Subscription Boxes, the ethical way!

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Monday, 30 April 2018

I was thrilled when I was asked to review the Vitamin Sea edition of Vertue Box, especially after reading the collection would be focused on sustainable packaging as well as utilizing marine extracts known for their health boosting properties.  I viewed several of the sneak peeks leading up to dispatch day, and I was fully expecting to become a mermaid princess after using all the potential products hinted at for the April release.

If you don't know already, Vertue Box is a bi-monthly subscription service that delivers between five and seven green, clean, and cruelty free beauty products all centered around an original theme.  Past editions include Skin Food, Mindful, Good Hair Day, Active, Wanderlust: Asia, and more, and have featured award winning brands such as Tabitha James Kraan, MOA, Isla Apothecary, Madara, and Siskyn, as well as boutique businesses like Luna Kloris, Trepadora, and Alchemy Oils.  Every partnership is fully vetted, ensuring each product "is cruelty free, natural, certified organic or wild-crafted, sustainably and ethically sourced, eco-friendly, and charitable."

I have been following this beauty box for so long, and have always been impressed by the reveals I have seen.  I have to say, the reality is even better.  Vertue Box comes in a white cardboard box with minimal ink printing (which as you know is better for the planet!), and when you open it up, you are met with elegant white tissue with Vertue's axiom "live green, live good" embossed on the paper.  The effect sets you up for a luxurious experience from start to finish, and makes the whole box feel that much more personal.

I carefully unwrapped the tissue (this will be something I will reuse in the future, so I didn't want to tear it!) and was greeted by six beauty treats and a hint of a whiff of seaweed.  Two items were protected by reused bubble wrap for safe traveling, and I appreciated both the lack of excess packaging and the care with which everything was packed up.

While Vertue Box gives helpful hints as to what brands and types of items will be included in each collection, I love that they do not reveal any definites so the surprise element is still there.  I knew that I would be seeing Seatox, Pacifica, Hydrea, Earth Harbor Naturals, and The Salt Parlour, but I had no idea which specific products would be appearing.  And I have to say, I could not have hoped for better picks!

The box includes a bath soak, facial spritz, body exfoliator, facial sponge, eyeshadow palette, and a multi-purpose supplement, which makes for a great range of beauty treats.  There is an information card included that lists the name of the products as well as a brief explanation as to what each does.  This does not state the value of anything however, nor does it give any detail as to how the items should/could be used, so I did find myself doing a little bit of quick research to make sure I was doing things correctly.

Pacifica Enlighten Eye Brightening Shadow Palette: RRP £15.49

I have used several Pacifica products in the past, such as their holographic nail polish (adore), cleansing wipes (pass - phenoxyethonal), shimmer coconut multiples (love), and the Island Life palette (also love!), so this is a brand I am very familiar with.  Pacifica is totally vegan-friendly, and promises to always be free from phthalates, lead, and other common nasties found in makeup and skincare products.

Since I have already tried and tested their eyeshadow formulas before, I knew I would really like this palette before I even swatched the shades.  The pigment is fantastic, and the iridescent formula has a  shimmer that is not too glittery so it is perfect for brightening up your eyes without being over the top.  Plus, the colour lasts all day in my experience, so that is a definite win!

The Enlighten Palette has four underwater inspired colours (R-L): Urchin, Golden, Coral Sand, and Skinny Dip.  Each is infused with coconut water to soothe and soften the skin, as well as safflower seed oil that acts as an anti-aging emollient.  The lighter shades are perfect for my everyday look, but I have to admit I am never quite certain what to do with darker shades.  A quick check online let me know that Urchin is ideal for smudging/blending, or if applied wet it works as a bold eyeliner.

Ingredients: Mica , Zinc Stearate , Ethylhexyl Stearate(plant Source) , Cocos Nucifera (coconut) Oil , Carthamus Tinctorius(safflower) Seed Oil , Macrocystis, Pyrifera (brown Kelp) Extract , Panax (ginseng) Root Extract . May Contain : Silica, Dimethicone , Calcium Sodium Borosilicate, Tin Oxide, Titanium Dioxide, Ci 7789, Ferric Ferrocyanide Ci77510, Iron Oxides C1 77491, Ci 77742, C177499.

Seatox Seaweed Selkie Smooth Bath Soak: RRP £6.95

This is one I have never seen before, and I was so excited/scared to try my seaweed soak out.  The premise is that seaweed is high in vitamins and minerals that promotes youthful and supple skin and helps detox the body, so like the mythical Aphrodite, you bathe in the all natural power of the sea, rub the plant's gels over your skin and hair, and rejuvenate over 20-40 minutes.  I had my doubts...

My bathroom very quickly started to smell of brine and kelp -- it sounds unpleasant, but trust me, it was actually lovely.  It was like bringing the ocean to my home!  I let the seaweed rehydrate in the hot water before diving in myself, but after letting it soak for five minutes I took the plunge.  The tendrils were a little tickly to start, and while the experience was odd at first, I quickly adjusted.  I set an underwater playlist on my Spotify and just embraced my new mermaid life.

It is astonishing how much I love this product.  If you had told me a week ago that I would be bathing in seaweed I probably would have laughed, but now I am already looking forward to my next session.  The bag in the Vitamin Sea Vertue Box is full sized, meaning there is between 70 and 80 grams of sea-salt encrusted dried plant in each pack.  While it did not fill by bath to bursting, it definitely expanded more than I originally expected and made me feel like I was floating in a mini kelp forest.

The instructions state that each seaweed parcel can be reused a couple times, and when the gels have gone you can then use this for composting -- such a brilliant, zero-waste product!

Ingredients: 100% Fucus Serratus seaweed

Seatox Seaweed Kelp Help: RRP £8.95

This is the one product in the box I was not as excited about, only because my experience with powder supplements in the past has been so horrifyingly bad.  It seems that I have been cursed to only try the worst of the worst when it comes to taste, so I was expecting another vile concoction when it came to this "Kelp Help" wild kelp powder.

I can thankfully say that was not the case!

On first opening the packet I was surprised right away, as the powder smelled relatively pleasant.  It has an earthiness to it, sure, but also a faint sweetly salty scent that makes it much more palatable.  I was so happy that this kelp supplement didn't seem to be awful, especially since the benefits sounded so brilliant.

Seatox states "This incredible super food supplement is bursting with essential vitamins and minerals like Iron, Iodine, magnesium, calcium and zinc. Seaweed is also an natural source of Iodine, (essential for healthy thyroid function and great for your metabolism)!"  After looking into kelp powder even more, I was further impressed by all the fantastic health perks it seemed to offer.  From lowering LDL cholesterol and blood sugar to decreasing the chances of breast cancer, this stuff seems to really pack a punch!

My next task was figuring out exactly how to use it, as the only direction on the packet is to not consume more than 5 grams per week.  I am terrible with measurements without using a scale/measuring spoon, so had no idea how much that actually meant I should use (or how to use it!).  A quick scan of the product listing on Seatox's website let me know that the absolute maximum amount in seven days is one teaspoon, so going off of that I decided to go for 1/8 of a teaspoon per use.

Luckily, Laila also sent me over some tips and let me know that this supplement is actually a multi-use product.  It can be used in edibles like soups and smoothies, but also for DIY beauty such as face masks and hair masks!  I went for a juice first, as I was keen to see what the taste was like -- to be completely honest, I couldn't really taste it over the banana and it did not change the consistency of my drink at all.  This will definitely be making its way into my weekly drinks routine, and probably into several dinner recipes as well since it will make a great vegan umami seasoning.

Earth Harbor Rose Ruby Gemstone Face Mist:  RRP $20.00

I love a good facial spritzer, and anything with rose in is an instant plus for me, so Earth Harbor was already starting out with great odds.  They really won me over with the gemstone infusion though, especially since ruby is my birthstone!

Crystal healing has always been around, and has been hailed by many spiritualists and practitioners to be a method for which any complaint can be addressed.  The belief is that due to crystals repeating structures, the stone is able to 'resonate' at the same pitch as humans and retain a sort of memory.  In other words, they can absorb specific powers or energies that are put into them.  So quartz can be programmed with love through the intention to fill it with love.  The same goes for gemstones.

According to Earth Harbor Naturals, ruby is "Considered to be the gemstone of passion with its intoxicating red color and sense of nobility, Ruby is one of the rarest gems on earth. Ruby Extract is delicate on skin, even though Ruby is second in hardness only to Diamond. The incredible molecular structure is what gives our conflict-free Ruby its skin-refining and complexion-brightening powers."  These powers have been infused into the facial mist, and work in tandem with the rose, hibiscus, white tea, and seaweed to provide a holistic healing and beauty treatment.

The floral water smells lucious, like a rose bouquet, and is possibly the most refreshing one I have tried yet.  It instantly lifts my spirit, and makes me feel vibrant and revitalized.  While this is a product that has many different uses, from mixing up face masks to setting your makeup, I tend to use it either as a toner, as a pick me up, or as an attention aid.

Even though this is priced above the other hydrosols I have previously used, I think it is well worth the extra cost and I will be looking into buying another bottle while I visit my family in NY over the summer.

Ingredients: Rose Floral Water (Rosa damascena)°°, Hibiscus Flower Extract (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis)°, Vegetable Glycerin°°, White Tea Extract (Camellia sinensis)°, Oarweed Seaweed Extract (Laminaria digitata)°°°, Ruby Extract (Conflict Free)°°°    ----   °Certified Organic  | °° Non-GMO  | °°° Wildcrafted

The Salt Parlour Seaweed & Cucumber Hydrate Salt and Sulphur Scrub: RRP £4.95

I have mentioned The Salt Parlour before on The ecoLogical, in Exfoliating Favourites, Skin Deep, and an empties post, so my love for the brand has definitely been shown -- and I am so happy to have another pot of this fab salt scrub, as it is a staple for me at this point.

The Salt Parlour is totally vegan-friendly like all the other products I have talked about so far in the Vitamin Sea box, and uses only simple ingredients to promote healthy, glowing skin.  By blending dead sea salts which are high in minerals (over 20!) with organic sulphur, an anti-inflammatory that has skin-repairing qualities, this all natural brand is able to create amazing scrubs that target a number of conditions including dry skin, cellulite, poor circulation, and sorting out congested skin.  Plus, since these salts are infused with essential oils, they also act as an in-shower aromatherapy treatment!

Hydrate was designed to balance, cleanse, and provide an intense moisture boost, and it delivers on all counts.  The smell is unique -- not quite cucumber, not quite kelp, but I find this scent refreshing in its own way.  The scrub is really gentle, and leaves my skin feeling so soft and smooth.  This is one that will be finding more and more use as the weather warms!

Ingredients: Kelp, Sea Buckthorn Oil, Cucumber Oil, Dead Sea Salts, Organic Sulphur.

Hydrea Fina Silk Sea Sponge: RRP £4.50

I have never used a sea sponge before, and I know their use is a little controversial in the vegan world, but since the tool was included in the collection I did not want it to go to waste.  But before I even opened the packaging, I wanted to do a little reading up as I was not entirely sure about the ethics behind using sea sponges since they are indeed considered a marine animal.  I found some really informative material on the Hydrea London website about sea sponges, and I was relieved by what I found.  While the creature is classed as an animal, it actually has more in common with a plant as it does not have a brain or central nervous system.  Additionally, scientists have shown that regular harvesting actually improves the overall health of the population, as sponges release cells and reproduce when disturbed.

Hydrea London ensures that their sea sponges are sustainability harvested, and they keep a close eye on the environmental impact the removal has on the surrounding sea.  My mind set at ease, I was ready to open up the packet and test out the Fina Silk Sea Sponge.

I have to say I was impressed by how delicate this one from Hydrea London was - it is seriously soft!  The sponge is meant to be perfect for a multitude of things, as it " is super absorbent, hypoallergenic and excellent for use as part of your daily face care routine. The shape and texture (small pores) of this natural sponge make it ideal for applying foundation and make up, deep cleansing in those hard to reach areas around the eyes and nose and gentle exfoliation."

The information on Hydrea's website states this sponge is suitable to use for two years with proper care, so this is a great option for anyone looking to switch over from single use makeup wipes or sponges that contain plastic fibers.

Vertue Box is £37.00 per box, or you can pre-pay for a plan which scores you a multi-buy discount.  Considering this subscription is bi-monthly (meaning you can save for two months to purchase a box instead of having to shell out the money every four weeks - think of it as £18.50 per month if that helps!), contains high quality products from both well-known and artisan brands, and introduces incredibly unique items like the seaweed bath soak, this is a box not to be missed.  And that doesn't even cover the general savings.  The Vitamin Sea edition has a value over £55 and includes one item you cannot buy in the UK -- think of the time and customs charges you skipped over!

This was definitely the most unique collection I have ever received, and I love every brand and item which is not always the case for subscription boxes.

Thursday, 26 April 2018

The sun finally greeted us, and as soon as it broke 20 degrees me and my yoga mat traveled outside for some much needed vitamin D.  After a solid routine, my muscles (and pale skin that hasn't seen sunshine in months!) needed a bit of a break, and Inner Senses stepped in with a solution that soothes aches and smells divine: their 100% natural Active Body Oil.

Inner Senses is entirely a plant based range that is cruelty free, organic, and vegan, and going by the quality of this single bottle, they have truly mastered the art of oils.  With twenty years of experience, the brand has had time to fine-tune their blends to ensure perfection.  And each of their products (and there are over 30 of them!) is hand made, meaning personal care goes into each and every one.  I knew I needed to try out Inner Senses, and so have been looking for an opportunity to do so for many many months.  After my March spending ban, I decided it was time, and thanks to the LLABP I was able to finally experience the magic myself.

This body oil is actually perfect for pre and post workout, as it can warm up your muscles and stimulate circulation as well as restore strains and aid recovery thanks to the six essential oils within the blend.  One of the main heroes in the formula is black pepper, an oil that actually used to be considered sacred and was used as a form of payment back in ancient times.  This essential oil is powerful stuff, as it helps reduce spasms and pain, improve circulation, remove toxins, and protects against damage from free radicals.  Pair this with the additional benefits from ginger root oil, rosemary leaf oil, eucalyptus leaf oil, marjoram leaf oil, and juniperberry fruit oil, and you have a truly magical potion.

I have been using this primarily on my lower back after yoga, but also on my calves after some of my longer walks or more strenuous work days, and it starts to warm and soothe straight away.  Recently, I have also been having some issues with my hands, and a little bit of this helps ease the pain.  I have to say, I am hooked on this Active Oil, and am so happy I have found such a powerful product.

The oil itself is rich without being thick or heavy, and it sinks into the skin well.  I like that it doesn't leave a slick feeling or a greasy residue, and it is gentle enough that my sensitive skin hasn't broken out in spots.  It's a true winner for me and I have nothing but love for this product!

Inner Senses Active Body Oil comes in a 100ml glass bottle, and since a little goes a long way I anticipate this item lasting me several months at least.  And at just £9.95, this is probably the most cost effective product I have come across in a long time.  Will I be rebuying?  Most definitely.  Will I also be looking to try more from InnerSenses?  Of course!  If you are impatient and can't wait for me to buy and try more from this lovely organic brand, you can always head over and read the fabulous Renata's review over at Green Life in Dublin!

Ingredients: *Helianthus Annus (Sunflower) seed oil, *Prunus Armeniaca (Apricot) kernel oil, Tocopherol, Zingiber Officinal (Ginger) root oil, Piper Nigrum (Black Pepper) seed oil, Origanum Majorana (Marjoram) leaf oil, Juniperus Communis (Juniperberry) fruit oil, Eucalyptus Radiata (Eucalyptus) leaf oil,  Rosemarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) leaf oil   ** Limonene, Linalool, Geraniol, Citral, D-limonene, Citronellol, Eugenol * Of organic origin ** Naturally present in essential oils

Innersenses ACTIVE Body Oil 100ml
This invigorating body oil is formulated for use both prior to and following exercise. ... [More]
Price: £9.95

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.

*These items were sent to me as part of the Love Lula Accredited Blogger Program.  All opinions expressed in this post are my own honest thoughts, and you can see my Disclaimer Page for more details

Blogger Note: Every product mentioned in all of my posts are purchased with my own money, are gifts from friends or family, or were won in public competitions unless otherwise stated.  However, my posts may contain affiliate links. This will never change my approach to my reviews, nor will it influence how I represent the products I am writing about, as I only choose to represent or work with brands and companies that I 100% respect and trust

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!

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??

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