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.

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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.

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!

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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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Clarins Repair, Detox, Energy Booster serum review, photos

Friday, September 9, 2016

clarins-skincare-booster-serums-review

The products: Clarins Repair, Detox, and Energy Boosters

I know I’ve been writing a lot about skincare recently, but there have been a LOT of really cool new skincare launches this season, okay?

Take the new Clarins Boosters, for instance. They’re designed to serve one purpose, so you’re not hefting over $600 for an anti-redness, anti-shine, anti-ageing, anti-death serum. You can use them whenever you want to; as a pick-me-up or as part of your skincare regimen. Whatever works for you.

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The packaging: The Clarins Boosters are tiny, with really brilliant packaging. You just press on the soft, curved bottom “button” to dispense drops of product, and you can dispense as many or as few drops as you want. The entire design concept is SO MUCH smarter than awkward eye dropper-style bottles, and it’s just a joy to us.

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The boosters: These three different booster serums can be mixed and matched,  and are made to be blended with your moisturizer whenever you need them. The orange Energy Booster is meant to help with tone and radiance using ginseng extract, and it’s the least hydrating of the three boosters. It’s easy to use, but I didn’t see a huge change after 2-3 days of use. (These are designed to be single-day-use if needed, so I’ve tested them as such!)

The green Detox Booster is the one that I’ve been using the most, and honestly, it’s pretty phenomenal. The green coffee extract is intended to detoxify and plump the skin after over-indulging, and while I don’t really believe in antioxidants and stuff, it certainly does make my skin look fuller – I can actually see the difference in how plump the skin around my eyes is.

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Finally, the blue Repair Booster is meant to strengthen your skin barrier and reduce discomfort. It feels very protective when my skin is irritated, but it’s very sticky and contains a generous portion of glycerin. I’d recommend it primarily as a preventative measure, but it also contains mimosa tenuiflora extract and allantoin for epidermal repair and soothing.

Clarins recommends that you use 3-5 drops of serum mixed into your moisturizer or mask, but that was way too many for me. 2 drops seemed to be the best balance for my face; any less and it wasn’t enough, but any more and my skin would feel tacky for hours.

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The verdict?

I really like the idea of an as-needed booster instead of a mandatory daily serum, and the Clarins Detox Booster is excellent.

And hey, skincare industry? If you could just go ahead and package everything in droppers like these… That’d be cool of you. Thanks.

Availability: $39 USD/$40 CAD at Clarins.ca, Sephora, and Nordstrom.

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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.

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CODE BLUE: The colour-coded skincare edit

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Colour coded skincare blue bright

Have you ever noticed that beauty brands, at some point in time, all seem to have collectively decided that certain colours mean certain things? It’s like some overfunded marketing department went, “hey, you know what sounds like fun? Bringing in an unqualified psychologist to tell us the true meaning of life and colours sounds like fun!” And everyone else followed suit.

It’s like that prison experiment: painting the walls pink made everyone calmer, but it wasn’t because pink is a gentle colour. (What was it said to be before the male to female changeover, again? Strong, bold, assertive?) The change just broke up the listless monotony of one identical day after the next, and even as a prisoner, it’s kinda nice when someone gives a crap about your environment. The same effects can be seen if you paint the walls red, yellow, fluorescent green…

Okay, maybe not fluorescent green, but that’s only because it’s impossible to maintain a pleasant disposition when the walls are literally (figuratively) screaming at you while you sleep.

Purple skin care for anti ageing hydration

The thing about these arbitrary industry colours, though, is that despite all the hogwash, they’re pretty helpful little guiding tools.

I like knowing that blue means cleansing, and that purple means anti-ageing, and that orange means that something is going to contain vitamin C and use the word “invigorating” or “energizing” at least twice on its packaging. It’s probably also going to smell like citrus, and I will surely try to taste it some point and no matter what, it’s going to be revolting.

I like that kind of reliability. I mean, I never learn from that kind of reliability, taste-wise, but I like knowing that it’s there all the same.

Funnily enough, this is a phenomenon that I think is strongest in mid-range and drugstore brands. Trendy high-end brands are too busy being coherent and classy, you know? Like, they are not going to break that aesthetic just so a consumer will immediately reach for their skintype’s “colour,” and they don’t need to – the sales associate is there to guide the consumer anyways.

But for drugstore brands? This colour-coded nonsense can actually be pretty helpful, especially in a barrage of twenty other near-identical products. I think it’s kinda handy, like a weird life boat that nobody wanted but everybody is going to use anyways, because this ship is going down.

So what about you? What’s your “colour” in the skincare aisle? 

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!

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Pai Skincare Instant Calm, Rosehip Oil, Sensitive Skin Cloth reviews, photos

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Pai skincare review photos natural silicone free

The products: Pai Skincare Chamomile & Rosehip Calming Day Cream, Camellia & Rose Gentle Hydrating Cleanser and Cloth, and Rosehip BioRegenerative Oil

I’ve gone years resisting the pull of the Pai Rosehip Oil (and the super pretty rest of the line), but it’s been long enough. Eventually, you just have to cave in, locate the high-quality thing, and luxuriate in its beauty.

(Similar but different: I had my first cup of coffee at Credo a while back, and it was literally so good that I moaned a little. I think I scared my date a little.)

Pai hydrating cleanser review

Camellia & Rose Gentle Hydrating Cleanser ($50 USD/$56 CAD)

My favourite product from this trio is the Pai Camellia & Rose Gentle Hydrating Cleanser, which comes with one of the brand’s dual-textured sensitive skin cotton cloths. It smells gently of lemon balm, and the cleanser and cloth make for a really lovely hot cloth polish experience!

The Camellia & Rose cleanser has a thin cold cream texture and is great for sensitive skin. For those of you unfamiliar with cold cream or hot cloth type cleansers, they’re a very ritualistic experience – you apply a thick layer of cleanser to dry skin (eye area included), gently wipe away all of your makeup and impurities with a muslin soaked in hot water, and finish with a splash of cold water to rinse.

My dry skin really likes this cleanser, but I do have one complaint: my skin is crazy sensitive, and I really wish that Pai offered an even softer cloth for ultra sensitive skin types!

Pai chamomile day cream review photos

Chamomile & Rosehip Calming Day Cream ($60 USD/$66 CAD)

Pai’s Chamomile & Rosehip Day Cream has a really “clean” ingredient list rich in matricin, azulene, and omega fatty acids, it’s designed to soothe the skin and minimize the appearance (!) of reactive redness.

It was far from hydrating enough for my skin, though (which is dry but not super dry right now), and it didn’t do much for my sensitivity. Ironically, because it left my skin feeling a little tight and dry, it actually made my skin feel more uncomfortable than usual, not better!

For redness and sensitivity, I still think that this Deciem serum is a better option. However, it’s nice that there’s a natural option out there from Pai, and I have no real issues with the Chamomile & Rosehip Calming Day Cream (aside from the fact that it smells like rosehip oil, which I am weirdly and seemingly uniquely adverse to). It just wasn’t the right product for me, you know?

Pai rosehip regenerative oil review photos

Rosehip BioRegenerative Oil ($40 USD/$40 CAD)

And finally: the crown and glory of the Pai Skincare line!

Pai’s biggest, most cult-followed product is their Rosehip BioRegenerative Oil, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t super psyched to try it. I’m split on my thoughts about it, though: on one hand, it turns out that I hate the smell of rosehip oil, and when it’s good quality (like this one is), it actually tints my skin orange.

On the other, the quality of Pai’s rosehip oil is beyond compare. It blends rosehip seed oil with rosehip fruit oil to really pack in the carotenoid-rich antioxidants and sterols, and it’s noticeably more effective as a result. It doesn’t just condition the skin, it helps heal it, which is pretty cool. (I got two accidental scratches from Tunakitten last month, and the one that I was using Pai oil on definitely scarred less.)

Rosehip oil review pai skincare vegan cruelty free

This is my third rosehip oil, and it’s by far my favourite. Now Organic’s Rosehip Seed Oil was thin and clear, and Le Serum de Jacynthe’s rosehip oil blend was very good, but it was literally twice the price of this one and no more effective.

In short, I think that the Pai Rosehip BioRegenerative Oil is well worth the price. It’s one of the highest-quality oils that I own, and it hits scrapes and scars with +150% crit damage. Blending it with another oil will help neutralize the scent (try adding a drop of essential oil into some decanted rosehip oil), and 1-2 drops of rosehip oil with your regular moisturizer will make a fantastic overnight treatment.

Pai hot cloth polish review photos

The verdict?

Overall, I really enjoyed using these products from Pai, and I use the Camellia & Rose Cleanser and Rosehip BioRegenerative Oil on a regular basis. I like that they’re pretty, vegan, and cruelty-free, and I love that their rosehip oil is such a powerhouse.

$40 CAD/oz is a steal for a serum that’s this high-quality, and while it’s not my favourite oil ever, it’s unquestionably fantastic for the price.

Availability: Pai Skincare (US) & The Detox Market (US & Canada)

Additional photos & ingredients »

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