Saturday, 31 May 2014

Amoda Tea May 2014 Review

May was Amoda Tea's last month, as they've decided to stop sending their monthly tea boxes to work on a new big project. I was sad to see them go, but I'm excited to see what they come up with next. Here are the last teas of Amoda, from Nepali Tea Traders and JusTea.

Box: Amoda Tea
What’s inside: Three tea samples, enough to make 5-7 cups of tea

Handcrafted Oolong || JusTea
(Oolong tea)
This is "the world's first handcrafted and farmer direct Kenyan tea". This was hand-rolled four months ago (three months when I received this box), so it's very fresh. It can be resteeped 2-3 times. I love that JusTea tells the story of the man who made this tea (his name is Evans). I haven't tried this tea yet, because my boyfriend loves oolong tea and I'd like to keep it as fresh as possible until we're able to try it together.

African Chai || JusTea
(Black tea, all spice, gloves, fennel cinnamon, licorice, safflower, rose petals, ginger, black pepper)
Chai hails from India; this tea comes from Kenya, and uses an allegedly rare whole-leaf black Kenyan tea (as opposed to cut). Chai used to be my favourite kind of tea, but I unfortunately had a bad experience involving detergent in my drinking water while making some chai a few months ago and since then I've hardly been able to stomach it, or even smell it. I did try this, but was unable to finish because my stomach simply did not agree. I'm sure it's wonderful, though.  

Dhulagiri White || Nepali Tea Traders
(White tea)
Shamefully, this is my first real white tea that I've ever tried. What can I say? I'm a caffeine addict. I was surprised by how flavourful this tea was compared to the bagged white teas I've had. It's very light and fresh and easy to drink. This can be steeped multiple times; as its resteeped, it becomes more "vegetal" tasting. It's a "first flush", meaning that it of the first batch of buds picked once the spring begins. First flush teas are quite special in this way.

Friday, 30 May 2014

Loot Crate May 2014 Review

What's this? A backdrop that isn't my usual table? Must be Loot Crate time again! This month's theme was ADVENTURE, and promised items from the Minecraft, Adventure Time, and Legend of Zelda series, which my brother, my boyfriend, and I enjoy. The theme spoiler got us to re-subscribe and give Loot Crate another chance. Let's see what we got!

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.

In lieu of the normal magazine, Loot Crate tried an online one. They've announced that they will do both the online and print booklets in upcoming months. 

Describing the Legend T-Shirt by Zen Monkey Studios || Value: $20
Though Loot Crate describes this as an exclusive T-shirt, I've heard rumours that this shirt has been seen selling at conventions. Either way, this is a really cool shirt! Zen Monkey Studios has all sorts of similar typography shirts and posters of various cartoon and video game characters, along with a bunch of other things. I may make a purchase there myself! Check their products out here.

Adventure Time Mystery Tins by Funko || Estimated value: $7
This BMO tin is one of the cutest things ever! It will be great for storing things. The Cake figure is very cute as well. I'm usually not a fan of blind bags like this, but both I and my boyfriend quite enjoy this one, perhaps because it is useful beyond looking cool.

It's Dangerous to Go Alone Legend of Zelda Opener by Loot Crate Labs || Estimated value: $3?
This is my favourite item from the box, and one of my boyfriend's favourites. It's maybe an outdated and overused reference, but one that's full of nostalgia. Plus, humour factor since it's a beer opener. I think we can definitely make use of this on hot summer nights.

Minecraft Hanger Blind Bag by Just Toys Int || Value: $7.50
Neither my boyfriend nor I are into Minecraft, but my younger brother is in a big way. This hanger is decent enough quality and I'm happy we got the iconic sword. My brother will be sticking this on his keychain.

Captain Sparklez Stickers (Maker/Captain Sparklez), Markiplier Tats (Maker/Markiplier), Curator Stickerset (Make/Polaris) || Estimated value: $3?
I really hate it when boxes put things like stickers, temporary tattoos, nail stickers, and so on in boxes. No one I know is the kind of person who would actually stick them on something. Moreover, the curators of these items (mostly YouTube Let's Players, who play video games online whilst adding commentary) aren't ones my boyfriend nor I are familiar with. I don't think my brother would use these, even if he watches their videos, either. I just feel like these should be extras thrown in, not part of the box's value.

The Friend Zone Soundtrack by Maker/Polaris || Value: $10.99
My boyfriend and I both immediately shuddered in disgust when we first saw this item. The term "friend zone" has been butchered and has connotations neither of us agree with. Turns out that this is an Internet series of shorts. I skimmed a few videos and wasn't too impressed by what I saw. This soundtrack is full of video-game esque music; 8-bit tracks and the like. I haven't listened to all of it. It may be nice background music.

Along with the items came two extras: the usual Loot Crate pin and an "Official Member" card. Those who have received three crates or more get one of these cards, and apparently these will be used for future events. Not sure what's in store yet.

This box was around $20 including shipping (I sent it to my boyfriend in the United States), and contained around $50 worth of items, most of which was comprised by the t-shirt. Aside from the stickers/tats, the box was a great success in our opinion. This has made me more hopeful for the future, and depending on next month's theme, it is likely that we will continue to subscribe for now. 

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Whimseybox May 2014 Review

Whimseybox has the privilege of being the only box I've committed to for a six month membership. Though I don't often have time to complete the projects or continue on with them, it's nice to know I have the option on any free day I have. 

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. 

As usual, the packaging was beautiful. This month's instructional card/art print features a four by five grid of watercoloured circles. I'm not sure how I feel about this art print. I like it, though I don't think I would put it up in my house.

First look
 This month's project is paper flower crafting! At  first I scoffed a bit, but looking at the instructions and results, I was fairly impressed. Some of the flowers look very difficult to pull off. This kit came with four colours of tissue paper. There were two colour options -- Rich Romance and Peachy Keen. As a Pro member (3 month subscription or higher), I got to pick without knowing what the project would be.

I was amazed at everything they managed to fit in the box. Along with the paper were wire flower stems, floral tape, scissors, a glue stick, tacky glue, and metal flower stamens. The ones pictured in the instructional booklet were a white-yellow, but I got metal gray ones, which is disappointing. Also included were some petal templates.

I haven't tackled this project yet, because I just got it today and it seems like something that would take some time. It's not something I would choose to do on my own, but I think it would be nice to make a small bouquet for the house. I usually never keep flowers because they may be dangerous or tempting to my cat. At least I know paper won't hurt him if he eats them -- no guarantees that he won't still try to knock them down, though.

I'm still loving the amount of care put into each monthly Whimseybox. If you love crafts, I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Memebox The Mask Edition #2 (Two)

I love face masks. I love face masks a lot. And though I was upset when the first edition of Memebox's Mask box sold out before I even knew it existed, soon enough a second edition came out, and I snagged it! I've finally made it through all of these masks at least once, so let's get to it!

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
Ships to: United States, Canada, and over 40 other countries -- check here
What's inside: Korean beauty products. Specifics for each box may be found on their website.

First look
 The first thing you'll notice is how many masks there were! In total, there were seven different kinds of masks, eight packages, and 99 masks in total -- you'll see soon enough! These masks came in a nice little holding bag.

Keyskin Gold Hydro Gel Eye & Spot Patch Full size (60 eye masks, 30 spot patches) || Value: $15.00 (on eBay)
Beneficial ingredients of note: aloe, camellia sinensis, rose extract, diamond powder?, colloidal gold?, coenzyme Q10, snail serefion filtrate, pearl powder, collagen, ginseng root extract
Detrimental ingredients of note: fragrance (middle of ingredients list)
90 "masks" in total! This powerhouse of hydration contains a ton of great ingredients for the skin. I'm not sure about the efficacy of the luxury ingredients like diamond and gold on the skin, though I know pearl is fantastic due to its mineral content. Snail extracts have been shown to do great things for the skin as well. These masks peel off from each other easily when using the provided scoop, and stick on very well. They're not the perfect size for my undereye but are adjustable enough to be comfortable. I find them relaxing and hydrating, and a touch brightening, but I can't say they've left any long-term effects though I've been using them a few times a week. 

Pure Smile Choosy Lip Pack -Fruit Full size || Value: $2.00 (on eBay)
Beneficial ingredients of note: Glycerin, grape seed oil
Detrimental ingredients of note: fragrance, grapefruit extract?
I couldn't find a full ingredients list online, though I'm fairly sure there is grapefruit extract in this product. This is a hydrogel, one piece lip mask. It was strange to have to keep my lips closed in the same position for 20 minutes. After I removed the mask, I went without my usual lip balm to see how long the moisturizing effects would last. It was about half an hour before my lips started flaking again. So not a fan of this, personally -- but I have incredibly dry lips as a rule, so this may work for others.

LJH Doctor's Care + Tea Tree Mask Full size x 2 || Value: $6.00 total
Beneficial ingredients of note: tea tree extract (second ingredient), centella extract, Japanese mugwort extract, gingko bilboa extract
Detrimental ingredients of note: grapefruit extract (first ingredient)
This sheet mask has citrus as its first ingredient, at least according to the LJH USA website! Scary. As such, if you want to use this, please do so at night time when your skin will not be exposed to UV rays. I did not know this before I used both sheets up, but had no negative reactions that I recall -- and I'm not sure when I used them. I didn't find them to be super great or super terrible. I did think they dried out my skin a tiny bit, which tea tree oil is wont to do.

SN Yew Tree Stem Cell Perfect Calming Soothing Mask Full size x 2 || Value: $6 total
Beneficial ingredients of note: taxus cuspidata meristem cell culture conditioned media (5%) (second ingredient), glycerin (third ingredient), common purslane extract, broccoli extract, centella extract, ecalyptus extract & oil, rosemary oil
Detrimental ingredients of note: grapefruit extract, lemon oil, lime oil, lavender oil (all last ingredients)
I'm pretty sure that this was a sheet mask. The research behind stem cells, especially plant stem cells, as topical skin ingredients is still ongoing. It's difficult to say whether a tree stem cell would be effective for human skin at all, although I'm fairly sure it wouldn't be unless it was genetically engineered. Still, this mask was nice. Not my favourite, but it left my skin soft as any other mask.

Leaders InSolution Mask Sheet - Bio Medi-curing Aqua Dressing Full size || Value: $3
Beneficial ingredients of note: glycerin, many various non-citrus fruit and flower extracts, almost all of the 20 amino acids 
Detrimental ingredients of note: fragrance (last ingredient)
This is probably one of my favourite masks. I put it on for as long as possible (until the sides start to dry), and it makes a huge difference in my skin immediately. It feels more plump, taut, hydrated, and is visibly brighter (temporarily, of course). It's a hydrogel mask, so it's easy to put on (but hard to remove from the packaging paper) and feel comfortable. I really like the ingredients list. Amino acids are the monomers (basic building blocks) of proteins, which are essential for your cells.

Leaders InSolution Mask Sheet - Coconut Bio Mask w/ Tomato Full size || Value: $3
Beneficial ingredients of note: glycerin, tomato fruit extract, many various non-citrus fruit and flower extracts
Detrimental ingredients of note:  fragrance (last ingredient)
Similar to the Aqua mask, albeit with less ingredients, I also enjoyed this. Again, it was difficult to remove from the paper but easy to put on. Tomato is a great ingredient which is known for its antioxidant properties.

Purederm Exfoliating Foot Mask Full size (1 pair -- two masks) || Value: $5.00 (on Amazon)
Beneficial ingredients of note: lactic acid, urea, glycolic acid, salicylic acid
Detrimental ingredients of note: alcohol (first ingredient), isopropyl alcohol, various citrus fruit extracts, menthol, fragrance
Foot peeling masks have become very popular lately in Korea and now in America. They advertise the use of fruit enzymes to slough away the skin, causing massive peeling of the callouses and dead skin cells, leaving you with super soft feet. Looking at the ingredients list, I was horrified by the amount of alcohol in this -- and indeed, it had a sharp alcohol smell that was a bit off putting. Though I couldn't find any studies on these sorts of products, I hypothesize that they work by literally eating through and killing the cells on the outer layers of the skin in order to speed up the shedding process. Since my feet are super calloused, and since no one ever sees my feet anyway, I decided to try it. I was pretty sad when there was no peeling on the fourth day (as advertised)... but on the fifth day, I woke up to see this:


So gross. So satisfying. I spent the next two days picking off flakes from my feet. The skin underneath was newer and smooth. Unfortunately, the mask didn't get through the entirety of my thick skin, so I still have pretty big callouses. I believe I may get another mask like this soon, though... I know it's bad for my skin's health, but I have a strange addiction to picking off those flakes, and the smoothness afterward is great, too...

This Memebox cost me $23 USD, with free shipping thanks to a bundle code (MEMEBUNDLE3 for $5 off any order of 3 boxes) and two Memepoints. I received $40 of product in total, just under twice the price. Although this is on the lower end for Memebox, I don't mind too much because I love masks, especially the Leaders InSolution brand. The foot mask was also an entire experience and I would easily pay more than $5 for that. The Keyskin patches will last me ages, too.

The third edition of this box has already come and gone, and I was quite disappointed to not purchase it. But with how popular they are, I'm sure a fourth one is in the works!

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

1000 Page Views!

This little blog on the corner of the Internet just hit it's first 1k. I'm sure half of those are from me checking on the layout of posts and etc... but I know that the other half is definitely from lovely readers!

I know I don't have the greatest pictures, or the most exciting verbiage, or even a responsible posting schedule. But I do have a passion for science and healthy cosmetics. And if you've read this blog more than once, I'd like to think that you do too.

1k isn't much to most people, but it's a lot to me. Thanks so much.


Monday, 19 May 2014

Ipsy May 2014 Review

It's my first Ipsy! After four months on their waitlist (I opted not to use the quick way in my advertising them on my Facebook), I finally got an e-mail confirming the start of my subscription for May. I spent some time looking at spoilers, and boy, was there a lot of potential items this month. This is my first bag, so I'm quite excited. I really like this month's bag design (they give you a new one each month). It's made of a tote-like material; I hope it's from recycled materials.

First look
Box: Ipsy (Referral link)
Price: $10/month, $110/year; $4.95 shipping to Canada
Ships to: North America
What’s inside: Various beauty product samples and full size products, very roughly personalized

As usual, estimated values are based off the price of the full sized item, from their respective store websites.

Boo-Boo Cover Up (Medium) Full Size || Value: $19.99 
Beneficial ingredients of note: beeswax, aloe extract, tea extract, tea tree leaf oil, chamomile extract, soybean oil, vitamin E
Detrimental ingredients of note: none
This concealer is all purpose, advertising to conceal acne, scars, new wounds, tattoos, and the like. It's full of great ingredients. This is the medium shade, and has quite an orange tint to it -- luckily, because of my heavy yellow undertones and darker skin, this is actually a pretty good match on my face! If anything, this is actually a touch light on certain parts of my body, like the arms. This is rather opaque, which is nice. I don't have very much experience with concealer so I don't know if this is better or worse than any other brands.

Pacifica Mineral Eyeshadow Duo (Opal and Celestial) 1.98g/0.07oz || Estimated value: $3.50
Beneficial ingredients of note: cocos (coconut)
Detrimental ingredients of note: none
Opal is a pinkish white colour with the lightest ever touch of shimmer. It would probably be good for highlighting the brows or inner eyes. Celestial is a pearly beige which I've found is difficult to notice in fluorescent lighting (but much better in natural light). I appreciate the small ingredients list.

Jersey Shore Sans Tan Anti-aging Sunscreen 14.7mL/0.5oz || Estimated value: $12.50
Beneficial ingredients of note: zinc oxide (25%) (non-nano), olive oil, beeswax, vitamin E, vitamin D3
Detrimental ingredients of note: none
Zinc oxide is a physical sunscreen, which means that it deflects the suns rays as opposed to absorbing them, as chemical sunscreens do. This means that it begins to work as soon as you apply it (no waiting 20 minutes like chemical sunscreens) and that you do not need to re-apply as often as chemical sunscreens, barring any contact with water or sweat. Zinc oxide is a pretty stable compound and is safe to use, even on infants. The set back is that even some high end physical sunscreens tend to leave a very noticeable white cast including this one. Some companies try to get around this by using nano zinc oxide particles, but there have been some health controversies surrounding them.

To reduce the white cast, I wait 20-30 minutes after applying moisturizer, pat the sunscreen on gently over my face to give an even application with no streaks, wait 20-30 minutes anyway, and stipple/press on my concealer and an opaque foundation (like a BB cream) with a sponge/brush/puff which is the same shade or darker than my natural skin tone. Some bronzer would do you well, too.

Eva NYC Mane Tamer Leave In Cream 100mL/3.38 fl oz || Value: $8.00
Beneficial ingredients of note: argan oil, keravis (hydrolyzed vegetable protein PG-Propyl silanetriol)?
Detrimental ingredients of note: parfum (6th ingredient), linallol, lilian & citral (last ingredients) 
This leave in cream smells absolutely delicious, like sugar or icing. I've found that it works very well to condition my hair, despite the fragrance which tends to dry my hair out. Be warned that the citrus enzymes in this conditioner may lighten hair if you go out in the sunlight within 8 hours of application.

Mee Beauty Bee Nourished Night Cream 7mL/.25 fl oz || Estimated value: $3.75
Beneficial ingredients of note: aloe juice, sweet almond oil, pure honey, vitamin E, avocado oil, jojoba oil, shea butter, black willow bark extract, neem oil, rosemary oleoresin (oil + resin)
Detrimental ingredients of note: none
What a fantastic ingredients list this thing has. Too bad it's such a tiny sample! With this, though, a little goes a long way. I was able to cover my entire face with a dollop and a half. Because of the honey, this cream was rather sticky and stayed that way the entire night. When I woke up, some of my hair was stuck to my face, still! This cream had no significant effects on my skin compared to other heavy moisturizers, but I like it quite a bit because of the ingredients list.

I was quite happy with my first Ipsy! I received $47 worth of product for about $15,and four out of five items had no detrimental ingredients of note, which means that I'm quite happy to use them! I thought the bag was super cute this month, too. I've heard that Ipsy can have its ups and downs, but this was definitely an up for this skin-care-obsessed Bunny.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Beauty Box 5 May 2014 Review

BB5 time again! Last month I decided to renew my quarterly subscription. It was a second chance for a service which has had its ups and downs with me. They didn't start off well this month, though. Turns out, some new subscribers using a FIRSTBOXFREE code didn't receive the same box as current subscribers, despite signing up under the assumption that they would receive the same box. Instead, they received a box of older items from previous months, some going as far back as October 2013. Some have called it a bit of a bait-and-switch from BB5, although I'd like to believe it was a major miscommunication error instead thanks to the good customer service I've had with BB5 in the past. I got the regular box -- let's see what's inside.

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.

Cattiva Precisione Eye Liner Full Size || Value: $20.00 
Beneficial ingredients of note: Hyaluronic acid, vitamin E, olive oil, defensil (a mixture of ingredients which claims to calm sensitive skin and even prevent pimples)
Detrimental ingredients of note: None that stand out -- this product is fragrance and paraben free
This was the big teaser product that got released. This eyeliner is retractable, which is fantastic for those who hate sharpening their pencils. It glides on very easily and smoothly, with a noticeable pigment. That said, I found that the tip was just too soft for my liking and did not give me the sharp lines I was looking for. It also didn't have the staying power I was looking for, and though it didn't smudge as badly as some eyeliners I've tried, it definitely wasn't smudge proof.

MaskerAide Hydration Facial Sheet Mask - Beauty Rest'ore 1 sheet || Value: $5.99
Beneficial ingredients of note: argan oil, tomato extract, honey extract, aloe juice (all in lower half of list)
Detrimental ingredients of note: lavender oil, mango extract?, lavender extract (all in lower half of list)
This fabric facial sheet was super full of product when I took it out. I wore it for over forty minutes (as opposed to the suggested 20-30) and it was still sopping wet! My skin of course feels soft and smooth, but I would equate this to any other drug store mask and so don't think it's worth $6. Also, some other masks from this line do contain citrus oils. 

H2O+ Aqualibrium Marine Cleansing Gel 8mL/0.27fl oz || Estimated value: $1.13 (Canadian website)
Beneficial ingredients of note: sea salt?, wakame extract, sea fennel extract, sea lettuce extract (all in lower half of list)
Detrimental ingredients of note: fragrance (upper half of list) 
I'm getting really sick of H2O+. I find their products to be overpriced, too full of fragrance, and worst of all -- ineffective. Plus, this sample is the tiniest thing ever! Even less than some pouch samples I get. I still haven't finished the H2O+ hand lotion or body wash I've received from previous months, and so I'm not even touching this. I'll probably throw it in as an extra in a swap, or keep for use on a trip. 

Ban Total Refresh Cooling Body Cloths - Refresh (3 cloths) || Estimated value: $0.90
Beneficial ingredients of note: none
Detrimental ingedients of note: alcohol denat. (second ingredient), fragrance (second last ingredient)
These are not getting anywhere near my body, ever. I vehemently oppose alcohol denat. Away with you! Away! Perhaps I could use these to wipe down my glasses, instead? 

Harvey Prince Hello Perfume (2mL/0.07fl oz) || Estimated value: $2.13 
Beneficial ingredients of note: N/A
Detrimental ingredients of note: lemon, mandarin, grapefruit
I'm much more lenient of perfume ingredients than I am on skin care, since most people do not overuse perfume and perfume is not advertised to help your skin's health. Obviously there is fragrance in this! Some comes from citrus fruits, so please don't put this on your face -- you probably shouldn't put perfume on your face anyway. I'm not a huge fragrance person, but I actually love this scent a lot. It's floral and fresh with a hint of vanilla -- but not overly fake smelling vanilla, which I hate. 

This box cost me $10 using a quarterly subscription, and I received about 3x that amount, mostly due to the full sized eye liner. Unfortunately, I only care to use two out of five items, and one is all gone now! In addition to the (hopefully accidental) bait-and-switch pulled with the free box code this month, I've e-mailed BB5 to cancel my subscription. I will continue to receive e-mails from BB5 in case I decide to re-subscribe some day. I do believe that they are a great subscription service for beginners, as I was at the beginning of the year. But due to my skin care philosophies, I've found the majority of their products problematic. At the same time, they've introduced me to some "Holy Grail" items -- mainly my Epic Blend lip balm. I have faith in BB5, but for now I think it's best to hold back. My last box will be July's.

Patch Testing, or, The Importance of Patience

No one's skin is infallible. Not even mine.

I've been blessed with skin that bounces back quickly from all kinds of ingredients -- fragrance, alcohols, SLS, and so on -- yet has some degree of sensitivity so I can tell whether or not something would be good for it in the long run. My reactions to products are usually no more than a day of dryness or one small pimple -- especially now that I've cut SLS and alcohols from my day-to-day routine. I've taken this gift, and I've abused it. I'm here to plead my apologies.

Patch testing is very important and something I stress a lot. And yes, I do patch test! My sin lies in the time I wait between patch testing and using the actual product. Because my skin doesn't typically break out, I rarely wait more than a day before slathering a product over my entire face after the test. But as those of you with more sensitive skin know, it can take days for a reaction to occur. I ignored this, and when I received a flurry of boxes in the last week, I took it upon myself to patch test a whole bunch of products.

In the last few days, I've noticed some dryness in the form of scaly, tiny bumps on my lower lip line. I figured that it was a cold sore or dryness, slapped some lip balm on there and proceeded to ignore it. I would know if it was a cold sore the next day, so I didn't really care. The next day, it was about the same, no real change, so I believed it was just dry skin. Today? The little bumps/scales have made it full circle around the outline of my lips, and now they hurt. They're not filled with pus so I'm fairly sure that it's neither acne nor an infection, but contact dermatitis -- basically, an allergic reaction.

Because of the way I've been using new products left and right, there's no real way for me to pinpoint what it was that caused it. It may not have been any new product I've used, in fact! It may have been something I ate -- some say mangoes can cause it due to a compound in the skin that is the same as in poison ivy. But until this clears up and I can (slowly) try out products again, there's no way of truly knowing.

Don't be me. Test patch properly and slowly. Check out Skincare Addiction for some tips on where and how long to test patch -- at least one day per product, and one product per day.

In other news, this means that reviews will take longer to write in order for me to test products properly OR I will not test out some items before writing the review (and say so, of course).


Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Memebox Thefaceshop Superbox Review

Memebox reviews take me the longest to do because of the many products they manage to stuff into such a tiny box, and because of the difficulty of finding ingredient list information. They're a bit of a pain to review in such a way, so I tend to procrastinate on them... oops. Here's a box I've received quite a long time ago, Superbox - Thefaceshop Box! This box was for e-mail subscribers only. It includes only full sized items from Thefaceshop.

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
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.

Lovely ME:EX Lip Tint SPF 13 - Sweet Cherry || Value: $8.98
Beneficial ingredients of note: vitamin E, mango butter, ceramide?, rosehip oil, grape seed oil
Detrimental ingredients of note: probably fragrance, otherwise unknown
This lip tint is a bright pink colour that is easily buildable -- one swipe leaves a distinct, yet subtle brightness to the lips. It not only doubles but triples as a moisturizer and as sun protection, with a small yet important SPF 13. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any full ingredients list. There is likely fragrance in this, as it smells somewhat fruity/cherry-like. Still, I really like this! It actually keeps my lips well moisturized and I like the subtle colour it gives me.

Clean Face Oil-Free BB Cream || Value: $7.65 (on eBay)
Beneficial ingredients of note: chamomile extract, tea tree oil, honey extract, willow bark extract (all near lower half of list)
Detrimental ingredients of note: grapefruit peel extract (halfway through list), fragrance (near end of list)
Because of the grapefruit peel extract, I do not recommend using this on the skin due to its phototoxic properties. I found the colour to be quite grey on me -- this may work for those with paler skin. But the thing that really kills this product for me is that it broke me out, just a touch. However, it was on my nose -- a place I never, ever, ever get whiteheads. It was just a tiny one, but still concerning to me.

Lovely ME:EX Pastel Cushion Blusher - Peach || Value:~$7.00 (on eBay)
Beneficial ingredients of note: various flower extracts -- probably for colour
Detrimental ingredients of note: fragrance (end of list)
This blusher comes with a totally adorable puff with a little bow on it to hold on to. The cardboard packaging is a little off-putting in a quality sense, but I grew to like it -- the cuteness of it overcomes any qualms I have. The pigment on this is very, very subtle and very matte. Think a peach coloured pencil. I personally love this because I like subtle make up. Others may not for the same reason.

Lovely ME:EX You & Eyes - Sand Brown || Value:$3.90
Beneficial ingredients of note: see below
Detrimental ingredients of note: glass?
This eyeshadow is not so much sand brown so much as it is a rich, highly pigmented gold... with some brown in there. This is not a bad thing! It's quite beautiful, in fact, and applies easily. It purports to have "sebum controlling powder" in its ingredients, but I couldn't figure out which it was. And yes, glass is a listed ingredient in this eye shadow. Now, I know many products use silica and the like as ingredients for their glitter. It's just jarring to see glass instead of a more... scientific, friendly term!
I don't think this should be a major issue, but do be careful just in case, I suppose!

Face It Nails Holiday Love Edition || Estimated value: ~$5.00?
Beneficial ingredients of note: N/A
Detrimental ingredients of note: N/A
This is obviously a dated product. This box came out earlier this year, quite past the holiday season! It was difficult to find any information on it, as it seems to be discontinued for the moment. Either way, I don't wear nail polish and didn't want to open the packaging on this so I have no thoughts about it one way or another. I do wish that Memebox didn't send something that screams "leftovers", though.

Rice Ceramide Moisture Cream || Value: $16.90
Beneficial ingredients of note: rice extract, mineral oil (depending on skin type), shea butter, rice bran oil
Detrimental ingredients of note: grapefruit extract (near end of list), fragrance (end of list)
Ceramides, an essential part of the skin barrier, are a bit controversial right now in their efficacy as a skin care ingredient. Ceramides have been thought to be too large to pass through the skin and so should be ineffective at replenishing the skin. Some say that it can enter through hair follicles. Only more experiments will tell, I suppose! As far as I see, this is just your plain old moisturizer. Nothing special to it, except for a distinct, fresh smell. It soaks in neither quickly nor slowly, and is no better or worse than any of my other creams (though not as good as my facial oils). It's only the grapefruit extract that really grinds my gears.

Lovely ME:EX BeBe Lip Mask || Estimated value: $1.28
Beneficial ingredients of note: various flower extracts, shea butter (last ingredient)
Detrimental ingredients of note: none
This is a two-piece gel mask with one sheet for each half of the lips. It was very easy to place on my lips. I have perpetually dry lips (when not using my favourite Epic Blend lip balms), so while this did make my lips soft for a bit after taking it off, my lips were back to normal a few hours later.

Hyaluronic Acid Essential Mask Sheet || Value: $4.78
Beneficial ingredients of note: hyaluronic acid, algae extract, japonica bark extract
Detrimental ingredients of note: SD alcohol (third ingredient), grapefruit extract, fragrance, limonene
Hyaluronic acid is a major component of skin and is one of the biggest things in skin care at the moment. There are still many studies being done on this ingredient, though most have to do with injections instead of topical application. Still, results are looking good! I wouldn't go so far as to say that it has anti-aging properties, but hyaluronic acid does seem to show some healing and humectant effects on the skin. However, when SD alcohol is the third ingredient, there's no way hyaluronic acid (the ninth ingredient) will help. Many reviews I've seen report a "tightening" sensation after using this mask, which I also felt. This is without a doubt due to the drying effects of the alcohol, though the other ingredients of this mask help obscure this a bit. Thirty minutes after I took the mask off, I couldn't stand how tight and dry my skin felt to me and went to moisturize intensely. I was not a fan.

This box cost $39.00 plus $6.99 shipping, for a total of $46. I received about $55 of product, one of which was out of season. While I wouldn't say this box is a dud -- the moisturizer is fine for night use, and I love the lip tint, eyeshadow and blush -- it was certainly one of the lower valued boxes from Memebox. I think they should have put in more make up products, and less skin care products from this particular brand. All in all, not a terrible box, but not one that made me go *wow*, either.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Saffron Rouge Inner Circle May 2014 Review

One of my favourite things about Inner Circle is that it gets to me so quickly. I live only a half-day away from the shipping facility, so I always get my package within a few days of it being shipped!

Saffron Rouge Inner Circle has been great since the start of my subscription -- that said, this is only my third box. Let's see if it keeps a streak going. This time around, the products came wrapped in some polka dot tissue paper instead of a mesh drawstring bag. Hmm, not the greatest start. I really liked those bags for storage purposes.

First look
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

Primavera Calming Moisture Cream 8mL/0.27fl oz || Estimated value: $11.88
Beneficial ingredients of note:jojoba oil (second ingredient), shea butter, many other various oils and flower extracts, willow bark extract, aloe
Detrimental ingredients of note: fragrance (halfway through ingredients list), citral & limonene (all at end of ingredients list)
One ounce of this cream is a whopping $44, making this teeny sample nearly $12. This is thanks to the huge ingredients list jam-packed with oils and extracts. This face cream is made for those with sensitive skin. I hesitate to recommend this to all people with sensitive skin due to the fragrance (from essential oils) and the citral/limonene (citrus enzymes which can cause contact dermatitis in some when exposed to light).

That said, I tried this on the side of my nose and my jawline, my most sensitive spots. Neither reacted in any negative way. The cream itself was a touch difficult to spread evenly, as it streaked slightly. I was not a fan of how it made my skin feel. It felt sort of tacky and not smooth. I also found that it pilled easily on my face, but not at all on my arm, for whatever reason. I give this product an "OK". It will be nice on days where my skin is very sensitive.

Dr. Alkaitis Soothing Gel (unknown volume) || Value of full-size (4oz): $60; Estimated value: $4
Beneficial ingredients of note: Aloe vera gel, witch hazel?, vitamin B and C complexes
Detrimental ingredients of note: See below
The main ingredient of this gel beyond the aloe vera and witch hazel base is organically grown grape alcohol. As well, many various herbs are blended in, but I was unable to find out if these are the actual herbs or herbal oils. The ingredients list on this product is vague, saying things like "also added are 100% pure essential oils". Citrus? Mint? Who knows?

I couldn't find much information on grape alcohol, because as you can guess, most of my searches resulted in wine suggestions or alchemy/witchcraft websites. I'm understandably hesitant at the idea of putting something so close to wine (especially when the website describes it as "drinkable") anywhere on my skin. I still tested a bit of in on my skin, and saw no real difference either way.

Lily Lolo Lip Gloss: Scandalips Full size || Value: $15.98
Beneficial ingredients of note: vitamin E, jojoba oil, castor oil
Detrimental ingredients of note: aroma
This picture didn't turn out great. Check it out here! The colour is a light pink with a touch of shimmer. I'm not a fan of lip gloss, so this is going into the trade pile. I do like how it smells like chocolate, though.

Alima Pure Luminous Shimmer Eye Shadow: Hellebore Full size || Value: $12.50
Beneficial ingredients of note: none
Detrimental ingredients of note: none 
This eyeshadow is as pure as can get, with no fillers. While I supremely appreciate this, I already have a gold-rose eyeshadow! Moreover, my other one is pressed, which is much easier for a newbie to makeup like me. I guess I can keep this around, though.

Mai Couture W3ll People Hedonist Bronzer: #52 1.5g/0.05oz || Estimated value: $5.47
Beneficial ingredients of note: none
Detrimental ingredients of note: none
This bronzer, much like the eyeshadow, contains only what is necessary. This is actually my first bronzer, and my first experiment with it for this blog did NOT end up well! But I swear that this is only due to my own inexperience with loose powders. I think I will need to move this to a wider container for my clunky brush handling skills. Powder. Everywhere.

red flower Orange Quince Steam Room Mist 8.9mL/0.3fl oz || Estimated value: $3.37
Beneficial ingredients of note: quince nut oil, rose oil
Detrimental ingredients of note: pink grapefruit oil (third ingredient), orange oil, lemon extract, lemon oil (last ingredient)
I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw that this was a room mist, and not a body mist. Then I read the packaging which instructed me to mist all over my face and body and my sigh quickly turned to one of frustration. This is basically another Lotus Wei mist! Click the link to see my long rant about that.

This claims to:
-be a toner: yes, because the citrus oils lower the pH of the skin, as toners are supposed to do
-be a gentle peel: gentle is subjective. Because it is acidic, it can peel off the skin, yes.
-brighten mind energy: I don't think so. But if someone wants to explain to me how my mind can literally brighten, please do!
-rid the skin of excess sebaceous toxins: sebaceous glands are the glands in your skin that express sebum, the skin's natural oil. They do not excrete toxins. Sebum is very important to the skin's health, though some have too much sebum a.k.a. oily skin. It is still not a toxin.
-be anti-oxidizing and nutrient-rich, brightening dull skin: true, due to the enzymes in some of the oils contained, this mist contains vitamins A, B, and C which can brighten the skin (vitamin C, especially).
-stimulate circulation to remove impurities from the skin's surface: a misting of oils is not going to stimulate circulation, and circulation stimulation will not remove impurities from the skin's surface.
-tighten pores: without going into too much detail on the biology of pores, I highly doubt this will tighten them any more than any other product that claims to tighten pores.
-recharge with a dose of concentrated oxygen to brighten the complexion: OXYGEN IS WHAT CAUSES AGING. I CANNOT BELIEVE TH -- sorry, sorry. Why did they think that this was a good advertising message? Did they not remember that antioxidants are one of the most important skin care ingredients at the moment?
-counteract depression, anxiety: as someone who suffers from depression and anxiety, I resent the idea that aromatherapy can somehow cure my mental illness. Aromatherapy can help relax some people, but this is a big claim.

Altogether, this $25 box got me a $53.20 value, a low value for Inner Circle which often hits values of $70 and up. However, I don't really care for any of these items. I'm definitely not using the mist or lip gloss. I'm hesitant on the soothing gel. The cream is only okay, and I would only use it in specific instances. I have a gold-flecked rose eyeshadow already. The bronzer is the only item that I'm legitimately interested to try out. Thus, this month's Inner Circle was a dud for me. Maybe next time?