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TL Cares Box review, photos | A new twist on subscription beauty boxes

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The product: T•LANGHANS•CARES Subscription Box (quarterly)

I’ve talked about subscription beauty boxes in the past (Wantable, Vegan Cuts, and Birchbox come to mind), but I was recently introduced to a company that does subscription boxes an entirely different way.

The T•LANGHANS•CARES Subscription Box is an eco-friendly Canadian beauty box that was developed by Tova Langhans. It’s designed to provide you with six full-sized essentials rather than introduce you to new products, and 9% of the proceeds from the boxes goes to charity. It’s delivered seasonally and runs at a cost of $148 CAD per box.

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Sink-side products 

The TLC Subscription box comes with three sink-side products: Liquid Castile Soap, Castile Bars, and a Hand & Body Cream.

I absolutely adored the T Langhans Hand & Body Cream, so we’ll start there. The formula is rich and creamy, and the House Blend scent smells fantastic. It contains lots of skin-friendly ingredients like olive oil and avocado oil, and a light layer keeps my dry skin moisturized all day long. It’s just as good on the hands as it is on the body–which is a very rare find–and the cream has a lemony, spa-like scent.

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I was less taken with the box’s Liquid Castile Soap and Castile Bars. The liquid soap leaked out of its pump every time I used it, and both the liquid and bar soaps left my skin feeling dry and itchy. 

Sold separately, the T Langhans bar soap is $12.38 per 100 grams, compared to Rocky Mountain Soap’s $5.25 or Osmia Organic’s $9.62 for the same amount. For double the industry’s average price, I think a bar of soap be twice as good, not twice as stripping!

EDIT 23/09/16: Tova emailed me to inform me that the price of her soap is higher than average because her Castile formulas feature only virgin olive oil, rather than a blend of olive oil along with cheaper oils. She also noted that they contain 15% un-saponified olive oil and sugar beet extract for extra moisture, so you may not have the same reaction to these soaps that I did!

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Shower products 

My friend Tracy LOVES Tova’s Cleansing Conditioner, but neither of these shower products worked well for me. I have a dry, flakey scalp (thanks, Alberta), and I just couldn’t wash out all of my flakes with this cleansing conditioner. It sounds like it’s excellent for fine or coloured hair, but it was a no-go for my dry scalp!

The Liquid Castile Shower Gel is just just a larger version of the Liquid Castile Soap, so it might work well for you if you have reactive skin. Tova’s soaps are all simple and are scented only with essential oils, so they’re perfect for allergies or reactivity, but they’re not so great for dry skin or eczema.

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Spa products

The final T Langhans products I got to try out in this box were the brand’s Sugar Polish and Cuticle Oil. I didn’t get a lot of use out of the cuticle oil, but I LOVED the Sugar Polish. 

It’s formulated with sugar, coconut oil, olive oil, and honey (full ingredients on their site), and it’s absolutely fantastic. It’s so moisturizing that it can double as an in-shower moisturizer, and the sugar granules and oils work to lock in moisture and exfoliate the skin without irritating it in the slightest bit. There’s even a bit of glycolic acid in this polish, which provides a very mild chemical peel to pair alongside your gentle manual exfoliation!

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The verdict?

I like the concept of the TLC Subscription Box, and I think that Tova seems like a really wonderful, genuine human being. But the cost of the box ($24.60 per product, or $592 per year) is too steep for me to recommend it right now.

Tova’s House Blend Hand and Body Cream ($30 CAD) and Sugar Polish ($30 CADare absolutely beautiful products, and I would wholeheartedly recommend both. But for $148 CAD, I was disappointed to see the “Hotel Collection” soap slices instead of full-sized bars of soap, and I was turned off by just how stripping the cleansing products were. My hands got so dry that they bled when I started testing for this post, and I still have the scabs to prove it.

My final critique is that if a consumer is paying luxury prices, I think they deserve to have luxury packaging and branding, too – even if that means that the company has to spend a little more on packaging. The TLC Subscription Box is off to a great start, but it still has a lot of room to grow!

Availability: Get the products here and the box here. The box ships for free within Canada!

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  • shireenplatt

    Let me start by saying I love you for your brutal honesty, you don't sugar coat anything despite it's PR samples and you have my respect for that. Such trait is almost rare in the blogging world these days so it's so refreshing to see a senior blogger staying true to herself.

    Onto these products, lovely concept and I adore how everything look but the price is way up there for me. Unless I win the lotto, I probably will never try these.
    My recent post Personalized Your Nutritional Supplements with Cool Choice

    • Thank you, Shireen. It's tough to give less than stellar reviews, but it's really important to me – it means a lot to me that you care about that kind of accountability, too. <3

      I definitely wouldn't be able to afford almost $600 in bath products every year, but I know there are beauty addicts out there who can spend that much in a month! Just depends what you love and where you choose to spend your money, I suppose ;)

  • LJ_

    What do you use for your dry scalp? If you haven't done a post on this, please do. It's still summer in Chicago and both my boyfriend and I are experiencing way more flakiness than usual.

    I've been alternating Neutrogena t-gel/t-sal (or the drugstore equivalent) as needed once a week since I was a kid, but I've been having to use it for every wash lately (every other day). I have to use a heavy conditioner to counteract the stripping effect on my hair. Even with that I still think my hair smells medicinal. Aveda Scalp Remedy has worked in the past but I've been holding off, not sure it's worth the price over Neutrogena, even if I'm stuck using a flake-reducing shampoo for every wash.

    • I haven't done a post on this yet, but my favourite dry scalp treatment (and the only one that really helps) is coconut oil. I'll put 1-2 tablespoons of coconut oil through my hair and all over my scalp, let it sit for 20 min, and then wash it out.

      It totally kills my flakiness for the rest of the week, and it leaves my hair feeling really soft, too! I had the same problem with trying to use stripping anti-dandruff/medicated/etc products in the past, but they were more trouble than they were worth for me. It would take so many harsh surfactants to get rid of all of the flakes that my scalp would get even more dry, and it got to the point where I just couldn't handle it anymore! The coconut oil is easy and cheap, though, and it smells great. ;)

  • thinkingofmakeup

    Although those all look and sound like great products I have to agree with you that the price is steep. Going out and buying all natural products would probably be less expensive and you would get everything you would want! Great review.

    • It depends on the natural products, I suppose! You can definitely get this many natural products for less, but I can think of quite a few brands that would sell this amount of product for far more, too. ;)

  • Tova Langhans

    Hi Rae,

    Thank you for the heads up on the review. Would I rather have woken up to another glowing review? Yes, but I am fully prepared for negative reviews. It’s to be expected, my products aren’t going to appeal to everybody. Honestly if they were all glowing reviews like Tracy’s, the reader would start to question if the reviews were real or planted by me!

    But I have to admit I was taken aback on some of your comments and I‘d like to address them if I may:

    The cost per bar – You’ve compared my soap prices to soaps that are made with a blend of oils (Coconut Oil, Shea Butter, Palm Oil etc). I only use Virgin Olive Oil in my bars & liquid soap. This automatically makes my bars more expensive than most other soaps. The brands you mentioned do use olive oil in their soap formulas but it is probably pomace grade, which is the cheapest and the #1 choice of soap makers. The American brand you compared T•L to sells their 6oz/170g bars for $15-$18US. T•LANGHANS Brick bars are hand cut so they weigh between 180g – 210g/6.35 oz – 7.41oz and cost $17CA which today would cost $11.56US.

  • Tova Langhans

    Hi Rae,

    I'm posting my reply in sections. Looks like it's just too much content for one post.

    I am very surprised that the bars and liquid soap gave you dry skin. I have a lot of customers who suffer from eczema who tell me that my soap is one of the few soaps they can use that doesn’t exacerbate their condition. I formulate my bars to with a 15% super-fat. This means that 15% of the Virgin Olive Oil is left un-saponified, leaving it as straight up oil within the bars, which makes them ultra moisturizing. The liquid soap can’t be superfatted, the excess oil would just sit on top. Therefore, Beet Sugar Extract is added for extra moisture.

    My soap made your hands bleed? Yikes!! I have to believe there is something more going on there than my soap. Could you be developing an allergy to a styling product for your hair? That could also explain your flaky dry scalp. I have a friend who developed an allergy to Methylisothiazolinone and Methychloroisothiazolinone, a preservative found in shampoo, conditioner, hair colour, body wash, sunscreen, mascara, shaving cream, baby lotion, baby shampoo, hairspray, makeup remover, liquid soap and detergent. Turns out it was in the baby wipes she was using for her daughter. Her fingers became dry and cracked, eventually they were so bad they looked like she had stuck her fingers in a meat grinder! She was able to heal by avoiding any product with those ingredients, not so easy when it’s so commonly used, and only using my soap. She actually keeps a bar of T•L in a container in her purse! If you scroll back to April 16th on my personal Facebook account, you will find this picture in the comments section on a post comparing the ingredients in my liquid soap to most other liquid soaps.
    Fingers.jpeg
    There’s also the chance that you’re allergic to something as seemingly benign as Lavender. I supply, Iwa Spa in Blue Mountain Village, with 4 custom made Massage Lotions for their services. The 4 blends that they ended up choosing all contained Lavender OIl. Would you believe 2 of their massage therapists ended up having a sensitivity to Lavender? Two of the blends have been modified and everybody is happy!

  • Tova Langhans

    Lastly I would like to address your comment on the packaging – For the Bars, I designed a custom box because the Virgin Olive Oil automatically put them in the luxury price range. Therefore they needed to be packaged in something a little nicer than paper. I went with a matchbox style to encourage repurposing and an uncoated, 100% post consumer chipboard to reflect the natural quality of the product. I wanted a package that evoked natural luxury and I think I achieved that. When it was time to find a bottle for my liquid soap, I knew I needed a vessel that would be as unique as what was inside it. An authentic olive oil bottle was an obvious choice with Virgin Olive Oil being the only oil in the formula. Finding a pump to fit the bottle was a much bigger challenge! I have searched numerous times on the world wide web looking for anybody using olive oil bottles in this way and I haven’t found them. I think I can safely say that T•LANGHANS is the first, but probably won’t be the last. The T•L•C Box itself is a prototype. The box just launched in June and every month the Community is growing. Everyone who has subscribed has remained a member (in sub-box lingo that is 0% churn). A redesign to a custom box will be coming down the road, but for now my members are extremely happy with what they have been receiving.