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

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

tlc-subscription-box-review-langhans

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.

t-langhans-hand-and-body-cream-review

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.

t-langhans-liquid-castile-soap-review

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!

t-langhans-cleansing-conditioner-review

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.

t-langhans-sugar-body-polish-review-recommendation

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!

t-langhans-castile-soap-hotel-collection-review

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!

Keep reading! »

Sunshine Tonic: My Demeter Blending Trio review | Gin & Tonic, Clean Skin, and Sunshine

Friday, August 19, 2016

Demeter Custom Blending Kit review photos

The products: Demeter Fragrance Library Gin & Tonic, Clean Skin, and Sunshine Cologne Sprays

You know when there’s something that’s so exciting that you want to share it with all of your friends right away? For me, this Demeter post is just that. (You guys are the friends, in case that part wasn’t clear.)

I very recently received a personalized Demeter Foolproof Blending Trio from their Classic Catalogue thanks to a collaboration that I’m doing with the CBB, and I’m feeling pretty ready to review the trio. Demeter’s single-note fragrances are all pretty comprehensible, so it wasn’t too big of a task to get to know these three in depth.

Did you know that… Demeter is a family owned business? It’s true! All of their products are also cruelty-free, and 95% of them are derived from natural or renewable resources.

Demeter custom blending trio review classic kit

The scents on their own 

My kit included three bright, clean fragrances that were all a little sharp to my nose. They’re not austere like the CB I Hate Perfume line is (fun fact, Christopher Brosius’ first perfume line was actually Demeter), but they’re fun. They’re good for the price, and they’re nice if you want a scent to briefly amuse your nose and then leave you alone.

(But for real: is this a thing that other people want? Because it’s a thing that I want sometimes.)

Demeter clean skin review

Clean Skin ($18 USD/1 oz), one of Demeter’s most popular scents, smells remarkably different on the skin than it does on paper. I’m not a fan of the “floral candy” scent itself, but this is exactly how I love to wear my fragrances: in many spots, but very, very sparsely. It would be a lovely fragrance for someone just finding their olfactory footing.

After the first fifteen minutes, Clean Skin smells like a nice fabric softener. No complaints or judgement–a great fabric softener scent is super tough to find–but take from that what you may.

Demeter Gin and Tonic cologne review

I was incredibly excited to try Gin & Tonic ($18 USD), and I liked it well enough – but it can be a bit obnoxious. It smells a bit like a drugstore shower product, sweet and tangy with plenty of citrus, but it’s just not boozy at all on my skin.

Like most of the Demeter line, Gin & Tonic is fun to throw on but lacks any real longevity. It too plays much better on my skin than it does on paper (where it smells kind of like sticky booze), though, so your mileage may vary. On a hot day or with the right skin chemistry, this is a real treat!

Demeter sunshine review

Finally, I spent some quality time with Sunshine ($18 USD), which had the most lasting power by far. It smells like the summer, not sunshine: warm and sweet and a little chemical-y.

I am loathe to say this about anything, but I hated it. I hated it all around. I’d rather smell like a chic robot than a human being with an urge to go to the exhibition, but if that’s your thing… hey, maybe you could love this as much as I don’t. Balance the scales for me.

Demeter custom blend

My custom-blended Sunshine Tonic

Is a Sunshine Tonic a drink, a cure for the blues, or a 9 AM shot of gin on the morning after?

I honestly have no idea, so I’ll tell you what a Sunshine Tonic feels like instead. It’s mostly Gin & Tonic with just a tenth of Sunshine, and it feels like summer afternoons. It feels like running in a grassy field slathered in mosquito repellant, water in the distance, cold feet and a chilly wind cutting the summer day. It’s simple and heavy-handed, but just made of pure joy.

The sweetness of Sunshine is overpowering, and just a touch turns Gin & Tonic into a family-friendly affair. It’s a weekend at the lake as kids, you know? Not something that you’d want to do every day, but something that makes you smile when you think of it. 

Demeter custom blending trio review

The verdict?

If you’re going to love the Demeter line, you totally already know that you will. It contains an astoundingly wide range of very simple scents, and it gets you because they’re just so easy to mix together.

I didn’t love any of these scents on their own, but you know what? This fragrance blending kit is FUN. It’s some of the most fun that I’ve had all month, and I would do it again at the drop of a hat.

So the scents smell a little cheap and don’t have a lot of lasting power – it’s not about starting a niche perfume business. It’s about having fun; it’s a Paint Nite for your nose, except it’s easier to hide any botched projects and you don’t have to desecrate the word “night” to do it.

Availability: $45 USD for the trio and blending kit. ($59.40 USD if bought separately).

Keep reading! »

Duckish Lotion Stick, Body Butter, Bath Salts review, photos | DIY Pedicure Kit

Monday, July 25, 2016

Duckish canadian pedicure kit review photos

The product: Duckish DIY Pedicure Kit (customized) – Duckish Mint Bath Salts, Pink Grapefruit Body Butter, and Lavender Lotion Stick

Okay, so I really wanted to feature Duckish as part of my Small Business Saturdays series, but things keep coming up on Friday nights and I really didn’t want to wait any longer. So we’ll call this one Small Business Mondays instead, I guess!

Duckish is an all-natural Canadian beauty brand with just the absolute cutest packaging. (I want to own basically everything they make.) Their products are all cruelty-free, handmade, and free of icky things like parabens, synthetic fragrances, and silicones.

Duckish mint bath salts review photos

Mint Bath Salts ($9.99 CAD)

I wanted to focus my review on Duckish’s body butter and lotion stick, because I’ve been dying to try them out for what feels like forever–but this kit includes bath salts and a pumice stone on a rock, too. The pumice stone is pretty standard fare, but the bath salts are more then just plain ‘ol rock salt.

They’re a blend of Dead Sea salt, Himalayan pink salt, and Epsom salts, with sweet almond oil and organic coconut oil to add a bit of hydration to your bath or foot soak. Each scent comes with a unique blend of essential oils, too; the Mint one is made with eucalyptus and peppermint (two of my all-time favourite oils.)

Duckish pink grapefruit body butter review

Pink Grapefruit Body Butter ($11.99 CAD)

Funnily enough, I was most excited for the Duckish Body Butter, but their lotion stick stole the show for me. The Body Butters, I think, are best for those with dry or weathered skin – not so much for Sahara-like dehydration.

The Duckish Body Butter formula is definitely a classic one, with a thick, creamy formula that’s heavy on the shea, and honestly… I didn’t like it. It’s surprisingly creamy for an indie body butter, but non-“mainstream” (The Body Shop, L’Occitane, Bliss, etc.) butters just don’t seem to be hydrating enough for me – this one just kinda sits on my skin, leaving hands feeling both vaguely greasy and so dry that they’re itchy.

Some people love these kinds of body butters, though, so just keep it in mind when ordering! Oh, and a warning for all my fellow crazy cat ladies: there’s just enough citrus oil in Pink Grapefruit to scare Tunakitten away from me when I’m using this, but not quite enough to make the olive oil in the formula palatable to my nose. :(

Duckish lavender lotion stick review

Lavender Mini Lotion Stick ($6.99 CAD)

Duckish’s description for their lotion sticks is:

“Lotion? In a stick? Is this real life? Yes, yes it is!”

And you know what? They couldn’t have been more accurate with that statement. These lotion sticks are crazily good – the mini one is perfect for mess-free application on the go, and the formula is spot-on.

I have really dehydrated skin, and the Duckish lotion stick definitely works better for me than their body butter. It melts immediately upon contact, basically turning into a light oil that absorbs immediately into the skin, and it feels so lovely – not greasy at all.
Duckish DIY Pedicure Kit review

The verdict?

I love buying Canadian when I can, and Duckish makes that really easy. You’re not sacrificing packaging or price, and my only two reservations about the line are small ones: I’d have liked to see a bit more fragrance in their EO and a wider online availability, but both of these are things that will be remediated naturally, as the brand grows.

If bought separately, the three Duckish products in this kit come out to $28.97, so buying the kit essentially gets you a free pumice stone. If I was re-ordering for myself, though, I’d take all $29.99 and put it toward a hoard of lotion sticks!!

Availability: $29.99 CAD. Duckish just recently began shipping to the US in addition to Canada, so use code DUCKISHUSA to get $5 off all US orders over $20 until the end of the month.

Keep reading! »

Scarlet & Julia review: Living Proof PhD Night Cap, Lavanila Passion Fruit Deodorant

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Scarlet Julia free sample

The products: Living Proof PhD Night Cap Overnight Perfector, Lavanila Vanilla Passion Fruit Healthy Deodorant, and Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Brow Color in Medium

It can be really tough to pick what to review when you haven’t done it in a while (okay, like, a week), but today, I was hit by a little bout of inspiration as I was getting out of the shower: why not review my Scarlet & Julia haul from last year?

(I know. I’m the worst.)

Scarlet and Julia review

Scarlet & Julia is an awesome Canadian online shop that carries brands like St. Tropez, Stila, and Lise Watier, with a bonus members-only “Beauty Outlet” section. (Think HauteLook, but without the insane Canadian shipping and processing fees.) They sent me a gift card last year to check out the store, and I put it towards part of my order.

Personally, I really like it when stores send out gift cards instead of product samples, because you get to experience the actual store with no extra bells and whistles. And my experience was great: the site’s easy to navigate, the sale section is really good (that Stila brow colour was actually purchased as a backup because it was so cheap at S&J), and my order came with a free sample of Fekkai Brilliant Glossing Conditioner and a $10 off promo code.

Lavanila Vanilla Passion Fruit deodorant review

Lavanila Vanilla Passion Fruit Healthy Deodorant ($17 CAD)

I really liked both of the new products that I ordered, too. The Lavanila Vanilla Passion Fruit deodorant was way more expensive than my usual deodorant choices (typically just a stick of men’s Axe or Degree), but it smells amazing and works really well. I liked that the stick felt like a “regular” deo, too – most silicone-free choices are all either gel-based or really pasty, but this was neither.

Lavanila’s passion fruit scent is surprisingly tart, which was a nice surprise. It’s light on the vanilla and heavy on the guava, too – think of it as more of an unsweetened fruit smoothie than a hearty dose of diabetes.

Living Proof PhD Night Cap overnight protector review

Living Proof PhD Night Cap Overnight Perfector ($34 CAD)

The biggest hit from my order, though, was the Living Proof PhD Night Cap Overnight Perfector. This stuff is MAGIC. I have no idea how it works its magic, but you put a little bit into damp hair from roots to ends, sleep on it, and wake up with model hair. 

It gives just the right amount of conditioning and shape, holding in some slept-on shape while still feeling totally product-free and touchable. Plus, it’s so non-greasy that you can even work it into your roots and wake up with grease-free hair.

It’s silicone-free and smells a lot like Elizabeth Arden Green Tea (one of my guiltiest pleasures), so really: zero faults here.

Scarlet and Julia haul

The verdict?

I really liked ordering from Scarlet & Julia, and you know what? I’d do it again. I like that they’re Canadian, I love the way they package their orders, and they were probably the only online shop that I could have made this particular order at.

The Living Proof Night Cap is also available at Sephora, but had I ordered from there, I wouldn’t have gotten 40% off of my Stila Brow Color. I wouldn’t have been able to get that Lavanila Healthy Deodorant in Vanilla Passion Fruit, either; for some reason, no one else seems to carry it here in Canada!

Additional photos & more »

Thursday Plantation essential oils review, DIY ideas, & giveaway

Monday, June 20, 2016

Thursday Plantation essential oils review

The products: Thursday Plantation 100% Pure Eucalyptus Oil, Tea Tree Oil, and Lavender Oil

I like to go the natural route whenever I can, so I’ve been playing around a lot with essential oils this year. In a rather fortuitous turn of events, I was sent this lovely kit from Thursday Plantation just weeks after I fell in love with tea tree oil, and I’ve been using it non-stop in all sorts of ways ever since!

Thursday Plantation is an Australian company that sells essential oils (these three key oils, plus smaller aromatherapy oils like rosewood and patchouli), ready-made products (mostly things with tea tree and aloe), and facial oils. I’m just focusing on these three for the moment, but I’m excited to branch out someday… maybe when I’m braver.

Lavener oil diy beauty

The one thing that always kills me about essential oils is how expensive they can be, so it was awesome to see how affordable and high-quality these oils are. They’re 100% pure and packaged in amber glass, and they come in a range of sizes. The eucalyptus oil, which is great for sanitizing things around the house, comes in 100 and 200ml versions as well; the tea tree comes in smaller sizes (perfect if you’re just going to be using it as an acne treatment); and the lavender oil comes in a 50 ml for those of you who want to get really soothed.

(Not me. I’m not here for the soothing at allll.)

Thursday Plantation essential oils review sizing

Overall, the Thursday Plantation range is more affordable than something like Aura Cacia and more expensive than NOW Solutions, but I prefer it over both: Aura Cacia sells some excellent organic oils, but I find they have trouble with quality control, and NOW Solutions sells really affordable carrier oils, but their more delicate oils can be questionable–their rosehip oil, for instance, is utter crap. Again, I haven’t tried the full Thursday Plantation lineup so my opinion may change someday, but I was very happy with the quality of these!

Thursday Plantation has a 100 Uses for TP campaign going on that’s pretty cool–as you might have guessed, it’s a list of 100 things that you can use these three oils for (sadly not a list of 100 uses for toilet paper), but here are some of my favourites.

Thursday Plantation Tea Tree Oil review

Tea tree oil ($23.99 CAD/50 ml) 

Tea tree oil is Thursday Plantation’s big thing, and they do it very well. It’s 100% pure and contains at least 30% more terpinen-4-ol (the part of tea tree oil that makes it germicidal) than is required by international standards, so even a single drop is a very effective antiseptic.

According to Thursday Plantation, tea tree oil “inhibits a broad spectrum of bacteria and fungi […] and does not inhibit normal cell growth,” so it’s safe to use on small cuts and stuff to clean the area without a broad-spectrum antibiotic.

  • Great for treating pimples and bug bites
  • Treating infections like athlete’s foot or boils
  • Used as a household cleaner
  • When diluted (I used 3 drops in 1 cup of filtered water), tea tree makes a very effective alcohol- and mint-free mouthwash. Beware, however: it’s very bitter and not for internal use, so swish and spit!
  • Helps deodorize things like shoes and surfaces when mixed with a few tablespoons of baking soda
  • Natural analgesic (like a mild clove oil)
  • And, finally… I’m NOT a doctor, but I get recurrent yeast infections and the antifungals my doctor was giving me were messing up my gut flora without helping my yeast infections one bit. I’ve been using tea tree oil (1 drop diluted in 1 ml virgin coconut oil to make 3 small suppositories) to treat my yeast infections, and it literally cleared up my season-long yeast infection overnight. If you’re having trouble too, do a little research–for me, using a natural antifungal was a far better option than pharmaceuticals, but I’m just one example!

Thursday Platnation eucalyptus oil review

Eucalyptus oil ($9.99 CAD/50 ml)

I love the scent of eucalyptus oil, so when I found out that it kills 99.9% of household germs and helps relieve cold symptoms, I was pretty thrilled.

  • Making use of those 99.9% germ killer properties & cleaning countertops, spills, floors, and sinks in lieu of chemical cleaners with artificial fragrances!
  • A couple drops in a bottle of distilled water as a tasty mouth rinse
  • Used diluted as an oil rub for muscle aches or colds
  • Used in a diffuser or humidifier for a cold
  • I haven’t tried these yet, but I’ve heard that eucalyptus oil can remove grease and tar stains, and is great added to the wash to freshen up your clothes!

Thursday Plantation lavender oil review

Lavender oil ($19.99 CAD/25 ml)

Thursday Plantation lavender oil is distilled only from Lavandula angustifolia flowering herb tops, and it smells lovely.

  • Used diluted or in a bath to help treat eczema or psoriasis
  • Dabbed onto insect bites to help soothe them
  • A few drops on a felt dryer ball to freshen laundry!

The verdict + a giveaway!!

I haven’t tried the more delicate oils from the Thursday Plantation range yet, but I was very happy with these three. The quality is great and the brand’s pricing is on par with something like Desert Essence, and I love that Thursday Plantation uses amber glass to keep their oils safe & sound.

In fact, I’ve been getting such great use out of these oils that I wanted to share the love with YOU, so I reached out to Thursday Plantation’s PR firm here in Canada to ask if they had an extra Essentials kit to share with a lucky reader. And guess what? They did!

So, if you want to get your inner DIY maven on, enter using the widget below. This giveaway will be open to Canadian residents over the age of majority (or with parental consent) for two weeks and close at 11:59 PM MST on July 3rd. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Irresistible Me Royal Remy Hair Extensions review: Why you SHOULDN’T buy from Irresistible Me

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Irresistible Me Royal Remy extensions review

As a blogger, one of the toughest parts of my job is deciding how to interact with companies. That can be as simple as choosing to accept a product for review, or as complicated as deciding to discuss a company’s non-consumer interactions publicly.

It’s an unspoken rule of the beauty industry that you never shame a brand publicly for a bad PR interaction, which is (usually) fair. However, this is a prime example of how a company’s internal policies can lead them to treat regular Janes like a consumable resource, and as a consumer, I know I would want to hear about something like that.

I think you can tell a lot about a brand based on how they interact behind the scenes, so here’s a short story about the very-resistible Irresistible Me.

Positivity injection: Marcelle, The Detox Market, and Bella Aura are three brands that are all good to the core!

Irresistible Me hair extensions review

Irresistible Me Royal Remy extensions 20″/200g review – Platinum Blonde #613

The extensions

I was sent the Irresistible Me Royal Platinum Blonde #613 extensions in 20 inches/200 grams, which I chose so that I could colour them – dark roots with lilac ends (because reasons!!), with future plans for dark grey. The extensions themselves are soft and full, but I did find that the “platinum blonde” colour ran dark in sections and rather yellow overall.

Price comparison

Irresistible Me 200g/20″ extensions: $299 USD note: do not sign up for an Irresistible Me account (required to access their site) unless you really wanna be automatically signed up for emails with no “unsubscribe” link. 

Bellami Hair 160g/20″ extensions: $159.99 USD (closest comparable style)

Luxy Hair 200g/20″ extensions: $209 USD

Irresistible Me blonde extensions in black hair

I photographed these before colouring them. They look somewhat less obvious with dark roots. 

(Makeup look: Maison Kitsuné for Shu Uemura)

However, even after colouring them, I found that the Royal Remy extensions were very visible when installed. Instead of adding volume to my slightly thin hair, they add weight – my ends look fuller, but the bands are so thick that you can see them no matter what. Maybe that’s just the nature of extensions, but I’d recommend going with a lighter weight if you’re unsure.

Manic Panic, Biolage - dying hair extensions

Waiting to be tinted with a bit of Manic Panic Ultra Violet & Biolage RepairInside conditioner!

Irresistible Me review clips

The base of the thickest Royal Remy weft

The company 

To this date, I have exchanged 31 emails with Irresistible Me. (“Normal” for a new brand relationship is 6 emails, tops.) theNotice’s disclaimer clearly states that all press samples are accepted for consideration only, but despite this, I hear from Irresistible Me twice a month, every month.

I stopped replying to their emails in early April after letting them know that I would include a mention for them in an editorial out of courtesy, but would not be reviewing them due to the product’s visibility issues. Since then, they’ve sent me four emails and have even started leaving comments here asking for a reply–which were (hilariously) marked as spam by IntenseDebate.

Irresistible Me hair extensions review - demarcations

Platinum Blonde extensions + Maison Kitsuné for Shu Uemura makeup

Irresistible Me hair extensions review - base

Irresistible Me Royal Remy 200g extensions (back view)

Irresistible Me royal remy platinum blonde 20 in review

Irresistible Me Platinum Blonde extensions review, photos

To be fair, my contact has been really lovely and polite in every email. But I’ve talked to over a dozen other Canadian beauty bloggers (yay, CBBers!), and all of them have experienced the same treatment or a more aggressive version thereof: constant emails, “check-ins,” comments; you name it. It’s clearly a company-wide policy to harass bloggers until they review in order to build a false hype about the product, and that’s super not cool with me.

A bad point of contact with a single blogger is an anomaly, but the ongoing harassment of an entire group of bloggers is a pattern. It’s unprofessional and unfair of a brand to demand a review from a blogger who is creating content with them for free, and you know what? I don’t want to support that kind of crap.

I wouldn’t tell you guys to befriend an ex who was following me around everywhere, and the same thing applies here. The Irresistible Me extensions are a good product, but they’re NOT a great deal – and they’re not worth okaying bad behaviour for.

Keep reading! »

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