29 January 2016

iHerb Haul + First Impressions (+ Birthday Giveaway #4!)

For my actual birthday today, I've teamed up with one of my favorite online stores, iHerb, for my final giveaway of the month.  iHerb is an online retailer selling all kinds of healthy products: supplements, food, cosmetics, household supplies, and more!   Basically they sell the same kinds of things you'd find in a health food store, but at a substantially lower cost.

I've been ordering from iHerb since 2011 (I even documented very first order here) and I've always had a great experience.  From a Canadian viewpoint, I get access to brands that we don't have here, as well as lower prices on the ones we do.  Even with the exchange and the Canadian dollar doing so poorly, most things still work out to lower, or at least comparable, prices to what I'd pay locally.  iHerb lets you check out in Canadian dollars (or other currencies) and they've also recently added a new DHL shipping option that collects tax on Canadian orders, so you don't have to worry about being charged tax or fees at the door.  I also received this most recent order in 1 day with the new DHL shipping, which is crazy impressive!

Customer service is also great.  I haven't had any major issues in the more than 30 orders (!!) I've placed, but any problems have always been taken care of easily and appropriately. iHerb also has a simple rewards program if you want to refer friends, as well as new loyalty credits that reward everyone with 10% of all purchases back in store credit.

Clearly I've done my share of shopping with iHerb on my own dime , so when they offered to sponsor this post, I was excited to work with a company I already think highly of AND to have the chance to give two of you a chance to try iHerb for yourselves (more on that later!)  All opinions are, as always, fully my own.

Keep reading for a peek at my latest iHerb order and first impressions on the things I picked up.  


Stick around until the end to enter the giveaway, or if you don't want to wait, use my referral code ITI429 for $5 off your first order now!


Andalou Naturals Chia + Omega Radiant Skin Polish + Blemish Vanishing Gel
The Chia + Omega Skin Polish was featured as one of my Top 15 of 2015 and is a firm favorite of mine.  This will be my third tube of the scrub, which offers a perfect balance between gentleness and thorough exfoliation.

The Blemish Vanishing Gel is a salicylic acid spot treatment.  I didn't actually pick this up for pimples, but instead for use on a single millia-like blemish that I've had on my cheek for a few months now.  Nothing else has worked on it, and after seeing multiple recommendations for salicylic acid, I thought I'd give it a try.  Usually a higher content than the 2% in this spot treatment is recommended, but I haven't seen any higher ones with clean ingredients, so I thought, since salicylic acid hasn't touched my skin in more than 10 years, the lower percentage MIGHT still do the trick.  And it has, sort of.  The bump got noticeably smaller within the first couple days using the Vanishing Gel, but it hasn't gone away completely yet.  The Blemish Gel also works great on regular breakouts/pimples.  

Both products also came with free minis of other Andalou products.  I received the Purple Carrot + C Luminous Night Cream, which I've actually been using for the past few months, and the new to me Kombucha Enzyme Exfoliating Peel, which I'm excited to try.  I love when Andalou includes freebies like this!

DeVita Revitalizing Eye Lift Creme

I was debating between DeVita's Eye Creme and Eye Serum, but this review on kimberlyloc.com pushed me over the edge on the creme.  In addition to the affordable price point, what intrigued me about both eye products was the inclusion of Vitamin K, a circulation booster that can be very effective on dark circles.  The Eye Creme is a rich cream that also includes hyaluronic acid, shea butter, oat beta glucan, and Tetrapeptide-3.  I've been using it for almost two weeks now and I can't say I've noticed much difference beyond moisturization, but I'm hopeful for more visible results with longer use.

Pacifica Camellia Blushious Coconut & Rose Infused Cheek Color

I've had my eye on these Pacifica blushes ever since they launched a few months ago, and I finally picked up Camellia, a light pink/peach with slight gold sparkle.  I really like it!  The Blushious blushes are described as sheer mineral cheek colors, and as the description suggests, Camellia isn't highly pigmented.  It's a pretty color, but I do find I need to layer quite a bit on even my fair skin, so I doubt this color would show up very well on deeper skin tones.

Mineral Fusion Ruby Lipstick
After falling in love with Mineral Fusion's Sheer Moisture Lip Tints last year, I thought I'd try one of their regular lipsticks.  Happily, it's been an all around hit as well!  The copper tube is beautiful, the formula is great, and I love the color I chose as well.  Ruby is basically my perfect red: a bit deeper than a classic red, with very slight berry tones.  It's a gorgeous shade that reminds me a lot of the much spendier Aux Rouge Lip Boost from Gressa, only a hair darker and housed in a traditional lipstick bullet.

Emani Plush Hydrating Lip Color

My love for sheer lip colors is no secret, so when I spotted Emani's Hydrating Lip Colors, I thought they'd be right up my alley.  After looking at swatches, I chose Plush, a medium/bright pink.  The formula is sheer but buildable and although it's not extremely hydrating, it feels comfortable on the lips.  My only issue is that the lipstick has a sweet, almost vanilla-like scent and there's nothing in the ingredients list to account for that smell.  I've contacted Emani for more information, but I haven't heard back so far.

Everyday Minerals Sugared Mauve Tinted Lip Butter

The Tinted Lip Butter in Nearly Nude is one of my favorite everyday lip products, so I decided to pick up another color.  The formula on these is wonderful and Sugared Mauve is a pretty, sheer mauvey-nude - very wearable and also great for everyday!



Hurraw! Sun Balm
Sun Balm is my favorite SPF lip balm and it's a product I'm happy to have it back in my life.  SPF 15 from non-nano uncoated zinc oxide and no real whitecast make this a fantastic product to keep in your sun protection arsenal.  It also smells yummy - like a vanilla-orange creamsicle.  The Sun Balm has a thicker/creamier formula than the regular Hurraw! balms and I prefer both the feel and how it lasts considerably longer on the lips.

Blum Naturals Oil Absorbing Facial Tissues
I feel like you should be able to just pick up blotting tissues at the drugstore, but it's amazing how many additional ingredients sneak into those things!  The Blum Oil Absorbing Tissues are basic powderless blotting papers and they work well at removing oil/shine without disturbing makeup.  They're a staple in my purse.

Mineral Fusion Northern Lights Mini Nail Polish Kit

Mineral Fusion nail polishes are 5-free and one of my favorite formulas.  If I could buy all my nail polishes as minis, I totally would, which is also why I love these kits so much.  The Northern Lights Kit, specifically, was a 2015 holiday release and includes Coal Mine (black with silver shimmer), Cascade (shimmery silver), and Blue Nile (metallic dark teal).  I can't wait to use these!
GIVEAWAY

I'm excited to give away two $50 shopping sprees to iHerb!  Follow the Rafflecopter widget, below, to enter.  

The giveaway is open to anywhere iHerb ships.  Winner must have an iHerb account (or register with iHerb) to claim the prize.  Shipping will be taken care of by iHerb, but the winners, if outside the US, are responsible for any additional taxes/duties/brokerage fees levied to them by their Customs Agency and/or Postal Service.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sponsored Post
Contains affiliate links

25 January 2016

Disappointing Products #4

How do you feel about less-than-stellar reviews?  It seems like there's an ongoing debate amongst bloggers as to whether or not one should share less favorable opinions of products or just stick to talking about the things we love.  Negative reviews aren't nearly as fun to write, it's true, but I've always felt it was important to share less glowing opinions as well, which is why I do these Disappointing Products posts every so often.  

As always, this isn't intended to bash any of these brands - most of whom actually make other products I love - only to share why these particular items haven't worked for me.  



Nubian Heritage EVOO & Moringa Repair & Extend Shine Gel
I actually included this in my last disappointing products post (oops!) but I forgot I'd ever written about it when I gathered up this latest batch to photograph.  Clearly I've held onto it for way too long at this point!  To reiterate that first post, the gel itself actually performed really well the few times I used it, but I struggle with the scent.  It's strong and perfumey, and lasts all day in my hair.  The ingredients list only a "proprietary essential oil blend," and while it may only be essential oils, the scent is quite reminiscent of synthetic fragrance and isn't something I can tolerate.  I haven't tried anything else from Nubian Heritage, so I don't know if it's just this one product or the entire line, but I'd advise caution if you're someone sensitive to scents.  I can't find this exact product on the Nubian Heritage website anymore and it's out of stock from a lot of other retailers, so it may have been discontinued.

Benecos Natural Creamy Makeup
This foundation baffles me, as I just can't imagine how anyone could make it work.  It's a liquid foundation with a thick creamy consistency, but it sets almost as soon as it touches the skin, making it nearly impossible to work with.  Because of how quickly it dries, it's a struggle to spread or sheer out, and tends to look heavy and cakey.  It also has a sickly sweet honey-like scent and - something I didn't initially realize - contains talc. 

Balanced Guru Antioxidant Masque
Balanced Guru's Calming Masque is one of my all-time favorite skincare items, but the Antioxidant Masque did not leave my skin happy.  The mask contains a blend of antioxidant-rich berries and spices, and it smells delicious: like cinnamon and cloves.  I've noticed a pattern recently whereby my skin doesn't do well with these warm spices in products that stay on the skin, and this mask - much like May Lindstrom's Problem Solver - left my skin red, hot, and burning.  I really do love Balanced Guru as a brand, so if you're usually okay with these spices, it might still be worth a try.  

Everyday Minerals Soft Peach Color Corrector Stick
The color of this corrector/concealer is a fantastic pale peach, but unfortunately, it blends away to nothing.  There's virtually no coverage, even with multiple layers, and any brightening or color correcting properties are very minimal as well.  The ingredients are great and it's a hydrating formula, so I may give it one more try as a sheer foundation.

Juice Beauty Nutrient Moisturizer    
This moisturizer is advertised as a nutrient-rich cream suitable for all skin types, but I found it way too heavy on my normal-to-dry skin, so I question if it would suit anyone other than the ultra-dry.  It never seemed to absorb and instead just sat on top of my skin.  As a result, it didn't work well under makeup, and even when used at night, I'd wake up with a film from the cream still on my face.  I also found my face got shiny/oily throughout the day while using it, which isn't something I normally deal with.

Have you used any of these products?  I'd love to know if you were similarly underwhelmed or if they worked differently for you!

Contains affiliate links

22 January 2016

Lovacado Extra Virgin Avocado Oil + Avocado Face & Body Mask (+ Birthday Giveaway #3!)

Avocado: it's not just for eating anymore.  The same combo of essential fatty acids, vitamins, and antioxidants that makes avocado such a healthy food, are also wonderful used topically on both skin and hair.

And that's where Lovacado, a Toronto company based around the humble avocado, comes in.

Lovacado believes in going back to basics and wants people to rediscover the effectiveness of simple natural ingredients.  Everything is simply formulated with minimal, high quality ingredients and is free of synthetic preservatives, additives, and colors.  Currently the line consists of two key products: Extra Virgin Avocado Oil* and an Avocado Powder Face & Body Mask*.



Extra Virgin Avocado Oil
Like many other oils, Lovacado's Extra Virgin Avocado Oil is a fantastic multi-use product that can be used on the face, body, and hair.  Avocado oil, extracted from the green flesh of the avocado, is a great emollient oil high in vitamins A, D, and E, lecithin, potassium, beta carotene, chlorophyll, and unsaturated fatty acids.  Lovacado's oil is cold-pressed, extra virgin, and mixed only with essential oils.

Avocado oil is a richer oil, often recommended for dry or mature skin, but - assuming you aren't using unnecessarily copious amounts - it absorbs well and won't leave skin greasy or slippery.  I find it a little too heavy to use alone on the face, but a drop or two mixed in with lighter oils or a cream moisturizer is great for an intense shot of moisture.  I also love using it as a body oil and in my hair.

In fact, while prior to this I was an argan oil devotee, I think I like Lovacado's oil as a leave-in even more!  I run a few drops through the damp ends of my hair after showering and it leaves them smooth and ultra soft.  It can also be used pre-wash as a nourishing deep conditioning treatment.

Lovacado's oil is available unscented and in three scents: sweet orange, lemon, and lavender.  I've tried the three scented versions and they're all lovely.  Fresh smelling and scented enough to be noticeable as you use them, but never overpowering.  Every bottle of oil also comes with a Lovacado refillable travel bottle that makes it super easy to carry the oil with you.  

Avocado Powder Face & Body Mask
Despite knowing the skin and hair benefits, avocados never actually make it out of my kitchen, which is why this avocado powder has been so fantastic.  Made of 100% dehydrated avocado powder, it's easy to work with and makes a great mask, both on its own and in combination with other ingredients.  The powder, which smells just like avocado, starts out a little chunky, but it smooths out as you mix it with water.  

My favorite way to use it has been combining equal parts avocado powder and bentonite clay to make a gentler clay mask, perfect for more sensitive or delicate skin.  This combo gives the best of both worlds: detox and exfoliation from the clay, and moisture and collagen-boosting nutrients from the avocado powder.  The avocado powder also makes a wonderful moisturizing mask, either on its own or mixed with a little honey.  I'm curious to try incorporating it into a hair mask next!



The Bottom Line
I love the simplicity of Lovacado's ingredients and, clearly, I'm a fan of how the products perform as well.  The oil is great for a multitude of uses, and the powder is a unique mask ingredient I haven't seen anywhere else.  I think both will be great year round, but they've been especially fantastic for keeping my skin hydrated through this latest cold spell.

Giveaway
I've also teamed up with Lovacado to give TWO of you the chance to try these avocado delights for yourselves.  Each winner will receive a bottle of Extra Virgin Avocado Oil in the scent of their choice, the Avocado Face & Body Mask, and a refillable travel bottle.  

The giveaway is limited to US/Canada.  You must follow Lovacado on at least one platform to enter.  All other entries are optional.  Follow the Rafflecopter widget, below, to enter.


a Rafflecopter giveaway
*Press sample

15 January 2016

Ursa Major Hoppin' Fresh Deodorant (+ Birthday Giveaway #2!)

Deodorant is undoubtedly one of the most difficult products to green in your routine, but it's also one of the most vital.   Conventional deodorants and antiperspirant are loaded with chemicals, heavy metals, and synthetic fragrance, and lymph nodes in the armpits readily absorb and hold onto these toxins.

Thankfully there are plenty of healthier options out there today, including Ursa Major's new-to-the-scene Hoppin' Fresh Deodorant*.  I've been using Hoppin' Fresh for upwards of a month now and I'm happy to report that it's quickly become one of my favorite deodorants.

It wasn't, however,  a completely smooth road to love for me and this odor fighter.  My testing experience went something like this:

Days 1-3: The honeymoon stage.  I smell fresh and clean all day and love everything about the deodorant.

Days 4-8: Trouble in paradise.  Odor protection starts to last only 4-5 hours before wearing off.  Reapplying helps for a short time, but the deodorant wears off again in another 2-3 hours.

Days 9+: Back on track.  Hoppin' Fresh starts lasting again and I'm back to smelling good the entire day, sans reapplications.

Which just goes to show that, even for someone who's been exclusively using natural deodorant for years, there can still be an adjustment period when switching to something new.


Setting aside odor protection for a moment, the most unique thing about Hoppin' Fresh is just how comparable it is to conventional deodorant in both feel and application.  The deodorant is a smooth, firm stick (not even a hint of crumbling here!) that glides on super easily.  This perfect, almost gel-like consistency is pretty standard in mainstream deodorants, but it's something I haven't found in other natural ones - and goodness knows I've tried more than a few!  It goes on clear, dries quickly, and won't stain clothes either.  

The smooth texture is courtesy of a base of soothing aloe vera juice and the often vilified propanediol.  Without going off on too much of a tangent, propanediol is often linked to propylene glycol due to similarities in chemical structure, but there are some notable differences.  Where PG is petrochemical-based, propanediol is mainly derived from corn sugar fermentation.  Manufacturing doesn't have the same environmental impact as that of a petrochemical, nor does the end product carry the same allergy or toxicity concerns.  

Hoppin' Fresh isn't an antiperspirant - and really, you wouldn't want it to be! - but kaolin clay does its part absorbing moisture.  I've never felt excessively wet or sweaty while using it.

When it comes to odor protection, Ursa Major has you covered with a powerful trifecta of anti-microbial and anti-bacterial hops extract, baking soda, and essential oils.  I know baking soda is an issue for an increasing number of people, but even if the thought has you cringing in anticipated agony, I wouldn't write this deodorant off just yet.  I've had problems using "simple" baking soda formulas for the last six months or so, but I haven't experienced any irritation from Hoppin' Fresh.  I've even tested it immediately after shaving without any issues.

As I mentioned, it took a little over a week for the odor protection to fully level out for me, but since then, it's been top-notch.  I only apply the deodorant once a day and I still find myself smelling fresh the following morning.  Granted, it's winter here now, but judging by how well it holds up to a sweaty workout, I'm pretty confident Hoppin' Fresh will fare well in the warmer months too.  Out of the tube and freshly applied, the deodorant smells minty and herbal thanks to a blend of plant extracts and peppermint, eucalyptus, rosemary, and grapefruit essential oils, but while the odor protection lasts, the scent wears off pretty quickly, so even if herbal scents aren't your thing, it's unlikely to bother you much or interfere with any other scents you may want to wear.

The Bottom Line
Whether you're a natural deodorant pro, or you're new and struggling, I think Hoppin' Fresh is worth a try!  It applies very similarly to conventional deodorant and is simultaneously gentle on the skin and offers some of the strongest odor protection I've found in a natural deodorant.

Giveaway
I've also teamed up with Ursa Major to give one of you the chance to try Hoppin' Fresh, as well as Ursa Major's two other new releases: the Citrus Riot Body Wash and Perfect Zen Body Lotion.

The giveaway is limited to US/Canada.  Follow the Rafflecopter widget, below, to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Press sample

8 January 2016

Sample Stash #19: EO Ageless Skincare (+ Birthday Giveaway #1)

I haven't tried many EO products, mainly because of the brand's fondness for preserving with phenoxyethanol, but when I was offered the chance to sample the company's new Ageless Skincare line and realized these new products were phenoxyethanol-free, I was quick to say yes.  The Ageless Skincare line is a little more luxe than EO's previous skincare offerings, featuring glass bottles and more advanced formulas.  These changes are reflected in the price point, though everything is still reasonably affordable ($19.99 to $39.99 full price, less on discount sites like iHerb and Vitacost).

Obviously, as with all my Sample Stash posts, I haven't tested any of these products extensively, but keep reading for my initial impressions.  Also, stay tuned all the way to the end for a chance to win one of these products in full size!



Coconut Cleansing Milk
Creamy cleansers are my favorite for a morning cleanse and this one did the trick nicely.  It had good slip to it, felt gentle on the skin, and rinsed away easily.  It does contain coconut oil, but my skin is fine with that in wash off products like cleansers and I had no issues.  In fact, the Cleansing Milk left my face feeling very balanced and calm. 

Moroccan Lava Clay Exfoliating Scrub
Probably my favorite product from the entire line, the Exfoliating Scrub is a powder cleanser/mask made with oats, Moroccan clay, and papaya and pineapple enzymes.  Powdered cleansers have been popular from higher end green brands for a while, but I haven't seen any inexpensive lines jump on this trend until now.  The scrub has great ingredients and you can easily tailor the amount of exfoliation by playing around with what you mix into the powder.  I like that it can double as both an exfoliant and a mask and it smells really lovely too - a mild fruity/vanilla scent.

Organic Argan Face Oil
Although this is called the Argan Face Oil, the first ingredient is actually organic ethyl palmate, a palm oil derivative that gives the oil a super lightweight texture and fast absorption.  Organic argan oil is also in there, along with organic jojoba and avocado oils, but the overall feel of the oil is very light and skin is left dry to the touch within a minute or two of application.  I'm not big on palm oil or palm oil derivatives from an environmental standpoint, but I did really like the feel of this oil.  If you've been reluctant to use oils during the day, it might be just the thing.  

Transformative Night Serum
The Transformative Night Serum features a great blend of plant oils, including argan, pumpkin seed, rosehip, evening primrose, pomegranate and macadamia.  Heavier than the Argan Face Oil, but still not what I'd consider a heavy oil by any means, it hydrates well without leaving the skin feeling greasy.  I don't love the rose scent, but that just comes down to personal preference - it's not overly fragranced, I'm just not a big fan of rose.

The Bottom Line
I didn't try the Hydrating Face Moisturizer, which contains dimethicone, but I enjoyed my brief time testing the rest of the products in the EO Ageless Skincare Line.  Across the board, everything felt gentle and non-irritating and I think would be very suitable for a variety of skintypes.  I'm hoping this is the beginning of many more phenoxyethanol-free offerings from EO!

GIVEAWAY
January is my birthday month and with that in mind, I'm going to have a few giveaways staggered throughout the month.

This week, you can win EO's Transformative Night Serum with Tsubaki & Rose.  As I said earlier, I think this is a great oil, but rose scents just aren't my jam, so I'd love to share the full size with one of you instead!   

And, I'm keeping the rose theme going by adding in a few other small rose goodies as well, including a mini SW Basics Rosewater Cleanser, a rose-colored eye shadow from Modern Minerals, and a couple rose-flavored teas.  



Giveaway is open worldwide.  Follow the Rafflecopter widget, below, to enter.

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*Press sample

6 January 2016

Winter Skin Heroes ft. Wildcraft, Rachel's Plan Bee, SBT Seabuckthorn, Ilike + more!

Winter weather may have come late to Toronto, but now that it's here, it's not kidding around.  Monday saw temperatures as low as -15°C - and that's before factoring in the windchill!  Brr.  Inevitably as soon as the negative temperatures hit, my skin needs a little extra love, and that's where these products come in...



Wildcraft Cell Regeneration Face Serum
I had the pleasure of meeting Jessica and Laura from Wildcraft at a green beauty event a couple months ago and got to learn a little about this local Toronto company.  Everything is handcrafted in small batches and made with predominantly raw, organic, and local ingredients.  The Cell Regeneration Serum features a blend of rice bran, meadowfoam, rosehip, hemp, seabuckthorn, and sunflower oils, and hydrates the skin beautifully without any heaviness or greasy residue.  Carrot seed extract and frankincense and palmarosa essential oils provide additional anti-aging benefits and give the oil a unique spicy/earthy scent that I really enjoy as well.  You could certainly use the oil by itself, but since I've been on more of a cream moisturizer kick of late, I've opted to use it a little differently.  I like to mix a couple drops into my moisturizer for an extra punch on days when my skin feels more dry or in need of a boost.   

Rachel's Plan Bee Bee Cream
I've written about Rachel's Plan Bee several times before, but the Bee Cream is a new discovery for me this winter.  It's a concentrated product that hits that perfect intermediate between a balm and a body butter.  You get the richness and nourishment that you would from a balm, but with a softer whipped consistency.  Like a balm, a little goes a long way and you don't need to use a lot to get great results.  The Bee Cream has the lovely RPB signature citrus vanilla scent, though I find it milder than in some of the other products like the Body Oil and Polish, which, for my sensitive sniffer, is another plus.  I've been using the cream mainly on my feet and cuticles - both of which are super soft now - but it's one of those great products that you could probably find a million and one uses for.  

SBT Seabuckthorn Lip Balm*
In the winter, lip balms always get split into two categories in my head: indoor and outdoor.  Its slippery, thinner consistency puts SBT Seabuckthorn's Lip Balm firmly in the indoor category, but where this Canadian balm really excels is in its ability to heal and nourish sore chapped lips.  I'd go for something heavier and more protective before braving a snowstorm, but this is what I'd reach for right after.  Made with both seabuckthorn seed and fruit oils, as well as shea butter, beeswax, and a host of other nourishing oils, it feels like a product that really feeds your lips, helping to repair any cold-weather inflicted damage.  The balm is unscented and unflavored, so the earthiness of the seabuckthorn does come through, but it's in no way overpowering or offensive.

Ilike Carotene Essentials Gel Mask*
The Carotene Essentials Gel Mask was specifically formulated for summer skin, but I've been finding the same hydrating soothing blend of carrots, fruit, and honey fantastic for winter skin needs too!  Our first tendency is often to reach for rich oils and butters to combat dryness, but skin really needs a combination of oil AND water for optimum health.  The Gel Mask provides that water component and only needs to be left on for about 15 minutes.  It's soothing and provides light hydration - which you can then seal in with those richer creams and oils if you want.  I did a more detailed review of this mask over the summer.

Dry Brushing
Don't get me wrong, I love a good body scrub or polish, but some days they just feel like that extra step I can't bring myself to do.  What I can get behind any day of the week is dry brushing!  It takes less than two minutes to brush your entire body, leaves no slipperiness or oily coating on the tub, and in addition to exfoliating away dead skin, it also offers lymphatic and circulatory benefits.  There's tons of information about dry brushing out there, but it's hard to get wrong: just start gentle and make sure to brush in a direction towards your heart.

Has the cold weather hit where you are?  What are your winter skin essentials?

*Press sample

4 January 2016

December Empties / Products I've Used Up (+ A Year of Empties Wrap Up)

I'm a couple days behind schedule, but here it is: my final empties post of 2015.  If you aren't familiar with these, this is where I show you the products I've finished up in the last month and give you my final impressions after using the entire thing to completion.  I was also curious to see how many products I actually use over a year, so I've been tracking total counts in various categories over the course of 2015.  The final results will be at the bottom of this post.  


Beautiful Curls Curl Reviving Tonic

I've gone through four or five bottles of this spray over the last couple years.  It's fantastic on second day hair and really does revive and refresh curls, just as the name says.  Unfortunately the ingredients/formula changed a few months ago and it now includes phenoxyethanol, an ingredient I prefer not to use.
Repurchase? No.  I have one more bottle of the old formula, but after that I won't be buying any more.

Intelligent Nutrients Harmonic Shampoo   [Review]
I included this shampoo in my Top 15 Products of 2015, which pretty much says it all!  It's a great shampoo that gets the scalp very clean without making hair dry or brittle.  I still have 1/2 or 1/3 of a bottle of the matching conditioner, but I'll finish that off with other shampoos.  
Repurchase? Yes, but not immediately.

Scentuals Bodycare Moisturizing Grapefruit Body Wash*   [Review]
This was a nice body wash.  I liked the grapefruit scent and it was actually quite moisturizing.  The texture is interesting too - kind of a creamy midway point between a typical body wash and aloe vera gel.  I used a good portion of the bottle to wash my makeup brushes and it worked really well for that purpose as well.  
Repurchase? Probably not.  I liked it, but there are other body washes I like more.

Nourish Organic Coconut & Argan Body Wash

Nourish's Body Wash is another product that made it onto my Top 15 of 2015 and is something I've gone through numerous bottles of.  Funny story about this one: I'm a big fan of the Coconut & Argan scent and had tucked this bottle away for most of the year after finding out it had been discontinued.  So, imagine my surprise to finally open it and discover the contents were actually the Almond Vanilla Body Wash!  Not a bad scent by any means, just pretty funny under the circumstances.  
Repurchase? Yes!  Obviously not in this scent, but I'll definitely be buying others.  

Young Living Grapefruit Lip Balm
I like the Young Living lip balms, but the grapefruit one isn't my favorite.  It smells lovely, but I don't find it as hydrating as the Lavender, which is my favorite.
Repurchase? Yes, but probably not this scent.

Balanced Guru Calming Masque  [Review]
Yet another Top 15 of 2015 product!  I've gone through a few of these small jars now and it's still one of my all-time favorite masks.  
Repurchase? Yes! I already have.

Sibu Beauty Sea Buckthorn Purifying Mask
I'm not as crazy obsessed with this mask as with the Balanced Guru, but I do like it.  It's pretty gentle and the fact that it's pre-mixed in a tube makes it super quick and easy - perfect for in the shower or other instances when I was short on time.
Repurchase? Maybe.



Weleda Pomegranate Firming Serum + Day Cream (samples)
I like a lot of Weleda products, but the serums just don't work for my skin.  They're glycerin-based and my face tends to break out from a lot of glycerin.  Since I didn't want the samples to go to waste, I used them on my chest and they worked nicely there.  The serum is hydrating but ultra-lightweight.  It sinks in almost instantly, leaving skin basically dry to the touch.  The Firming Day Cream was nice enough too, but after only one packet, it didn't make a huge impression.
Repurchase? No.

Sibu Beauty Sea Buckthorn Hydrating Serum

Another glycerin-based serum that I didn't have very high expectations for, but I ended up really liking it.  I also used it on my chest rather than my face, and it seemed to make the skin in that area look smoother and more even, even just in the five or six days the sample packet lasted.
Repurchase? Possibly.

Darling Girl Cosmetics Dr. Pepper Cake Eye Shadow (sample)
Darling Girl makes some of my favorite shadows, both in color and formula.  Dr. Pepper Cake - now discontinued - was a beautiful complex neutral: a shimmery mid-toned brown with some pink/mauve reflects.
Repurchase? Not possible.

Odacité Intensive Hand & Heel Therapy* (sample)   [Review]
I loved this cream and used it very sparingly to make the sample last.  It's a rich cream, but absorbs quickly to deeply nourish hands, feet, and other dry areas.  The ingredients are also wonderful.
Repurchase? Maybe.

Total Products Used Up in December
Skincare: 3 (Lip Balms: 1)
Bodycare: 2

Haircare: 2
Makeup: 0
Skin/Body/Hair Samples: 7
Makeup Samples: 1

Total Products Used Up in 2015
Skincare: 40 (Lip Balms: 11)
Bodycare: 40

Haircare:  12
Makeup: 15
Skin/Body/Hair Samples: 75 

Makeup Samples: 33


Total Full Size Products: 107 (!!!!)
Total Samples: 108

And that's a wrap!  I had fun tracking numbers this year and it really is interesting to see the rate at which you go through different kinds of products.  Having a better idea of how long things actually last has also made me more conscious when making purchases the last several months.  

What surprised me the most?
i) That I go through about a lip balm a month
ii) How few hair products I actually use.  Definitely something to keep in mind before stockpiling shampoos!

Thanks for sticking with me through this series!  I'm thinking of changing up how I do empties for 2016 - either by not doing them every single month, or maybe just showing noteworthy products, since some things seem repetitive after a certain point.  Let me know if you like these posts as they are, or if you have any ideas for mixing it up!

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