Monday, 17 February 2014

BB5 Product Review: John Frieda Luxurious Volume Shampoo&Conditioner, H2O Plus Body Wash, Swissco Exfoliating Gloves

Well, I gave in and tried out the products I had not been completely pleased with from the last two Beauty Box 5's. My thoughts?

John Frieda Luxurious Volume Touchably Full Shampoo & Conditioner
I don't have fine hair, but I have very flat hair that really could use a volume boost. This did practically nothing at all. My hair does seem a little shinier, likely due to all the waxes they put in the product -- yet also surprisingly light. Zero volume was added. It smells nice, though.

More importantly, I had complained about the amount of drying ingredients they included in the shampoo, like the alcohols, SLS, and fragrance. The shampoo lathered very well, likely due to the SLS. I was right about this drying my hair out -- immediately after rinsing the shampoo out of my hair, it felt... scrunchy. My ends were horribly dry. I can't remember any time my hair has felt like that. Using the John Frieda conditioner helped, but not much. I actually needed to use an additional sulfate-free conditioner on my ends, which mitigated most of the damage. I also rinsed my hair forever to make sure no product stayed on my hair. 

Conclusion: never again.

H2O Plus Spa Sea Lotus Body Wash
Another product I lauded for it's inclusion of fragrance, I only tried a little bit of this on my arm (after what John Frieda did to my hair, I would hate for my entire body to go through the same thing). It was fine. It didn't dry me out as much as I thought it would, and the smell was fresh (again, I don't personally consider that a plus if it's due to fragrance). It did its job.

Conclusion: I can find something sulfate- and fragrance-free for the same price or cheaper at my local Shoppers Drug Mart, and it will work just as well. I'll pass.

Swissco Bath & Shower Exfoliating Gloves
Exfoliated better than I thought it would. Yes, still less exfoliating than the gloves I have from Shoppers, but the larger size didn't end up being an issue once it got wet, and it did still exfoliate. The wrist elastic loosened up a bit and is no longer uncomfortable.

Conclusion: I'm happy with it! I will stick with these for now. I don't think they'll last as long as my previous ones, but it's not a huge issue.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Beauty Box 5 February 2014 Review

Well, what do we have here. It's BB5 time again, already!

Box Overview
Price: $12/month, $30/quarter, $99/year (shipping free + no duty fees to Canada)
Ships to: Lower 48 United States and Canada
What's inside: 4-5 samples of make-up & beauty products, nail products, skin care, hair care, fragrance, and so on.

First look
Wasn't really feeling this box when the spoilers first came out, and I'm still not sure how I feel about it, since I have yet to use the products. But look, it's their birth month! I feel you, BB5. It's exciting to turn another year older. Here's what came in the February Beauty Box 5: 

Rockstar Nails Polish 11 mL/0.37 fl oz + Rockstar Nails Sprinkles 13 g/0.45 oz || Value: $3.75
For the life of me I could not find a website supplying these polishes other than BB5's own. Their set of 4 polishes + 4 caviars is $14.99. I'm incredibly disappointed with the colours I got. Out of the set on BB5's website, I got the two I liked the least -- hot pink and bright pink. I would have loved the turquoise. I will be giving these to my mother, who owns a nail salon. I'm sure she'll appreciate it, because she doesn't have much caviar. 

H2O Plus SPA Hand and Nail Cream 30 mL/1 fl oz || Value: $2.50 
Fun fact: the 6 oz container of this product on the Canadian website is more expensive per ounce than the travel size. Why? No clue. Like the H2O body wash from the January box, this has fragrance high in the ingredients list, but not nearly as high (14th out of 34 ingredients). It goes on well, is not greasy and absorbs quickly. Although I'm still not a fan of the added fragrance, I'll still keep it on me for dry days. 

Pictured: not actually that big
Elizabeth Mott It's So Big Volumizing Mascara 4 mL/0.14 fl oz || Value: $8.48 
For something sporting this name, this mascara sure isn't big! I almost forgot about it because it was hidden underneath the grey paper stuffing (that's why it's not in the "first look" picture). Good thing the information card was there to remind me. 

I have to confess: I'm not a make-up person. That's part of the reason why I started subscribing to boxes like this, to introduce me to new things. So my opinion on this mascara? I don't know how to use it properly! It certainly made my lashes look a lot bigger, and there weren't huge clumps everywhere like I've gotten the last time I tried. It was very easy to take off and didn't leave big smudges while I was doing so. I'm going to need practice applying this, for sure. It's small size would be nice to fit into a make-up bag, if I had one. 

John Frieda Luxurious Volume Touchably Full Shampoo and Conditioner 8.3 mL/0.28 fl oz each || Value: $0.93 total 
What a name. These foil packets also each come with a $2.00 coupon for John Frieda Luxurious Volume styling products. It claims it will "transform fine hair" and give it volume. I would love to give it a try, since I have straight and flat Asian hair, but... you guessed it. Fragrance. But not only that. Take a look at the ingredients list for the shampoo (taken from John Frieda's website): 

 Though I haven't taken a look at every ingredient, right off the bat, sodium lauryl sulfate and fragrance are the 5th and 6th ingredients. Although I can live with fragrance when it's not high on the ingredients list, SLS is a huge no-no for me. Benzyl alcohol is okay in small amounts, but is the 10th item on the list so is something to be wary about. Later on the list is alcohol denat., which is also not good. Why companies put these chemicals in their shampoos that have been shown to dry out our hair and skin, I don't know.

Bonus: $10 Gift card to 
What a huge selection of jewelry options! Some of them are a decent price, and this gift card will help. I'm not sure if I'll get anything yet. 

This box's total value was $15.66, but I wasn't excited about anything inside it and will be giving most things away. I don't mind too much because I enjoy giving little gifts to friends and family, and I realize that my anti-SLS and anti-fragrance stance closes a lot of things off to me. I will try the John Frieda shampoo and conditioner, but I have a good feeling I won't like it. This box cost me $10 with the quarterly subscription, but if you consider the free January box I recieved, it was really $7.50. 

Have a good one!

Friday, 14 February 2014

Retroactive Review: Beauty Box 5 January 2014

 I first wanted to wait for the February box to come in and do a 2 part review like I did with Amoda Tea the other day. But I couldn't wait! 

Box Overview
Price: $12/month, $30/quarter, $99/year (shipping free, and no duty fees to Canada!)
Ships to: Lower 48 United States and Canada
What's inside: 4-5 samples of make-up & beauty products, nail products, skin care, hair care, fragrance, and so on. 

I received this box for free during a promotion BB5 had last month. I signed up for a quarterly subscription and they added this leftover January box for me.

First look

The products + information card
I received the following:

H2O Plus Spa Sea Lotus Body Wash 30 mL/1 fl oz || Value: $1.60
The value I've calculated was a bit higher than what the information card told me, because I decided to use the prices listed on the retailer's Canadian website ($20 for 12.5 fl oz). I haven't used this yet, and I'm not sure if I will. Fragrance is the fourth item on the ingredients list, and I try to avoid excessive fragrance in my everyday life, because it dries out my skin. When a product has more fragrance in it than the things it advertises (sea lotus, in this case), I am very concerned.

Jergens Daily Moisturizer 29 mL/1 fl oz || Value: $0.33
Again, fragrance high up on the ingredients list. This I have been using, because I have no travel-sized moisturizers at the moment and I figured fragrance-filled moisturizer is better than none at all in this cold, dry weather. It doesn't moisturize me very well as compared to others I've used, but it is handy.

Nubar Cuticle & Nail Oil 7mL/0.25 fl oz || Value: $5.00
This oil contains a mix of jojoba oil, safflower seed oil, and bran oil. I really like this! Most of the time I do not need cuticle oil, but during the busy days at work my cuticles can take a beating. I think it's expensive for what it is, though. You can get jojoba oil for about $10 for 3-4 ounces, and I'm almost certain that it would do the same thing as this oil, plus more -- jojoba oil is great for the skin. Still, the product is good. The brush could be softer, though.

Epic Blend Hemp Coconut Lip Balm One size || Value: $3.49
I. Love. This. Lip. Balm. I love everything about it.The company is based in Canada, they don't test on animals, and they are guaranteed gluten-, GMO-, and paraben-free. They have all sorts of flavours and use ingredients like organic beeswax and oils. No fragrance! However, there are "organic flavours" on the list and I'm almost scared to ask what that means. Either way, I love coconuts and this lip balm does a fantastic job of keeping my lips unchapped without being caked on. Epic Blend has a sale going on today for 25% your entire cart. Beauty Box 5 has teamed up with them for an Epic Blend giveaway. Check it out!

Swissco's gloves
Swissco Bath & Shower Exfoliating Gloves One size || Value: $4.00
I was really ready for these gloves, because my current ones are getting a little old. But I was very disappointed when I got them. They're so big and baggy! I do have small hands, but my other gloves (see below) are one size fits all and they are not uncomfortably big like these are. The wrist on Swissco's gloves are also tight and left a mark.Most importantly, Swissco's gloves are not nearly as exfoliating as the ones I already have. I need a lot of exfoliation for my body. I'll probably give these to someone else.

Bonus Product: That Awkward Moment Mirror Compact
Just a little compact with "That Awkward Moment" on it to promote Zac Efron's new movie. Durable and light, I'm sure it will come in handy eventually.

My gloves (from Shoppers Drug Mart)
In summary, I got $14.42 worth of products. I got this box for free with my $30/quarter subscription, but if I count it as an extra box that I am paying for then I got this for $7.50. I technically got double the value of the box, but I wasn't a fan of most of the products because they just didn't work out for me. Overall, though? I'm very happy simply because of the Epic Blend lip balm. It's that good. Everything else I am happy to gift to people that need them, and I am eagerly awaiting the February box that I should get in the next week. 


Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Amoda Tea January 2014 & February 2014 Review

What luck! Just as I was about to post a retroactive review of my very first box from Amoda Tea, my second one came in!

Box Overview
Box: Amoda Tea
Price: $12/month (including shipping)
Ships to: North America
What’s inside: Three varieties of tea

Amoda Tea is a Vancouver-based company that hopes to introduce subscribers to new teas without breaking the bank. For $12/month, they send you three teas of varying types, enough to make 5-7 cups of tea each. They source from many different companies.

Let me get this straight: I really, really like tea. I’m just a beginner but I am really hoping to learn a lot and expand my horizons. So this box was perfect for me. I’m also happy to support a Canadian company.
First look
Both the January and February boxes were identical in design, except for tissue paper colour (January was blue). I love the minimalism of the box, because it fits very easily in my mail box (even with my first Beauty Box 5 alongside it — review coming up)! It also doesn’t waste any extra resources. Simple but elegant, just the way tea should be.

With each box comes an information card that explains their reasons for choosing the teas they did, some information about the company/companies the tea is from, and facts about the teas themselves. On each bag are ingredient lists, a quick taste description, and steeping instructions.  

January Amoda Tea Tasting Box
I realize that there’s only two teas in the pictures above for January… and that’s because I drank it all before this review!

Minty Winter Wonderland || Tiesta Tea
This was the one I finished off, a deliciously cool blend of peppermint and spearmint. I love peppermint teas and this was no exception.

Black Forest || Naked Teas Galore
Although I still haven’t finished it yet, this was probably my favourite of the bunch. Inspired by
black forest cake, this Ceylon black tea was mixed with carob chips and dried cherries. With some milk and sugar, it really did remind me of its namesake. I have enough for one last cup, and I can’t wait.

Genmai Hojicha || Sara’s Tea Caddie
This is a blend of traditional Japanese Genmaicha (green tea leaves and stems) and Hojicha (toasted brown rice). This was my first experience with a Japanese tea and I liked it. It had a smooth, savoury taste and the rice really came through. I like that it’s low in caffeine.

February Amoda Tea Tasting Box
All teas this month were from Verdant Tea. I haven’t been able to try all of these yet.
Love and Joy Blend
This is an herbal blend of marigold, Goji, linden leaf, honeysuckle, chamomile, and more. I’m kind of intimidated! I have never had a flowery herbal tea past plain old chamomile. Heck, I don’t even know what linden leaf is! It smells grassy and reminds me of some incense my mother used to burn in my childhood. However, the smell is a little faded so I’m wondering how old this is. Still, I’m excited to try this.

Master Han’s 2013 Sheng Pu’er
I am very happy they chose this tea, because I was just researching Pu’er/Pu-erh/etc. This is the only kind of tea that is fermented, and so actually gets better as it ages, sort of like a cheese. Sheng Pu’er is apparently not oxidized and so is more expensive. It can also be steeped up to 10 times, developing different characteristics each steep. Because it is specifically not oxidized, I have yet to open it and will not until I decide to steep it. I may keep this in the back of my drawers until I am done with the rest of my tea to let it age.

8 Treasures Valentine Blend
This is a blend of Yabao and green tea. I made this and I’m really upset, because my tea strainer happened to break when I was done steeping and spilled the tea leaves on my counter, so I only got one steep. It’s doubly upsetting because this tea takes a full tablespoon! I now only have 1-2 tablespoons left. This tea’s Jasmine blossoms really comes out in the first steep. It’s a little sweet and a little spicy, too. I really enjoy it.

I appreciate how Amoda Tea chooses all sorts of teas that I’ve never even heard of before. I also like that they have a page with their teas on it with links to buy them straight from the companies.

My biggest concern with the box is how the teas are packaged. Although the bags do come completely sealed, teas (except for oxidized Pu-erh) should be kept away from light to keep from oxidizing. These clear bags don’t indicate any sort of UV protection and so I need to keep the teas either in drawers or in canisters. Every other company I know of ships in opaque bags or cans.

Another thing is that there are a lot of broken leaves and grainy bits, more than I would like. I understand that this is due to small packaging and vacuum sealing, but it doesn’t look good and can slip through the strainer.

Overall, though, I really enjoy Amoda Tea, and recommend it if you would like to try new teas and tea companies!

Hello there!

My alias is Bunny, pleased to meet you! I'm very happy to create this blog. The purpose of this is for me to post about my box subscriptions, because I'd love to be able to show others and introduce them to how great they can be.

About me? Well, for over a year now I've drooled over subscription boxes. Having a little surprise come to me in the mail? Yes please. But: I live in Canada and I’m currently a student. That means my box subscriptions are limited to those that deliver to Canada, and can't be incredibly expensive. But I did eventually begin to budget and now I have found some extra money to use towards subscription boxes. I've already signed up for several, and boxes have been coming in slowly but surely.

I don’t have the greatest camera at the moment, but I’ll describe everything to the best of my ability to make up for it. Of course, everything will be my honest opinion. By making this blog I hope to show others what subscription boxes are like, particularly those that ship to Canadian cities (since there are only a handful of blogs that are Canada-centric).