Subscription Boxes, the ethical way!

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MOA Brand Spotlight

Monday, 23 April 2018

The sun was shining all across the UK last week, and the new warmth has me ready to shed my winter layers and make a new start for spring.  Well, lucky for me this month's collection from The Natural Beauty Box promises just that!  April's "Fresh Faced" edition includes five full size natural beauty products that target dull, dry, and damaged skin and work to revitalize your eyes, cheeks, lips, and more!

As always, everything included in The Natural Beauty Box is all natural, cruelty free, and vegan friendly, so you know that the goodies you are getting are ethically minded.  Even better, many of the brands included are start ups or artisan boutiques, so you can feel great knowing you are supporting not just the well-being of our fur friends, but small business owners as well!

We have been properly spoiled this month, as the April box is worth a whopping £82.95 -- that is a savings of over £58!!  While overall value is not the only factor I consider when subscribing to a monthly box, it is definitely fantastic knowing that I will be trying products I would not otherwise be able to afford/rationalize buying from eco-luxe brands that I would usually just drool over on Insta.  

Beyond just the amazing worth of the contents, the items themselves are impressive in their own right.  While not the array of dessert-inspired scents like the Good Enough To Eat box, everything here is mouthwatering in its own way.  And like I mentioned, this month all five skincare treats are FULL SIZE.  No samples in sight here!  Plus, we have so many new names included -- Myroo, BYBI, and Villiers London are all first time appearances (at least to my knowledge) for the box, two of which are completely new to me.

I am also so excited to see not only two of my tried and true brands find their way in as well (PHB and Bloomtown), but two items I actually have on the go already!  It's always great having back ups to lovely green goodies that you know you already like.

The first item to kick off the Fresh Faced collection is Villiers London Floral Face Steam.  Worth £15, this tub is filled to the brim with fourteen dried floral botanicals, herbs, and fruit peels.  When you unscrew the lid and pop it open, you are hit by an amazing freshness, a blend that is simultaneously floral and zesty.  The lemon hits you strongest at first, and it brings to mind a refreshing drink on a hot summer's day.  The primary use for this mix of petals and peels is as a facial steam, where you pour boiled water over 1-2 tablespoons of product, cover the bowl and your face with a towel, and breathe in the calming scent while the soothing steam opens your pores and removes daily toxins for fifteen minutes.

If you aren't one for patiently steaming, the label also states you can create your own tonic for face masks or a bath, similar to how you would use a hydrosol.  I will probably be using this for both, as I can first steam (a good time to fit in some mindfulness meditation!) and then repurpose the floral water for whatever I want when I am finished.

Ingredients: Rose Petals, Lavender Flowers, Lemon Verbena Peel, Marigold Flowers, Rosehip, Jasmine Flowers, Chamomile Flowers, Dandelion Root, Witch Hazel Leaf, Comfrey Leaf, Elder Flowers, Yarrow, Lemon Peel, Green Tea Leaf. Essential oils of Rose, Chamomile, Litsea and Lavender

Next on the leaflet is a product I have been using recently, the award winning The Spring soothing face mask from Bloomtown Botanicals.  I bought this 60ml pot a few months ago after winning a gift voucher for Bloomtown, and can say with confidence that it is truly something to be excited about.  One of my pet hates is when clay masks dry out your skin and leave it feeling more irritated than pre-masking.  I also dislike when they harden like cement, leaving your face feeling tight and uncomfortable while you wait impatiently to just finally rinse the thing off.  The Spring is not like that at all.  In fact, it is the complete opposite.

The formula is thick and has a slight roughness to it when you first apply, but it feels very gentle from start to finish.  Since Bloomtown uses plant glycerin and blue bentonite clay for their base, the mask itself is actually pretty hydrating.  You do not need very much product to cover your face because it spreads so easily and smoothly, so this little jar will last upwards of thirty uses -- that means if you only mask one day a week, this should keep you going for about seven months!  And with this formula smelling so nice, you will want to keep it around for as long as possible.

Ingredients: plant-derived glycerine, natural blue clay (bentonite), aqua, leuconostoc (radish root ferment filtrate), lactobacillus, urtica dioica (nettle) root powder, indigofera tinctoria leaf powder, cocos nucifera (coconut) fruit extract

I was overly excited when I saw that The Natural Beauty Box's Fresh Faced edition would include a lip scrub, and I have to admit this is probably the item I was most looking forward to.  I try to exfoliate my lips once a week to help keep them healthy and nourished, but it can be tricky finding just the right scrub.  Some are too grainy, some too oily, some smell sickly, and some included my dreaded phenoxyethonal.  BYBI's Buffer Lip Scrub isn't any of those, and might just end up being a new favourite in my routine.

The exfoliant is sugar based, but also contains shea butter, almond oil, strawberry extract, cinnamon,  and a few other natural heroes, meaning it both hydrates and sloughs away dead skin cells at the same time.  This leaves your lips looking and feeling smooth, and smelling of a delicious fruity cinnamon bun.  This is one scrub I will have to try my best to not lick off before I have finished scrubbing!

One more thing to love about BYBI's Buffer -- the packaging is made from biodegradable sugar cane!  No unnecessary or harmful plastic found here, and I say good riddance!

Ingredients: Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Sucrose (Brown Sugar), Agave Tequilana Extract, Prunus Avium (Sweet Cherry) Seed Oil, Rhus Verniciflua (Fruit Wax) Peer Cera, Fragaria Ananassa (Strawberry) Fruit Extract, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Eugenol ** Naturally Occurring in Essential Oils, Citric Acid, Cinnamomum Zeylanicum (Cinnamon) Leaf Oil, Benzyl Benzoate

Fourth on the list is another product I am currently using -- PHB Ethical Beauty's Brightening Eye Gel.  I received a tube of this wonder-gel back in January from another beauty box, and have been impressed with it ever since incorporating it into my regular skincare routine.  The scent is very uplifting, which is perfect for the warming weather, but my favourite part about this item has to be the consistency.  Most eye products have a creamy texture and are relatively thick, which for many people is fantastic.  My skin, however, rejects anything that is too rich and erupts in little spots.  PHB has found the answer to my perennial problem, and has created eye care for those with sensitive or young skin.

Another plus for this all natural treat is that it doesn't give that white sheen that many creams leave behind when you dab them in.  Since the gel is transparent, there is not any noticeable trace of the product after applying.  The only evidence is the gradual brightening of the skin under the eyes after a few weeks of use.  At just £16.95, this is both cost effective and Bryanna approved!

Ingredients: Aqua, Aloe barbadensis (Organic aloe vera), Vegetable glycerine, Biosaccharide Gum-1, Coco-caprylate, Sclerotium Gum, Betula Pendula (White birch), Propandiol & Salix alba, Helianthus Annuus ( Organic Sunflower) Seed Oil (and) Euphrasia Officinalis (Organic Eyebright) Extract., Hippophae rhamnoides (Organic Sea Buckthorn), Citrus parasidii (Grapefruit), Citrus bergamia (Bergamot), Boswella carterii (Frankincense), Citrus aurantium (Neroli), Benzyl alcohol, Commiphora myrrha (Myrrh), Rosa centifolia (Rose), Jasminum officinale (Jasmine), *Linalool *Limonene *Citral *Geraniol *Farnesol *Eugenol *Citronellol *Benzyl Benzoate *Occurs naturally in essential oils, **Organically grown ingredients

The final product in this month's bundle from The Natural Beauty Box is one that I have been waiting for an opportunity to get, so I am thrilled to get a full size bottle to test!  I have seen targeted ads from Myroo for several months now, and every time one pops up I want to splurge and get their entire range.  The fact that April's box included the Skin Boost Serum was so exciting, and I can say that my hopes about this vial all seem to have been well founded.

The first thing I noticed straight off the bat was that this is contained in a glass bottle -- first plus, no plastic!  The design of both the box and the bottle are so cute, with very vibrant patterns and colour schemes that compliment the orange tone of the oil within.  The applicator is a glass dropper which is personally my favourite method for oil based products as it allows you to choose exactly how much you are dispensing.  When you take off the top, the smell is surprisingly delicate.  I was expecting to be hit with overwhelming orange scents, but this is much lighter, and much more floral.  The rosehip comes through most strongly, with undertones of raspberry, rosemary, and neroli creating a rich and  complex (in a good way!) fragrance.

The serum is incredibly light on the skin and absorbs really quickly which was another plus for me.  There is nothing worse than having an oily gleam to your face while you wait for a product to sink in.  Since my skin loves rosehip, and the ingredients all look to be gentle and non-clogging, I think my face and neck are really going to love this long term.

Ingredients: Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Rosa Rubiginosa (Rosehip) Seed Oil, Borogo Officinalis (Borage) Seed Oil, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Olive Squalane, Rubus Idaeus (Raspberry) Seed Oil, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Extract, Citrus Aurantium (Neroli) Flower Oil, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, Citral*, Geraniol*, Farnesol*, d-Limonene*, Linalool*
* Naturally occurring in essential oils

I have to say, I was slightly nervous when I heard the April edition would be featuring only skincare products for your face, as I have moisturizers, oils, and facial potions galore in my cupboards all waiting to be used up.  However, I was very pleasantly surprised as the reveals rolled in.  This box truly captured the essentials for a full facial -- mask, hydration boost, all rounder, exfoliant, brightening treatment... Everything needed to provide healthy, radiant skin all packed gently into one perfect box!

If you want to subscribe to The Natural Beauty Box for the May collection, be sure to do so before they disappear.  A rolling subscription is just £24.95 including free UK postage, and you can skip a month or fully cancel anytime, though you probably won't ever want to!  This box always sells out (I mean, how could it not?!), so keep an eye out for stock warnings over on their Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook.

And if you want to keep up to date with my posts, be sure to hit the subscribe button either on Blogger or Bloglovin, and follow me on Twitter and Instagram for more daily content!

As soon as I first heard of Skin Organics Clean Beauty Box, I was hooked.  Like most subscription services, the box is sent on a monthly basis and contains five beauty products.  This box goes that extra step and promises not only cruelty free and vegan beauty goodies, but free from nasties as well.  Every item is organic and all natural, meaning you can treat yourself without feeling any worry or guilt!

Each month I would watch the unboxings unfold, and read reviews feeling some pretty heavy beauty box envy.  I thought it would be ages before I saved up enough to be able to sign up for another subscription, and so I would simply gaze at all the lovely natural goodness.  That is, until now.

That's right, I have finally managed to get one of the lovely boxes from Skin Organics!  While it may not be one of the monthly subscription collections, it is the next best thing: a Build Your Own Box!  Starting from just £20 (plus postage), you can create a personal edit just for you, meaning every single item is suited for your skin, hair, or wellbeing needs.

The hardest part?  Choosing which items you want.  Paula, owner and founder of Skin Organics Clean Beauty Box, has a very detailed catalog of products you can select from, and you simply let her know which products you want, pay, and (im)patiently wait for your eco-friendly package to arrive!

It honestly took me ages of scrolling up and down the catalog trying to narrow down which I wanted to choose -- there were so many options, and I always second guess myself when making purchases.  Did I want a new lip balm to try?  But no, I have four still waiting to be used!  Did I want to test out a cleansing oil?  That's not right either, I have so many cleansers already on deck.  Eventually, I opted for four products (you can choose up to five if you wish), three of which are full size and one try me size.  And surprise surprise, two of them are bath salts (of course!).

Beyond just being impressed by the crisp white presentation of the box, I was so thankful to Paula for the personal touches and for her overall kindness.  She was so helpful when I was asking questions, and I asked a LOT.  She always wrote back quickly, and when I had finally chosen the products I wanted, she posted my box pretty much the next day.  Plus, she even added a little extra item as a surprise after me mentioning how unique I thought the Beauty Kubes included in the previous Skin Organics box were!  I was floored, and so very grateful.

The items themselves are just as good as they sounded, if not better.  I selected a full size bottle of Tose Apothecary facial serum, a full size bottle of The Innate Life hair elixir, a full size bag of NorthburN luxury bath salts, and a sample size bag of bath salts from Kiss the Moon.  The only brand I had any actual experience with is Kiss the Moon, though I had not actually used the Dream salts before.  And, while I have heard loads of great things about Tose Apothecary, I had not actually had the chance to try anything from them yet.  This Build Your Own Box had given me such a great chance to test out some new names, and I was so excited!

I took a bath the very same night I opened my Skin Organics custom box, which gave me a chance to use the NorthburN No 10 Neroli salts straight away.  I was surprised when I opened the bag, as the product inside was not what I was expecting.  Rather than standard crystals, this product has almost a powder-like texture, making it more of a soak than traditional salts.  I think this is due to the formula containing tapioca starch to bond with the cacao seed butter.  The scent is really strong, so you do not need too much -- maybe just one tablespoon (the package says "a handful") for the full bath.

My one complaint is the ingredients label contains parfum, which in and of itself is not necessarily a problem, as parfum and fragrance are just collective terms to 'protect' recipes, but it is always frustrating for me as I do suffer from allergies to fragrance.  Many products that contain parfum often leave me in sneezing fits for upwards of twenty minutes, or make my skin rash out with hives.  Luckily, my skin did not react to this soak, but the NorthberN website does not list their ingredients anywhere online so I did not see this before ordering.

Ingredients: Sodium Chloride, Tapioca Starch, Theobroma Cacao Seed Butter, Parfum, Linalool, Hydroxycitronella, d-Limonene, di-Citronella.

I have used Kiss the Moon's Glow bath salts before and adored them - everything about them was perfect for me, from the smell to how they left my skin feeling.  The Dream salts are just as lovely, and even more dreamy.  I use two tablespoons for my bath, and let the relaxing scent of lavender and bergamot lull me into a sense of peace and calm.  The blend of epsom salts and magnesium salts are meant to work in tandem with the soothing oils to ease muscles and relax the mind, and help get you ready for a full night's sleep.  And in my opinion, they work 100%.

Ingredients: Magnesium Sulfate (Epsom salt), Maris Sal (Dead Sea salt), Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Camellia Oleifera (White Tea) Seed Oil, Anthemis Nobilis (Roman Chamomile) Flower Oil, Cedrus Atlantica (Cedarwood) Bark Oil, Butylphenyl Methylpropional*, Limonene*   *naturally occurring in essential oils

I have to admit I have not used too much of this yet, as I still have so many face oils and serums to get through, but I did test it twice and I seriously cannot wait until this is my daily skin treatment.  The Tose Apothecary Wild Rose, Frankincense and Myrrh Facial Serum was my luxury pick for my Build Your Own Box collection, and it is already living up to (and possibly exceeding!) my expectations.

For a full description of all the amazing benefits this product offers, you really should check out the website, but in short this serum's claims are:

"Revitalize, Balance & Restore your skin with this unique concoction of rosehip, jojoba, hazelnut, lavender, geranium, rosemary, frankincense & myrrh & added Vitamin E - all known for their anti-ageing, healing & nourishing properties. This natural handcrafted blend gives your skin the vital nutrients required to heal the deeper layers of your skin while making your facial skin look supple, well nourished, younger and flawless. The botanical ingredients in this serum are known to repair & comfort the deeper layers of your skin with every use - a well formulated concoction of cold pressed plant oils & essential oils blended together synergistically to multifold the benefit. 

And just from my dabbling, I already can tell how much my skin is going to love this.  The oil absorbs quickly, and leaves a really healthy glow.  I didn't have any irritation, which is always my worry, and no spots popped up the next day either.  Plus, it smells incredible.  This is one serum I know I will be repurchasing when the time comes.

Ingredients: Corylus avellana (Hazelnut) Seed Oil, Simmondsia chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Rosa canina (Rosehip) Fruit Oil, Oryza sativa (rice) Bran Oil, Squalane, Lavandula angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Boswellia carterii (Frankincense) Oil, Commiphora myrrha (Myrrh) Resin Oil, Pelargonium graveolens (Geranium) Flower Oil, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Rosmarinus officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Oil, Ubiquinone (Co­enzyme Q10), Geraniol*, Linalool*, Limonene*, Citral*, Citronellol*. 
* Occurs naturally in essential oils.

One of my favourites in my Build Your Own Box has to be the 10ml bottle of this Rose Hair Elixir from The Innate Life.  I recently got into trying more hair oils after using Evolve's Nourishing Hair Elixir and loving the results.  Normally I struggle with split ends or at the very least dry ends.  Since starting to introduce oils to my locks, I have definitely noticed a change for the better.  So when I saw The Innate Life included on Paula's list, I knew I had to choose this hair hero.

I haven't been disappointed, and I am honestly impressed with how quickly it seems to have helped my ends.  Over 15 oils work together to promote healthy hair, and from what I have felt and seen so far, they are succeeding.  The rose oil and rosehip oil repair damage, while the ultra-powerful black cumin seed oil protects from environmental stresses -- something that has been so good in this cold, dry weather!  I'm loving this little bottle so much, I will be really sad when it is finished up, though that probably won't be for a while yet seeing as I only need to use two drops per application.  I just hope I can manage to get ahold of another before that happens!

Ingredients: Rosa Mosqueta (Rosehip) Fruit Oil*, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil*, Prunus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil*, Helianthus Annus (Sunflower) Seed Oil*, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil*, Linum Usitatissimum (Flax seed) Seed Oil*, Curcu- bita Pepo (Pumpkin) Seed Oil*, Macadamia Ternifolia (Macadamia Nut) Seed Oil*, Camellia Oleifera (Camellia) Seed Oil*, Oenothera Biennis (Evening Primrose) Oil*, Argania Spinosa (Argan) Kernel Oil*, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil*, Aleurites Moluccana (Kukui) Seed Oil*, Hippophae Rhamnoides (Sea Buckthorn) Fruit Oil*, Nigella Sativa (Black Cumin) Seed Oil, Tocopherol, Blend of Essential Oils*. 

And the Beauty Kubes... They are just as good as they looked and sounded when I was reading everyone's reviews of the last Skin Organics Clean Beauty Box!  I have only used one so far, and at first I was unsure how in the world this crumbly dust would clean my hair.  Even when I started to apply it I admit to having doubts, as it turned into a semi-gritty paste that seemed to clump up in bits of my hair.  However, even before I finished my shower I realized how clean my hair felt.  All without any plastic, and all without any nasty ingredients!

I will definitely be buying more of these shampoo cubes in the future.  Right now I am finishing the remainder of my bottled shampoo, and then I will be opting out from any plastic products in my bathroom.  I have a feeling these Beauty Kubes are going to become a staple for me and my partner, and seeing how you get 27 squares per box, and I only wash my hair 1-2 times per week, I think they will be an exceptional investment!

Ingredients: Tapioca starch*, Cocos nucifera milk*, Sodium cocoyl isethionate,  Disodium lauryl sulfosuccinate Sodium lauryl sulfoacetate, Inulin, Cocamidopropyl betaine, Pullulan, Panthenol, Olive oil glycereth-8 esters, Rosa gallica, Citrus aurantium dulcis peel oil*, Citrus paradisi peel  oil*, Cymbopogon martini oil*,  Tocopherol, Helianthus annus seed oil, d-Limonene**
Organic ingredient* Occurs naturally in essential oil**

And that was my Build Your Own Box from Skin Organics!  Are you as impressed as I am?  Is this something you would be interested in?  I honestly am loving my picks, and I cannot wait until I have saved up enough to purchase a six month subscription plan.  Until then, I will be using all these natural goodies up and living vicariously through everyone else's posts!

Thursday, 19 April 2018

A new month is always exciting - it is a fresh start, there are new experiences to be made and new subscription boxes to be had.  And for me, this also means that it is time to pick my LLABP products to review! 

All through March I was on a personal spending ban, which meant I was not allowed to buy any new products (other than what came in my pre-paid subscriptions).  I made it most of the way through without incident, and ended up using up loads of my stash which was fantastic.  As a reward, I decided April would be my month to try out brands I have never experienced before (though I am still trying to withhold spending on too many extras!).

You may have seen a sneak peek of my LLABP picks on Instagram and Twitter earlier this month, and don't worry, I will definitely be doing a full review of each of the gorgeous products.  In fact, today I will be sharing one of my choices!

The Rose Tree is a British beauty brand that is dedicated to designing products that are natural, organic, powerful, and transparent.  They care about the whole process, from ground to shelf, and promise ethical sourcing of ingredients, no animal cruelty, and good wholesome formulas.  On top of that, they guarantee "stunningly effective" skincare that is luxurious and designed for modern women.

Well, I can say that The Rose Tree most definitely 'rose' to the occassion with their Rose and Ylang Ylang Bath and Shower Oil!  If you follow me on any account, you know by now that I adore a bath at the weekend.  This helps me unwind and regroup after a long, hectic week, and I rely on various products to soothe my mind, body, and spirit during my 'me time.'  And I have to say, after only a few uses, this bath oil has quickly become a favourite of mine.

The oil comes in a beautiful heart shaped glass bottle, and there is almost no plastic in sight in the packaging.  Only the top of the stopper is not made from rubber or glass, but seeing how cute this bottle is I think I'll be reusing it.

When it comes to the oil itself, it isn't greasy at all which is exactly what I look for.  Even so, I only used a tiny bit in my bath as the aroma is so powerful that the smell was quickly dispensed throughout the room by the bath's steam.  It smells so incredible, like a walk on a warm day through a sunny garden of roses, but with just enough of a hint of ylang ylang for that added rich sweetness.  Usually I read a book or catch up on posts while having a soak, but all I could do was daydream this time.  My mind was just so blissed out, and my post-yoga muscles were thanking me for the TLC as well!

There was no residue on the edges of my tub, so that is an automatic perk -- easy cleanup!  While I didn't find this an intensive moisture boost, my skin did come out feeling silky and soft, so it definitely is doing the trick.  I think this bath oil is perfect for spring, summer, and autumn, as it is lightweight and does not cling to the skin or leave any oily feeling when you get out of the water.  However, I do think my skin needs something a little more heavy duty in the dry winter months, so I think I would still need to use a balm or butter afterwards during the colder weather.

For now, I am enjoying the balancing effects of this blend from The Rose Tree, along with the lightly floral scent it leaves behind on my skin.  I also love how I felt more radiant, both inside and out after using this bath oil -- at the end of the week it is so great to feel so restored and pampered!

My only wish would be for a more precise way of measuring out product.  I wouldn't want the bottling to change at all as I love the wire clamp method of closing the top, so I am unsure how this would be possible.  But something I always struggle with is what "a drizzle" or other similar measurements means.  I always wonder if I am being too generous or being too stingy when it gets down to it.  Or maybe I just need to learn a better drizzling technique?

Overall, my feelings about The Rose Tree bath and shower oil have blossomed after each use.  Not only is this free from nasties I avoid like SLS and other nonsense (I mean, why would you ever put SLS in an oil??), it is made with 78% organic ingredients that have been expertly blended to create a calming and moisturizing skincare treat.  All in all, I think The Rose Tree has lived up to their promises, and I can't wait to be able to try out more from their range!

Have you tried anything from The Rose Tree?  Let me know down in the comments below what you think of bath and shower oils, and if you would like to see me try out more from this lovely natural beauty brand's collection.

Monday, 16 April 2018

I was really delayed with my initial thoughts about this month's Love Lula Beauty Box, but you know what they say -- better late than never!  We were away for several days when my delivery initially was made, so I did not actually open the April edition until Friday.  Then I postponed writing this even further (you may have seen my apology and explanation on Twitter).  But I have finally gotten down to business, and I am excited to share my feelings about this month's Love Lula box with all you eco-beauties!

I was honestly happy with this box for a few reasons -- the products are overall pretty clean in terms of ingredients, I can (and probably will) use everything included, and while the brands are not necessarily new to be featured, I was pleased to see at least one newly released product.

Overall, the total for this month's box was over £65, and there were two full sized products, two "discovery" size items, and three sample sachets.  I still find the value of the Love Lula Beauty Box fantastic for the price paid, and while there is usually one item in each box that isn't suited to me, I wouldn't cancel this box as it is just too good in the long run.

The April Love Lula box had a great variety to it I thought, with a handful of skin care goodies along with one full size makeup product.  There is something for everyone in this collection, and it was definitely one not to miss (although if you did, don't worry -- Love Lula usually offer a free box with a shop purchase over £60 the following month!).

First in the box were two "discovery" size products from Dr Botanicals: a 30ml sample of the Kale Superfood Nourishing Day Moisturizer and a 30ml sample of the Coffee Superfood Renewing Facial Exfoliator.  This brand has been making the rounds through the subscription box world, so I was not totally surprised to see this included in this month's collection.  One thing I am thankful for is that Dr Botanicals has at least been kind/savvy enough to provide different products for each of the subscription services they have been involved with in the last few months.  I now have a good portion of their Apothecary Collection that was recently brought to Love Lula thanks to this marketing technique -- the Po Sleep Mask was part of the April edition of The Cruelty Free Beauty Box, and the Cr Mattifying Mask came in the April The Vegan Kind box.

While I do not love DB as a brand (as I have expressed and explained several times now), I am impressed with this range.  The ingredients are not too worrying, and each of the products have left my skin feeling incredibly soft and feeling healthy, smooth, and moisturized.

The Kale moisturizer doesn't have a strong scent, and I wouldn't necessarily know that this superfood had anything to do with the product based on the smell if it were not for the name.  The cream itself is not thick, but you can definitely feel it on your face for the first ten minutes or so (not oily per say, but richer than I was expecting).  My face hasn't broken out, so I have to say so far so good - I do have several other moisturizers and face creams to use up before I should properly get into this tube, so I will do a full update when I finally get around to finishing this up!

My experience with the coffee exfoliator has been great so far.  I generally do not use physical exfoliating skincare products on my face, as I find them too harsh more often than not, but this one surprised me.  Rather than being an actual coffee scrub, this is actually just coffee infused.  The exfoliation comes from walnut shell powder, so it is not scratchy like I was expecting, but very gently buffs away dead skin cells and promotes healthy cell renewal.  It felt highly nourishing as well thanks to all the added oils and butters, so I did not feel like my face was being overly-worked.  In fact, it felt so lovely afterwards, and I almost felt like I didn't need to finish with my usual serum.

Kale Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Glycerin, Cetearyl Alcohol, Glyceryl Stearate SE, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Acacia Decurrens/Jojoba/ Sunflower Seed Wax/Polyglyceryl-3 Esters, Crambe Abyssinica Seed Oil, Echium Plantagineum Seed Oil, Sodium Levulinate, Glyceryl Caprylate, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter, Sodium Anisate, Sodium Stearoyl Glutamate, Xanthan Gum, Phytic Acid, Levulinic Acid, Cellulose Gum, Chondrus Crispus (Carrageenan) Extract, Ceratonia Siliqua Gum, Sucrose, Brassica Oleracea Acephala Leaf Extract.

Coffee Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Glycerin, Juglans Regia (Walnut) Shell Powder, Cetearyl Alcohol, Glyceryl Stearate SE, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Coffea Arabica (Coffee) Seed Extract, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Acacia Decurrens/Jojoba/Sunflower Seed Wax/ Polyglyceryl-3 Esters, Crambe Abyssinica Seed Oil, Echium Plantagineum Seed Oil, Sodium Levulinate, Glyceryl Caprylate, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter, Sodium Anisate, Sodium Stearoyl Glutamate, Xanthan Gum, Phytic Acid, Levulinic Acid, Cellulose Gum, Chondrus Crispus (Carrageenan) Extract, Ceratonia Siliqua Gum, Sucrose, Citric Acid.

I have to start by saying, while I do genuinely rate Madara and I find their products exceptional in terms of quality, I am getting a little tired of seeing them month in month out.  In fact, I have already been sent two of the sachet products in their full size (the Fine Line Minimizing Cream in July 2017 and the Peel Mask in April 2017).  I have still not finished up either of these tubes, so wasn't too keen on also receiving sachets.  Since I am trying my best to cut down on plastics and other unnecessary waste, getting single use (or 2-3 use) sachets is not ideal for me at this point.

Actually, looking back through all my past reviews and Instagram posts I have realized I have been sent eight (mostly full sized) Madara items since I started subscribing in January last year.  And while I love the quality and the value of these items, a lot of them are not suited to my skin and I end up passing them on to my partner or family/friends.

That being said, this little try me pack is probably a great introduction for anyone who has not before experienced Madara.  The cleansing milk is meant to be soothing due to the oat extract, and is said to be ideal for cleansing and removing makeup on all skin types, but especially dry.  The AHA mask is a chemical exfoliation treatment designed to brighten skin, reduce appearance of fine lines, and unclog pores.  This peel is not actually meant to be used daily according the full size product instructions, so I found it odd that the card made it sound like this should be used as part of a set routine with the other two items.  It is a pretty mild treatment though.  Step three in this trio is the Smart Antioxidants Fine Line Minimising Cream (Day).  While not ideal for me at the moment, my partner uses this and the cream is seriously effective.  It targets early signs of aging as well as fine lines by 'suppressing the formation of free radicals' and repairing existing damage.  A handy little trio for anyone wanting to test out these products before purchasing the full sizes.

Cleanse: Aqua Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil* Alcohol Polyglyceryl-3 Methylglucose Distearate Glycerin*** Glyceryl Stearate Tilia Cordata (Linden) Flower Extract* Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Extract* Plantago Major (Plantain) Leaf Extract* Calendula Officinalis (Calendula) Flower Extract* Cetearyl Alcohol, CI 77891 (Titanium Dioxide) Tocopherol Ascorbyl Palmitate Sodium Phytate Potassium Hydroxide Aroma** Citronellol** Geraniol**

Exfoliate: Aqua, Lactic Acid, Glycerin***, Lavendula Angustifolia (Lavender) Floral Water*, Galactoarabinan, Amorphophallus Konjac Root Extract, Potassium Hydroxide, Mica (CI 77019)****, Pyrus Cydonia (Quince) Fruit Extract*, Sambucus Nigra (Elderflower) Fruit Extract*, Aroma, Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891)****, Ethyl Lauroyl Arginate HCL, Xantan Gum, Limonene**. * ingredients from organic farming ** natural essential oils *** made using organic ingredients ****pure mineral pigments

Moisture: Aqua Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil Alcohol Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil Dicaprylyl Carbonate Rosa Damascena (Rosa) Flower Water Glycerin Hydrogenated Macadamia Integrifolia Seed Oil Aroma Cellulose Xanthan Gum Propanediol Mica ( CI 77019 ) Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891) Alchemilla Vulgaris (Lady's Mantle) Extract Polypodium Vulgare Rhizome (Fern) Extract Sodium phytate Xylitol Sodium Hyaluronate Tocopherol Ascorbyl Palmitate (Vitamin C) Hydrolyzed Hyaluronic Acid Cetraria Islandica Thallus (Lichen) Extract Sphagnum Magellanicum (Moss) Extract Citric acid Limonene Linalool Eugenol Benzyl Salicylate Citral

The products I was probably most excited to see were the new Little Miracle Rosehip Balm from Balm Balm and the Cream Eye Shadow from Inika.  I prefer to use organic products, so I am always thrilled when these types of items are included in the monthly box. 

The balm smells just like Balm Balm's face oil of the same name, and I can already tell I am going to adore this product.  I think I will mainly be using this as a treatment for the occasional dry patch of skin (I'm looking at you elbows!), and possibly even as a pre-shower moisture boost that can melt off in the warm water.  And, while I do not generally use cleansing balms, I think this one might actually be suitable for my skin if I can judge based on the face oil.  My skin seems to love rosehip! 

I have used a lot of Inika Organic products in the past, and I even posted my very first makeup tutorial attempt using their makeup recently.  I haven't, however, used any of their cream eyeshadows before so I was not sure what to expect.  The bottle has a twist off top cap that then exposes a squeezy tube that the product then comes out of.  I found it a little tricky to gauge just how much eye shadow was going to come out, but I think that will get easier with some practice. 

In terms of colour, I found this really subtle.  And I mean REALLY subtle.  It almost matches my natural eyelid, but adds just a touch of shimmer.  To be fair, the description online says "A subtle illuminating shade to brighten and highlight your eye area. Perfect for adding a subtle sheen of colour for gorgeous eyes."  I think I was just expecting a bit more actual colour of some sort.  I found layering it on helped create a bit more of a noticeable effect, but to be honest I do like that this is so understated so I might just use this for a good natural glow.

Balm Balm: Helianthus annuus seed oil, Butyrospermum parkii butter, Rosa canina fruit oil, Cera alba, Simmondsia chinensis seed oil, Borago officinalis seed oil, Boswellia neglecta resin oil, Pelargonium graveolens flower oil, Juniperus communis fruit oil, Cymbopogon martinii oil, Citrus nobilis peel oil, Calendula officinalis flower extract, Geraniol*, d-Limonene*, Linalol*, Citral*, Farnesol* *Naturally occurring in essential oils

Inika: Aloe Barbadensis Leaf (Aloe Vera) Juice*, Mica, Cetearyl Olivate, Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Sorbitan Olivate, Glycerin, Aqua, Prunis Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil*, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil*, Macadamia Integrifolia Seed Oil*, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil*, Cetearyl Alcohol, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter*, Glycerin*, Sodium Levulinate, Glyceryl Caprylate, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Sodium Anisate, Lactic Acid, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil, Tin Oxide, May Contain (+/-) Iron Oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492).

While not the most exciting box, I was very pleased with the contents overall and have no complaints.  The value is exceptional as always, the ingredients are all decent (no phenoxyethonal this month thank goodness!), and I was happy to get a newly launched item from one of my go to brands, Balm Balm.

If you want to join in on the Love Lula journey, you can subscribe to the recurring monthly box for just £13.95 including postage.  And if you do so, not only will you get amazing full size products and deluxe samples every month, you will also get a 20% discount on the brands included every single month!

                                   Look beautiful naturally with LoveLula, the world's natural beauty shop. Free delivery over £15. Shop now!

Friday, 13 April 2018

While last month's edition of The Cruelty Free Beauty Box was not the best for me, I have to say I had high hopes for April.  Well, my delivery just arrived and I have to say I am well impressed!!

This edition is the pre-birthday box, and it contains five products, two of which are full size.  The collections leading up to anniversary dates are always fab, and the April one is no exception.  This box has a value of over £45!

Before I even get into the specific goodies, I have to say that I will be using every single product except for one, but even that item looks amazing.  If it were not for the phenoxyethonal (which as I have mentioned before I am incredibly sensitive to!) I would be tempted to at least try it out despite my rigorous ingredient rules.

The box includes several names we have seen before in The Cruelty Free Beauty Box, one that has been making the rounds through every subscription service, and one label that I have never seen included in a beauty box.  All in all, I have to say the variation is still great even for those who have been subscribing since the beginning like myself.

First up is a whitening gel for teeth, something we have not before seen in The Cruelty Free Beauty Box.  The CB&CO item is full size and retails for almost £20 -- that's more than the price of the box already!  I noticed straight away when I was checking the ingredients on the back of the cardboard box that while this may sound like a fresh name on the market, it is actually a re-branding (or possibly a splinter company?) of Cougar Beauty.  I have tried out a few of their products in the past, as some are natural as well as being cruelty free and vegan, and I have been pretty happy with the quality.  I was not aware that they had gone through a redesign, but I am liking the new look!

The Extreme Whitening Gel contains activated charcoal and peppermint essential oil, making it ideal for removing stains, freshening breath, and killing off gum disease causing bacteria.  It does contain a few ingredients I usually try to avoid when personally buying dental products (such as artificial sweeteners), however as they are considered non-toxic by the vast majority of research, I will be giving this whitening gel a go.  My teeth are in need of some serious help due to my love of coffee, tea, and red wine, so I really need to try to sort that out.  I will be giving updates in a month or so about the effectiveness of the product, so keep an eye out for that!

Ingredients: Water, Glycerin, Charcoal Powder, Butylene Glycol, Carbomer, Sodium Bicarbonate, Sodium Benzoate, Benzyl Alcohol, Sodium Carbonate Peroxide, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Hydroxide, Sodium Saccharin, Xantham Gum, Peppermint Leaf Oil, Dehydroacetic Acid, Limonene

Next on the list is from one of my favourite green beauty brands, Evolve.  We received two items from them back in February, and I am so excited to see them again for April's box.  This time we have the Superfood Shine Conditioner, a hair savior that is packed with baobab and pomegranate to replenish and rehydrate from the outside in.  My first impression is that it smells incredible.  The blend of essential oils and rich carrier oils really packs a punch, and I can already tell this is going to be a joy to use.  My only wish is that Evolve cuts phenoxyethonal from the ingredient label, and also switches from plastic bottles over to something more eco-friendly like glass.

That being said, this conditioner probably still wins out as my favourite product in this month's collection from The Cruelty Free Beauty Box, as it is 99% natural and smells so divine.  I am a bit wary about how my skin will fare with the one 'nasty' in it, but I will try to give updates in about a week to let you know how I get on with this product.

Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Cetearyl alcohol, Betaine, Coco-glucoside, Hydrolyzed Adansonia Digitata (Baobab) Seed Protein*, Parfum (NaturalFragrance), Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter*, Punica Granatum (Pomegranate) Fruit Extract*, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil*, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed oil*, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) oil*, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oi*l, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice Powder*, Xanthan Gum, Glycerin, Citric Acid, Lactic acid, Tocopherol, Benzoic acid, Dehydroacetic acid, Phenoxyethanol, Citral, Geraniol, Limonene, Linalol. *ingredients from organic farming

Third in the April box is a sample of the Hibiscus Face Mask from Balm Balm.  This is actually a product I have mentioned in an empties post and my exfoliation series before, and one that I already love.  Balm Balm was featured long ago in the very first edition of The Cruelty Free Beauty Box, and I have been waiting for another appearance since then.  This little pot contains a water activated mask that works both to exfoliate and to cleanse.  Rather than a drying clay, the main ingredient is rice powder, meaning this does not harden like a rock or cause your skin any dryness.  This gives a gentle scrub, so it does not irritate the face, and I would say it is suitable for all skin types (including sensitive!).

While the size may seem small, you actually only need to use a small amount of this to cover your face and get the full effectiveness.  And when you have finished it, the full size is not very expensive at all!  You can also then reuse the plastic pot - I have melted an old lipstick down into it so I can now apply using a lip brush!

Ingredients: Oryza Sativa Powder, Hibiscus Sabdariffa Flower Powder, Pelagonium Graveolens.

Next is a Very Vegan lipstick from W7, a brand I have often seen at TK Maxx.  The brand as a whole is not vegan, however they have launched a vegan range that are very clearly marked for easy shopping.  I have never tried any of their products, as the ingredient labels do not pass my test, but I have to say the saturation of colour on this lipstick is really impressive.  The shade is called Calming Crimson, and is a bright red that is seriously perfect for spring.  The formula is meant to be very moisturizing without skimping on staying power.  The Curvaceous Vegan has actually written a lovely review of the W7 Makeup line including the lipsticks, so if you want to hear more about the wear and tear of this product, go check out her post.

Ingredients: Octyldodecanol, Ricinus Communis Seed Oil, Ethylexyl Palmitate, Bis-Diglyceryl Polyacyladipate-2, Candelilla Cera, Pentaerythiryl Tetraisostearate, Polyisobutene, Ozokerite, Hydrogenated Microcrystalline Cera, Phenoxyethonal, Flavor/Aroma, Butyrospermum Parkii Butter, Tocopheryl Acetate, Tin Oxide, Citronellol, Hexyl Cinnamal, Linalool, Cinnamyl Alcohol, [+/- May contain/ Peut Contenir: CI 77019 (Mica), CI 77891 (Titanium Dioxide), CI 15850 (D&C Red 6 Ba. Lake), CI 15850 (D&C Red 7 Ca. Lake), CI 45410 (D&C Red 27 Al. Lake), CI 45410 (D&C Red 28 Al. Lake), CI 42090 (FD&C Blue 1 Al. Lake), CI 77499 (Iron Oxide Black), CI 77491 (Iron Oxide Red), CI 77492 (Iron Oxide Yellow)].

Last, but not least, is the Pomegranate Superfood Regenerating Sleeping Mask from Dr Botanicals (wow, that is a mouthful!).  The Dr Botanicals brand has made its way into many of the popular boxes recently, including last month's The Pip Box and this month's Love Lula Beauty Box.  I have expressed my concerns with Dr Botanicals before, however I am genuinely intrigued by this new Apothecary Natural Collection range.  The ingredient labels are relatively clean (though there are concerns about carrageenan extract), and the shelf life of three months after opening suggests these are made fresh.

This is the 30ml size, but to honest I prefer smaller sizes for face products so I can actually finish them before the use by date.  This sleeping mask does not have a strong smell, and I actually had to breathe in pretty deep to get even the hint of pomegranate.  Since pomegranate fruit extract is the second to last ingredient on the label, this does not surprise me, but I was a little disappointed.  However, as this is meant to be left on overnight, I think that the subtle scent is actually probably for the best.

The consistency is pretty rich, so you only will need to use a small amount, and from the little I have already used it seems to leave the skin silky smooth and very healthy feeling.  The description states it is suitable for normal, dry, and oily skin, but seeing as there are not many harsh ingredients and no essential oils, this could also work for those with more sensitive skin -- I do suggest doing a patch test first though to check to make sure the fruit extracts are not irritating.

Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Kaolin, Glycerin, Cetearyl Alcohol, Glyceryl Stearate SE, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Acacia Decurrens/Jojoba/Sunflower Seed Wax/Polyglyceryl-3 Esters, Crambe Abyssinica Seed Oil, Sodium Levulinate, Glyceryl Caprylate, Citronellol, Sodium Anisate, Pelargonium Graveolens Flower Oil, Geraniol, Sodium Stearoyl Glutamate, Xanthan Gum, Lactic Acid, Linalool, Phytic Acid, Levulinic Acid, Cellulose Gum, Chondrus Crispus (Carrageenan) Extract, Ceratonia Siliqua Gum, Citral, Sucrose, Limonene, Citric Acid.

All in all I am very happy with the April edition from The Cruelty Free Beauty Box, and I think it is an excellent pick me up for anyone looking to switch to cruelty free beauty or who just wants some lovely goodies sent every month.  A subscription to The Beauty Box is £14.95 per month, or you can order a one off for £19.95.  Seeing as how May is the one year anniversary of The Cruelty Free Beauty Box, I have a feeling we are all in for a real treat! I for one cannot wait!

I would love to hear what you think of this month's products.  Are you happy with the selection?  What is your favourite item from the April edition?  And if you could hand pick any item to be included in the May box, what would it be??

Thursday, 12 April 2018

I have to admit something... I don't wear much makeup, I don't wear makeup regularly, and I am not that good at applying makeup!  So when I set myself the challenge of doing a full face with Inika, I was a bit worried at what the results would be!  I have set myself the task of wearing at least one makeup product every day through the month of March, since despite all my admissions, I somehow have ended up with loads of products, especially eyeshadows and lipsticks. I don't want them to go to waste, so here I am, trying to doll myself up so I can get used to some of these items!

Lipstick I can never get quite even, eyeshadow I just sort of slap on and blend to the best of my abilities, highlight I think I finally understand after watching so many grav3yard girl and Safiya Nygaard YouTube videos, and all the rest... let's just say I have not ever attempted to contour, and I probably never will!  It's not that I don't like the idea of getting glam - I just have never learned and don't usually have the time or patience to really try.  That being said, please don't judge my skills too harshly!

The products I have to work with are primer, foundation, setting powder, highlight, lipstick, eyeliner, and eyeshadow.  I realized after the fact that I don't actually own an Inika mascara yet, so I chose to go sans mascara.  Whoops!

[Top is room lighting, Bottom is with flash // From left to right: Lipstick Flushed, Lipstick Captivating, Lipstick Naked Kiss, Eye shadow Gunmetal, Highlight Cream, Eyeliner Black Caviar, Foundation Grace]

I started by dabbing on a little bit of the Inika Pure Primer onto my face and then blending it in sort of like I would my moisturizer.  This probably shows how little I know about doing makeup, but I still am not sure what the primer is really for!  Is it to help the foundation stay?  Is it to hydrate the skin under all the rest of the products?  Both???  I've done some looking into it, and apparently it is designed as a base product which allows everything else to go on smoothly for a flawless finish, and it helps everything to last longer.

Once my primer was on, I started on my very first attempt to apply foundation.  Yes, you heard me right - I have never worn foundation!  I chose shade "Grace P1" which is the lightest of Inika's twelve shades.  I am a ghost.  I was honestly surprised by how easy putting this product on was, as I was expecting to spend at least 45 minutes trying to get it right.  To be honest, I probably didn't do it 'right' but it worked out in the end!  I just swirled my PHB powder brush around the top of the pot to get some foundation on the bristles, then used circular motions around my face until it looked even.

Next up was highlight, something I am slightly more familiar with!  I used the Inika Light Reflect Cream which is actually becoming a favourite of mine.  It is a pretty natural highlight with minimal glittery shimmer, and I love how easily it applies.  Since it is a cream it blends into your skin really nicely, and it sinks in a little so there is no wetness to the product.

After that was eyeliner, and this was the product I was most comfortable applying as I tend to wear at least a little bit on my outer waterline most days.  The Inika eye pencil in Black Caviar is not a pure black I would say, but is pretty close.  You need to warm up the tip a little before it goes on really smoothly, but once you start it glides on well.  I would suggest this pencil for the lid of the eye, as I found it great for making a little wing - not quite a cat's eye, but close!

Choosing my lipstick for my full face with Inika was a little trickier, as I absolutely love all the colours I own from this brand.  Each one has a very subtle metallic shimmer, and they apply so smoothly and last ages.  Flushed is probably the boldest of the three I have, and is a rosy pink.  Naked Kiss is a bit darker and is meant to be the 'perfect neutral,' but it definitely still has some pink undertones to it (see my full review).  My most recent purchase, and possibly my favourite of the three is Captivating, a copper shade that is almost the perfect match for my hair.

In the end I decided on Naked Kiss as I thought it would compliment my eye shadow choice the best.

Last but not least was eye shadow, though afterwards I realized I probably should have done this before my foundation.  You live you learn!  I wanted to test out a smoky eye, or at least a very basic smoldering look, so I chose to use the vegan mineral eyeshadow in shade Gunmetal, a gorgeous metallic silver that is highly pigmented.  I used a very light sweep across my lid to start with, then layered a little more on the outer corners of my eye to add some depth to the look.

In the end, the look I ended up with was this (and I apologize for the washed out photo - not sure what happened!):

While it isn't the most elaborate or daring look, I am actually really proud of my first attempt at a full face with Inika -- I tried out products I have never used before, and used way more makeup all at once than I am used to.  While I probably would not recreate this on a daily basis, I will definitely be considering getting a bit more detailed on our rare nights out.  Maybe I will even venture into the world of contouring (keyword here is maybe!).

So what do you think of my first try?  It isn't the worst, right?? Let me know your thoughts down in the comments below, or maybe even leave me some tips for my next go at a full face of makeup!

And let me know if you would like to see more makeup looks in the future!  You can share your ideas for styles to recreate over on Twitter or Instagram!

Monday, 9 April 2018

Hello eco-lovelies!  I can't believe it is already time to be writing my March Favourites lineup - it seems like I just posted my February Favs!

I tried out a lot of lovely products this month, including the new pastel range from Glossworks,  a whole variety of fabulous goodies from my four subscription boxes I received (The Natural Beauty Box, Love Lula, The Cruelty Free Beauty Box, and my first ever The Pip Box), and a relaxing spa in a box from VitaBella.

It was nice to look back at everything I had used and try to decide which would be my choices this month, and surprisingly a lot of my go to things from March I didn't actually end up writing about!  However, that means I get to show a little love to them all here and now, so that is pretty fun!


I have to admit I broke my personal spending ban once or twice during March, but that led me to discover one of my new favourite products, the Spearmint single note perfume from Balm Balm.  Unfortunately this is no longer stocked on Love Lula, though they do offer an amazing range of five scents (all of which you can get in a little try me gift set!).  I actually don't think Balm Balm are even making this perfume anymore which is an absolute shame as it is so fresh, uplifting, and mouth-wateringly amazing.  After a quick look online, you can still find the odd bottle on sites like ebay, but otherwise this seems to be from a time gone by.  I will definitely be attempting to recreate this scent before my bottle runs out, as I don't want to go without it now that I have become so attached to it!

My next two picks for my March favourites both come from The Natural Beauty Box - Kokomelt Mini Lavender Scrub Cubes and Bodhi and Birch Chinois Blue Body Oil.

The first I love for several reasons, including how divine the scrub smells as it begins to melt.  The cubes are made with sugar and essential oils, and they give a really gentle exfoliation while also hydrating your hands.  I have already decided this will be a repurchase item and I am not even halfway through the tin.  They are just so nice!  It's like the perfect fusion between aromatherapy and a skin treat, and there is no way I want to cut ties with these little cubes.

The Bodhi and Birch is something I wish I didn't love so much as it is a bit pricier than I usually go for, but it will be worth every penny.  I think I described this oil as smelling of a spring sunrise, and I stick to that -- it is so light and elegant, plus it leaves my skin feeling incredibly soft.  I have been using this as a pre-shower oil instead of a leave on product, but only because I love how the steam from my shower dissipates the oils and makes the entire upstairs smell divine.

Next up is one of my LLABP choices, the Ultra Face Wash from Elli Organics.  When I bought this face wash I was expecting a cream or gel product that lightly lathered.  Well, I was surprised when I discovered it was an oil-based formula that was more like an oil cleanser than a traditional face wash.  However, it smelled so great that I decided to give it a go.  I ended up absolutely loving this product, and it has really helped with the dry feeling our hard water gives my face after showering.  It does take a good 60 seconds or so to get all the oil rinsed off, but afterwards my skin feels so soft.  Definitely has to make my line-up for March!

My fifth pick for the month was actually not something I was meant to have initially.  I participate in the Reddit gift exchanges every now and again, and when I saw that there was a nail polish one I immediately signed up.  My gifter was absolutely lovely and asked so many questions about what brands would be suitable for me to use (as I had stated I only use CF and natural, and preferably vegan).  About a week later a package from Maggie Anne arrived at my doorstep.  Inside were two bottles: Carmela and Phoebe.  Sadly, there was a small problem with one of my items, but Maggie Anne was so quick to respond and resolve the issue, and a few days later a replacement had arrived - this time one of the new chrome effects, Megan.  Megan is absolutely stunning.  I posted about it on Twitter, and I still can't believe how many shifting tones come through depending on how the light hits the nail.  Definitely one of my new favourite nail polishes, and one I can't wait to play around with some more in April.

The next two products are types of items I did not think I would ever consider to be favourites, let alone things I would mark out as being memorable.  I am not usually a big fan of bar soap, as I dislike the feeling it leaves on the skin after being rinsed off.  However, Friendly Soap's Detox Bar and HAND have both worked to win me over.  The first has been an in-shower soap that I have been using to cleanse and exfoliate my arms, chest, shoulders, and lower back.  It has really been helping regulate and balance my skin, and the little bumps I would sometimes get have completely vanished.  It smells great, is cheap as chips, and has no plastic packaging, so it is a total win.  HAND has been living in our upstairs bathroom and is such a weirdly delightful thing to use that I find myself looking forward to the next time I have to wash my hands.  I love the smell of pomegranate, and this fills the whole room when you use it.  Plus, it is really moisturizing for your hands thanks to the shea butter.

This leads me to my final beauty pick - the eco-friendly wooden soap dish from Bloomtown.  I bought this as a little extra to my order, not thinking much of it.  However, it has really changed our soap-game upstairs and I am thinking of ordering a second one for the downstairs bathroom.  I like that it is self draining, so there is no stagnant water sitting in the dish with the soap.  It fits a standard size bar perfectly, and it adds a little bit of warmth to the all white room.  Right now HAND Pomegranate is sitting inside it, and once that is gone I have a little bar from Bloomtown to replace it with.


My next items all have to do with developing my mind and body.  First up is my yoga mat (well, technically it was my partner's but he used it as extra cushion when sitting in the loft playing video games, so...).  I have started doing 15-30 minutes of yoga every day, and while it has not been easy making this a habit, I have no regrets!  I love that I have started something active, and even better it gives me time to practice a bit of mindfulness while honing my muscles and balance.

While not pictured, I have to mention one of my new favourite YouTube channels - Yoga With Adriene.  I have been using her videos to practice, and her presence has really helped me keep motivated and feel like even if I am not yet ready for certain poses or routines yet, that is okay.  I really like how she has a practice for every situation, and the times and skill levels cover everyone's needs.  If you are interested in starting yoga, definitely check her out!

Next up is a manga series that I ended up reading over the span of a few days on my Kindle.  I started watching Fruits Basket before our trip to Belfast, and after finishing the final episode I realized that the series was never completed on television.  I have never really picked up a manga (though I have read my fair share of graphic novels!), so the layout took some getting used to.  Instead of reading left to right, you read right to left, and sometimes I found it confusing which box or speech bubble to read next.  However, I slowly adapted and I ended up loving the rest of the story.

Basically, it is about a girl whose mother has recently passed away, and for various family reasons ends up living in the woods by herself for a few weeks.  A classmate and his guardian stumble upon her while she is leaving her tent, and they offer her temporary board in exchange for help with household duties.  However, she quickly learns this family has some pretty big secrets.  The story involves multiple romance plots, the Japanese legend of the zodiac, and some pretty deep lessons about acceptance, forgiveness, and healing.

Well, that is it for my March Favourites!  What do you think of my picks?  And I would love to hear what your choices would be for this month down in the comments below!

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Until next time x

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