items by hand, are based in the UK, and make products that smell amazing.

Wild Sage & Co offers an all natural vegan-friendly shampoo bar that utilizes the benefits of cold pressed soap making to ensure exceptional moisturizing powers.  Antimicrobial lavender helps prevent dry hair and hydrating rosemary aids with dandruff and dry scalp.  Together they work to stimulate blood circulation that can help with hair growth and prevent hair loss.  Plus they smell amazing when blended like this.  Perfect tag team!

The conditioner bar is a new concept to me, and I am really excited to test it out.  Funky Soap makes three of these bars (all vegan friendly!), one for each hair type, and also has a selection of shampoo bars that you can pair up with this product.  I chose the one for normal hair as I was not really sure whether my hair really classes as oily or dry (it's a weird mix of the two most days!).  Without even having used it I can tell it will be really moisturizing based on the feel of the bar itself, and it smells so good -- anything with cocoa butter I am down to try!

Shampoo Ingredients: Sodium Rapeseedate (Cold Pressed Rapeseed Oil), Sodium Cocoate (Coconut Oil), Organic Apple Cider Vinigar, Sodium Castorate (Cold Pressed Castor Oil), Sodium Sunflowerate (Sunflower Oil), Sodium Mangobutterate (Mango Butter), Sodium Lactate, Glycerine (Naturaly occuring in the soap making process), Sodium Olivate  (Organic Rosemary Infused Extra Virgin Olive Oil), Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Oil *Geraniol, *Limonene, *Linalool (*Naturally occurring in Essential Oils)


Overall I am so pleased with these prizes, and I am so thankful to Beth for hosting the giveaway and giving me the chance to try these plastic free zero waste goodies.  I have been browsing her shop almost daily, and so many fantastic brands and products have been added over the last few weeks that it makes me excited to see what more is to come.

If you are looking to start your zero waste journey, or if you just want a place where you can be assured that all the items will be free from plastic, check out Plastic Freedom.

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Bellapierre shimmer eyeshadow not pictured

I have to admit, I was not sold right away on this month's collection from Love Lula Beauty Box.  I already owned two of the products, though I am always happy to have extra rosewater spray.  My skin is not suited to anti-ageing products, plus we just got the brightening eye gel from PHB in the January edition.  I am never super keen on sachets as they tend to not hold enough product to get a good idea for if it is suited to you or not, and many of them cannot be recycled so the packaging goes straight to landfill.  We have also been given a balm recently (last month in fact), so I was trying to figure out how in the world I was going to use up so many products.

But, after a few weeks of mulling it over and trialing all the green goodies, I have to say I really do like the contents included in the May beauty box.  They are all fab quality, and I like that most of the items are genuinely multi-purpose.  I will use every single item except the PHB Anti-Ageing Eye Gel, and I was really pleased to be able to try out something else from Lyonsleaf.  I do not feel so restricted in terms of the items' use as I did when I first opened my parcel, so I have to give two thumbs up.

PHB Anti-Aging Eye Gel with Argan Oil & Rock Rose:
Size- 15ml
RRP- £16.95
CF, Vegan, Halal, Organic Ingredients, Made in the UK

Like I said above, I will not be using this product as it is not suited to my skin type, but if it is anything like the brightening gel I am sure it is a lovely and effective formula.  I like the consistency of these eye gels, as they are super light and do not leave any residue.  They sink in quickly, and since they are not a traditional cream they do not leave that white sheen under your eyes.

Ingredients: Aqua, Aloe barbadensis (Organic aloe vera**), Vegetable glycerine, Fucus vescilosis (Bladderwack) extract, Biosaccharide Gum-1, Coco-caprylate, Sclerotium Gum, Propandiol & Salix alba, Hippophae rhamnoides (Organic Sea Buckthorn**), Argania spinosa (Organic Argan**), Citrus dulcis (Orange), Pelargonium graveolens (Geranium), Lavendula angustifolia (Lavender), Cymbopogon martinii (Palmarosa), Benzyl alcohol, Cistus ladaniferus (Rock Rose), Ferula galbaniflua (Galbanum). *Limonene * Linalool *Citral *Geraniol *Citronellol *Farnesol *Occurs naturally in essential oils, **Organically grown ingredients.

Lyonsleaf Calendula and Marshmallow Balm:
Size- 30ml
RRP- £8.99
CF, Made in the UK

I have been loving this balm for my hands in particular, as they had been really dry from all the ups and downs in the weather.  They are really soft and healthy again, and I can only thank this little pot for that.  Next test will be my feet, as they are far from sandal-ready.  The balm has a very faint smell and is incredibly gentle, so it can be used on any skin type and even for babies.  Definitely a great find for me, and probably one of my favourites in the May Love Lula Beauty Box.

Ingredients: Organic Sunflower Oil, Babassu Oil, Organic Beeswax, Organic Avocado Oil, Cold Pressed Borage Oil, Cold Pressed Rosehip Oil, Calendula Extract, Marsh Mallow Extract, Natural Vitamin E Oil. Ingredients (INCI): Helianthus Annuus, Orbignya Oleifera, Cera Alba, Persea Gratissima, Borago Officinalis, Rosa Canina, Calendula Officinalis, Althaea Officinalis, Tocopherol.

Botanico Vida Omega Oil:
Size- 3ml (full size 120 ml, travel size 50ml)
RRP- 50p
CF, Vegan, Organic Ingredients, Made in the UK

While this is in a sachet, I do have to say I am loving the product inside.  Since it is an oil, it last a bit longer than other products because you do not need much when applying.  I have been using this on a few stretch marks I have, and while I can't say it has made 100% difference, it is helping.  The product sinks in quickly and has a light scent of citrus which is uplifting and really lovely.  It has made my skin incredibly soft and smooth thanks to the moisturizing qualities of the oil blend, and I will be sad when the sample runs out.

Ingredients: Helianthus Annuus Seed Oil, Olea Europaea Fruit Oil, Plukenetia Volubilis Seed Oil, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Coco-Caprylate, Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil, Rosa Canina Fruit Oil, Persea Gratissima Oil, Citrus Nobilis Peel Oil, Tocopherol, Citrus Paradisi Peel Oil, Calendula Officinalis Extract, Citral, Geraniol, Linalool, Limonene

Bellapierre Shimmer Powder in shade Lava:
Size- 2.35g
RRP- £12.99

I am still debating on the shade, as I do not usually go for darker colours.  I love the burnt bronze it takes on under sunlight and flash, but in neutral or dark lighting it is a solid cocoa.  The shimmer is honestly gorgeous, and I have actually been using this less on my eyes than I have as a bronzer/highlight.  When mixed with a drop of oil it is fab for getting a sunkissed look on your cheeks or collarbones, and I will probably continue to use it like this as we move closer to summer.  For anyone who loves a smoky eye or is really good at blending out eyeshadow, this is probably a wonderful option for you, but for everyone else I recommend trying out my technique!

Ingredients: Mica, Titanium Dioxide, Iron oxides. May contain: Carmine.

Alteya Organics Organic Bulgarian Rose Water:
Size- 100ml
RRP- £7.20
CF, Vegan, Organic

I saved my favourite product from the May Love Lula Beauty Box for last.   I actually own a few bottles of this already, and have to say it is so light and refreshing and utterly delightful.  The smell is crisp, clean, and floral, and it is seriously amazing on a warmer day to spritz your face for a pick me up or cool-off.  It does come in a plastic bottle which is a huge downside, but Alteya have started offering glass bottle options now as well.  A big plus going for this rose water spray is that it is so affordable -- even more so than Balm Balm.  I'm happy to have a spare of this, and I am sure I will continue to buy from this brand in the future for a long time to come.

Ingredients: 100% pure organic steam-distilled Rosa Damascena floral water. Steam-distilled from fresh hand picked Bulgarian Rosa Damascena rose petals.

Overall, this box offers a wide variety and should have at least one or two items for everyone to enjoy.  The value of this month's edition was worth over £46, which for a collection that cost a subscriber only £13.95 is incredible.

If you are interested in subscribing to Love Lula Beauty Box, be quick, as you have to join before the start of the month to receive the next edition (so if you join in May, you get June).  You can choose from a month to month rolling subscription, or a pre-pay if you want a longer term option!

And as always, let me know what you thought of this month's box in the comments down below.  Did you like the variety?  What was your favourite product included?  I can't wait to see all your opinions!

Saturday, 26 May 2018

If you remember back to my last post, I explained how LowToxBox has dropped their monthly subscription service and has opted for a series of Ethical Gift Boxes instead to feature alongside their usual shop offers.  At the moment they have

Zero Waste Starter Kit
an Eco-Friendly Travel Essentials Box
Vegan New Mum Gift Box
and a Mindfulness Gift Box

Each collection is between £30 and £55 (plus postage), and hits all the marks in terms of being sustainable, vegan-friendly, cruelty free, toxin-free, zero-waste, organic, and natural.  And as an added bonus, LowToxBox has commited to plant a tree for every box sold!

Well, I loved my last LowToxBox so much that I knew I would be getting another in the future.  Lucky for me, that chance came sooner than I was expecting, as a while back there was an offer that meant that instead of one tree planted for the sale, there would be two!  It was genuinely this act of earth love that made me order ASAP.

It was not too long before my Travel Essentials Kit arrived at my doorstep, and I was just as happy about the minimal packaging as I was last time!  There was no plastic in sight, and all of the wrappings were made from recycled paper and card.  I also love how carefully everything was packed, as it really looked like none of the items had moved at all in transit.  This is a company you can trust to get your items to you quickly, carefully, and without threatening the planet in the process.  For anyone looking for a guilt-free treat, this is definitely one to get!

The Travel Essentials Kit contains eight items in total (though there is an option to add a ninth item!), and all have been picked to be the perfect eco-friendly travel companions.  There is no plastic packaging found in this collection, and everything is easy to carry and convenient without compromising the environment.  Plus, as always, each item is non-toxic, vegan friendly, and sustainable.

The products included in this Travel Essentials Kit are the following:

1 Que water bottle
1 bamboo toothbrush
1 Truthpaste toothpaste
1 LowToxBox tote
1 Nikki Strange A5 notebook
1 travel soap tin
1 Friendly shampoo bar (not pictured)
1 Earth Conscious deodorant

There is such a good variety of items, and I love that there are toiletry staples along with more creatively driven options like the notebook!  Overall I think this edition from LowToxBox has hit a home run, as this really does offer all the essentials for an environmentally minded adventure, whether that is backpacking, camping, or just an overnight trip to the city.

I have to admit a big pull for me to order a second gift box was so I could get a spare Que water bottle.  I have used my grey one every single day since getting my Zero Waste Starter Kit, and I thought it would be great to have a back up for washing days or longer adventures that require lots of water.  The bottle is so interesting, as it can collapse down from 20oz (568ml) to 12oz (~340ml) for simple transport.  The 100% BPA and plastic free container can contain both hot and cold liquid since it is made from food grade silicone, and is super light weight, flexible, and leak proof.  

There are six colours to choose from, and this time I opted for the pink and white option as I thought it was nice and cheery.  Plus I thought I would never manage to lose something so bright!  Since I have been using my slate shade bottle for so long now, I have decided that it is definitely the best reusable I have come across.  I can pop it in my backpack or bag and not notice any extra weight, unlike the glass bottles I have previously used which felt like I was lugging around a brick.  While it can be tricky to wash if you do not have a dishwasher, I find if you fill it with warm water and a bit of gentle soap, let it sit, then shake it vigorously before rinsing, it effectively cleans the nooks and crannies inside. 

The other two products I was most looking forward to trying out were the bamboo toothbrush and the Truth Paste, as I have been searching for plastic free dental hygiene items for a while now.  The toothbrush is ridiculously light, and almost feels like you are holding a twig, so I was not sure how it would actually cope when it came to daily use.  However, I have to say I have been impressed by how it is holding up so far!  The bristles are made from nylon, but they can be removed when it comes time to change brushes.  I would say they are in-between a soft and a medium brush, so would be good for both sensitive gums and someone looking for a bit more oomph.  The handle itself is fully biodegradable, and since bamboo is able to grow so quickly, the material is also one of the most sustainable options on the market. 

The Truth Paste was not exactly what I was expecting, as it is a clay-like consistency due to the calcium carbonate and bentonite.  It is a little grainy, but this is actually a good thing as it helps tackle plaque build up and remove any food particles.  The clay also works to remove toxins from the mouth, while the essential oils kill bad bacteria, regulate the natural pH levels, and add a pleasant taste.  The formula is free from SLS, fluoride, artificial colourings and ingredients, bleaching agents, and other common nasties, so this is an option for someone who is looking to clean their mouth and teeth without any added bells and whistles.

The toothpaste is truly a paste so takes some getting used to both for the feel of it in your mouth (don't expect any foaming action with this all natural product!) but also applying it to your brush.  You use about the same amount as a high street option, but apply to a dry brush by either scooping some out with a spatula or spoon, or rubbing directly from the jar onto the bristles.  I found the second option less of a faff.  I have to say I am impressed by this so far, and I will definitely be repurchasing in the future!

*Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Calcium Carbonate, Bentonite, Xylitol, *Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) oil, Sodium Bicarbonate, *Melia Azadirachta Seed (Neem) oil, *Gaultheria Procumbens (Wintergreen) Leaf oil, *Eucalyptus Globulus Leaf oil, Commiphora Myrrha (Myrrh) oil, °d-Limonene, *Citrus Medic Limonum (Lemon) Peel oil, *Eugenia Caryophyllus (Clove) Bud oil, Cinnamomum Zeylanicum (Cinnamon) Bark oil, °Eugenol, °Linalol, °Benzyl Benzoate, °Citronellol.
*certified organic
°naturally occurring in essential oils

I have seen Earth Conscious on Twitter and Instagram for ages, so I was thrilled to get a pot of their organic natural deodorant in the LowToxBox Travel Essentials Kit.  This product is free from aluminium, parabens, carcinogens, and other nasties, but is just as strong as a traditional deodorant.  The citrus scent is really uplifting and lasts for ages, and in terms of effectiveness, I have to say this ranks up there with the best deodorants I have used.  The formula is not grainy like some of the others I have tried, which means it goes on smoothly and without any irritation.  For me, a single application works all day without the need for a touch up, but I am not a super sweaty person generally.  I have heard from others who do have more 'active' underarms that this is their go to natural deo, so it seems to suit a big range of needs which is great! 

Ingredients: Certified organic coconut oil, certified organic arrowroot powder, certified organic shea butter, sodium bicarbonate, jojoba wax, sunflower wax certified organic lemon essential oil, certified organic orange essential oil. (*Citral, *Limonene, *Linalool) 
 *Ingredients naturally occurring in Essential Oils

The Friendly shampoo bar is fantastic and one of the more affordable plastic free hair products out there.  I have used this in the past and loved it, and find it lasts ages -- a few months at least depending on how often I am washing my hair.  They have two options: Lavender & Tea Tree and Lavender Geranium.  I prefer the second as it smells lush and is more ideal for the dry ends of my hair.  Since it does last so long I still have a few in the cupboard that I bought during my last haul, so I requested not to be sent another.  I hate wasting products, and I try my best to make sure that never happens.  Best to use up what I have first before ordering more! 

Ingredients: Sodium cocoate, Sodium olivate, Sodium castorate, Aqua, Lavandula angustifolia (lavender) essential oil contains linalool, limonene, geraniol, Pelargonium graveolens (rose geranium) essential oil contains geraniol, citronella, linalool

I have to say that I love how the travel soap container fits the Friendly shampoo bar perfectly.  It is a great pairing for this box, but I found it can also fit slightly larger soaps which is nice for long trips.  The tin is made from aluminium so is really lightweight when empty, and is ideal for popping in a travel bag to keep your clothes protected from soapy residue or from smelling of essential oils.  If you aren't needing a soap container, you can use it for loads of other things, like packing up a mini sewing kit, storing emergency cash, or carrying a grab and go snack!

Another one of my most used items out of this Travel Essentials Kit was the Nikki Strange notebook - I have been using this to jot down my ideas and write myself little reminders, but I am thinking it will also be a great place to start planning future trip ideas.  The pages are lined which is great for organization, and the design on the front is just so tropical and exciting it makes me wanderlust for sunnier places hard.  I really like that the pages are made from recycled paper stock, meaning I am not contributing to the cutting down of trees, and the inks are vegetable based which is great for the environment.  No extra toxins will be seeping into the soil because of me thank you very much!  

If you are ready to head out on your trip, you can stash all these travel items in the lovely LowToxBox tote and either carry them to have in easy reach or wrap them up for safe storage in your luggage.  The natural cotton reusable bag is really sturdy I have found since I have been using mine for carrying shopping from the market and green grocers -- the amount of veggies, beans, and grains it can hold is honestly amazing.  

Overall I am so pleased with my experience with LowToxBox and found that they created yet another perfect gift collection with the Travel Essentials Kit.  You do not have to be a travel fiend to get use and enjoyment out of this, but it is also a great out of the box (well, sort of!) idea for anyone you know who does love to get out and about.  The edition cost £35 and has an overall worth over £48 (I could not find the price for the soap dish, so it contains a minimum RRP of £48.41).  I am once again more than happy with both the price of the box and the quality of the contents, and will be looking forward to seeing what other kits they bring out in the coming year.  

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