Monday, 31 March 2014

Loot Crate April Spoiler

Though I've since unsubscribed to Loot Crate (referral link), I'm still on the lookout for monthly theme spoilers in case I see something my boyfriend or I would like. Check out April's theme under the cut!

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Beauty Box 5 Makeup Madness Box

Beauty Box 5 (referral link) has another bundle box out, and this one is entirely makeup! For $39 + shipping ($15 international), you get these full size make up products:
  • Lancôme Le Stylo Waterproof Long Lasting Eye Liner in Café Noir ($27.00)
  • Revlon Grow Luscious Plumping Mascara in Blackened Brown ($7.99)
  • Bobbi Brown Rich Lip Color in Old Hollywood ($25.00)
  • Lancôme Le Crayon Lip Contour (assorted colors) ($25.00)
  • Elizabeth Arden Color Intrigue Eyeshadow Quad in Golden Lilac ($30.00)
You can purchase the Makeup Madness Box here

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Whimseybox March 2014 Review

This month, I didn't look at any spoilers before my Whimseybox came in. But because I have a 3 month subscription, I was able to choose the "theme" of my box. The choices were "lemon" and "lavender", so I immediately know it was going to be skin care or fragrance. What else are those two scents used in? Looks like my guess was right, because this box is all about skin care! 

Before I start the review, let me show you this picture of my cat, who really enjoyed the blue Whimseybox cardboard shell the box came in. 


Box Overview
Box: Whimseybox (Referral Link for $5 off your subscription!)
Price: $15/month, $45/quarter, $90/6 months, $165/yearly ($13.75 per box); $5 shipping surcharge to Canada
Ships to: US and Canada
What's inside: A monthly craft project with all/most of the supplies to make it, an art print, and the occasional extra. 

First look

A nice bright orange to ring in the spring. It's still really cold up here in Canada, but it's looking better! The art print/instruction booklet is a cute macaron print by Canadian artist Diana Evans. Check her out!

Inside information card, list of ingredients, bonus button
This month is really two projects combined to make a soft hands set. I got a honey lavender hand scrub and honey lavender hand cream. The other option was for honey lemon, which I strongly advise against. Lemon essential oil is phototoxic; this source will tell you more about it. The International Fragrance Association (IFA) states that lemon essential oil "should only be used when the level of peroxides is kept to the lowest practical level, for instance by adding antioxidants at the time of production." I highly doubt that Whimseybox took this into consideration, because most companies don't. It is "generally considered as safe", but with all the warnings about exactly what percentage (2% or less) to use, isn't it better to be on the safest side and not use it at all?

On the other hand, lavender is also "generally considered as safe" and most studies find very few reactions to its usage on the skin. Still, it's recommended by the IFA to keep peroxides low. Compared to lemon, lavender seems to be much safer for the skin.

Provided in this kit were two labels from kidecals that are super cute -- they even have a little "handmade by _____" for me to add my name! They're also waterproof, which is great. They also provide two little containers for you to store the projects in.

The ingredients for these projects are:

Cold pressed sweet almond oil: a common, and very good, carrier oil. A carrier oil "carries" other oils into the skin, such as essential oils. Sweet almond oil is well tolerated by many skin types, and doesn't clog pores because it's easily absorbed. It's rich in several vitamins and is a good emollient (read: moisturizer). Cold pressing is a method of oil production that leaves the oil with the most nutrients and fragrance. This oil is used in both the hand scrub and the hand cream to carry the essential oil.

Refined coconut oil: a great moisturizer thanks to its fatty acid content. According to Whimseybox, coconut oil is anti-septic and anti-microbial, and contains antioxidants. Whimseybox's website says this is cold pressed oil, but the information card says it is refined. This is a point of difference, since refined oil has less nutrients than cold pressed. This is used only in the hand cream.

Virgin shea butter: this shea butter is extracted without chemicals. I think nearly everyone knows the benefits of shea butter! In addition to being an emollient, it's also a humectant -- it keeps in moisture and increases the ability for other ingredients to penetrate the skin. This is used only in the hand cream.

Kraft pure honey: honey is a great humectant, has plenty of antioxidants and is antibacterial. Kraft pure honey is Grade A, which is the highest grade for typical grocery stores. But don't let that fool you: it's still pasteurized. Pasteurization is a heating process used to keep foods from spoilage and reduce the number of pathogens in them. But this also denatures a lot of the good enzymes in the honey! Instead of this, I suggest unpasteurized (good) or raw (better) honey -- for both skin and food! It's just better in every single way. I will definitely be using my own raw honey in this project instead, especially because the way it crystallizes at room temperature will make for a wonderful scrub. This is used only in the hand scrub.

Granulated white sugar: sugar and salt, both used in scrubs, are humectants. Sugar has a leg up on salt because salt also draws oils from the skin. However, the important part of using sugar is for mechanical (physical) exfoliation. This is used only in the hand scrub; I might cut down on how much I use since I'll be using the raw honey.

White beeswax pastilles: beewax is a common emulsifying agent -- basically, it keeps your mixture stable rather than separated into its various components. It also acts as a thickener. This is used only in the hand cream.

Lavender essential oil: I've talked about this already! This is commonly used for aromatherapy and has a whole host of alleged effects on the body. Evidence can be contradictory, I highly suggest you do your own research and come to your own conclusions.

My conclusion? I'm really happy with this box! The essential oil isn't necessarily essential, I could absolutely use some other, safer fragrance or just keep it honey scented. Every other ingredient is great in my books and I can't believe I didn't think of doing something like this sooner! I have half of the ingredients in my pantry already, after all.

The hand cream takes some time to make, so I'll leave this project for a lazy summer day. I of course have plenty of samples to use in the meantime!

Loot Crate March 2014 Review

My boyfriend received this Loot Crate last week. This time, I actually know a bit about the themed items, so I'll be writing this review (with input from the beau, of course)!

Box Overview
Box: Loot Crate (Referral Link)
Price: $19.37/month, $55.11/quarter, or $105.99/year including shipping for the US; 29.95/month including shipping for Canada, UK and Australia
Ships to: US, Canada, UK, Australia
What's inside: Several geeky gamer items, roughly curated around a theme.

This month's theme was "Titan", referring to the game Titanfall and the animanga series Attack on Titan. A strange mix of genres, since as far as my knowledge they have literally no connection except for the word "Titan". My boyfriend and I were a bit anxious for this box, because we aren't really fans of either series, but we were told that there would still be some non-Titanfall and AoT items.

We were told wrong.

Attack on Titanfall Magnet || Value: Estimated $2?
Nothing too special here, just a magnet.

Attack on Titan Volume 1 || Value: $10.99
Neither of us like Attack on Titan, so to get the first volume is a little unfortunate. I may read it just to see what the fuss is about, but from the parts of the anime and of the fanbase I've seen, I don't really want nothing to do with it. Still, it's nice for them to send out something that's very popular at the moment for people to see if they like it.

Titanfall Shirt || Value: Estimated $20?
This is a Loot Crate exclusive t-shirt. Neither of us have played the game, but a t-shirt is a t-shirt, right? It's a fairly good quality shirt, too.

Titanfall Premium eGuide || Value: $9.99
Absolutely useless, since neither of us own the game. I feel pretty ripped off by this.

 Titanfall Lanyard || Value: Estimated $4?
I actually really like this lanyard. It's not explicitly Titanfall related at first glance, and I love hexagon patterns. I don't really have a need for a lanyard at the moment, but as soon as my current one breaks I think I'll use this one.  

Attack on Titan Wristband || Estimated Value: $5?
Lime Taffy || Estimated Value $0.80
If we don't like Attack on Titan, why would we ever wear a wristband for it? Does anyone wear wristbands anymore? Eugh. The lime taffy was "okay", according to my boyfriend.

Bonus Loot Crate Button
I think the buttons sub boxes like Loot Crate and Whimseybox include are pretty cute, although I'll never actually use them. Another bonus was a 30% off $50 of more coupon e-mailed to me for Gaems (a personal gaming company).

Conclusion? Not a good one. We decided to unsubscribe from Loot Crate altogether, because nothing from this box (save the lanyard) was anything we found even a mild interest in. Though the value was a roughly over $50, there's no value if we won't enjoy it. I don't like that we were told that there would be non-themed items when the only non-themed item were some candies. For anyone who isn't interested in AoT or Titanfall, or even dislikes them, this box is a big disappointment. For those who do like these series, I am thinking that this would be a perfect box! The quality of the items is good and many are Loot Crate exclusives.

I've still got my eye on Loot Crate. Perhaps we will resubscribe when a theme more suited to our interests comes up.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Beauty Box 5 April Spoiler

BB5 (referral link) has released their latest product spoiler for the April box. Remember, you also have the option to get the 24Clearit system instead. Click the link to see what next month's BB5 will have!

Free Shipping at Memebox

Use coupon code SHIP4CHEAP when you check out at Memebox for $7 off your order, just enough to pay for standard shipping costs.

Beauty Box 5 March 2014 Review

Apologies for the later review! 

Box OverviewBox: Beauty Box 5 (Referral Link)
Price: $12/month, $30/quarter, $99/year (shipping free)
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.

After a disappointing February BB5, I was hoping for a better March box. Things seem better this month! 

Bellapierre Cosmetics Makeup Base Full Size || Value: $18.99
This mineral makeup is paraben free! This is unfortunately a touch light on my skin tone, but I can usually get a nice compromise by mixing it with some of my current foundation. This base is supposed to "transform shimmery powders into matte, provides a waterproof base for pigments, and may be used as a concealer". It's very creamy, and the pot itself is surprisingly small. 

Tree Hut Shea Body Butter in Coconut Lime 60mL/2 oz || Estimated Value: $2.15
This body butter has added fragrance halfway down the ingredients list, as well as lime fruit extract. Lime extract, which I take to mean lime essential oil, is phototoxic -- it can produce skin irritation when exposed to light. (Un)fortunately, the smell of this body butter is so good, I can't help myself but use it on my hands and feet once in a while.

The size of this sample is good, and the butter is a semi-solid cream. It moisturises fairly well, though not as well as the straight shea butter I already own. However, it soaks in incredibly fast and doesn't leave my hands very greasy like most shea butter. This is probably because shea butter is not the primary ingredient in this.

H2O Plus Hand & Nail Cream 30mL/1 fl oz || Estimated Value: $2.50
How unfortunate, I got a duplicate product. I received this H2O Plus cream in February's box, just last month. That one is still three-quarters full, because I wasn't a fan. Luckily, BB5 has offered to send me a different product to replace this. Phew!

Swissco Dual-Sided Facial Pad One Size || Value: $2.00
This facial pad has a loofah on one side and terrycloth on the other. I love the idea of this, but the actual product itself could be better quality. The stitching is off along the border and the way the strap is placed makes it awkward when I want to switch to the terrycloth side; it contorts the pad. After some uses, the entire pad is rather crumpled looking. At first, the loofah side was far too rough, but it's been worn down and is now very nice. The terrycloth side is nice for washing off facial masks.

Jane's Pick All Natural Soaps Sample
This soap is their "Kind" edition, and uses orange, tangerine, and vanilla. The base is made of olive oil, shea butter, hemp seed oil, coconut oil, palm oil, and avocado oil. I don't particularly smell any orange, tangerine, or vanilla from this though; the hemp seed oil takes over. I don't like the smell, but its not noticeable after rinsing. This soap definitely cleans well, and doesn't appear to dry me out. I appreciate that they don't use sulfates or alcohols, instead opting to use natural oils. I'm worried that the orange and tangerine essential oils could be phototoxic, but I don't believe they use much, and I doubt that the oils would stay after I rinse off the soap.

The value of this box was $25.54, mostly due to the makeup base. With my quarterly subscription, I paid just $10. Aside from the H2O hand cream, I'm rather pleased with this box. I've been using the makeup base and facial pad nearly every day, and the soap sample is nice too. I really wish that the body butter didn't have so much fragrance in it, but at the same time, it's what I like the most about it.

Next month is my last month with my quarterly subscription, and I'll be receiving the 24Clearit program in lieu of my April box. Then I'll have to decide if I wish to keep subbing to BB5! I've had some ups and downs with them, but things seem to be getting a little better. I'll see what happens next month. 

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Beauty Box 5 April Option: 24clearit

Beauty Box 5 (referral link) is offering a deal to anyone who is currently a subscriber or subscribes before the end of March. Instead of getting their regular April box, you can get the five piece 24clearit package, which consists of an exfoliating cleanser, a toner, an AM and PM treatment, and a bonus treatment mask.

24clearit is a newer skin care company that focuses on good, scientific skin care. The products shown above do not contain sulfates, and all but the toner do not contain fragrance or drying alcohols.This is what I would call a medium-to-heavy duty regimen. The cleanser, AM, and PM treatments contain 2.5% to 3.0% benzoyl peroxide, the toner contains 2.0% salicylic acid, and the mask contains 6.0% collodial sulfur. That's a lot of drying agents. Combined with the toner which contains alcohol and fragrance, I'm wondering if 24clearit's claims to "minimize dryness" will hold up.

I've only seen one non-testimonial type review of the system, and even that was from a free package the author was given by the company. I'm interested in seeing how this system fairs. In a lot of ways, it's better than most prepackaged acne treatments I've seen, as far as good/bad ingredients go (I'm looking at you, Proactiv). At the same time, I'm confused about how they messed up the toner so badly when the other products seem really good.

I have opted in to this offer, because I've been sick and tired of BB5's fragrance-full products for a little bit (get ready for the March review)! Since my skin care regimen is still a work in progress, I'm happy to try new products.

Will you get the regular April Beauty Box 5 (referral link), or try out the 24clearit system? Let me know!

Monday, 17 March 2014

Saffron Rouge Inner Circle March 2014 Review

Saffron Rouge Inner Circle is my newest subscription, having just got off the wait list. I was stoked about this March bag -- organic products, though not always perfect, tend to be on the healthier side because they usually don't contain drying alcohols or purfumes. I've heard great things and this month, I was not disappointed.

Box Overview
Box: Saffron Rouge Inner Circle
Price: $24.99 per month
Ships to: US, Canada, International
What's inside: Organic beauty products, a mix of full-size and samples

For an natural beauty box, they sure used a lot of packaging! The samples are all held in a little green bag (happy St. Patrick's Day!), which are held in Saffron Rouge's box along with the information pamphlet, which was put in a cardboard box with styrofoam peanuts. Because some of the products are in glass containers, I understand that they need protection, but it still seemed a bit overboard to me for such a short trip -- Saffron Rouge Inner Circle ships from Canada! In fact, two days after sending me an e-mail that my box had been shipped, I received it. I'm hoping that this becomes a pattern.

As always, I valued the products at the lowest price I could find on the Internet from a reputable seller, and converted to CAD.

Living Nature Mascara Thickening Jet Black Full Size || Value: $31.90 CAD
It's nice when the first item you pull out is worth one and a half times more than the cost of the box. This mascara uses Kaolin clay (which is often used to clay masks) in order to thicken lashes, and supposedly condition them as well. Some other notable ingredients are beeswax, manuka honey, and grapefruit seed extract. This mascara goes on easy, even for a makeup newbie such as myself. It rarely clumps and when it does I find it easy to remove. It does not volumize my lashes as much as, say, It's So Big! from February's Beauty Box 5, but I rather like that about it. When I'm just going to school, I don't feel the need to wow anyone with my lashes.

ilike Grape Stem Cell Solutions Cleansing Milk Sample
The selling point of this cleanser is their grapeseed oil, grape pulp, and grape stem cells. The stem cells supposedly have protective effects. When I used this, it did help to take off my makeup, but I had to put some work into taking off the Living Nature mascara. It's OK at it's job, but no more than any other cleanser, I think.

As well, this cleansing milk contains alcohol and benzyl alcohol. The latter I'm okay with at low amounts, but this is halfway up the ingredients list. They also have fragrance by a "mixture of natural essential oils", which is a bad sign to me. Why can't they list what essential oils they use? If anything, shouldn't that be a pro that they are using essential oils? What this tells me is that they may be using essential oils that are phototoxic -- in short, they react in light in such a way that can damage your skin.

The Body Deli Mini Solar Day Cream Full Size || Value: $17.76 CAD
I can't believe how much this mini cream costs! No wonder they sell these minis on their own accord. This day cream contains micronized zinc, the main ingredient in most sunscreens. It also contains antioxidants like vitamin C, coenzyme Q10, and pumpkin seed oil. It has an SPF of 15 and is a wet, white cream that soaks in very quickly without leaving me feeling very greasy.

The ingredients list is fantastic, with many natural oils known to be good for your skin such as jojoba oil. It does contain coconut oil, so be aware that it may be comedogenic. My face does fine with coconut oil so I have had no issues with it. The smell is light and fresh, I don't mind it.

Dr. Hauschka Lip Balm Full Size || Value: $18.81 CAD
This lip balm is tiny tiny tiny, and I wasn't sure how to apply it until I noticed that the little spoon provided was for this (rather than the solar day cream).  Dr. Hauschka is well known in the skin care industry, and this is the first product I've tried from his brand. While the lip balm works for a long time and does keep my lips from drying, it's very heavy on my lips and doesn't smell good. Compare to Epic Blend Lip Balm, which I recently raved about for being light on the lips and comes in a variety of different scents.

This lip balm carries a whole bunch of "natural" ingredients such as various plant oils and silk proteins, but this all gets thrown out the window when I see that fragrance is listed in the ingredients. Why, why, why would a dermatologist decide to add fragrance to a product when it's well proven that it dries out skin? Plus, it doesn't even help it from smelling bad! Just another reason that Epic Blend (which contains no added chemical fragrance) is a better choice. I will continue to use this lip balm overnight because I can't really give away a lip balm I've already used, and because it still technically works.

As a warning, this lip balm contains peanut oil.

Primavera Cleansing Juniper Cypress Body Oil Travel Size || Estimated Value: $12.60 CAD
This, like the lip balm, has a great mix of oils but also fragrance halfway up the ingredients list. There's more fragrance in this body oil than the titular juniper AND cypress oils! The main oils in this are sweet almond and jojoba seed.

I think the amount of oil overall compensated for the fragrance, because this oil left my skin pretty soft after my shower. However, it also left my skin with a sheen for over 6 hours! The smell reminds me of an old Vietnamese remedy my parents called "dau", but much less strong. I guessed it's supposed to be the smell of juniper and cypress, but clearly it's just added fragrance. I doubt I will use this often because of how much work and time it takes up. A good moisturizer, in my opinion, would work just as well.

Kahina Giving Eye Serum
15 mL (1 fl oz) of this stuff is a whole $78, wow! This argan oil blend of peptides and antioxidants advertises to reduce puffiness, minimize dark circles, reduce appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, restore collagen, and improve elasticity. 99% of the ingredients are "from natural origin". I did not see any ingredients that immediately set off any alarms.

The oil itself is viscous and an off-yellow colour. It looks like it will go on thick, but it doesn't, and in fact soaks in within seconds and without any sheen. Just a drop or two can cover my undereyes well. I've gotten 5-6 uses out of this sample, but I haven't had any visible change in my dark circles. However, my undereyes are incredibly soft and smooth. I would love to try this again, but not for that price!

Suki Transformative Cleansing Clay Sample
This clay is advertised as a purifying mask treatment, a spot treatment, or a daily cleanser. Because I wanted to see how it worked over time, I've been using it as a spot treatment. I was surprised to see that unlike other clay masks, this clay appears to soak in when it dries and doesn't leave my skin feeling taut and dehydrated. It's a very watery mask with a floral scent and a yellow colour. I did feel that this spot treatment helped my spots.

This, like the mascara, uses kaolin clay -- it's the second ingredient. The first ingredient is "organic roses infused with purified filtered water", but this actually doesn't mean anything. Rose water has no proven beneficial properties to the skin that regular water doesn't do (rose oil is different).

Other ingredients include rice starch (likely for thickening), white willow bark (which has salicylic acid properties), and witch hazel (which, again, has no proven benefits for the skin). I appreciate that Suki is trying to be all natural, and none of their ingredients are necessarily bad for the skin, but I do wonder how many people get sucked in to the "all natural" craze. Not everything natural is beneficial!

Overall, I'm happy with my Saffron Rouge Inner Circle subscription. Though some of the products do have fragrances and alcohols in them, they didn't seem to noticably dry me out because they're also loaded with other good stuff -- I still wish more companies would get on the fragrance-free train, though. The box cost me $24.99 and had an estimated value of $81.07 CAD, over triple what I paid! Can't complain very much about that!

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Amoda Tea March 2014 Review

Nothing quite cheers me up like tea in my mailbox, especially when it's been a long and cold winter.

Box Overview
Box: Amoda Tea
Price: $12/month (including shipping)
Ships to: North America
What’s inside: Three tea samples, enough to make 5-7 cups of tea

First look
This is my third month with Amoda Tea, and I'm not looking to stop any time soon. I love that they're based in Vancouver (my birth city) and that they get teas from all sorts of companies.

This month's information card has the same design as January, and the same tissue paper as February. Shame. I'm still loving the minimal packaging, though. This month, Amoda Tea wanted to "show you that fun flavours, quality tea, and education can come together in individual teas, wrapped up in one little package." With a diverse range of tea types and flavours, Amoda Tea certainly picked some unique sounding teas for us to try.

Honey Scented Black
Rooibos Kalahari
Caramel Toffee
Honey Scented Black || Oollo Tea
This tea comes from Taiwan, and is a black tea... made from Qingxin oolong (varietal)! It can also be resteeped up to four times. Amoda Tea tells me "it tastes of delicious honey and natural caramel and has a round body and smooth liquor." While it certainly treads the line between oolong and black tea, and had a rich honey-like colour when steeped, I didn't really taste the honey or caramel flavours, even after the first steep. It was nothing special, to me.

Rooibos Kalahari || Tea Affair
This tea, when first opened, kicked me in the face with full frontal citrus. The cat actually jumped away and wouldn't get near me for a while because of how strong this tea is. Made with rooibos, lemon grass, cornflowers and "natural flavour", this caffeine-free tea luckily did not taste as much of lemon and lime as it smelled. Supposedly, steeping it longer will impart more citrus flavour, but no way am I doing that. I'm not big on citrus, but I love rooibos. I did taste both the citrus first and rooibos sweetness second in this tea. It's not something I would pick from a store, but I think it would be really nice on a hot day -- if we ever see one again!

Caramel Toffee || Octavia Tea
This is a black tea... not! A full-fledged oolong in disguise as a dessert tea, Caramel Toffee contains highly oxidized oolong tea, hazelnut brittle, caramel pieces, and "natural flavouring". The tea leaves smell sickly sweet. Luckily, when I steeped it, almost all traces of that saccharine smell was lost and I ended up with a really nice tea! It's sweet, but not too sweet for me. As the tea cooled, more of the oolong taste came out. This might be good cold.

In their information card, Amoda Tea gives a small blurb about oxidation -- essentially, oxygen reacts with compounds in the tea (or in your fruit, on your skin, etc.) to cause it to release various compounds. In some teas, we purposefully oxidize them to give a certain flavour, as in black teas. However, once teas are created and shipped, we want to reduce oxidation as much as possible (except for some Pu-erhs, which I explained last month). Obviously, we'd like our tea to keep its original flavour.

I find it ironic that Amoda Tea is telling us this, because light is one thing that contributes to the process of oxidation. By packaging their teas in transparent bags, as soon as I take them out to take photos, I am causing my teas to oxidize. This is a complaint I made last month, but still an important one. I truly hope that Amoda tea realizes this and changes their packaging to be opaque. We can see the pretty leaves when we steep them!

Overall, I'm still happy with this service and I'll continue to subscribe. If you love tea, or just want to try tea out for your first time, give it a try!

Friday, 14 March 2014

Epic Blend Lip Balm Review

I was ecstatic to finally get this in the mail. Beauty Box 5 (referral link) had a giveaway last month after they featured Epic Blend in their February box. Given how much I fell in love with their product, and because my cat whisked my Hemp - Coconut lip balm somewhere, of course I entered. Now I've got three new lip balms and a cute little bag to store them in so the cat won't get to them!

Epic Blend makes three basic styles of lip balm: More Moisture, Hemp, and Vegan. They are all gluten-free, sweetener-free, petroleum-free, non-GMO, and are not tested on animals. I received one of each kind.

More Moisture - Green Apple
This lip balm has seven different kinds of moisturizers: organic sunflower seed oil, organic beeswax, organic cocoa butter, organic coconut oil, organic castor seed oil, organic shea butter, and vitamin E. The only other ingredients are rosemary extract and "organic flavour". I've mentioned before that I don't like the sound of that, and I wish Epic Blend would explain why they need to use this label instead of telling us what exactly it is -- green apple concentrate? Some other fruit? Bugs? The imagination wanders.

The smell is not as strong as most other green apple flavoured items, perhaps because of the smell of shea butter. But it does work fantastically at keeping my lips moist, and noticeably better than the other two when my lips are really dry.

Hemp - Vanilla
Instead of organic castor seed oil and organic shea butter, this lip balm has organic hemp seed oil. Hemp seed oil has a relatively high amount of omega fatty acids, which are good antioxidants. I'm a huge fan of vanilla flavoured and scented products, but not this. The hemp oil overwhelms the vanilla and it doesn't taste nearly as good as the coconut version. Really, it just makes me miss the Coconut one. 
Vegan - Wild Berry 
Instead of beeswax, they use candelilla wax in order to make it completely vegan. The smell of this was pretty strong, but not enough to put me off. I typically don't like berry scented things, but this isn't too bad. I am not vegan myself, and didn't realize beeswax was not vegan. But it makes sense, and I'm happy that Epic Blend has given an option for those who choose that lifestyle. 
I'd like to thank the BB5 and Epic Blend teams for giving me this opportunity to win, and producing such a great product, respectively. I highly recommend these lip balms, especially to Canadians -- they're a Canadian company, after all!

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Elizabeth and Clark Spring Collection 2014 Review

This was one of my most anticipated boxes, because I knew exactly what was coming to me. I walked through the cold Canadian winter to get this from the post office! Luckily, I did not have to pay duty fees or even sign -- the mail carrier just didn't want to leave this large package in the snow.

Box Overview
Box: Elizabeth and Clarke
Price: $30 for one shirt, $50 for two shirts, $60 for three shirts, per season. $15 shipping charge to Canada and $25 for international.
Ships to: Worldwide
What's inside: Your pick of shirts from their collection, typically out of 5 each season.

First look
With the box came a coupon code for a "Be Ours Necklace" if you get a subscription to Your Bijoux Box, a jewelry subscription box. The coupon code is: E&CSPARKLE.

The shirts I got were the White, the Arden, and the Taylor. The Arden was a returning item in a new colour (black) and the Taylor is part of E&C's "Forever Collection". I got the box for $60 including, using a $15 coupon code.

Left to right: Taylor, White, Arden
The shirt materials were light and felt delicate. I'm worried about how I'll clean them. All three shirts were thin and the White (a white colour) and the Taylor (a cream colour) were sheer enough to show whatever I wore underneath (In the pictures below, I'm wearing a black camisole with pink florals. The Arden was a Black colour which didn't show anything underneath, but was a huge pain to try and photograph with my terrible camera.    

I am 5'0. I typically wear a size 24-26 (0-2) in pants and an XS-S in shirts. In other words: I'm a tiny person. Using the size guide provided, I picked the 0. I should have picked the 00. All three shirts were big on me, the White and Taylor especially.

The White - front
The White - back
It's clear to me that the shirts were not made for petite people. The arms are long on the White and were not made to be rolled up. I'm fine with this on hooded sweatshirts or winter clothes, since I tend to dress like a slob when it's cold, but this is supposed to be a nice, formal shirt!

The White hits me at mid thigh and looks like a lab coat on me. The amount of fabric makes it difficult to tuck in (as it's supposed to be worn) and regardless, it's still baggy in the bust and shoulders.
For the life of me, I do not know how to salvage this shirt. I may try to sell it to a taller friend. It is a nice quality, and I'm sure someone could make it look great. Just not someone of my stature. Maybe I could get it tailored?

The Taylor - front
The Taylor - back
The Taylor looks better than the White, but was still very large on me. Notice  how much the back sags down, and how the rolled up sleeves extend past my elbow. I really  wanted to like this shirt, but I couldn't make it look the way I wanted it to. It did not tuck into my pants very well, and there was too much extra material to wear it half-tucked like the model on E&C's website. The picture looks a lot better than it did in real life!

The Arden - front
The Arden - back
In contrast, the Arden looked much better in person! Though it fit better than the other two, it could have been better. It was still baggy and the arm holes were too big. As well, there's a strange pooch on the right side that doesn't seem to go away when it's buttoned up. I'm hoping an iron will fit that. The Arden is the only one of the three that I can make work for me, by pairing it with a belt.

Because the distance between my collarbones and my chest is proportionally smaller than the average woman, the widest part of the chest on the shirts is actually a little below the widest part of my chest. As such, I got "puffing" on each shirt. It was most noticeable on the more fitted Arden. It was very distracting, especially when I sat. 

Unfortunately, Elizabeth and Clarke only offer free returns to US citizens, and I can't afford to ship all three shirts back from Canada, so it looks like I'm stuck with these. I've put my account on hold over the summer and I'll be re-thinking my subscription when the Fall collection comes along.

Overall? Though the material and stitching were decent, and the cost per shirt was good, the sizing was way off. I knew I was going to have length problems when I ordered the shirts, but I did expect them to fit me width-wise. The puffing is worse than many other non-petite blouses I've bought. Other clothing companies often add an extra, hidden button in the chest area to fix this, and I wish E&C did too. Still, if you're a taller person than I, try them out! If the shirts happen to fit you, it's a great deal. I suggest going a size down from what the size guide says.

Did you get any part of the Spring collection? Let me know!

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Whimseybox February 2014: Result


Of course I made a bunny using my Whimseybox (referral link for $5 off your subscription)! Its name is Bunnip. I'm not so great at naming things.

The project itself was fun, and did not take long. I felted most of Bunnip late at night as a break from studying for midterms. It's not perfect, but of course, these things take practice. I can't wait until I have some more free time to try more felting projects. I highly recommend taking up needle felting if you want to make 3D things but aren't good at sculpting, like me! It's a very forgiving craft. Whimseybox sells many felting supplies, and US subscribers get free shipping.

For those of you with cats: be warned that your cat will probably want to play with your felt. My cat would not leave Bunnip alone and even stole it from my hands at one point during the needle felting process...

Friday, 7 March 2014

Memebox Hydration Box Spoiler

Memebox (pronounced: me-me-box) is a Korea-based box that focuses mainly on skin care, with some make-up products here and there. They recently put up their first spoiler for one of their "Superboxes", Hydration Box (#3).

If you'd like to purchase a Memebox, do e-mail them and mention that my account referred you (truo112), because they will give you an extra $5 credit on top of the $5 credit you get just for signing up! 

To view the spoiler for Superbox #3, check below the cut!

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Whimseybox February 2014 Review

When I saw the spoilers for the February Whimseybox, I was absolutely ecstatic. I was worried about getting a craft that I would hate, but this was exactly what I wanted and more.

Box Overview
Box: Whimseybox (Referral Link for $5 your subscription!)
Price: $15/month, $45/quarter, $90/6 months, $165/yearly ($13.75 per box); $5 shipping surcharge to Canada, no duties
Ships to: US and Canada
What's inside: A monthly craft project with all/most of the supplies to make it, an art print, and the occasional extra.

Whimseybox's packaging is some of the best around. The outer shell holds the inner box which is just pristine (no packing label!) and meant to be used as a storage box for your craft supplies or projects. Whimseybox even supplies a small label to help you organize, a lovely touch. 

The project this month was needle felting, as you can see by the extra little "Achievement Earned: Needle Felting" pin they added. Needle felting is something that I've really wanted to try but never had the materials to do. Earlier in the month we got the choice of "animal" or "plant" and I picked plant, not knowing how that would affect our projects.

Each month's instruction card is actually an art print. It's printed on a nice cardstock and inside are the instructions for the project. I dig the llama, but I wouldn't personally frame this print.

By picking plant, I got the turnip kit! The "animal" kit was a red robin, which I think I would have liked better. Oh well. This is still cute, and there's nothing keeping me from changing it up a little. I think I'll give the turnip a :3 face to make it super adorable.

The materials for the kit include a foam needle felting block, two felting needles (36 and 38 star), the felts needed to make the turnip, and a skewer to help make the tube-like turnip shoots. As an extra, Whimseybox threw in a small roll of washi tape! I am absolutely head over heels for Whimseybox because of this. I've been looking at washi tape for the past few weeks but wasn't sure if I wanted to make a purchase or not. Now I can try it and see what it's all about! It's also striped (my favourite pattern) and purple (my favourite colour). A box out for my own heart. 

My only complaint is that the gold paint on one of the needles is going to rub off (Whimseybox provided the washi tape to help us label the needles before this happens). I don't know much about paint, but couldn't there be some way to colour the needle permanently?

Otherwise, I am 100% happy with my Whimseybox and I can't wait to make this little turnip. Did you get a February Whimseybox? Which did you get? Let me know!

Monday, 3 March 2014

Loot Crate March Theme Spoiler

Loot Crate has released their theme for March 2014. Check it out under the cut!

Beauty Box 5 Limited Edition Box For Sale

BB5 is offering a limited edition box which features over 15 brands and has a hefty $100 value for only $35. Samples appear to be from previous boxes and will include hair, nail, skin, body, and makeup products.

For shipping outside of the US, there is a $15 international shipping charge. Shipping within the US is variable.

Loot Crate February 2014 Review

 Early in the month I saw spoilers for Loot Crate's February theme: Warriors. Loot Crate teamed up with Frederator Studios and promised some loot based on their Cartoon Bravest Warriors. Although I personally don't watch the show, I know my boyfriend does, and so I sent him one secretly as a gift. 
Box Overview
Box: Loot Crate (Referral Link)
Price: $19.37/month, $55.11/quarter, or $105.99/year including shipping for the US; 29.95/month including shipping for Canada, UK and Australia
Ships to: US, Canada, UK, Australia
What's inside: Several geeky gamer items, roughly curated around a theme. 
First look
Information booklet
What follows is the review written by my boyfriend, since I am not able to personally view the items at the moment -- and he'll be more knowledgeable about the theme, at any rate.
Alpha Battle T-Shirt by Shirt Woot! & Jamescho8 || $15 
 The shirt’s got a nice feel to it, as it’s 100% cotton. It’s an A to Z of gaming, with each letter representing a game or character. It seems to be sturdy decal-wise, but only time (and proper washing) will tell.
Bow tie
Some fraying
Bravest Warriors Bow Tie by Black Tie Geek || Estimated $15
This bow tie by Black Tie Geek has got the design of Impossibear, of Bravest Warriors fame. Made of polyester, the clip-on I received has a few frayed threads peeking out of it. Otherwise, it’s pretty soft and the adjustability seems very functional. It looks to be mildly stained in some places, but it’s mostly outside of the knot itself.
Bacon Love Card by Open Me || $4
BACON!!! This card has a funny design, sure to please anyone who has ever been online and mentioned bacon. A standard greeting card otherwise. Also included in the box was a URL to get some free cards such as this one.
Bravest Warriors Sticker by Just Toys, Intl. || Estimated $1.50
The sticker, depicting a scene of Willow from the Bravest Warriors episode “Ultra Wankershim,” has a mildly matte texture to it. Willow and the “My Arm is Missing” quote are the only removable portion of the card.
Dunny Sideshow by Kidrobot || $9.95
The blindbag figurine seems sturdy, but I’m not a connoisseur. Most of the designs seem very well done, so it isn’t a huge gamble to pick one up.
GPS Cinch Bag by Loot Crate Labs || Estimated $10
A little bag featuring the Gas Powered Stick, also from Bravest Warriors.

The box also includes a code to redeem Bravest Warriors #1, via

This box cost Bunny $18.59 CAD for the monthly subscription using a small discount code, and has an estimated value of $45.45! Not bad at all. Although the monthly themes might not be for everyone, Loot Crate often sends spoilers of their monthly theme with enough time to grab a box. Use the code MARCHLOOT to save $3 off your subscription.