Category Archives: Potions & Lotions

Awesome Advent Calendars


YAS!  Tarte’s “Petite Treats” Advent calendar from 2014!

I know, I know–it’s not even Halloween yet. I hate rushing the seasons, too. But if I want to buy a fancy beauty/candle/gourmet Advent calendar (and I do), I need to think about getting it soon. They sell out quickly!

Are you familiar with these calendars? You probably know about chocolate Advent calendars–the ones where you open a little cardboard door each day in December and pop out a piece of (poor quality) chocolate.   I’ve gotten one of those every year since I was I child–I love them. But there are fancier Advent calendars available, too, that are filled with little gifts–especially in the UK (lucky ducks). Check out these 2015 round-ups here and here.  (And this link shows last year’s calendars, if you’re interested.)

I totally want a Tarte, Lush, QVC, Yankee Candle, or Charlotte Tilbury calendar!  The only one of these that’s available already is the Yankee Candle calendar:

This one is available now and I might just bite the bullet and get it.

I might just bite the bullet and get this. It would be fun to burn a little tea light each night.

If makeup/skincare isn’t your thing, check the list below for some of the other kinds of Advent calendars I’ve seen online:

– Whiskey
– Beer
– Tea
– Gourmet chocolate (Lindt, etc.)
– Lego (with City, Friends, and Star Wars versions)
– Playmobil (numerous themes!)
– Barbie
– Kinder Surprise (the chocolate eggs with toys inside!)
– Starbucks

Are you going to snag a fancy Advent calendar this year?  I want them all!  I think most of these will hit stores right after Halloween, so I plan to start checking sites daily on November 1st!


10/27/15 Edited to add: The 2015 QVC calendar is now available here! The Charlotte Tilbury calendar is now available here…but for $200!  (Nope!)  I recently saw the Tarte “Petite Treats” set on either the Sephora or Ulta website, too, but the goodies were packaged in a makeup bag for 2015, not an Advent calendar.  I can’t find the set online now, though–maybe it already sold out?

Make (or Restock) a Mini “Emergency” Kit

Ack! So cute! (Image from

Ack! So cute! (Image from

I love the “Minimergency” kits made by Pinch Provisions. (You know I love a good kit!)  The Minimergency kits are adorable little pouches that contain oodles of “just in case” health, beauty, and fashion items to keep in your purse, backpack, or diaper bag. Each little pouch fits in your palm but contains all of the following:

Image from

Ready for (almost!) anything!  (Image from

Ready for (almost) anything! (Image from

Can’t tell what’s what?  Here’s another look.  (Image from

I own a Minimergency kit and I’ve bought several as gifts, but you could easily make a cute DIY version, too.  The nice thing about buying the Pinch Provisions version is that everything matches and is neatly labeled, but I hesitate to actually use anything because it’s all so cute–and that completely defeats the purpose!

Therefore, this post includes some ideas for building DIY kits or restocking one you already have.  Christmas will be here soon, and “emergency” kits like these would be great gifts or stocking stuffers for the ladies on your list!

Note:  The key to making or restocking your kit is to think tiny–even tinier than “travel size”!  Read on!

Step One.  Find a pouch. Look for a biggish coin purse, a small makeup bag, or a little pencil case.

Step Two.  Fill your pouch with the stuff you probably already own:

Two hair tie(s).
Four bobby pins.
Two neatly folded tissues.
Tweezers (standard tweezers are pretty small to begin with, but there are mini versions available, too).
Nail clippers (the kind with an attached nail file).
Applicator-free or compact tampon.
Two Band-Aids.
Breath freshener. Don’t forget to include a wrapped mint or stick of gum.
Lip balm. You can probably squeeze in a full-sized tube of lip balm. I’ve also seen mini bullets of lip balm sold in vending machines in movie theater restrooms. (I believe the brand is Lip Rageous and the balm comes in all kinds of fruity flavors.)

Step Three.  Get creative and see how many of the following goodies you can find and add, too!

Sewing kit. You just need a needle, lengths of black and white thread, a safety pin or two, and maybe a button. Wind the thread on a small piece of cardstock, and tape the needle to the back.

Individually packaged moist wipe. Snag extras the next time you order hot wings at a restaurant, or check for individually packaged Wet Wipes in the baby department at your favorite store.

Two earring backs. Buy extras in the jewelry section of any store like Target or Walmart, or raid your jewelry box for old earrings you don’t wear. Sterilize the backs by soaking them in rubbing alcohol.

Colgate Wisp mini toothbrush, dental floss, and/or dental pick. My dentist gives me mini spools of dental floss each time I visit her.  You could just snap off a length from your regular spool, too.

Hairspray. Ask for an extra perfume sample spray vial the next time you’re at Sephora and you can fill it with (non-aerosol) hairspray. If you already have a few perfume sample vials that you’d like to use, try flushing them out with rubbing alcohol before adding hairspray.

New, sealed packet of two ibuprofen tablets. You can find these at convenience stores and in restroom vending machines. (Note: I do not recommend carrying or giving unmarked and unpackaged pills!)

Deodorant towelette. These can be tricky to find, but I bought some made by LA Fresh and sold from Birchbox.

Nail polish remover towelette. These are also tricky to find, but Birchbox sells some!

Fashion tape. Buy a pack of double-sided “fashion tape” for your kit(s). Try the Hollywood brand sold at Bed Bath and Beyond. (I tried a cheap version from Dollar Tree and it left adhesive on my clothes!)

Stain remover towelette.  I found a three-pack of Shout wipes in the dollar section at Target.

Clear nail polish. Clear nail polish is great for stopping runs in your tights or adding a little shine to your nails on the go. Finding a tiny bottle of clear nail polish is kinda tough, though. OPI and Essie often sell sets of mini polishes, but they’re colored.  Walmart sells tiny bottles of Bon Bons nail polish, but I’ve never seen one in clear.  Maybe you could buy a bottle of Bon Bon polish (a light color?), empty it, clean it out (fill with nail polish remover, close, and shake?), and then refill it with clear polish…but that sounds messy and tedious.  Thoughts?

Other ideas for your kit: Blotting paper, lotion, allergy medicine, eye drops, spare contact lens, comb, perfume sample, mirror, tiny Swiss Army knife

Yay for preparedness!  🙂

– Angela

Birchbox Review – June 2015

I think this illustration is so cute and I wanted to save it for something special but I got impatient/lazy and decided to use it today instead. Image from Birchbox app.

I think this illustration is so cute and I wanted to save it for something special but I got impatient/lazy and decided to use it today instead. Image from the Birchbox app.

My June box was my 16th Birchbox!  Here’s what I got:

Skyn Iceland Hydro Cool Firming Eye Gels. This was my sample choice. These are made with Icelandic glacial water. (So bouge!) I appreciated that these are made with clean ingredients, but I didn’t see or feel any difference in my skin after using them. They did feel nice and cool, but so would a wet cloth. (So not bouge!)

COOLA SPF 50 Sport Sunscreen in Fresh Mango scent. This is a thin, lightweight lotion with a strong fruity scent. I am using and enjoying the sample but I don’t plan to buy the full size because it contains chemical (rather than mineral) sunscreen agents.

Temple Spa Good Hair Day Shampoo and Good Condition Conditioner. I was originally annoyed to receive more Temple Spa products from Birchbox but…I really like these. They smell like a fancy spa or an Aveda shop–that is, like rosemary, mint, eucalyptus, etc. Very nice! My hair feels clean and light. I would buy these.

Marcelle Mini Waterproof Eyeliner in shade Blue Lagoon. I just gave away a bright teal eyeliner during my Makeup Bag Makeover. I would have liked to try an olive green or burgundy or plum or navy liner instead. Teal looks little kid-dish on me.

Erickson Narrow Grab and Go Pony hairtie. This is a good hair tie–strong, thick, and grippy.

This isn’t the most exciting box I’ve gotten, but it’s not terrible. I will recoup $6 in review points, too, so that’s a bonus!

– Angela

Birthday Freebies!

Woot!  (Image from

Woot! (Image from

It’s finally June—my birthday month!

You know I love fun freebies, and MANY companies give away great birthday freebies and discounts! Just run a Google search for “birthday freebies” to find lists of the oodles of offers available from restaurants, retail stores, etc. You can get free appetizers/desserts/entrees, exclusive coupon codes, little gifts, etc. Most companies require that you join their rewards program well before your birthday to get the goodies, though, so start researching and signing up early.

A few tips on getting birthday freebies:

1. Sign up for the customer reward programs at least 60 days (2 months) in advance of your birthday.

2. Immediately log into your rewards account and confirm that your birthday is listed under your account details. If it’s not, find where to add it.

3. Confirm that the company has your correct email and home addresses.

4. Confirm that you are “opted in” to receive email and postal mailings.

5. Look for your goodies! Most come by email, but a few may arrive by postal mail.

I focus on getting the high-value, no-strings-attached birthday freebies. I don’t get jazzed about coupon codes that require a purchase, which appears to be the way many rewards programs are heading. Boo.

Anyway, off the top of my head (and according to some internet research), these are the best freebies I’m looking forward to this month:

SephoraNARS Mini Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in shade Cruella (a bright, matte red) and Mini Satin Lip Pencil in shade Rikugien (a shimmery mauve-y pink). Sephora has the best birthday freebie every year. It’s always a high-quality makeup item of some kind. To get this freebie, join Sephora’s free Beauty Insider rewards program and visit the store during the month of your birthday, or make an online purchase. (Sephora offers a men’s birthday freebie each year, too.)

Ulta – According to the interwebs, the Ulta birthday freebie will vary this year depending on the month in which you were born. Ladies who celebrated their birthdays in January through March received an Ulta-brand eyeshadow palette in neutral shades. I saw on that April through June birthday girls (that’s me!!!) will receive a travel-sized Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in the shade Voodoo, a purple. Cool! To get this freebie, join Ulta’s ULTAmate Rewards program and visit the store after you get an email alert that your freebie is available.

BareMinerals – Last year I got a pot of loose eyeshadow in a taupe-y shade. I can’t find any details online about this year’s freebie, though. Hmm. To get the freebie, join the BareMinerals FAB rewards program and look for an email.

Sports Authority – I signed up for the company’s The League rewards program recently and automatically got a $5 reward to spend in the next couple of months, plus I’m expecting a $10 reward for my birthday! I’m not sporty but I’m sure I can find a way to spend $15 in the store–maybe a fancy water bottle, headband, pair of socks, etc. Yeah!

StarbucksFree drink or food item of your choice! To get this freebie, buy a gift card (online or in store) of at least $5.00 and register it in the Starbucks reward program. Spend the money but keep the registered card for a free drink!

Dunkin Donuts – Free drink! To get this freebie, buy a gift card (online or in store) of at least $2.00 and register it with the DD Perks rewards program. You’ll earn a free drink for joining *plus* a free birthday drink! Not bad for two bucks!

I hope there are a few other good surprises this month, too! Whoo-hoo!

– Angela

P.S. – I don’t carry all these loyalty cards and account numbers around with me. I use the CardStar app on my iPhone, along with the Starbucks app and the Dunkin Donuts app.

P.P.S. – In the good ol’ days, Vera Bradley would send a $20 reward, and World Market’s Explorer Program would send a $10 reward.  They both sent lame coupon codes this year, though (only 15% off, I think).  Aveda used to send vouchers for nice treats, so I’m curious to see if they still do that.

Birchbox Review – May 2015

Image from

Birchbox + Cupcakes and Cashmere. Image from

So, my May box was just meh.

I complain about the frequency with which I receive lackluster monthly Birchboxes, but I don’t plan to give them up. The reward points program is just too good, plus I’ve found many great products through Birchbox that have become daily staples.

Birchbox partnered with Emily Schuman of the lifestyle blog Cupcakes and Cashmere for the May box, but there wasn’t anything particularly connected with the blog besides the artwork on the box and contents card. There was also a coupon code for Domino magazine and a recipe from Schuman for something I can’t remember.

Here’s what I got in my box:

PARLOR by Jeff Chastain Moisturizing Sea Salt Spray. Birchbox has really been publicizing this stylist and his new haircare brand, but I’ve never heard of him. This sea salt spray was nice—it gave some texture without being stiff or crunchy—but I’m not a fan of the scent at all and therefore won’t use it again.

LA FRESH Oil-Free Face Cleanser wipes, scented. I don’t understand wipes like these. They are never wet enough for my liking and I don’t feel like they are really cleaning. According to the packaging, this wipe “removes light makeup” and it got rid of my eyeliner with some rubbing but not my mascara. I like that the LA FRESH company uses clean ingredients, however, and the scent was okay (a very light fruity scent).

Cynthia Rowley Beauty Creamy Lip Stain in shade Poppy. I’ve gotten this product before but not in this shade. (Birchbox will occasionally send repeat products to you but never a repeated color). The color is too orange for me and I’m not crazy about the (mineral oil-esque) scent of this product.

Naobay Oxygenating Cream Moisturizer. Zzzzz. I’m so tired of boring lotion from Birchbox and the same three companies.

Dr. Jart+ BB Night Beauty Balm. I haven’t tried this yet but I will. This product does not contain sunscreen so it can be worn day or night (which is good, because why would you need a tinted cream at night?). I like to wear BB cream with mineral SPF during the day, and no creams at night, so I’ll wait to try this when my regular cream runs out or when I’m getting ready to go out one night. Interestingly, the balm is clear like a serum with little white flecks, and when you rub it in it becomes tinted. Magic!

Miss Jessie’s Original Pillow Soft Curls styling lotion. Grr. This is the second time I gotten this brand recently and I’m never excited by it. I’m loyal to DevaCurl hair products right now so I don’t plan to try this. I changed my Birchbox profile quiz after getting this—turns out I had “curly” and “frizzy” selected. Maybe that will solve the problem!

So, May was a bust, but I’m really looking forward to next month. According to the sneak peek video, every subscriber is getting an Eyeko liquid liner pen! Yay! They’re great. I got one in a past Birchbox and I’ve bought another since. Also, I canceled my subscription and immediately resubscribed with a code for a free BeautyBlender in my June box. I’m curious to see what all the fuss is about—is a pink foam egg really that great for makeup application? How on earth is it worth $20?!

– Angela

A Makeup Bag Makeover

My makeup bag is so full of junk that I can't zip it closed!

My makeup bag is so full of junk that I can’t zip it closed!

My makeup bag is in dire straits. A rogue eyeliner has been roaming around inside it for months, uncapped and unchecked, and it’s left graffiti on everything. The bag is also so full of random stuff that I can’t even zip it closed. The mess and the clutter drove me to create a separate smaller bag for my favorite makeup, and I’ve been using it (and only it) for months instead of my nicer, larger makeup bag.

Sigh.  Basically, it’s like I’m living in my RV because I don’t want to clean my house.

I don’t have a lot of makeup (at least not compared to the people I see on Instagram and YouTube–wowza), but I have more than I want, need, or use. After all the inspiration from Marie Kondo and Light by Coco, I’m in the mood to purge things and my makeup stash seems like a great project–a low investment of time, energy, and emotion but with a big reward!

Considering that I’ve gone without the items in my big makeup bag for so long, I suppose a stronger (saner?) person could have just trashed all the contents without looking through it…but I need to look through it.  So here’s my plan to get all my face paint in order.  I’ve included (unglamorous but enthusiastic) photos of my actual process down below, too!

1. Make a list. Before sitting down to sort your makeup, make a written list of your favorite items. If you can’t remember an item without seeing it, how important is it, really?

2. Gather all makeup. Check the bathroom, bedroom, purses, pockets, etc.

3. Toss the obvious trash. The wadded tissues and bits of packaging are no-brainers. Immediately trash all opened mascaras over 3 months old, too.

4. Rescue the good stuff. Stick to the premeditated list here.

5. Evaluate the remaining stuff. Ask yourself the following questions for each item:

How old is this? Most makeup packaging indicates the number of months (like 6, 12, or 24) to keep a product after opening it. Personally, I toss wet items like cream blushes after a year or so, but I keep dry items like pencils, powders, etc. a little longer than recommended.

Does this inspire me, bore me, or disappoint me? Think about the product’s quality, performance, and ingredients, and the company’s animal testing policies. Be honest and toss whatever doesn’t measure up to your standards.

Is this a duplicate? Keep your best and beloved items and let the inferior versions go.

Is makeup my career? A major hobby? Do I have a costume party coming up in the next four weeks? For me, the answers to these questions are no, no, and no. I have a bad habit of keeping special or costume makeup “just in case,” but I rarely (or never) use it. Also, limitations inspire creativity. I could probably conjure all kinds of special looks with just the basics I have with a little time and imagination.

6. Clean your stuff. Wash your makeup bag and wipe down the keepers. (You get bonus points if you wash your brushes. I didn’t.)

7. Enjoy your clean, streamlined makeup bag! And maybe go tackle your nail polishes!

I love easy projects like this.  Plus, ever since I cleaned out my bag I’ve been using using my “new” (i.e., resdiscovered) products again and trying new things!

– Angela

P.S.  A couple of tips: Use cold, not warm, water to clean away makeup gunk.  Warm water melts all the makeup waxes and makes a bigger mess.  Even better, use makeup remover.  I finally had to use Goo Gone on the stubborn eyeliner stains inside my bag, then I tossed the bag in the washing machine with some towels.

The before.  My mini bag is sitting atop the mess underneath.

#1.  The before shot. A mini makeup bag is hiding the mess underneath.

My work in progress. My share and keep piles are up top and the growing trash pile is at left...And there's so much more left in the bag!

#2.  My work in progress. My keep piles are up top and the growing trash pile is at left…And there’s so much more left in the bag!

My handsome assistant.  Look at those hips!

#3. My handsome assistant, Mr. Shrimpy.

Playing with some sample swatches I found!

#4.  Playing with some sample swatches I found!  #sopale

I tested and compared several items before deciding what to keep or toss.

#5.  I tested and compared several items before deciding what to keep or toss.

The bag is finally empty, but there's black eyeliner graffiti everywhere inside.

#6.  My bag is finally empty, but there’s black eyeliner mess everywhere inside.  I cleaned it with soap/water the best I could, used Goo Gone on the stubborn spots, and then tossed the bag in the washing machine.

My final trash pile!

#7.  My final trash pile!

My final "keep" pile.

#7. My final “keep” pile!

Birchbox Review – April 2015

The RPC Birchbox!  (Image from

The RPC Birchbox! (Image from

I got my April Birchbox last week! After a few months of ho-hum performance, I was super excited to see that Birchbox teamed up with Rifle Paper Company for the box design and some add-on goodies. The add-on goodies (or “plus items” in Birchbox-speak) were super cute but a little expensive (in my opinion). You could buy a Rifle tumbler and notebook set or an adorable canvas tote bag. I have plenty of tumblers and totes, though, so I resisted. (Birchbox also offered two different curated box choices for April to commemorate the final season of AMC’s Mad Men, but I wasn’t swayed by the non-retro contents.)

I really wanted TWO of the sample choices for April–the Jouer lip and cheek tint and the Jane Iredale Just Kissed Lip and Cheek Stain.  I like how the Jane Iredale line uses all clean ingredients (Jessica Alba mentions the brand often in her book), but I was in need/want of a new cream blush so I went for the Jouer tint.

Here’s what I got in my (great!) box:

Jouer Tint in shade Petal – This sample is so cute.  It’s like a tiny black compact–about 1 inch square–that closes magnetically.  It just needs a little mirror inside!  I like cream blushes and have been using the same (messy) brand/shade for years, so I wanted a change.  The peachy-pink color is pretty and saturated.  I believe the formula is paraben-free, too–the FAQ page on the Jouer website says it’s paraben free but the (outdated?) ingredients list on the Tint page lists parabens.  I should inquire about that.

Beaver Professional Hydro Nutritive Moisturizing Shampoo and Repairing Conditioner – Hmm.  What an unfortunate name.  I’m pretty loyal to my DevaCurl hair stuff, but sometimes I use a sulfate-containing shampoo (like this one) as a kind of clarifiying shampoo.  This Beaver duo had sulfates, parabens, etc., which I try to avoid or minimize use of, but I still tried it because it smelled really good.  Other people commented on how good my hair smelled, too!

Liz Earle Eyebright Soothing Eye Lotion – I love my Liz Earle facial cleanser, so I was excited to see another Liz Earle product in my  box.  I was bummed, though, when I read the ingredients list–lots of parabens.  I haven’t tried this yet, but I will.  It’s supp0sed to cool, refresh, and de-puff tired eyes.  Sounds pretty good!

MDSolarSciences MD Crème Mineral Beauty Balm in SPF 50 – I’m loyal to the Coola BB cream with sunscreen that I discovered via Birchbox months ago, but it was great to try this one, too.  It’s a mousse-like cream that’s slightly thicker than my Coola stuff, with a higher SPF.  I could still feel it on my face by the afternoon, which I like to think means that my face was still being protected from sun damage.  My forehead felt a little greasy by the end of the day, but nothing major.  Thumbs up!

I know I complain about the limited number of “clean” products sent by Birchbox, and I know I could subscribe to one of the many eco- and health-conscious beauty subscriptions out there, but I love Birchbox’s low price and generous rewards system.  I’ve discovered a lot of everyday-use favorites through Birchbox, so I’m sticking with them!

This was a great box overall and it’s always fun to get a mix of products–something for my hair, my skin, and my makeup bag!  The Rifle Paper Company box will be saved and used for something, too–it’s too pretty to throw or give away!

– Angela

Monday Musings

Everything I eat is crap.

Everything I eat is crap.

— I finally did my taxes and cannot wait to get my returns. I plan to use the money towards some bills, but still…It will feel so great to make a big lump payment!

— The limited edition Lilly Pulitzer for Target collection hits the website and stores on Sunday. It’s all very cute but I’m going to try to limit myself to buying only one piece. I’m debating between the Upstream espadrilles, the Upstream scarf, or the tall drinking glasses. (The Upstream pattern is a crisp navy and white fish print.)

— Hmm. I bought a chocolate croissant from a non-oven Starbucks yesterday and received it in its original plastic wrapper…which says the croissant is good (refrigeratered? unrefrigerated?) until the end of AUGUST. That totally bums me out–all the pastry marketing from Starbucks talks about how fresh everything is supposed to be! I suppose I imagined near-daily shipments of bakery boxes filled with fresh goodies–not from Seattle, of course, but from some regional hub. Sigh.

— After reading and re-reading Marie Kondo’s tidying book and studying pictures of Bea Johnson’s sleek house, I have the decluttering bug something fierce. I keep my clothes pared down, but I now want to edit ALL THE OTHER THINGS–my files, makeup, hobby stuff, etc. Nothing is safe!

— I read all about Masters golf champion Jordan Spieth this morning, and he might be my new Tim Tebow–a cute, sweet, athletic college guy to ogle from afar.

— OMG.  I saw this John Frieda shampoo and conditioner when I was shopping yesterday and it TOOK ME BACK.  I used this stuff over 15 years ago and it made me feel so fancy.  It was my first “expensive” shampoo and conditioner and I loved the mint smell.  It’s been off the market for at least 10 years and now it’s back!  I kinda want to buy it for another roll in the hay.  I mean, roll in the tub.

A blast from the past!

A blast from the past!

The Honest Company – Mini Reviews of 25 Products!

My most recent shipment...

My most recent shipment…

I don’t remember how I got hooked into actress Jessica Alba’s book The Honest Life, but it was my introduction to the importance of “clean” ingredients in household and personal care products. Alba’s book really struck me and changed the way I shop for and use makeup, sunscreen, cleaning supplies, food, etc. As a result, my eczema is better than it has ever been in my life (for real) and I’ve been able to clear out so many sketchy chemicals from my house. I highly recommend The Honest Life as a first “primer” for people who are curious about the chemicals in the products that they use every day—or for people who are struggling with skin allergies. Alba’s book was easy to read and understand and it covers a lot of ground. I still refer back to it every now and again!

Image from

Image from

Because she was frustrated at the limited quantity and quality of clean household products for her home and family, Alba started a safe, all-natural, mail-order line of household, personal care, and children’s goods called The Honest Company. I’ve subscribed to the Honest Company’s discounted “bundles” for a couple of years now, and I order a new supply of goodies about every three or four months. I’ve tried quite a few of the Honest products by this point, so I thought I’d give some mini reviews. Read on if you’re interested…

What I Love And Regularly Purchase:

Laundry Detergent and 4-in-1 Laundry Packs. My clothes get really clean with the liquid detergent and the laundry pods, and neither has perfume or fabric softeners. My eczema really improved after I began using this for all the household laundry (towels, linens, etc.). Highly recommend.

Conditioner in Sweet Orange Vanilla scent. This is hydrating and detangling and it smells like a Creamsicle. I use it as a great shaving lotion, but others in my family use it as a great conditioner.

Organic Lip Balm Trio in Sweet Orange Vanilla, Rosemary Mint, and Pure & Simple flavors. These lip balms are the bomb. The Sweet Orange Vanilla flavor is my favorite and I have one at my desk, one in my purse, and one on my bedside table. The balm lasts a long time on your lips and is very moisturizing. Works great during dry, cold winters.

Stain Remover in French Lavender scent. I hate the strong smell of most stain removers, so I really appreciate the lavender scent of the Honest version. This remover works just as well on clothes as other brands, plus I use it directly on carpet to clean up pet messes.

Organic Healing Balm. This is good stuff to use in place of petroleum (yuck) jelly to moisturize and waterproof skin.

What I Like and Sometimes Purchase:

Sunscreen Lotion (SPF 30). This stuff works, but I find it thick and hard to spread, plus it’s expensive. My sister likes it a lot, however.

Oxy Boost laundry pods. Hmm. I didn’t see much of an effect from this on my laundry. The regular Honest detergents are very effective on their own.

Toilet Cleaner in Tea Tree Eucalyptus scent. The cleaner smells fresh, herbal, and pine-y. I like knowing that I’m not dumping chemicals into the water supply when I use it. However, I could probably achieve the same results—i.e., a clean toilet—with just my toilet brush and some baking soda. Note: This cleaner got thick/sticky/clogged over several months. Always close the spout after using it and aim to finish the bottle in a few months.

Bubble Bath in Tangerine Dream scent. This smells great and foams up decently. The bubbles are short-lived, but that’s okay with me. I’d rather have “clean” temporary bubbles than more persistent and chemical-laden bubbles. I use this more for the scent than the bubbles. Would be a great gift idea for kids.

Conditioning Detangler Spray in Sweet Orange Vanilla scent. Smells great and works great. Personally, I need to wash it out before going a second day after using it or my hair looks greasy.

Hand Soap and Foaming Hand Soap in Mandarin scent. Smells good, rinses clean.  (I also use diluted Dr. Bronner’s liquid castile soap in the peppermint scent.)

Hand Sanitizer Gel. This gel is fine. I just don’t use hand sanitizer. The smell of sanitizer (including this one) is too strong for me.

Dish Brush and Caddy. The short, chunky shape of this brush is comfortable to use and the bristles are medium-firm. Inside the caddy, there’s a pierced platform mounted atop a spring, so you can add soap and water and then pump the brush up and down to produce bubbles.

Wipes. I don’t have a baby, but these are good wipes to have around. They are very large, thick, and soft.

What Did Not Work For Me and What I Will Not Repurchase:

Bug Spray. This did not work for mosquitos. I would spray my skin and then watch the mosquitos light on me right afterwards.

Air & Fabric Freshener in Orange Cypress scent. Ugh. This scent was very bitter and medicinal. Also, the pump-style spray nozzle was hard to use and there was no cap.

Organic Body Oil. This was too runny and greasy for me. Would probably be great for babies. I prefer the Organic Healing Balm instead.

Shampoo & Body Wash in Sweet Orange Vanilla scent. This was drying to my hair.

Face & Body Lotion. I loved the original formula of this (it used to smell lightly like roses and absorb quickly) but I dislike the new version, which doesn’t absorb into my skin.

Dish Soap in White Grapefruit scent. This didn’t cut through grease for us. (We use Seventh Generation dish soap instead.)

Multi-Surface Cleaner in White Grapefruit scent. This counter spray didn’t seem much more effective than plain water for us.  (We use J.R. Watkins pomegranate spray instead.)

Glass & Window Cleaner. This is essentially vinegar and water. I could have made the equivalent on my own.

Toothpaste. Does not contain fluoride, which I prefer in toothpastes. (We use Tom’s of Maine toothpaste instead.)

What I’m Trying Next:

Spray Sunscreen
Stick Sunscreen
Dryer Cloths

For me, the discovery of the laundry detergent, lip balm, stain remover, and conditioner is more than enough to keep my subscription with The Honest Company. Let me know if you want more details on any of the products I’ve tried.

P.S. – You can find Honest products at Target now, too! Look in the baby section. I’ve also seen Honest toilet paper at Target!

P.P.S. – Honest also sends fun free treats every now and again. Once I got a baby tree in commemoration of Earth Day or maybe Arbor Day (sadly, it died after I planted it), and once I got an extra lip balm for Mother’s Day. Last Christmas, subscribers received organic sugar cookie mix and a snowflake cookie cutter, but I skipped that month. D’oh! 🙂

P.P.P.S. – This is just a reminder that I am not being paid or compensated by any company in any way. I just like this company and I’m sharing my thoughts.

Birchbox Review – March 2015


I used to love getting my Birchbox, but lately I’m just meh about it. I haven’t had a good box since November and December. I’m keeping my subscription, though, because of Birchbox’s coupon codes, free shipping (as an ACE member), and reward points, but I may need to adjust my expectations for the actual monthly box.

I got my box later than usual this month—on the 17th—and my favorite thing about my March box is the actual cardboard box itself. The theme for March is Creativity, and the boxes are adorable with bright watercolor colors and mixed patterns. I plan to use some stickers or washi tape to cover the Birchbox logo and then use my box for giftwrap or storage. Here’s what I got this month:

It’s a 10 Miracle Leave-In Product – This was my sample choice, and I got it because so many people (including my girl crush, Light by Coco) rave about this brand and product. It has parabens, though, and I have yet to try it.

Fekkai PrX Reparatives Shampoo – This shampoo has parabens and PEGs/PPGs, and Birchbox didn’t send the coordinating conditioner. I’m not crazy about the scent, either, and I don’t plan to use this.

Jelly Pong Pong Glow Getter Highlighter – More parabens! This is very sparkly but I think it could be fun to use sparingly. I’m not crazy about the application style. The highlighter is a thin liquid that’s housed in a nail polish bottle and applied with a nail polish brush.

Temple Spa Peace Be Still Calming Face & Body Balm – Sigh. I’m really tired of all the boring lotion I get from Birchbox—Bee Kind, Naobay, Gilchrist & Soames, and now Temple Spa. They all smell roughly the same to me (like diluted lemon-scented cleaning fluid) and all of these brands are owned by Gilchrist & Soames (except for the Naobay). I appreciate that this lotion has clean ingredients, but I don’t like the scent and don’t plan to use this.

Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré (24-Hour Miracle Cream) – Now THIS I like. I used it after I washed my face this past weekend and it was great—decent ingredients, light and unoffensive scent (which is important to me in facial products), etc. My skin felt soft and clean and moisturized—not greasy or oily. I will definitely use the rest of the sample and might even buy the full-size tube!

Word on the street is that April’s curated box will have a Mad Men theme. I hope it’s good!