Love ‘Em or Leave ‘Em? My Recent Natural Beauty Samples

makeupsamplesBecause many non-toxic, clean beauty brands are considered luxury green brands – i.e. relatively expensive – I always like to sample products before I purchase a full-size.  Sometimes this helps me find products I love and am willing to purchase full-sizes of….but sometimes I find that the products don’t work for me.  In fact, there is only one product from all these samples that I would potentially purchase a full-size of in the future.  I purchased five samples from Bella Cuore for $25 and received good sized samples within a few days of my order.  The rest were complementary samples received in a recent Integrity Botanicals order.  Read on for my experiences and thoughts on each product, from RMS Beauty, Kjaer Weis, and Jane Iredale.

sampleswatchesPhotos above and below are the same exact swatches – the photo above was taken in indirect sunlight, and the bottom photo is in direct sunlight.  Swatches, top to bottom: RMS Beauty “Un” Cover-up in shade 00; Jane Iredale Glow Time BB Cream in BB1; Kjaer Weis Foundation in shade Lightness; Jane Iredale Active Light Concealer in shade #3; RMS Beauty Master Mixer; Kjaer Weis Dazzling Bronzer; Kjaer Weis Radiance Highlighter


Here are my thoughts and experiences with each of the products:

RMS Beauty “Un” Cover-Up in shade 00 –  This is the product out of the group I’d be most likely to purchase in a full-size.  The “Un” Cover-Up is very pigmented and emollient.  It is great for multiple uses – it can be best used as an all-over medium-to-high coverage foundation, or as a spot concealer for blemishes or red spots.  It could also be used under the eyes, but I don’t like using it for that purpose because it is too thick and I like a more liquidy under eye concealer.  I really like this product and have been using my sample for spot treatment of red spots here and there.  In comparison to the Kjaer Weis foundation, this one is more of a yellow undertone and is more moisturizing.

Jane Iredale Glow Time BB Cream in BB1 – This shade is by far one of the lightest foundation shades I’ve ever come across.  Typically, I’m always a match for the lightest shade of a company’s foundation.  However, BB1 is too light for me.  I cannot use this at all, which is disappointing because I’ve heard such great things about the formula.  I’d love to try one of the darker shades that would be a better match for my skin tone.

Kjaer Weis Foundation in shade Lightness – I actually really enjoyed this foundation (you can see it on me in one of my Instagram photos here).  However, it is a little too drying for my skin.  When first applied, it was gorgeous, but as the day went on, it showed signs of wear – breaking up a bit and accentuating dry patches.  This may be perfect for me from July-September, but for most of the year, it’s not hydrating enough.  However, it really is a beautiful foundation!

Jane Iredale Active Light Concealer in shade #3 – This concealer was nice as far as moisturizing my under eye area.  However, as far as coverage, it isn’t heavy-duty enough for my dark under eye circles.

RMS Beauty Master Mixer – I was so excited to try this, based on all the hype and positive reviews.  You can see from the swatch on my arm that it looks like a rose-gold bronze shade on me.  I cannot use it as a highlighter – it did not look flattering.  I did try it as a blush topper, and it’s OK for that purpose.  Overall, though, I wouldn’t purchase this because it’s just not my personal cup of tea for my skintone.  However, I fully plan on buying the Living Luminzer once I finish my current highlighter.

Kjaer Weis Dazzling Bronzer – I liked this bronzer, but I don’t like it as well as RMS Beauty Buriti Bronzer.  The Dazzling Bronzer has a drier texture and a warmer undertone.  In contrast, RMS Beauty Buriti Bronzer is creamier, easier to blend, and has a more neutral undertone that can more easily be used as a slight contour.  I’m going to repurchase the Buriti Bronzer once the heat of summer is over.

Kjaer Weis Radiance Highlighter – This is, by far, the product I’ve wanted to try the most.  I’ve been excited to try it for months.  When I finally got my sample, I was really disappointed.  This highlight did not show up well at all on my skin.  That seems odd considering I’m fair skinned – but this is the issue: lightly applied, the highlight wasn’t very noticeable on me – and more heavily applied, it looked unnatural.  I just couldn’t make this work for me, though I will say it is beautiful and would be great on someone else.

Given my experiences with these products, I really love being able to sample makeup products before committing to a full-size.  It is often far too difficult to tell from photos online what foundations, concealers, highlights, and bronzers will look like and feel like once applied to my particular skin.  I’m grateful that there are online shops that are willing to include samples with purchase or samples for a reasonable cost.


What are your experiences with all-natural makeup samples?  Have you ever gotten a sample of something you thought you’d love, only to find it did not work for you at all?  Let me know in the comments!

10 Months of “Beauty Heroes” : My Faves & Thoughts

beautyheroscollectionI’ve now been subscribed to the Beauty Heroes subscription box for almost a year.  The box is a monthly subscribtion that delivers all-natural non-toxic skincare/haircare/bodycare to you for $39 a month.  It is a fantastic value for what you get if you can afford the $39 per month.  Here is a complete retrospective of every single box I’ve received.  I’ve tried to be completely open and honest about these products and my experiences with them.  Everyone is different and has their own unique skincare and haircare needs, so I’m just one voice saying what I think.  Enjoy!


July 2015Mahalo Pele Mask with Vacation Glow Body Oil sidekick

This was my first box, and I remember I signed up because I had wanted to try the Mahalo Pele Mask and this was a fantastic price I couldn’t turn down.  My first box was $29 and I received a full size of the mask and a trial size of the body oil.  I still use the mask, though during the winter I was dealing with super sensitive and dry skin so I didn’t use it for about three months.  Now, I’m incorporating it into my skincare once again.  This mask is fantastic.  I’m no esthetician, but I’ve used enough skincare to know that this works for me.  The body oil was so nice, and I really liked the scent, but as I’m not a huge fan of spending my money on body oils, I wouldn’t repurchase the body oil.


August 2015Previse SkinCare Nutrify Tonic with Defend sidekick

This is the box I’ve been most unsure of.  The Nutrify Tonic is a watery-gel like fluid that is meant to put on after cleansing and before oil/moisturizers.  It helps the skin to stay hydrated and fight free radicals.  I hit this hard during the winter, but honestly, I’m not really sure how much it helped.  The Defend serum is meant as an a sort of sun and environmental protective layer. Their website says this “Pre-sun solution helps to prevent skin damage from sun exposure while aiding in the protection of skin cells, collagen density and elasticity over time.”  In the past, I’ve tried the Previse Hydromilk and loved it – so my indifference to the Beauty Heroes box products isn’t reflective of the brand as a whole.  Though high quality, I wouldn’t repurchase these two products at this time.


September 2015Kahina Giving Beauty Eye Serum with Facial Lotion sidekick (not pictured)

In this box, I was absolutely in love with the sidekick Kahina Facial Lotion, but not so much the eye serum.  Eye serums are just not my favorite.  One I tried gave me milia, and this one balled up terribly under makeup.  I vastly prefer eye balms – but that is just personal preference.  I used up the lotion in record time, even though I’m primarily a face oil kinda girl.  The lotion was just wonderful, and I actually would love to have a full-size, but I have too many other products to justify buying it right now.  The eye serum, sadly, is setting unused in my cabinet.  I can’t bring myself to throw it away, and I don’t really have anyone to whom to pass it along.


October 2015In Fiore Treate Gentle Cleansing Emulsion + Lustra Illuminating Cleansing Essence

In this box, I loved the Lustra cleansing oil – it smelled floral and fantastic and melted off my makeup and was an excellent first cleanse.  Sadly, it was the sidekick and therefore not a full-size.  The Treate Cleansing Emulsion is a milky cleansing lotion meant to be used as the second step in a double-cleanse method.  I am still working my way through this cleanser.  I don’t reach for it everyday – it depends on what my skin needs.  I like it – but I don’t love it.  It didn’t seem fantastic for my dry winter skin, and it certainly isn’t my first choice for spring/summer skin when I’m more prone to have a random blemish here and there.  I would love to have a full-size of the Treate oil, but at $125 for a full-size, I can’t stomach the price.  Definitely a very luxe eco-minded brand for those who want highly pampering products for skincare rituals.


November 2015Josh Rosebrook Balance Shampoo + Balance Conditioner with Firm Hold Hairspray sidekick

Let me start with saying that for the past few years, I’ve had very little done to my hair beyond a haircut.  My hair is not processed, dry, brittle, or weak.  I do have a few highlights, but they are minimal.  My hair is actually on the oily side with slightly dry ends and very fine…a frustrating combination.  Having said all that, I’m probably not the best person to ask about lux eco haircare…I just don’t have high demands from haircare products.  However, this shampoo and conditioner combo was great, and I really loved it!  It smelled nice, lasted a while (maybe 2 or 3 months if memory serves), and made my hair soft and clean without being totally weighed down.  I love the hairspray sidekick and still use it.  I very rarely use hairspray, but when I do I just love using this one.  It’s the best smelling hairspray I’ve ever had and it has a flexible hold – not crunchy or dry.


December 2015Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum

Lots and lots of people have talked about the Vintner’s Daughter serum in the December box – not only because it is a phenomenal oil of green beauty cult status, but because of it’s price tag of $185 for 30ml. [In my experience, this product is more of a face oil, as opposed to a serum, despite the fact that the company calls it a serum.] Would I or could I ever justify paying full price for this oil?  Maybe.  Do I think this oil is great?  Yes.  Do I think it is “the face oil to end all face oils” – I don’t know, that’s a pretty big claim.  I do know that it is a fantastic face oil and one of the best I’ve used, but then I’ve used $40 face oils that I absolutely loved.  I will say I’m blown away by the care taken to create this powerhouse oil.  I’m still using it, I love it, and am relishing every drop.


January 2016Osmia Organics Black Clay Facial Soap + Purely Simple Face Cream

Overall, this was probably my favorite box so far.  Why?  Because it’s the only box I’ve received where I truly love both products.  I think my second favorite was the Vintner’s Daughter.  Osmia is a truly beautiful company and every product I’ve tried from their line has been great.  There facial soaps are absolutely amazing – yes, I prefer the convenience of a pump bottle for face cleanser, but the bars of soap have less packaging, which is much more environmentally friendly.  Before the Black Clay soap in this box, I had the Luz Enzyme soap, and both of them are just amazing.  I think Osmia makes the best facial soap/cleanser.  They are cleansing without stripping, they smell fantastic, and the price point is reasonable.  The Purely Simple Face Cream is excellent for times when I want something nourishing and moisturizing without having a layer of oil on my face.  I know I can put the lotion all over my face and it will absorb within a minute. Also included in this box was a sample of their brand new Nectar Vital Rose Drops oil, and I loved it as well.  Not one negative thing to say about the products or company.  I want to go on an Osmia shopping spree!


February 2016Beautycounter Lustro Rose Neroli Body Oil with Petal Lip Sheer sidekick

I love the scent of this body oil – it is grown-up ladylike scent and when I use it, I feel like I’m really pampering myself.  The bottle is also lovely on my open shelf – sleek, modern, and clear so that you can see the beautiful deep yellow oil.  Again, I’m not a body oil enthusiast – I’m perfectly thrilled with my $19 tube of 100% Pure Body Cream – but this oil is decadent for me-time, after showers, and was very nice during the end of winter as well.  As far as the lip sheer, I was disappointed at first that, for me, it is basically a lip balm in fancy packaging.  But boy, fancy packaging sure is more fun to use than a boring lip balm tube.  I’ve used this quite a bit, but it’s not nearly as moisturizing as lip balm, and it doesn’t have much pigment of which to speak…so it’s just a nice hint of pink when you don’t need lip balm or lipstick, but you want something.


March 2016SkinOwl Mangosteen Beauty Drops PM

The Mangosteen Beauty Drops is a fantastic face oil for both morning and night.  And without a doubt, it is one of the yummiest smelling products I’ve ever smelled.  It is like fruity candy, but it’s all natural!  There’s proof right there of the wonders of nature.  I love this face oil so much, and the fact that it is 2ozs (instead of the standard 1oz) makes it even better, because my husband and I both use face oil, so this lasts longer.  To me, this oil is a great go-to natural face oil.  It’s practically universally appealing.  I’ve also used their Geranium Drops and loved that face oil as well.


April 2016True Nature Botanicals Pacific Exfoliating Moisture Mask with Pacific Face Oil sidekick

It has taken some time for me to discover that I enjoy the mask from this box.  At first I applied too much and my skin was uncomfortably tingling within three minutes.  Now, I use a much lighter hand and rinse after 3-4 minutes.  It does seem to work well with my skin – no irritation, no redness, no breakouts.  I’ll have to use this more long-term to know my true feelings.  As far as the face oil, I love it, too!  Are you seeing a pattern here?  I pretty much love every face oil I’ve tried from Beauty Heroes – they are just top-of-the-line.


I love my monthly Beauty Heroes box – I’ve yet to be disappointed.  Maybe there have been some products I didn’t love as much as others, but that’s expected.  I think this is a fantastic value and such a great way of exposing people to healthy, natural, non-toxic options in skincare, haircare, and bodycare.  Bravo, Beauty Heroes.  Can’t wait to see what’s in next month’s box!

What do you think of the Beauty Heroes subscription?  What products do you love, or want to try?  Share your thoughts with me in the comments!

Minimalist Packing: 4 Day Trip, 1 Small Travel Bag

20160403_102451There are certain things I don’t mind spending more money on – skincare, healthy organic food, and experiences (trips, concerts, plays, etc).  However,  I am frugal at heart.  So when my husband and I made plans to take a trip and travel via plane, I didn’t want to spend the extra money to check baggage – so I had a mission – fit everything I needed for a 4 day trip in one small carry on bag that isn’t much bigger than a large purse.

[As an aside, yes, my travel bag is leather.  I transitioned to being vegan in April 2016, and I do not advocate leather use.  However, this bag in an anomaly for me, as it was a gift from last year and was not purchased with my own money.  It is a very durable, well-made bag, and to get rid of it would result in my needing to purchase another travel bag, which is counter-intuitive in a sense.  In the spirit of using what I have, I will keep this bag until it wears out, most likely.  I just thought I’d add my thoughts about this bag, considering this is a blog with an eco-friendly, cruelty-free stance. I will not purchase any leather products in the future, just to make it perfectly clear.]

Keep in mind, I like makeup, skincare, nice clothes, a change of shoes, etc, when we travel.  But it was a challenge I knew I could take on.

First, I started setting aside travel sized items of everything I typically use for bath/body/makeup.  I re-used some small sample bottles for other items and simply scooped some of the product into a smaller container to make it more travel-friendly.  This allowed me to fit all of my makeup, skincare, and other toiletries into 1 quart sized bag.  A miracle, I tell you.

In my quart bag I packed (p.s. I may be forgetting some items, but this is a pretty accurate list):

  1. coconut oil
  2. bar face soap
  3. one vial of face oil
  4. eye balm
  5. bar body soap
  6. perfume
  7. SPF moisturizer
  8. foundation
  9. concealer
  10. powder
  11. eyebrow pencil
  12. mascara
  13. eyeshadow palette
  14. 2 lipsticks
  15. 1 lipbalm
  16. 1 cream blush pot
  17. 1 cream bronzer pot


I also took a very simple approach to packing clothes for the trip –

  1. 1 pair of black/grey athleisure-style yoga pants*
  2. 1 pair of black yoga capris
  3. 1 pair of gray leggings
  4. 1 periwinkle colored dressy rain jacket*
  5. 1 black camisole*
  6. 1 neutral camisole
  7. 1 fuchsia camisole
  8. 1 gray short sleeve T-shirt
  9. 1 purple/fuchsia blouse
  10. 1 neutral long-sleeve T-shirt*
  11. 1 burgundy blouse
  12. 1 sports bra
  13. 1 regular bra*
  14. 2 pairs of socks*
  15. 1 black bathing suit
  16. 1 pair of black flats
  17. 1 pair of sneakers*

(items with * indicate items I wore during the flight)

I also packed my phone, tablet, camera, and charge cords, but my husband carried the camera and cord in his bag.  There were a few other small miscellaneous items in my bag.  On the way home, I even managed to fit a few very small gifts/souveniers in my carry-on, including a stuffed animal for my little girl.  I was quite pleased with myself for making it work.

In the end, the minimalist approach to traveling was no big deal and even liberating – I didn’t need 6 pairs of pants, 10 shirts, 4 pairs of shoes…you get my drift.  We were too busy enjoying each others company and walking around seeing the sights to worry about wearing the same pants two days in a row, you know?

When you travel, do you ever “travel lightly”?