Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Loot Crate May 2014 Spoiler

Click below to see the spoiler!

Whimseybox April 2014 Review

Box Overview
Box: Whimseybox (Referral link for $5 off your subscription!)
Price: $15/month, $45/3 months, $90/6 months, $165/yearly ($13.75 per box); $5 shipping surcharge per month 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. 

This is my third month with Whimseybox, which means it's the end of my 3 month subscription! By the end of this review, I've got to decide whether or not I want to renew my subscription.

This months art print/instruction card features a rainbow of arrows with the quote "DO GREAT THINGS IN THE NAME OF LOVE." The hipster in me really likes this. I may frame it one day. Inside the card were instructions for this month's project... calligraphy!

This kit included:
1 Standard Pen Holder
1 #101 Hunt Imperial Nib
1 #22B Standard Extra Fine Nib
0.5 oz Super Black Waterproof India Ink
20 Sheets 80# Bright White Paper (for practice)
2 Sheets Calligraphy Grid
1 Sheet Traceable Alphabet
1 Sheet Traceable Quotes
2 Sheets 100# Cardstock (for finished project)

The quotes were "today I choose happiness" and "ain't nobody got time for that". The alphabet card came with both capital and lowercase letters.

Calligraphy is something I've always been fascinated with. I've tried a few times but always ended up giving up, partly because I would be using old, hand-me-down items. In fact, I use an old, bent up calligraphy pen to open up all the packages I get! So be careful -- those nibs can be pretty sharp.

Using brand new items made me really excited, yet anxious. I'm a leftie, see -- I'm always worried that I'll run my hand over the ink and smudge it everywhere. But because I needed to go slow and steady, I didn't run into that problem. However, I did find that the strokes I made were not nearly as thick as they should be. I guess that's a matter of practice.

My thoughts? For the past three months, Whimseybox has basically read my mind. I wanted to try needle felting, I love skin care, and I was just talking to a friend about penmenship and calligraphy a few weeks ago! I've decided to not only renew my subscription, but upgrade to a six month membership.

If you've got the crafting bug, I highly recommend Whimseybox. Click here for $5 your subscription!

Monday, 28 April 2014

24Clearit Special Offer

For a limited time, 24Clearit will be sending out the same 60-day system that they sent out for the April Beauty Box 5 -- for free! Only pay shipping. For me, this was $8 or $9. A fantastic opportunity for those of you who liked the system and want more, or for those who'd like to try it. Again, except for the toner, I really enjoyed this -- and I still do! I feel that it's made a big impact on the small blemishes I get.

Get your 24Clearit system here.

You can subscribe to Beauty Box 5 using my referral link here. Use the code FIRSTBOXFREE to receive your first box for free!

Friday, 25 April 2014

Beauty Box 5 May Spoiler

Click under the cut to check out Beauty Box 5's (referral link) spoiler product for May:

Memebox Luckybox #1 (One) Review

Memebox is a subscription box based in Korea, which has since spread out to provide products internationally (currently, 31 countries). Koreans are really big on skincare, which makes this pretty much the perfect box for me! This is a review of their first Luckybox, rather late because of some errors in shipping and because I've spent a long time thinking about the products and trying to find someone to translate the items for me. Unfortunately, I haven't found anyone so this review won't be as in-depth as it usually is.

Box Overview 
Box: Memebox (Global)
Price: $15 (for Memebox Mini), $23 (for Memebox Global or Luckybox), $23-$39 (for Nakedbox), $32-$70 (for Superbox), + shipping ($6.99 for standard, $23.99 for express -- in Canada, at least)
Ships to: United States, Canada, and 29 other countries -- check here
What's inside: Korean beauty products. Specifics for each box may be found on their website.

Luckyboxes are compilations of some of the best items from prior Memeboxes or Luckyboxes. Luckybox #1 contains items from Memeboxes #1 to #6-2. Thus, it contains a mixture of full sized and deluxe sample sized items.

The box arrived in a plastic bag shell, and I was stunned at how small it was -- just about twice the size of a Beauty Box 5, or less than one foot by one foot. Despite this,they managed to pack eight items! 

Monetary values provided are in neither USD or CAD specifically and should be taken as rough estimates, given that one would likely purchase this from eBay or from the supplier themselves (thus having to convert money).

Tonymoly Delight Tony Tint Red 1.5mL/0.05fl oz || Estimated value: $0.83
Detrimental ingredients of note: Some kind of fragrance (a sharp, chemical grape scent)
This lip stain comes in a really cute container that has a heart shaped applicator! This sample is really tiny, but you only need a little bit of stain to get an immediate effect. This is a bright red colour, and makes for a nice gradient lips effect, which I vastly prefer over regular lip stick because I find it more subtle (my lips are quite rosy and prominent to begin with). Unfortunately, this tint dries out my lips very, very quickly and only lasts a few hours at a time.

 SEP Face Lifting Mask Full size || Value:$14
This is the first hydrogel mask I've ever used, and I definitely prefer them over paper masks. This mask is different from most because it of the pretty lace detailing, which is actually real lace and not a printed on pattern! Apparently, the lace is the same used for body shaping underwear. I'm unsure if this somehow helped me apply it to the face, although it was quite easy. It was also easy to put on because it was in two parts (one half for the eyes and forehead, one half for the mouth and chin). The mask claims to have lifting, firming, anti-wrinkle, brightening, and moisturizing properties.

I put this on after nearly a month of hemming and hawwing (it's $14!), and kept it on for half an hour after a shower. I found that it did a fantastic job of moisturizing my skin. It was very soft and smooth. I'm not really in need of lifting, firming, and anti-wrinkle effects, so I have no opinion on that. My skin did look a little bit brighter, probably because it looked so smooth. I'd love to try this again, but it's far too expensive for me.

Danahan Bon Yeon Jin Essence 12mL/0.4fl oz || Estimated value: $13.42
Beneficial ingredients of note: Red ginseng, "herbal extracts"?
I'm too young to use this product, which advertises to fight age by repairing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. I'll probably swap this out, since giving it to someone as a gift would probably be offensive...

Mamonde First Energy Serum 10mL/0.34fl oz || Estimated value: $2.65
Beneficial ingredients of note: Flower vinegar from the Lonicera flower?
This serum is 78% aged flower vinegar made by fermenting the Lonicera flower for 60 days in a clay pot. There is also pure flower extract added in the product. I'm not sure what the other ingredients are. The Lonicera flower appears to have some anti-inflammatory effects, but I'm not sure if fermenting it changes what it does. They claim to provide moisture and skin renewal. As it is a vinegar, the pH of this product should be fairly low. Thus, it can work as a kind of toner. I've been using this on and off and I'm surprised by how long it's lasted. I don't think it's made any sort of real difference in my skin, but it hasn't made any negative changes either. This also came with a small sample packet of Mamonde's CC cream (a BB cream with SPF), which I thought was O.K.

Too cool for schools Aqua Gel Mist Full size || Value: $12
Beneficial ingredients of note: Rosemary leaf water?, trehalose, baobab tree extract
Detrimental ingredients of note: Perfume (last on ingredients list)
I'm pretty neutral on this product. It's not quite hot enough for me to care about using it. I'm sure I'll use it a lot when I'm outside in the summer, despite the perfume. Rosemary leaf water likely just means rosemary leaves diluted in water and so probably has little effect. If it means rosemary extract in water, then it may have antioxidant activity. Trehalose has beneficial properties for the cell membranes of your skin cells. Baobab tree extract may be an antimicrobial ingredient.

Nuganic Customize Pore Control Essence Full size || Value: $30 (from eBay)
Beneficial ingredients of note: Aloe, many various fruit and vegetable extracts, salicylic acid
Detrimental ingredients of note: Alcohol (high on list), fragrance (low on list)
This has way too much alcohol in it. I strongly advise that you do not use this item, because while it will work in the short term, long term effects can be very bad. Alcohol disrupts the cell membrane, drying your skin out a lot. Your skin responds to this by overproducing oil, causing more breakouts in the end. I did actually use this as a spot treatment on a fussy pimple. And... well, yeah, it worked. It's alcohol. That's what it does. But it didn't remove the pimple completely, and after I stopped using it on that spot another pimple erupted in the same area. Sigh.

CNP Laboratory Cleansing Perfecta 50mL/1.69fl oz || Estimated value: $11.66 (from Amazon)
Beneficial ingredients of note: Rosemary leaf water?, sweet basil extract
Detrimental ingredients of note: some citrus fruit extracts (likely not enough to cause harm), lavender extract (likely not enough to cause harm)
I'm also neutral on this. It's just a plain cleanser. I wouldn't say it's the best cleanser, either; it didn't work super well on removing my eye makeup.

Dear by Enprani Bounce Cheese Cream 30mL/1.0fl oz || Estimated value: $10
Beneficial ingredients of note: Whey protein, shea butter oil, honey
Detrimental ingredients of note: Fragrance (second last ingredient on list) 
This cream is probably one of the deciding factors in why Memebox got super popular all of a sudden. Many people have raved about it, and I'm going to be one of them! This cream has a super strange texture due to the whey protein. It's almost like a sticky Greek yogurt in texture, if that makes sense. It leaves my skin incredibly soft and firm, thanks to the whey protein (made from milk, thus the "cheese" cream).

However, it never soaks in. Ever. To test it out, on one of my days off I put on a normal amount all over my face in the morning. No joke, it had been over 12 hours and my face still felt sort of sticky/dewy. Because of this, I just try to use it at night and by the time I wash the residual cream off it has done its job. And what a good job it does. I do wish there wasn't any added fragrance, especially since the cream still smells like a public bathroom soap.

I bought this box for $23.00 + $6.99 shipping, and received over $90 in Korean skin care and make up products. I will not use the anti-aging essence or the pore control essence, reducing the true value of this box to me to around $50. Still, that is a great value if only for allowing me to try products that I cannot get from Canadian stores and for introducing me to the Bounce Cheese Cream, which I love.

I have since continued to purchase way more boxes from Memebox, and so far it seems that the quality is keeping up fairly well. I highly recommend you check them out. Despite their common usage of alcohol and fragrance (nothing uncommon in North America, after all), they definitely have some gems.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Beauty Box 5 April Review: 24Clearit Introductory System

I saw this box sticking out of my mailbox a mile away. I was pretty amazed that they managed to fit it in there, to be honest. Behold! The 24Clearit system, provided as an option for Beauty Box 5 subscribers as an alternative to the April box.

I've decided to try a new format for reviews. Now, for each product I'll add "Beneficial Ingredients of Note" for some good ingredients that stand out to me, such as aloe juice, vitamin C, and the like. I'll also add "Detrimental Ingredients of Note" for those that I think are not good for the skin, such as fragrance, lemon essential oil, or drying alcohols. This way I can talk more about the product and less about what ingredients it does and doesn't have!

Box Overview 
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.

24Clearit guides & order brochure. The Quick Start Guide is laminated!
24Clearit is a 3 step system that includes an exfoliating cleanser, toner, AM clarifying treatment, and PM recovery treatment. As an extra, they also included an advanced treatment mask. The foundations of 24Clearit's acne treatment are:
  1. Micronized benzoyl peroxide: you've probably used or heard of BP before. It's a peeling agent used for its antimicrobial qualities. Micronized BP simply means the particles are smaller, which possibly makes it more effective and less prone to bacterial resistance. There are some concerns about carcinogenicity, as it produces free radicals. The biggest side effect to BP is dryness, which tends to go away once the body begins to tolerate it.
  2. Salicylic acid: a beta-hydroxy acid and a chemical exfoliant, SA is also highly used to treat blemishes -- at least in the United States. I've had the hardest time trying to find SA products in Canada! SA is safe at low levels of application (2% or less). Side effects include dryness and redness.
  3. Botanicals and anti-oxidants: while these don't fight acne, they're good to have in order to minimize redness/dryness and to keep the skin healthy from free radicals, respectively. 
Let's dive in!

Active Exfoliating Cleaner 120mL/4.0fl oz
Beneficial ingredients of note: Benzoyl peroxide 2.5%
Detrimental ingredients of note: None
This cleaner has very, very small granules, which I prefer because it's less likely to scratch my skin too much. It smells sort of like generic "chemicals". That's the price you pay for no added fragrance! It'll be washed off, anyway.

Essential Clearing Toner 120mL/4.0fl oz
Beneficial ingredients of note: Salicylic acid 2.0%, Aloe juice
Detrimental ingredients of note: Alcohol denat., fragrance
I don't really understand why this toner has both a drying alcohol and fragrance in it when the rest of the system won't touch it. I won't be trying this because I know it will dry my face out way too much, and because I have a lovely fragrance and alcohol free witch hazel toner that I enjoy (or alternatively, I use diluted apple cider vinegar). I'm not sure what I can do with this, unfortunately!

AM Clarifying Treatment 30mL/1.0fl oz
Beneficial ingredients of note: Benzoyl peroxide 2.5%, lemon beebrush (antioxidant)
Detrimental ingredients of note: None

PM Recovery Treatment 30mL/1.0fl oz
Beneficial ingredients of note: Benzoyl peroxide 3.0%, lemon beebrush (antioxidant)
Detrimental ingredients of note: None

There are a few differences between the ingredients of these two treatments, and I'm not well versed on them to tell you what they do. Supposedly, the AM treatment gives your skin "the protection and healing it craves during the daytime", while the PM treatment "provides a more intensive blemish blast" due to the extra BP and is "designed to help support your body's natural recovery process as your sleep". A load of crock? Who knows. At the very least, we know it has BP in it to fight acne. These both have a very faint, plain lotion smell. 

Advanced Treatment Mask 30mL/1.0fl oz || Estimated value: $8 ($6 preferred) 
Beneficial ingredients of note: Sulfur 6%, kaolin clay
Detrimental Ingredients of note: None
Sulfur is a peeling agent, drying the skin and helping to get rid of sebum, dirt, and so on. 6% sulfur sounds like a whole lot, but it's probably because it's in a mask form instead of a leave on treatment. With masks, it's important to wash them off as soon as they begin to dry, because otherwise you're drying your skin too much, and your skin will be dehydrated. This mask is a creamy white and spreads fairly easily. I found it very easy to wash off.  

The total 24Clearit introductory system comes at a regular price of $60 (preferred $40). With the mask bonus, I got a value of $68 (preferred $46) for the cost of $10 for my quarterly subscription! Thank you, Beauty Box 5, for allowing me to try this out at a fantastic value! Because of this great offer, I've decided to extend my BB5 subscription for another 3 months.

I've been using the system for almost a week now and I have definitely seen a reduction in small pimples here and there. I don't have bad acne by any means, but using the cleanser at least once a day, and using the AM and PM treatments every day as spot treatments on my T-zone have really cleared up the tiny little trouble spots I have. I've had no redness or drying issues, because I do use toner beforehand and follow up with lots of moisturizer).

Do I recommend the 24Clearit system? Yes. A huge yes! As long as you listen to your skin (using only as much product as needed but still on a semi-regular basis) and make sure to moisturize very well, there is little reason to believe that 24Clearit won't help if you have acne issues. I highly recommend the cleanser, mask, and AM treatment. The PM treatment may be too drying for some. I do not recommend the toner. Overall, it's a great system and should be fantastic for those with sensitivities to artificial colours or fragrances.

Saffron Rouge Earth Day Sale

Saffron Rouge is having their annual Earth Day sale, with 568 products all 20% off! Take a look at the items here. They have plenty of great items and ship out of Guelph, Canada. The sale lasts from April 19th to April 22nd. Shipping is free!  Edit: my humblest apologies. I did not read into the shipping information and instead took the "Free Shipping!" link at the bottom of their website at face value. Shipping is free for purchases above $100. Today is the last day of the sale!

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Saffron Rouge Inner Circle April 2014 Review

 I'm taking a break from studying for finals to review what is looking to be one of my favourite subscription boxes yet! I'm very lucky in this case, because this box actually ships from Guelph, Ontario -- my home province. That means I get this box within a few days of it being shipped.

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

First look (not pictured: pink mesh drawstring bag)
I'm amazed that they manage to fit all of these things into such a tiny bag/box. This month's theme is flowers, to celebrate the coming of spring (finally)! As usual, all prices are converted to CAD.

Mai Couture Lavender Blotting Papier Full Size (100 sheets) || Value: $14.21 CAD
You know I have a complicated relationship with lavender. Still, I imagine the amount of lavender oil in this couldn't possibly be enough to be harmful, especially since they still need to be able to blot oil properly. I think these will be super useful in the summer.

red flower Ocean Body Lotion 3oz || Estimated value: $10.65 CAD
This body lotion is fragrance- and paraben-free. However, it does have alcohol in it. Why? I don't know. Not even red flower seems to know, because on their website their benefits list for "certified organic alcohol" (which means nothing, by the way -- beer, after all, is also "natural") is completely blank! This lotion smells very heavily of cardamom, which I unfortunately associate with medicine. I'll be gifting this to someone.

Weleda Wild Rose Body Oil 10mL/0.34 fl oz || Estimated value: $4.00 CAD
This is a tiny, tiny, tiny bottle of body oil! I wonder if I'll be able to use it more than once. This contains jojoba seed oil, sweet almond oil, rosa moschata and rosa damascena flower seed oil. These are all great oils! The fourth ingredient is fragrance (booo). Subsequent ingredients appear to be components of citrus oil, at least some of which do oxidize when exposed to light and air. Given how tiny this sample is, I may just use it for my feet (my usual place for fragrance- and citrus-heavy products).

Vapour Mesmerize Eyeliner Viper Full Size || Value: $21.84 CAD
They were giving 500 of these away for free just a little bit ago, so Saffron Rouge Inner Circle must have gotten them as part of a deal. I'm not complaining! I've been needing a new brown eyeliner, and a cruelty free one is always a plus. This has great ingredients and is gluten-free, though I don't think gluten can pass through the epidermis (much less affect you in such a small amount). This eyeliner goes on very smoothly and softly. The attached smudging brush is nice to have.

Inika Creme Eyeshadow Champagne Full Size || Value: $27.30 CAD
This cream eyeshadow has a bunch of hydrating ingredients, primarily aloe vera, to keep the eyes hydrated while you have it on. Champagne is a shimmery, faintly gold/cream colour. It has a very subtle shimmer, and doesn't leave huge glitter particles on my face. It's nice and sheer, and I like it that way. Building it up doesn't work so well, because it's just too hard to get an even layer of opacity over the eyelid. Apparently, this can be used as a highlighter as well.

Lotus Wei Mists - Inspired Action and Joy Juice 10mL each || Combined estimated value: $17.49 CAD
Uh, I thought these were just little samples and nearly didn't check the value, but 50mL of these little mists are a whopping $40 USD! I'm can't say I'm impressed, though -- I've never been one for aromatherapy or the like. I suggest that if you're very into holistic therapy, vibration therapy, and what Lotus Wei calls "Flower Alchemy", you finish reading this post now.

What Lotus Wei is advertising a pile of horsefeathers. I find the Lotus Wei booklet and website quite patronizing, because it hits every point on a list of pseudoscience characteristics. Take a look at these paragraphs, which I received from their About page:
Flower alchemy is simply another way of receiving the nourishing properties of plants — but instead of taking in oxygen, you’re taking in pure flower essences, suspended in water— liquid energy that transforms your mood + your mind through your acupuncture meridians.
"Pure flower essences" is a buzzword. Essences are simply flower material diluted in water, which creates smells, and smells are simply chemicals in the air that react with receptors in our nostrils and send signals up to our brains. Water, dead flowers, and essential oils do not have "energy" in them, and there's no way you can breath in flower essences instead of oxygen. Oh, and acupuncture meridians have never been proven to exist
Flower alchemy is based on the premise that your body operates like a finely-tuned instrument. Sometimes, it rings with perfect pitch — everything in perfect alignment. Sometimes, it needs a little re-tuning.
Flower essences act as a natural tuning fork — bringing your body back in tune with a subtle electrical vibration.
This means nothing at all and is just included to sound spiritual and intelligent by using a metaphor. Because flower essences are smells, as I said, they have no electrical properties. Take a voltage meter and stick it in some essential oil. I'll guarantee that you'll get no real electrical vibration -- and even if you did, there's no reason to think that a subtle electrical vibration can do anything good for the body. After all, there are "subtle electrical vibrations" coming off of whatever device you're reading this from right now.

That isn't to say aromatherapy can't do some of the things it purports to do. Some commonly used aromas, like lavender, have been suggested to have some psychological effects like inducing relaxation. The number of truly standardized studies on aromatherapy have been low, especially because many scientists are motivated to find results because they are funded by companies selling aromatherapy products. Still, for the most part, keeping lavender or citrus around the house isn't a bad thing if you feel the smell makes you more relaxed. I do not recommend using either on the face, though, especially not citrus oil, as Lotus Wei suggests doing with these.

However, you do not have to pay upwards of $40 to get any positive effects from aromatherapy. You can easily obtain the main ingredients of these mists (the two pictured above are citrus-based), some other essential oils (lavender, rosewood, and so on), some fresh flowers, and boil them all in water on the stove to fill your house with the exact same stuff these mists have.

My thoughts on these mists? Cute, but I know the dangers of putting citrus essential oils on my face. I may use them to spray my clothes as a perfume, because they do smell nice. I did try both on my face, and no, they had no effect on making me happier (quite the opposite in fact, because I knew what was in them). They did inspire action in me to rant about them, though!


Overall, this month's box totaled over $90 CAD retail! Even without the products I'm not a huge fan of, I'm getting nearly three times what I paid for. I still highly recommend this box, as long as you're careful to research the ingredients of the products they give and don't just trust what advertisers tell you!


Thursday, 3 April 2014

Free shipping at Beauty Box 5

From now until April 4th, Beauty Box 5 is offering free shipping for any order (not subscriptions), with no minimum purchase! Beauty Box 5 offers full size products from their subscription box.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Quick Break from Reviewing

Hey everyone! It's exam season, so I haven't had much time to write reviews lately. I'll be back in two weeks, around April the 16th!

Here's what I haven't reviewed yet:
-Memebox: Luckybox #1

Here's what I should definitely be receiving in the next two weeks:
-Amoda Tea
-Beauty Box 5: 24Clearit

Here's what I may receive:
-Saffron Rouge
-Memebox: Superbox - Hydration Box
-Memebox: Superbox - Thefaceshop
-Beauty Box 5: NYX Eyeshadow (a replacement for my H2O+ cream duplicate)

Have a great April, everyone! See you soon~

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Beauty Box 5 Offer: Free Bellapierre Shimmer Powder With Subscription

Beauty Box 5 has an offer for a free Bellapierre Cosmetics Shimmer Powder for anyone thinking of getting or upgrading to a quarterly ($30/quarter) yearly ($99/year) subscription!

Bellapierre's shimmer powder is a mineral makeup and consists of 100% pure mica powder, titanium dioxide, and iron oxides -- and that's all! Mineral cosmetics are great for those with sensitive skin.

If you're thinking of signing up or upgrading your current subscription, please consider using my referral link.