Stars & Sage - January 2019 Unboxing and Review

Stars & Sage is a box I raved about earlier last year, and I found it to be one of the most innovative subscription services I had stumbled across in a long while.  I was gutted to miss the first two boxes when they launched, and jumped at the chance to get three boxes to review when the opportunity arose.  I was pretty convinced that this was the perfect match for me, as Stars & Sage promised to  deliver a full bath ritual right to my door every month! It was the only beauty box that catered specifically to bathtime, and as you know that is my favourite time of the week!

But my love seemed like it would be short lived sadly.  You may remember I was a bit confused about the November box, as the special crystal had disappeared from the roundup and there were no more extra gifts like there had been in each previous reveal.  The products included were still stunning, but part of the USP seemed to have disappeared.

And then there was the frustrating December edition, which I was very disappointed in.  I didn't think it was a good Christmas collection in any way shape or form.  The value was technically there, but I wasn't keen on any of the brands except BYBI (which to be fair was actually one of my favourite beauty balms I tried in 2018, though I first tried it thanks to Origins of Beauty earlier in the season!) and I was upset that this 'bath' box didn't actually have any specific bath products except a tiny sample of salts that seemed a bit of an afterthought since it wasn't even in the pamphlet.  So to say I was nervous about how the new year would go when it came to Stars & Sage is a bit of an understatement.

But, happily I have to say that they have definitely started to bring it back.

Stars & Sage subscription box January 2019 products

So let's start with the good:

  • Four beauty products, all of which are from small artisan natural brands
  • Solid theme - "anti-Jan blues" which is perfect for this gloomy time of year
  • We spoke, they listened - the crystal is back!
  • Great representation of smaller indie brands
  • Minimal plastic packaging - lots of glass bottles and vials to be found!

While I am still not 100% excited like I was back when they first launched, I am definitely more on board with January's selection.  Like I mentioned, the products are back to being all natural formulations, the variety was MUCH better with two bath related goodies as well as a face mask and facial oil, and even the much loved crystal element was back (though more on that in a bit...).

Of the four beauty products, two are full size and two are deluxe samples.  Let's take a closer look, shall we??

Bloomtown 'The Meadow' Oil
Bloomtown, most recently famous for their appearance on Dragons Den, is a British brand that is out to make a difference.  After witnessing the loss of Indonesian habitats that are home to endangered orangutans, tigers and so much of the world's biodiversity, founders Preyanka Clark Prakash and Medwin Culmer created the UK's first independently certified palm oil-free company in an effort to raise awareness about the impact of harmful practices and to offer sustainable and ethically minded products to the public.

Now, I adore Bloomtown, and I actually have tried many of their green goodies, including the fab sugar scrub, long lasting candles, and super handy on-the-go aromatherapy blends.  In fact, I have tried both their body oil (in The Cafe) and this scent (in the roll on infused oil format) before and really loved the experience.  So when I saw a full size bottle of 'The Meadow' Oil was included in January's Stars & Sage collection I was very pleased.

Bloomtown The Meadow body bath oil

Bloomtown's oils are really multi-purpose, meaning it isn't restricted to just one area -- you can use it in the bath, on dry patches of skin, and I have even tried it in my hair before as an overnight mask!  The consistency as a body product is great, as it sinks in fully and leaves your skin feeling super nourished but not greasy or slick at all.  I find this fab for helping my arms and legs feel moisturized and smooth and keeping that 'summer is coming' glow.  It is a fairly dry oil, so I am happy to use this day or night, and have found it works perfectly as a primer if my body is needing even more TLC -- I just apply all over, let it absorb, then pop a bit of body butter or balm on top!  Honestly, I haven't had a single rough spot since starting this technique.  It's pretty fantastic.

But the best thing about this has to be how fragrant it is.  Incredibly floral, super soothing, and a total sensation for the senses, The Meadow is bursting with notes of lavender and rose.  And there is nothing artificial about it!  It is perfect for those times you are feeling anxious, stressed, overworked, or just flat out overwhelmed.  The calming aroma works to ease tension and lessen your worries - just breathe in deep and let the scent wash over you.  I find this great for after a long day, especially in the bath.  While the oil doesn't fully disperse (rather, it sits on top of the water like the majority of bath oils) it is not clawing at all and just acts as an in bath moisture mask.  It is the perfect therapeutic all in one treatment with just a few simple pumps of the bottle!

Ingredients: prunus dulcis (sweet almond) oil, sesamum indicum (sesame) oil, limnanthes alba (meadowfoam) seed oil, lavender oil, vitamin E, rose geranium oil, chamomile oil

Bloomtown 'The Spring' Face Mask
Next up is a product I have tried twice before and really love, the award winning The Spring soothing face mask from Bloomtown Botanicals.  I bought a 60ml pot soon after winning a gift voucher for Bloomtown, then got a refill in my much loved The Natural Beauty Box.  Having finished both, I can say with confidence that this face mask is truly something to be excited about.  One turn off in terms of masks 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.

Bloomtown The Spring face mask open texture

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.

The mask has an almost 'cotton fresh' sort of scent.  You know what I mean?  Like laundry straight out of the drier, or linen hanging on the line with a breeze trailing by.  It isn't artificial at all, just very reminiscent of washing powder in a comforting and calming way.  I find myself quickly unwinding when I use The Spring, which is a huge bonus.

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

Wildheart Organics 'Sanctuary' Bath Oil
This is actually the item in January's Stars & Sage that was completely new to me, and I have to say it won me over pretty much immediately.  Not only is Wildheart Organics a certified natural perfumer, meaning they use only 100% natural essential oils to create their stunning fragrances, but their products are all handmade in Britain and free from synthetic compounds and not so nice additives (like the dreaded phenoxyethonal!).  Plus, they are very clear about their ethos, and from what I have observed so far they really stick to this model!  Just check out Wildheart Organics' criteria they follow:

- We want to feel good about what we do therefore we:
- Do not test on animals and would not use products tested on animals
- 100% of our containers, bottles & packaging can be recycled and we will always use glass containers for our body oil products
- We hand-make our products ourselves to ensure quality and the raw material supply chain
- Our candle wax is a vegetarian product made using no petrochemicals or toxic substances
- Our diffuser base is a certified organic grain and certified by the Soil Association
- We use organic botanical oils in our body products and a significant proportion of organic oils used in the candles
- We pay the living wage to our employees

I will definitely be looking to try more of the range soon, but first let me talk about the bath oil that came in Stars & Sage this month, the Sanctuary blend.

Wildheart Organics bath oil

This 97% organic de-stress formula is made with 21 essential oils, including jasmine, chamomile, rosewood, geranium, and patchouli.  It smells incredible and has a surprising sweetness to the aroma despite containing such bold fragrances.  The smell reminds me of early morning dew, that untouched and delicate moment before the day truly begins -- it is light, airy, and oh so familiar.  It has a touch of bubblegum to it before evolving into something with a bit more warmth, and it continues to deepen as you let the oil work its way through the water.  I do not have a blend quite like this one, and for the queen of bath products that is a pretty big feat.

While this does not fully disperse in the water, it is not clawing or overly heavy on the skin.  It provides a solid moisture boost, but doesn't leave you feeling greasy, and I love how the fragrance sticks around for hours after the bath.  I find myself getting a whiff of 'Sanctuary' every now and again, and each time it is like I get a mini-aromatherapy treatment all over again.

The sample size included in the box is 15ml, so enough for about three to four full baths.  I wish there was more as this oil is so beautiful, but thankfully the full size is not overly pricey so I will pick one up later in the year.  Perhaps I will try one of their candles as well and create the full spa experience for myself at home!

Ingredients: Prunus Armeniaca (Apricot) Kernel Seed Oil, Carthamus Tinctorius* (Safflower) Seed Oil, 21 Essential Oil Blend*,Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Helianthus Annuus Seed Oil ,
97% Certified Organic Ingredients contains naturally occurring Citral, Geranoil, Limonene,Linalool, Farnesol,CitronelloL, Benzyl Salicylate,Benzyl Benzoate, Eugenol
* 100% essential oils only, including Jasmine, Roman Chamomile and Rosewood

Moksa Lavender / Chamomile Cleansing Oil
This is not my first time using Moksa's products -- in fact, I have been a fan of the brand since first discovering them through an edit of The Natural Beauty Box early last year!  I have since bought their lavender bath salts (which are so lovely!) and have actually tested a wide selection of their range for the Beauty Shortlist Awards.  Awards day is actually this coming Friday, so keep your eyes peeled to see how Moksa did!

If you have not heard of this brand before, they are a British-based brand that was inspired by founder Chloe's travels to India.  Hand crafted in Devon, Moksa values sustainability, minimal packaging, ethically sourced raw materials, and pure ingredients, making this range ideal for anyone who is wanting to be more conscious about the impact they have on the world.

Moksa cleansing oil

The Lavender / Chamomile Cleansing Oil comes in a glass bottle, something I appreciate as often sample sizes are not in the same eco-friendly packaging as the full size product, and has a dropper applicator which allows you to control just how much oil you are using.  Moksa states the formula is ideal for all skin types, including those with sensitive skin, and that it is "a calming cleanser that gently removes impurities, excess oil and makeup."

"Two of the most gentle essential oils out there, lavender and chamomile work in perfect harmony to cleanse and soothe skin, along with organic jojoba oil which is the closest product in nature to our own skin sebum. // Our cleansing oil also contains Bergamot which is known as a natural cleanser and works to drive out excess oils, dirt and pollution from deep within the pores to keep skin looking flawless."

I also appreciate that Moksa provides a full process to follow on their website.  They explain the importance of breathing in the aromas, massaging the face for full effect, steaming to open pores, and gently exfoliating as you remove the oil.

I'll be talking more about the brands I helped judge for BSL after awards day (March 1st!), so stay posted -- full thoughts coming soon!

Ingredients List: Sweet Almond, Castor, Grapeseed, Jojoba, Lavender, Chamomile, Geranium, Bergamot, Vitamin E.

Also included this month was an agate cylinder crystal: "Agate is a beautiful grounding crystal with a slow and strong energy.  It has powerful emotional cleansing effects, gently dissolves anger and heals trauma.  It is known for its aura purification powers, and support in (re)building self-confidence and self-acceptance.  Keep it near you and use it for meditation."  A great pick for the "Anti-Jan Blues" box, and I am happy that Stars & Sage listened to customers and decided to bring back the beloved crystal element to their boxes.

blue agate crystal cylinder

Overall I think the January edit was much better in terms of quality, variety, and ethically minded products.  Everything is natural, everything is from small indie brands that are making efforts to cut back on plastic, and everything smells and feels amazing on the skin (without risking your health or the environment!).  I loved seeing some of my favourite brands included, and was thrilled to discover a new name that I had somehow never come across before.  Finding new brands is part of the reason why I love to opt for subscription boxes, so it was great to make a new connection to explore in the future.

That all sounds great, doesn't it?  So what did I not love so much?  Well...

  • The crystal - while I am super pleased to see this element back in the box, I was disappointed to find it was a dyed specimen.  I know not everyone minds this, but I do.  I am drawn to crystals for their natural beauty and resonance, so I avoid any that have been treated.  Totally happy with tumblestones (though I do prefer raw/rough cut), but not so much 'enhanced' colours.  So for me, this canceled out my excitement about seeing the reintroduction of the crystal.
  • The value - not counting the crystal, the box is worth pretty much exactly what you pay.  For me, this defeats the point of subscribing to a box.  I look for great value along with great quality products, and sadly, for me at least, this edit offered only the latter.  Box contents (minus crystal) = £35.35.  Box cost with shipping = £33.90.

Also, I did have some breakage in transit this time which you can see in the photos.  This has never happened before, so it wasn't a be all end all thing for me.  And, while Stars & Sage did reach out to me after seeing my Instagram story unboxing to ask if the products were damaged, I was told I would be sent a replacement for the mask with my next box... but I'm not subscribed anymore.  I only had a three month membership as it is a pricier service and I am not currently employed.  I hate to push things and am not great at asking for replacements anyways, so I'm just using this mask as quickly as humanly possible so it doesn't harden or go off.

Stars & Sage subscription box January products

And that is it -- honestly I don't have any major complaints about this box, especially seeing how much better it is than the previous one.  I was ready to write of Stars & Sage after the December collection, but I am back on board and after seeing a sneak peek at February's box I admit I am a little sad that I won't be continuing my subscription.  Unfortunately, the price tag is just a little too much for me at the moment.  Perhaps I will rejoin later in the year, but for now I will just show my support online and share my thoughts on any reveals I see!

Have you subscribed to Stars & Sage before??  What do you think about my verdict?  Is it fair?  I always want to be open and honest with you eco-beauties about my thoughts, both good and bad, and I hope you appreciate that.  Do let me know if you have any questions about this box, or if you want to know more about any of the products included in the January edit!  I am always keen to have a chat xx

1 comment

  1. Thanks so much for your lovely feedback - we are happy to send you a replacement lid!


Share your thoughts!