Love Yourself First Now Teen Esteem Subscription Unboxing & Review-October 2015

Crunchy Parent Love Yourself First Now october subscription unboxing & review

Love Yourself First Now is a new subscription service targeted for young women ages 14 and up. LYFN is aimed at promoting self-esteem and developing a sense of self through self-appreciation rather than looking to others for validation. LYFN was developed by a mother of two and school psychologist. Each month’s box features a theme and includes 4-6 functional products like jewelry, makeup, accessories, and inspiration to LOVE YOURSELF FIRST-now. Boxes cost $29/month, shipping included. Discounts with multi-month subscriptions. Use code CRUNCHY for 10% off your LYF-Now purchase.

Love Yourself First-Now graciously sent me this box to review. I received no additional compensation, and all opinions are my own.

Given that this is a subscription box aimed at girls in their younger teen years, I invited my own in-house, almost-teen to join me for the unboxing. Eva was very excited to hear that there was a subscription box just for girls around her age. She loved LYFN’s mission to increase self-esteem by encouraging girls to pump themselves up. She was more than happy to join me in seeing what LYFN had in store for this month. You can watch us unbox and discover, or if you prefer to skip right to the product close-ups and details, scroll down past the video.

The box came with cute trim and an LYFN sticker. I think that Eva liked the presentation, and she was excited to dig in.

LYF-Now October unboxing & review teen tween self-esteem box

LYFN included an enclosure card describing the box contents as well as providing valuing information and some usage suggestions. We set the card aside during the unboxing so that we could enjoy opening it all on our own, but did reference it to learn that this month’s theme is “Fall into You.”

The first item that Eva picked up was a paper scroll tied with festive purple tulle. When Eva unrolled the scroll, we saw a brightly-colored activity page featuring an image of a mirror and questions to guide the girl through an exercise focusing on her accomplishments, skills, and features about which she feels proud. As a mom (and as a psychologist), I appreciated that the activity also encouraged the child to seek adult help if she got stumped filling in the responses.

Sometimes young teens can become so overwhelmed by what they see as their personal shortcomings that they have difficulty identifying their own strengths. I really liked that the activity had a built-in “phone a friend” option to give a girl help if she got stuck, rather than leave her feeling incomplete. I think that this exercise could be a great independent or supported activity that would leave the child feeling good about herself and her abilities. When Alina saw this activity, she too wanted to participate. I made her a copy and both girls spent some time working on their sheets independently. I was able to help remind them of various skills and triumphs when they forgot how amazing they truly are, which I imagine is the primary purpose of the exercise.

The next treat that Eva saw was a pair of gold-toned, dangly earrings in a delicate leaf design. They were displayed on a “leaf” card printed with the phrase, “You are as beautiful and unique as a fall leaf.” Eva loved the earrings and the message. I think that they are a great length for the age-group; something to noticeably accessorize an outfit and look cute, but not outrageous or too heavy.

The box enclosure card did not give any information about the content of the metal, and the earrings did not come with any original packaging, so I do not know if they would work for those with sensitive ears. Likewise, I could not really find them online for valuing purposes. LYFN listed their value at $12.00. I would say that the quality appeared relatively comparable to earrings from Claire’s Boutique or similar. Unfortunately, none of us have pierced ears so this item was a miss for us, but I am sure that we will easily find a girl who will love them.

LYFN october subscription box infinity scarf, nail polish, mirror

Eva was eager to get to the next item in the box; a cute, lightweight infinity scarf in a colorful mixed print. The colors reminded me more of spring than of autumn, but in the same vein I think that the colors are probably more appropriate and useful for this age group than dark, autumnal colors would have been.

Scarves are such a popular fashion accessory for girls and women of all ages. Eva has been asking for scarves for years to add personality to her outfits. She was excited to have this one to add to her collection. I expect that she will wear it often. Once again, there were no identifying tags or labels on the scarf that I could find to help assess value, but LYFN listed a value of $15.00, which seems in line with what appear to be comparable scarves at stores like Justice or Aeropostale.

Eva was also a big fan of her next find, which was a bottle of Nabi Gel Nail Polish (value $3.00). The polish was in a very appealing “baby teal” color that went well with the colors in the scarf. I liked the idea of a polish for this age group. I know that a lot of tweens and teens like painting their nails to let their personal style and creative expression extend to their fingertips. That said, if you think that this crunchy parent is dogmatic about green beauty for her own health and well-being, there is no room for compromise when it comes to my children. I ceased wearing nail polish completely when I read this research that was published when I was in my first trimester with Eva’s pregnancy. In short, it linked exposure to some of the chemicals in traditional nail polish during pregnancy to fertility problems in male offspring later in life. I didn’t wear nail polish for about ten years, at which point I warmed up to the greener, healthier options now available.

I could not find any information about Nabi’s ingredients online, and the print on the bottle was way too small for these old eyes to read. Since Nabi does not market themselves as a green brand, I assume that the ingredients in their gel polish are among those that I would not be comfortable having the girls use. The polish represented a small percentage of the box’s value, so I really didn’t mind it being a miss for us, although Eva would have liked to have been able to use it.

The next item was a hit; a blinged-out compact mirror packaged in a pink, organza drawstring bag. Eva appreciated the presentation of the mirror. I think that it felt special and sophisticated to her. The mirror was a cute tie-in to the activity sheet. I really responded well to the message that when a girl looks at herself in a mirror, she should practice asking herself what she likes about what she sees rather than what she wishes was different. The enclosure card did not mention the mirror. Michelle of LYFN reached out to me to share the mirror’s intended function relative to the box, and that it has a value of $3.00.

LYF now subscription unboxing & review October Tea light owl candle holder and candy tin

It did not take Eva long to notice a cute heart-shaped tin that was filled with tiny chocolates (listed value: $1.50). I thought that the colors of the candies were very appealing for this age group. As a family we’ve always tried to communicate a healthy relationship with food to the kids, which for us includes enjoying sweet treats in moderation. We were happy to see a little something sweet included in the box. These particular chocolates contain dairy, so they weren’t something that we could eat, but we know that they will sweeten someone else’s day.

The last item in the box was a hit. Eva liked unwrapping the individually boxed item to reveal an adorable owl tea light holder in an ivory metal. The enclosure card explained that owls have integrity and an air of mystery and difference about them. LYFN encouraged girls to let the candle shine bright when they soared like owls this month. I think that Eva will enjoy using the candle holder as a decorative item in her room, and I hope that it can serve as a symbolic reminder to her that she is unique and special. I think that I might remove the candle portion before adding it to her room. I’m not sure that she’s ready to take responsibility for a lit candle in her room just yet. LYFN listed a value for this item of $3.00.

love yourself first now subscription box to build self-esteem in teen and tween girls October 2015 review

I like the concept of Love Yourself First-Now a great deal. The idea of a lifestyle box for girls that caters to their interests while also enchancing their self-esteem during a vulnerable time in their growth and development is admirable. I am not the target demographic of the box, and I don’t have a lot of 14+ year-old girls in my life at this time, so I can only use Eva’s 12 year-old reaction as a guide to evaluate the appeal of the box for girls.

She loved the box from start to finish. She thought that the presentation was cute and colorful and made the box feel like a special gift just for her. Eva mentioned that she would have preferred that LYFN have included a more universally-accessible jewelry item such as an ear cuff, toe ring, necklace, or cartilage ring as opposed to pierced earrings, but she also knows that most girls her age have pierced ears even though she herself does not.

If Eva had the keys to the castle, she would have been thrilled to use every item in the box. In reality, some of the box contents were not consistent with the way that we are raising the kids to care for their bodies. It is really important that they love themselves in healthy ways, which for us includes an emphasis on non-toxic beauty and personal care items, and food that doesn’t make their GI systems freak out. LYFN doesn’t market themselves as a green beauty or food allergy-friendly box, so I only mention this with respect to the goodness of fit for us in those areas, and not with the expectation that they should be catering to those needs. For what they strive to be; a box to help young teens feel good about who they are, I think that they did a great job. This spirit was woven through the box and punctuated by the affirmation activity. The seasonal fall theme was perfect, and the box had a nice mix of lifestyle items. I think that the quality of the items included is on par for products marketed to this age group.

The total box value using LYFN’s stated prices is $37.50, plus the activity sheet whose value could not be quantified. I think that this is a solid value relative to the box price. I would assert that the curation and presentation of the items also enhance the overall box value. Moreover, I think that weaving reminders into a teen girl’s every day that she is special and has many admirable strengths and qualities is priceless.

I don’t feel entirely qualified to comment on the fit of this box for girls who are in their mid to late teens. It was very attractive to Eva as a 12 year-old, and even 9 year-old Alina was interested in most of the items included. I found myself wondering if the 14 year-old mark might be closer to the upper limit of the box as opposed to the target starting age, but I may be off base. I hope that the parents of older girls will chime in. Do you think that this would be a good box for your daughter? What do you think about the overall LYFN concept and execution?

To see other crunchy subscription box video unboxings, look here on the Crunchy Parent You Tube channel. If you are interested in finding “crunchy-friendly” subscription boxes to enhance the way you live, eat, craft, play, care for you home and body, etc. you can find them on my ULTIMATE list, newly updated for fall. If you have any suggestions or requests for future videos, please let me know in the comments, and be sure to subscribe to CrunchyParent!

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Barganic Alert: Goodebox Offering Bonus Boxes of Green Beauty

Goodebox bonus boxes

As the weather shifts with the change of seasons, our skincare routine and cosmetic color selections tend to evolve as well. Just in time for autumn, Goodebox is offering a variety of limited edition Bonus Boxes to bring some fresh, new options to your green beauty collection. With six choices available, it is easy to find a box (or boxes) to help you embrace fall. All boxes are $30.00, with free shipping, and include at least one full size item. These look like great deals. Click on the individual boxes below for complete descriptions and to order.

Refresh & Renew
Your Night Out
Feel Nourished
Be Bold
Surprise Me
Surprise Me, Again!

These boxes are one-time purchases and will not initiate a Goodebox subscription. To learn more about Goodebox’s subscription service and other great green subscription box options, check out the Crunchy Parent Ultimate List of Crunchy-Friendly Subscription Boxes, just updated for fall.

**Barganic Alerts are an effort to spread awareness about affordable crunchy goods and services. They are not endorsements, nor am I compensated in any way. They tend to be time-limited, and often go quickly. To make sure you are always in the know, subscribe to CrunchyParent.com to receive emails of all Barganic Alerts as soon as they are posted**

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Crunchy Parent’s Ultimate Guide to Crunchy-Friendly Subscription Boxes-Fall 2015 Update

For those seeking subscriptions for organic, eco-friendly, non-toxic, green beauty, food-allergy friendly, pregnant, new baby, fair trade, indie, and other crunchy awesomeness.

For those seeking subscriptions for organic, eco-friendly, non-toxic, green beauty, food-allergy friendly, pregnant, new baby, fair trade, indie, and other crunchy awesomeness.

Crunchy, green living is on the rise, and there has been tremendous growth in the area of natural, conscious, and otherwise crunchy subscription box offerings. The Fall update of the Crunchy Parent Ultimate List of Crunchy-Friendly Subscription Boxes follows. All subscription services that are new or new-to-me since the summer update have been indicated in bold. If you are wondering how I came to compile this list, keep reading. If you just want to get right to the list, scroll on down.

As I mentioned briefly in this post I have been making conscious attempts to make self-care a higher priority in the last several years. Parenting can be all-consuming, at least it has been for me many times, and I tended to seriously neglect myself. My cancer diagnosis almost five years ago was a wake up call that I absolutely needed to take better care of myself mentally and physically if I wanted to be able to continue to be a good parent to my children, and to live a healthier and more balanced life. I also wanted to feel better about myself and how I presented myself to the world. Realistically, I still was not going to have oodles of “me” time, and being able to get away from home to do things alone is even more challenging.

Moreover, although I had been interested in naturally-based personal care items since I was a teenager, my diagnosis shifted green beauty from an interest to an absolute non-negotiable. Skincare, haircare, body care, and cosmetic products simply had to be no- or low-toxin for me to use them. I would rather go without than slather myself with ingredients that might make it harder to stay healthy, but I really didn’t know where to begin. My skincare products had distilled down to aloe gel, shea butter, and coconut oil and they just weren’t cutting it. So, I decided that one aspect of my self-care plan would be to join some monthly subscription services.

Just in case you’re unfamiliar, subscription services send out a “mystery” package (usually monthly) of products in sample or full sizes for you to try that fit within a certain theme such as eco-friendly beauty and skincare products, or gluten free snacks. I figured that by joining a service, I would get a special package (or more) each month just for me with products to encourage me to pamper myself. It would also help me discover new natural, organic, or otherwise eco-friendly products that had already been screened and curated by companies with values like my own. Once I got my boxes, I could have some R&R time with a new face mask after the kids went to bed at night, or if I had an occasion when I might want to wear lipstick, I might actually own one that I felt good about using. I have been receiving subscription boxes for almost two years now, and I must say that it has been great! Not only have I been enjoying receiving amazing green beauty items, but I have found boxes to promote mindfulness and balance in my life, to support my yoga practice, to discover new food-allergy friendly foods for our family, and more.

I personally found it overwhelming at first to select a couple of subscriptions to try. I always want to know all of my options to allow for informed decisions. Additionally, there are countless services available, with many different target markets and missions. There are new subscriptions being introduced and old ones phasing out all of the time. I decided to put my well-honed research skills to work (they didn’t give me that Ph.D. for nothing), and compile the most comprehensive list that I could of subscription boxes that represent values or areas of interest that are consistent with living a crunchy, natural, green lifestyle.

I thought that I would try to save you some of the trouble that I went through. I have compiled the most comprehensive list of subscription services currently available that may appeal to people of the crunchy mindset; wherever they may be along the crunchy continuum or whichever aspect of crunchiness is important to them. I have tried to include beauty and lifestyle boxes that might be organic, or vegan; that might be eco-friendly, GMO-free, or support charities. Food boxes might be gluten, nut, and/or dairy free. They may feature organic or non-GMO products, or provide pre-packaged produce all ready to juice for your next cleanse or to boost a new health practice. I’ve listed herbal boxes, essential oil boxes, fair trade boxes, and eco-friendly boxes for the expecting or new mama. Boxes for children likely feature organic products, high-quality wooden/battery-free toys, or promote natural handmade crafts, storytelling, and more. There is even a toy rental subscription service included. Some of the subscription services are large and well-established. Others are small, limited, indie subscriptions or may be just starting out. In any case, I hope that you will find what you are looking for.

For the sake of brevity I have included shipping information assuming shipping in the United States. Many of these companies may send boxes elsewhere for an additional cost. Please see individual sites for information. I have attempted to screen companies to most closely adhere to natural personal and family living ideals, but I cannot speak to the specifics of any individual subscription, nor am I recommending any of these services over any other. I am attempting to sample and review as many of these subscriptions as possible to allow for a more in-depth look at what each service provides. Wherever possible, I have included a link to my unboxing and reviews following a subscription’s description. If you have any personal experiences that you wish to share, or if you know of any subscriptions that you think should be added to this list, please mention it in the comments.

To see all of my crunchy subscription box reviews, look here. If you wish to exclusively view the video unboxings, you can do that on my YouTube channel here.

Beauty/Lifestyle

BabeBoxx $24.99/month includes free shipping. Discount on multi-month subscriptions. Focused on skincare, cosmetic, and grooming items, BabeBoxx goes for the products that are, all-natural, organic, hand-made, and free from the harmful toxins and chemicals. Their goal is to guide you through a unique and exciting journey to natural beauty! This recently-launched indie subscription partners with artisans to bring the newest products to their subscribers.

Bare Bliss Box $19.99/month (free shipping) Discounts with multi-month subscriptions. In every box get 4-6 “healthier” sample-sized skincare and makeup products that will nourish your body and enhance your life, with occasional bonus lifestyle items. BBB screens products for ingredients such as artificial fragrances and dyes, parabens, SLS, and other potentially harmful chemicals. They also emphasize products that are cruelty-free and organic.

Beauty Heroes $39.99/month includes shipping. Less with multi-month subscriptions.The Beauty Heroes mission is to provide their customers with products from the very best non-toxic, clean, green beauty brands. Each month Beauty Heroes sends one full size luxury product, sometimes with a smaller bonus item (because every superhero loves a good sidekick). Products are chosen to fit with the season, and are screened to avoid an impressive laundry list of villain ingredients; and to include natural superpower ingredients to nurture your skin. For my Beauty Heroes reviews, look here.

Blissmo Box $19.95/month plus shipping, free shipping with multi-month subscriptions. Value of $20-$40+ per box. A monthly box of premium organic, non-toxic and eco-friendly personal care and food products. Full & trial-size. Allows choice among three themed box offerings each month (usually a food, beauty/personal care, and seasonal themes). Also allows for skipping a month if none of the themes seem to be a good fit.

BuddhiBox $32.95/month. Less with multi-month subscriptions. Box contains 4-6 full size items to enhance your yoga practice and lifestyle. BuddhiBox is committed to supporting non-profits. Most of the items featured are organic and vegetarian, and a brief questionnaire also allows the purchaser to indicate a preference for vegan items if desired. Each month BuddhiBox picks a charity and donate a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the boxes to them. They also offer a smaller sampler box for $11.95/month, and a jewelry box for $49.95/quarter. To see my BuddhiBox reviews, look here.

Calmbox $35/month, shipping included. Each month’s box features 4-8 mindfully chosen items to help with unwinding and calm such as candles, natural minerals and crystals, aromatic herbs, inspiring books, music, tea, motivational cards, and physical aids. Every month highlights a new theme like meditation, zen, or mindfulness.

Causebox Ships quarterly. $49.95 per shipment and includes shipping. You will receive at least $150 worth of full-size products for women from Sevenly’s favorite socially conscious brands. Each box also includes a new, exclusive Sevenly product. For every box sold, Sevenly gives $7 to one of 7 partner charities. Additionally, the box features products from companies that are committed to doing good all over the world. Some give one-for-one, some give meals, some medical aid, others give money to help various causes.

Conscious Box $40.00/month including shipping for the newly launched “Premium” version. Conscious Box had historically offered smaller boxes along the themes of classic, vegan, or gluten free. Boxes typically included small sample sizes of mostly food and supplement items with 1-2 full sized products. In their new re-branding, all boxes will be vegan and gluten free and contain more full-size and luxury items including stylish home items, delicious snacks, and lush beauty products hand-selected from brands who care about the planet. Conscious Box promises that every box will be valued at a minimum of $60.

Eco Salon This quarterly box is not a subscription, rather a first come, first served seasonal collection of food/nutrition, beauty, accessories, etc. There are generally pretty limited numbers of boxes available (around 50). Price and value varies but generally cost is $100+

Goddess Provisions $33.00/month with free shipping. Discounts with multi-month subscriptions. Goddess Provisions in a recently launched subscription service by the sister company to Vegan Cuts. Each month, GP sends a box filled with tools to nourish your inner goddess and grow your spiritual practice. Boxes feature a mix of 4-6 full size items, spanning across the categorizes of aromatherapy, apothecary beauty products, superfood snacks, teas, crystals, books and more. All items will be 100% vegan and cruelty-free. To see my Goddess Provisions reviews, look here.

Goodebox $19/month, including free shipping. Modest discounts offered for multi-month subscriptions. Goodebox is a trial and discovery service providing expertly curated, trial-sized healthy beauty and personal care products, along with samples of natural & organic health and wellness products. Each Goodebox includes a pre-screened selection representing what Goodebox thinks are among the best healthy beauty products available.

Hemp Box/Hemp Box for Men $19.99/month includes free shipping. Hemp Box features 5 health, beauty and nutritional products each month that contain hemp.

Herbal Bliss $25/month including free shipping. Discounts for multi-month subscriptions (e.g. an annual subscription drops to $18/month) Herbal Bliss contains an exclusively curated assortment of high quality herbal delights. Five items will be included each month, representing the categories of well-being, culinary, aromatherapy, blissful body, and “spotlight.” All suppliers are small-batch producers.

holBox $30/month. includes shipping. holBox is a subscription service for women who desire to live a holistic lifestyle. It is intended to serve as a starting point for women transitioning into a holistic lifestyle. Each box contains 5-7 different sample products, and will include products that you can use for the body, hair, mind and in the household.

Honest Beauty $50.00/month. The Honest Company has recently expanded its product and subscription line to include cosmetic and skincare items. Each month, select three full sized items of your choice from among the products in the line.

Klover Box $25/month free shipping. Discounts for multi-month subscriptions. Klover Box features natural, cruelty-free and organic beauty, health, nutrition and home products. Klover Box aims to provide opportunities to try affordable eco-friendly products, handpicked by their health conscious curators to allow the buyer to incorporate better products into every aspect of life. Each box features 4-7 sample and full sized products.

Love Goodly $35.00/box including shipping. Ships every other month. Cost per box is less with multi-box subscriptions. Each box includes 5-7 cruelty-free, natural, vegan products, including a mix of full size products and deluxe samples of nontoxic beauty and skincare, healthy snacks and eco style accessories. All products have been screened to eliminate Love Goodly’s banned ingredients and all products are selected and labeled to support one or more of Love Goodly’s values, which include organic, non-gmo, gluten free, and fair trade. Every purchase from Love Goodly supports either Farm Sanctuary or F*ck Cancer.

Mindfulness Box $29/month includes shipping. Discounts for multi-month subscriptions. A monthly subscription box service promoting wellness and reflection by giving people the tools to live with more intention and in the “present moment.” Boxes contain 4-5 items each month intended to promote mindfulness, meditation, and reflection. Offerings include holistic and homeopathic mineral/essential oil based health care products, handcrafted jewelry, delicious biodynamic treats, natural minerals/crystals evoking positive energy and MUCH more! To see my Mindfulnesss Box reviews, look here.

Nourish Beauty $34.95/month includes free shipping worldwide. Receive four full-sized products each month, including three full-sized, natural, earth-activated, cruelty-free, healthy beauty products, and one eco-friendly canvas tote bag, with limited edition, original print. Average total retail will be $70+

Organic Authority Goodie Box Organic Authority is a sister company to Eco Salon (see above) with a similar approach. They are not a regular subscription, rather a first come, first served seasonal collection of food/nutrition, beauty, accessories, etc. Numbers are quite limited. Price and value varies but generally cost is $100+

Petit Vour $15/month includes shipping. Petit Vour focuses on cruelty-free products, but tend to feature product lines that are also natural and organic. Petit Vour delivers 4-5 fresh beauty miniatures right to your doorstep each month. The samples are generously sized (and sometimes full-sized!)

PureBox $39.99/month (free shipping), less with multi-month subscriptions. Each box includes one full sized product and several deluxe samples from 1-2 featured brand per month. All products are ethically sourced and selected for being luxurious, of premium quality, cruelty free, and with gluten free and vegan choices. PureBox specializes in non-toxic, natural, and organic beauty products that are handcrafted and hard to find. Boxes will reflect a retail value of $60-$80. For PureBox reviews, look here

Prospurly $49.95/month includes shipping. Often run coupon codes for 10% off per month for the life of the subscription. Boxes feature 6-8 luxurious products each month that are artisinal and often organic. Items may be useful for home, beauty or personal care; food, beverages, and more.

Pumeli $49.95/month, less with multi-month subscriptions. Pumeli is a monthly delivery of relaxing goodies for busy women. Their mission is to inspire women to unplug and make time for themselves through practical tips, tutorials, and time-slowing rituals that are simple enough to do at home or the office, yet leave you feeling relaxed, recharged and present in as little as 5-10 minutes. Pumeli likes to feature products that are sustainable and handmade, and every box will include teas, items for journaling or reflection, and handcrafted items such as candles or handcrafted jewelry.

The Remedy Rush $59.00/quarterly box includes shipping. (boxes ship around the seasonal equinox). Discount for annual subscription. Each box includes a collection of seasonally-appropriate items for skincare, body care, and home. Products are screened to exclude a host of harsh irritants and health-compromising synthetics. Only the finest wildcrafted or organic herbs, herbal extracts, pure essential oils, cold-pressed, fruit, nut oils and butters are chosen as key ingredients in cherished brand creations. All products are cruelty-free, and all product containers, packaging, shipping, and marketing materials are made from 100% recyclable and/or biodegradable components.

Sapphire Soul Balance Box Sapphire Soul offers 5 different box configurations ranging from “Crystal Pack” of 1 or more crystals at a price of $9/month to “Large Lotus Balance Box” at $52/month which features a crystal, essential oil, a piece of handmade crystal healing jewelry, and one or more additional products (soaps, candles, and aromatherapy products tend to be featured frequently). Overall the box highlights holistic products to nurture mind, body, and soul; striving to increase balance and positive energy. Prices do not include shipping.

Teens Turning Green Conscious Collection Not an auto-billing subscription, but a first come, first served single purchase box available in limited quantities, and sometimes comes in both “male” and “female” versions. Cost is $75/box plus $20 shipping. The box includes Approximately 20 deluxe and full size items per collection. Each box highlights thoughtfully curated, ethically-produced products across many lifestyle categories. Product selections are based on health of ingredients, environmental impact, efficacy, and verified standards like USDA Certified Organic, non-GMO, Fair Trade, and data from the Environmental Working Group. Proceeds from the box benefit the Teens Turning Green non-profit organization.

Terra Bella Box Offering two levels of subscriptions for $17.95/month or $37.95/month respectively (shipping included and less with multi-month subscriptions). Terra Bella box features products that are created in small batches by small businesses, are always cruelty free, and are made with natural ingredients. The Terra Bella Lite box offers 2-3 products per month, and the full-sized Terra Bella Box offers 5-6 products per month. Items include skincare, body care, and cosmetics, and are a mix of full size and trial size items, with the majority being full sized. For those who like to try before making a larger commitment, Terra Bella offers a one-time Trial Box option for $24.00 and includes 4-6 items.

The Cosmic Box Cost is $27/month including shipping. Discounts for multi-month subscriptions. Items for this indie box are chosen for being crafted with spirit, eco-consious, and cosmically good. Boxes include items from various artisans and also feature products from Wild Honey Apothecary, the sister company of The Cosmic Box. Boxes feature a mix of 3-6 trial size or full size goods and include everything from toxin-free skin care, organic/gmo-free artisan edibles, unique home goods, gems, jewelry, and more. A portion of the proceeds from each month’s boxes go to a charity, which varies from month to month. To see my reveiws of The Cosmic Box, look here.

The Simple Soap Cost is $19.99/month for a three bar box or $14.99/month for a two bar option. Shipping included free. The Simple Soap is a family-owned indie subscription box service that sends out their own organic, handmade bars of soap. Their soaps are scented with essential oils and plant materials, and do not contain artificial perfumes or other additives. According to The Simple Soap, a single bar of soap will usually be enough for one person for an entire month.

Truly Organic $55/month (shipping included). Each month’s box will include six full-size products from Truly Organic’s natural hair care and body care line consisting of shampoo, conditioner, scrub or body wash, lotion, face cream and a surprise accessory from the country your ingredients were harvested. Truly Organic offers several collections, including lines for mother and baby. All products are natural, organic, vegan, and fair trade as well as being free of sulfates, GMOs, and gluten.

Vegan Cuts $19.95/month included shipping. Modest discount for multi-month subs. Vegan cuts features 100% cruelty-free brands, many of which are also natural and organic. Each box contains 4-7 full and sample-sized products to try, ranging from unique cosmetics to luxurious skincare.

Yogi Surprise $35.96/month with free shipping. Each box features 6-8 full-size products designed to nourish and support your well being, vitality and growth. Items include pure, natural, and handcrafted goodies that are vegetarian, cruelty, and GMO free.

Yuzen $33/quarter includes shipping. Yuzen strives to include only the very best eco-conscious products to nourish the body and soul. Each beautiful box includes high-quality natural and organic personal care products, healthy snacks, and lifestyle items carefully chosen from about 6 companies.

Food

Cuisine Cube $34.99/month includes shipping. Discounts with multi-month subscriptions. Each monthly box features at least five exciting full-sized gluten-free breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner, and dessert items. Cuisine Cube tries to introduce lesser-known artisanal brands. Some products are certified gluten free, others use only gluten-free ingredients but are not certified gluten free. Many products are certified organic and CC strives to avoid GMOs and artificial ingredients.

Farmivore products Three box sizes range from $25.95-$69.95, which includes shipping. Farmivore sends boxes filled with all that you need to make blended or juiced drinks using only organic, GMO-free, fresh fruits and vegetables, herbs and spices. Subscriber can select delivery frequency and either all-green juice boxes or “mixed” boxes with green, red, and orange juices featured. Produce will be sent bagged with recipes to create each of the juices featured in that shipment, and each box makes between 4-16 servings of juice depending on box size. Currently Farmivore ships to eight states in the Northeast.

Farm To People Tasting Box Two tiers of subscriptions (Casual Foodie-$29.95/month and Food Critic: $49.95/month both of which include shipping). Boxes include 2-3 or 5-8 full size products respectively. Items included will be unique, humanely made food items that are locally produced in small batches. All foods are GMO free. FTP also advertise that they are happy to accommodate any serious food allergies or dietary restrictions if you email them directly. Each box centers around a theme. Past themes have included Oktoberfest, Heat Things Up, Turkey Day, among others.

Green Blender $49/week shipping included. Each box brings you pre-portioned and individually wrapped ingredients to make 10 servings of blended smoothie drinks (2 servings each or five different recipes). Boxes include fruits, vegetables, superfoods, and whatever else you need to make a week’s worth of smoothies (you just provide the blender and the water). Produce is organic, local, and seasonal whenever possible. Currently Green Blender delivery area covers approximately a dozen states throughout the Northeast.

Healthy Surprise Offer three subscription options: Classic Box, Big Box, and Paleo Box. Boxes range from 15-21 full size snacks and are priced from $49-$74 depending on subscription option. Multi-month subscriptions are discounted. All items are gluten, soy, corn, wheat, and GMO free. Paleo box also does not contain any refined sugar, grains, dairy, or legumes, but may contain some items with honey, eggs, or high quality meat or fish. Classic Box and Big Box are 100% vegan.

Love with Food Offers three subscription options (Tasting Box, Deluxe Box, and Gluten Free Box) ranging in price from $12-$29/month, shipping included. Discounts for multi-month subscriptions. Designed to help you discover new organic or all-natural snacks. Boxes feature between 8-20 snack items depending on subscription type. Snacks are either organic or all-natural, GMO-free, gluten-free or free of artificial junk. All snacks in the Gluten-Free box are guaranteed to be gluten free. For every box sold, Love with Food donates a meal to several food banks such as the Feeding America Network and Share Our Strength – No Kid Hungry.

NoMoo Box $20/month plus $5.49 shipping, less with multi-month subscriptions. Boxes include carefully selected dairy free foods, coupons, recipes, and the occasional surprise. Each month you will receive 6 to 9 items in your box, including some full size and some sample size dairy free products. You will also receive coupons from dairy free brands to help with the cost of a specialty diet. A portion of the proceeds from every box goes to donate dairy free foods to a local Food Bank for families in need of a dairy free diet.

Num-Nums Munch Box Offer Single Box ($21.99/month) or Double Box ($43.50/month) plush shipping. Each box available as either Gluten Free, Dairy Free, or Nut Free, although most snacks are selected to be top 8 allergen-free (dairy, egg, wheat, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish) so the entire family can enjoy them. Single box contains 10 to 12 single-serving snacks, and double box includes 20-24 single-serving snacks. The assortment of snack items includes snack bars, chips, sweets, cookies and more. Although snacks are free of identified allergens, they may be manufactured in factories that process other ingredients.

Send Me Gluten Free $30/month includes free shipping. Discounts with multi-month subscriptions. Each box will include 8-12 gluten free products and will include at least 1 full-sized item. Product selection will include food, personal care items, supplements and household products that support a gluten free lifestyle.

Paleo Life Box $35/month shipping included. Less with multi-month subscriptions. Each box includes 8 to 10 snacks hand-picked from the best Paleo companies on the planet. Paleo Life likes to send a few of new discoveries each month in addition to several tried and true favorites.

Tasterie $25.00/month, includes shipping. Four box varieties (Gluten Allergy, Gluten and Dairy Allergy, Nut Allergy, and Top 8 Allergy). Each box includes 4-8 full and single-serving sized allergy-free foods. Nut allergy and Top 8 allergy foods are all confirmed to have been made in a nut-free facility.

Taste Guru $19/month plus shipping. Discounts for multi-month subscriptions. Each box contains a mix of full and single-serving sized gluten free food items. Around 10 items per box.

Trade As One $99/quarter 12-15 hand-picked, ethically sourced pantry products. Each box is seasonally themed and includes a broad range of items from everyday staples to fun discovery items. We also help you unpack the meaning of the items in your box with stories from producers, tasty recipes, and product highlights.

Urth Box Offer multiple sizes from Mini (4-5 products) to Large (20-24 products), which range in price from $9-$49/month, including shipping. Each box includes food and beverage items focused health. All boxes are offered in one of four varieties: Classic, Vegan, Gluten Free, or Diet. In addition to snacks, boxes may include “extras” from categories such as supplements, personal hygiene, hair and skin care, gourmet and more. Products will be full sized, although this may include single-serving items.

Vegan Cuts $19.95/month includes free shipping. Each box contains 7-10 full and sample sized vegan food and beverage items. Most products are also gluten free.

Health/Wellness

Natural Herbal Living Herb box + magazine PDF $48/month ($44/month recurring) Mini Herb box + magazine PDF $24/month ($22/month recurring) Will include ingredients to make several recipes shared in Natural Herbal Living Magazine including, but not limited to, the herb of the month, essential oil, flower essence, additional herbs, oils, bees wax, vinegar, honey, and other herbal goodies necessary to make the recipes of the month. This also includes a generous amount of the “herb of the month” to experiment with above and beyond the recipes included in the herb box. The value of the contents of the box will range between $50-60 in addition to the magazine PDF ($4 value). All of the ingredients will be responsibly sourced and organic whenever possible. If the herbs are not certified organic they will be ethically wildcrafted. No box will ever include gluten, nuts, corn, or dairy.

Essential Oil Wizardry Three levels of membership $20/month gets 1 blend; $49/month 3 items including an essential oil and a tincture; $87/month for 5 items including EO, tincture, and, massage oil plus a 10% off coupon. (Shipping included). Limited to just over 100 members.

Kings Road Apothecary $53.50/month plus shipping. Multi-month subscriptions include free shipping. Kings Road Apothecary in an indie sub sending handcrafted, small-batch, herbal-based products that often are seasonal in nature. Boxes are themed (e.g., pinon, lymphatic support, seaweed, salt & water, etc.) and include four full-sized products in each shipment. Items may include an herbal tincture, tea, body scrub, facial mask or cream, massage oil, and more. Due to the sustainable wildcrafting of the box ingredients only approximately 50 boxes are available each month. This is not a re-billing subscription. Boxes are available as single purchases or can be pre-purchased as a multi-month subscription. To see my Kings Road Apothecary reviews look here.

Pregnancy/New Baby/Mom/Home

16 minute club $35/box, less with multi-month subscriptions. The one-and-only home-delivery lactation support program focused on helping new nursing mothers meet their breastfeeding goals. Developed by IBCLC Wendy Wright 16 Minute Club boxes are designed to provide lactation support for roughly baby’s first year, starting with a prenatal box option. Each box includes a chapter of the 16 Minute Club breastfeeding handbook, as well as a collection of breastfeeding support products. Boxes ship every 6 weeks.

21 Bundles $39.99/month, shipping included. Discounts for multi-month subscriptions. Started by a woman who has served as a pre and post-natal yoga instructor, post-partum doula, Certified Lactation Educator Counselor and nanny, 21 Bundles sends all natural, toxin free products to delight new mom or mom-to-be. Boxes tailored for whatever stage of pregnancy or of baby’s first year and will include 5-8 full size items, with a total retail value of anywhere from $50-$80.

Andrea Schroeder Candle of the Month Club $120 for a 3-month membership. Includes shipping. Each month’s box includes a full size 10.5 oz. Andrea Schroder candle, a travel size candle, a signature notecard, and a special hand selected gift from Andrea Schroder. Candles are made from a blend of coconut, natural, and palm wax. They are non-toxic and free of toxins, artificial dyes, or colorants. Candles are scented with essential oils stabilized with a blend of natural oils. Candles and ingredients are not tested on animals.

Austin Lloyd $49.99/month includes shipping. Discounts for multi-month subscriptions. Each box includes 3-5 premium toys and at least one book catered to your child’s developmental level and gender (or gender neutral), focused on children ages birth to 3 years. All items are non-toxic and BPA-free. These are unique, high end toys that are not typically sold at large retail chains and come from brands like Haba, Plan Toys, Melissa & Doug, and Manhattan Toys among others. They are designed to be engaging and targeted at improving fine motor, cognitive, and social skills. No battery operated toys included.

Ecocentric Mom $24/shipment, shipping included. Ships every other month. Available in three box types (Pregnancy Box, Mom Box, Mom & Baby Box). Each box included 5-9 hand selected products that are gentle on your body and the earth. Items are natural, sustainable, organic, and ethical. Boxes feature a mix of large sample sizes and full size products. Items range from skincare, wellness, snacks, and more in the Mom Box to diapers, skin cream, and organic first food in the Mom & Baby box, to skincare, makeup, spa products, and more in the Pregnancy Box.

Homegrown Collective $39/month plus shipping. Price reduced and shipping free for multi-month subscriptions. Receive a seasonally appropriate, professionally curated box of products that deliver the satisfaction of living a more self-sufficient and sustainable lifestyle. Examples of past boxes include Home Remedies and Cure Alls, Kombucha, Detox in a Box, and The Beauty of Coconut. Boxes include instructions and all supplies needed to create one or more awesome DIY products with each box (may need to provide some basic supplies). Also teaches you how to become more self-sufficient/sustainable.

The Honest Company Offers several monthly themed bundles: Eco-Friendly Disposable Diapers & Wipes ($79.95/month), Essentials-items for home and body care ($35.95/month), Honest Health & Wellness-food based and quality supplements (($35.95/month), and Organic Infant Formula + dha ($119.95/bundle; buyer sets frequency). With the exception of the formula bundle, bundles are fully customized buy the buyer within each theme and specified quantity of items (for example, any 5 items/Essentials bundle; any 2 items/Health & Wellness bundle.

Children/Adolescents

Happy Hedgehog Post Cost $30/month for a la carte purchases, less with multi-month subscriptions. See site for options to Canada. In addition, HedgehogPost offers a Sibling Envelope add-on for $18 with extra materials to make multiples of the primary crafts featured if you have multiple children or if you just want more. A monthly indie envelope subscription featuring products for children and families to enhance their home, crafts, and nature tables. With a distinct focus on the handmade and natural, this subscription may be a good option for families who are familiar with, and appreciate a Waldorf schooling and play approach. Each month will include materials and instructions for one or more craft projects, a Zine featuring season-specific stories, recipes, bonus craft, and more, and a special gift often appropriate for play or to beautify a nature table. 10% of the purchase price of every box goes to support a different charity each month. To see my Happy Hedgehog Post reviews, look here.

Little PNuts Annual subscription required, no month-to month or single box option. $60/quarterly shipment if annual fee of $240 is paid up front. Shipping is included. Can also opt for $25/month payments for 12 months ($300 total), but will still only receive 4 quarterly boxes. Filled with engaging Eco Friendly & Organic Toys designed to encourage creative play and discovery (3-5 toys/shipment). Choose from three programs : Infant 0-12 Months, Toddler 1-3 Years or Preschool 3-6 Years. Partner with many trusted brands such as Haba, Kathe Kruse, Green Toys, Tegu and more.

Love Yourself First Now $29/month, shipping included. Discounts with multi-month subscriptions. Developed by a mother of two and school psychologist. LYFN is targeted for young women ages 14 and up, and is aimed at promoting self-esteem and developing a sense of self through appreciating one’s self rather than looking to others for validation. Each month’s box features a theme and includes 4-6 functional products like jewelry, makeup, accessories, and inspiration to LOVE YOURSELF FIRST-now. Products valued at $40-$60. To see my Love Yourself First-Now reviews, look here.

Magic Craft Box $65/box or $250/year. Magic Onions sends four seasonally-appropriate eco-friendly crafts per seasonal box, using all-natural craft materials. Craft projects echo Magic Onion’s emphasis on handmade treasures for the natural home. Crafts are intended to be done by kids or with kids.

Mindfulness Box Kids $29/month includes shipping. Discounts for multi-month subscriptions. Intended for children ages 3-12 years. This monthly box is aimed at teaching mindfulness to children, while promoting peace in themselves and the world around them. Each month is thoughtfully curated with hands-on activities, literature, meditations, a healthy snack and so much more to nurture your child’s heart and mind.

SparkBox Toys One Sparkbox every 4 weeks $34.99/month; 1 Sparkbox every 8 weeks $19.99/month. Two month minimum for membership. Designed for children ages 0-4 years, Sparkbox is all about the Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. This toy rental subscription sends 4 age-appropriate, gently used toys to your child to enjoy for 4-8 weeks. When the fun is done, just sent the box back for more toys. Shipping both ways is included in the subscription price. Sparkbox will curate your box based on child’s age, but they allow members to review, edit, and fully customize their box if they desire. Toys are screened to be high-quality, unique, award-winners. Some may be plastic and/or require batteries (included), others are made from natural materials. SparkBox uses only eco and child-friendly sterilization solutions to clean their toys between shipments. All toys go through a 5-step cleaning process that includes surface cleaning, sterilization, disinfecting, inspection and vacuum sealing.

SwiggyDiggyDo $39.95/month. Discounts for multi-month subscriptions. Designed for children ages 6 months to four years, however currently box contents will only vary relative to clothing size so some items may be to hand down/gift or grow into depending on your child’s age. SDD seeks to find the best, eco-friendly products that are free of BPA, lead, bromine, phthalates and a bunch of other weird chemicals that companies decide to put into toys, clothing and basically everything else. You will get a custom designed, limited edition shirt for your kid. Along with the shirt, your box might include toys, crafts/activities, books, clothing, feeding items and more.

Whimsy Box $35 plus shipping. Multi-month subscriptions are discounted and include free shipping. In addition, they offer a Sibling Add-On option for $20 which includes the box contents minus the book if you wish to have duplicates for the sibling or if you already own the featured book and would like the additional items to enhance the story. Each month’s package features a book appropriate for children approximately ages preschool through age 8 years as well as several artisan and often handmade items related to the book’s theme to extend the story into the child’s play, as well as a few additional small extras such as stickers, organic treats, and post cards. Past items have included play silks, face masks, wooden figures, musical instruments and more, and often are made from natural materials. To see my Whimsy Kids reviews, look here.

Fair Trade/Handmade

Craftly Just launched and still in beta phase. $19.99/month plus shipping. A lifestyle subscription box for either men or women that features high quality products and handcrafted goods from independent artists, small businesses, and mid-to-large scale brands. Every month, subscribers receive a surprise box of 3-5 samples, full-sized items, and exclusive offers for home, beauty, grooming, tech, fashion, stationary, food, fitness, and more.

Fair Ivy $30/month. Currently monthly and multi-month subscriptions are full but you can request to be added to the wait list. Fair Ivy sends a handmade and hand wrapped gift each month. All items are created by individual US artists, with each month representing a single artist’s creations. Each gift you receive is vegan-friendly, and contains an information card with details of the artist’s process, background, or inspiration, so you can understand the time and care put into each hand-wrapped item. Past selections have included a single jewelry item, a purse or clutch, set of stationary, or selection of bath products.

Fair Treasure $35/month. Discounted for multi-month subs) FT hunts for the most amazing designs in home décor, jewelry, and other accessories, personally curating these finds for each month’s treasure boxes. Sometimes they even work collaboratively with artisan groups to develop and design unique products just for their boxes. Each box will contain at least $30 in retail value of ethically sourced treasures. Typically, your treasure box will contain 2-3 items. They will also include information on the people and communities who made your treasures and are benefiting from your purchase.

Fair Trade Friday $35/month plus shipping. Discounts for multi-month subscriptions. monthly membership club that delivers a box of 3-4 high quality items to your door by the first Friday of the month. The items in the box are often jewelry and accessory items, are fairly traded, and provide employment to women all over the world. 100% of the proceeds from each box goes to the empowerment of impoverished women.

GlobeIn Artisan Box $35/month, shipping free. Discounts for multi-month subscriptions. Each box includes 4-6 artisan-made products from around the world (a “globe in a box”) packaged in a Mexican palm leaf basket, as well as a story about the crafters whom you have supported with your purchase. In addition, GlobeIn just launched a new mini box called the Benefit Basket for $19.99/month, which will feature one lifestyle products per month in their signature Mexican basket. To see my GlobeIn Benefit Basket reviews, look here.

MakrBox $29/month MakrBox features handcrafted artisan goods from the Pacific Northwest. Each month subscribers receive 2-3 curated artisan made kitchen or home goods.

I hope that everyone can find something in the listing above that would be perfect to add a little crunchy delight to their mailbox own or to gift to someone else. If you know of a sub box that I missed that you think belongs in the list, please mention it in the comments.

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Beauty Heroes Subscription Box Unboxing and Review-October 2015

Beauty Heroes Luxury Green Beauty Subscription unboxing & review Natural non-toxic Octuber 2015

Beauty Heroes is a luxe green beauty subscription service (formerly Spa Heroes). The Beauty Heroes mission is to provide their customers with products from the very best non-toxic, clean, green beauty brands. Each month Beauty Heroes sends one full size luxury product, sometimes with a smaller bonus item (because every superhero loves a good sidekick). Products are chosen to fit with the season, and are screened to avoid an impressive laundry list of villain ingredients such as parabens, mineral oil, and triclosan; and to include natural superpower ingredients to nurture your skin such as turmeric, reishi mushroom, and sea buckthorn. Beauty Heroes boxes cost $39.00/month (shipping included) and are less with multi-month subscriptions. Subscribe now and use code HEROLOVE to get $10 off of your first box. Orders placed by October 15th will receive the box reviewed here, while supplies last. Orders placed after the 15th will receive the November box as their first box.

I purchased this box and was not compensated in any way for this review, although review may contain affiliate links. All opinions are my own. To see my other Beauty Heroes unboxings and reviews, look here.

If you would like to see the live-action unboxing, please enjoy the video unboxing below. If you prefer to skip right to the product close-ups and details, scroll down past the video.

The box came with a big, bright “Beauty Heroes” label. I opened it to find an enclosure reviewing the brand and products highlighted (more on that in a moment), as well as one of my favorite quotes from Maya Angalou. First-time subscribers also receive a handy pocket guide listing both villain and superpower ingredients to notice in cosmetic, skincare, and beauty products. I received the guide with my first box in September so it is not pictured below. I think that this pocket guide is great to carry around as a reference when shopping for personal care items.

This month’s expert selection comes from the new-to-me brand, In Fiore. In Fiore was founded in 1999 by Julie Elliott to blend apothecary traditions with modern luxury, maintaining a strong emphasis on botanical aromatics. With a focus on using the highest quality floral ingredients to evoke a luxe sensory experience, In Fiore uses organic, wildcrafted, and biodynamic botanical ingredients from around the world; bottling the results beautifully to extend the spa experience into one’s home.

Beauty Heroes In Fiore Treate Cleansing Emulsion

Beauty Heroes chose In Fiore’s Treate Cleansing Emulsion to highlight as their full-size expert selection of the month (4.2 oz., value $58.00). They noted the superpower ingredients aloe vera leaf juice, rose flower hydrosol, rosehip fruit extract, calendula flower extract, and dandelion root extract; listing anti-aging, calming, clearing, and hydrating among their many benefits to the skin. If you happen to be wondering what the difference is between a hydrosol and an extract, I have more about that here. Beauty Heroes also added that the cleansing emulsion is vegan, cruelty-free, GMO-free, and free of gluten.

In Fiore Treate Cleansing Emulsion-Beauty Heroes

Not wanting to force our hero to fly solo, Beauty Heroes included a travel size bottle of In Fiore’s Lustra Illuminating Essence as a faithful sidekick (1 oz, value $30.00). Working as a team, the two products can be used in the In Fiore signature 4-2-4 cleansing ritual, inspired by Asian cleansing tradition. Beauty Heroes enclosed In Fiore’s brochure describing the 4-2-4 cleansing ritual which begins with four minutes of massaging the Lustra essence onto the face and neck. A series of eight illustrations guide you through the massage sequence, which appears to be designed to lift the skin, stimulate circulation, and promote movement of the lymph system. Following four minutes of massage with the Lustra essence, the Treate Cleansing Emulsion is layered atop the essence and the massage sequence is continued for another two minutes. When that time is complete, the face and neck are rinsed with warm water for two minutes, followed by two minutes of cold water rinsing.

Beauty Heroes October 2015 subscription In Fiore Lustra Illuminating Essence

I was excited to try this ritual and was grateful that Beauty Heroes included both products to allow for the more complete experience. The Lustra essence is an oil-based cleanser, blending light oils such as grapeseed, jojoba, avocado, and castor oil and infusing the mix with jasmine extract, rosemary, arnica, cypress, and other botanicals. The essence has a heady jasmine fragrance and a silky feel on the skin. I have used oil cleansers in the past and enjoy them, but I appreciated the added ritual of massaging my face and neck for the prescribed time, and as illustrated. I could certainly feel the stimulating effects of the massage, and my skin “waking up” in response.

The In Fiore 4-2-4 system

The In Fiore 4-2-4 system

Initially I thought that I was to rinse the essence before using the emulsion (this is how I have approached multi-step Korean beauty cleansing in the past), however In Fiore instructed me to layer the Treate emulsion over the essence and continue with two minutes of slow massage. The emulsion is similar to a light lotion in its texture, and less aromatic than the essence, although still floral in its fragrance. It paired well with the essence, which helped it to glide smoothly over my skin throughout the massage. Once the time was complete, I finished the cleanse with the four minute warm/cold water rinse as directed, even though I am not at all a fan of ending a cleansing experience with a cold water rinse (this applies to showers and hair rinses as well). I find the experience uncomfortably shocking, although I know that the shock is what makes it so stimulating for circulation and for the lymph system. Perhaps I should try to think of it as exhilarating or refreshing.

In Fiore Lustra Essence and Treate Emulsion

In Fiore Lustra Essence and Treate Emulsion

In total, the ritual experience was a bit reminiscent of the things that I have done in the past to stimulate my circulatory and lymphatic drainage systems to help eliminate toxins following my cancer-related procedures. I can certainly understand how these invigorating movements can increase blood flow and move congested fluid from the face and neck, which I imagine would help to ease puffiness. As mentioned in the video, I also appreciated that all massaging motions were in an upwards direction to prevent tugging skin in a way that might encourage sagging.

Spending ten minutes cleaning my face is not always a practical option, but I do think that I could do a more abbreviated cleanse in the morning and commit to the 4-2-4 ritual in the evening when I am less hurried. I think that it would be a wonderful way to unwind from the day and would feel very indulgent. I left the experience feeling like I had done something special for my skin. My face and neck were exceptionally soft and I smelled beautiful (I may have made several family members sniff me).

Beauty Heroes Luxe green beauty subscription box October 2015 featuring In Fiore

I think that the curation and branding of Beauty Heroes is so clever and well-executed. The concept of green beauty saving our skin and bodies from evil toxic ingredients and enhancing them through ingredient superpowers resonates with me. The packaging of the monthly expert selection with the little superhero mask is eye-catching and memorable. Tucking in the helpful sidekick product is an adorable way to carry through the superhero theme, in addition to being practical. Brands typically develop the products in their line to work well synergistically. It is wonderful to be able to not just sample a single item, but to use multiple products from a featured green beauty line. The full-size hero products and generous trial-sized sidekicks allow for use over an extended period of time to really get a sense of product efficacy.

I have been incredibly impressed with the brands that Beauty Heroes has featured. The brands represent a growing area in the green beauty market that I have been so excited to see; luxury green beauty often rooted in herbalism or plant-based tradition. Opening my Beauty Heroes box feels like a a trip back to A Night for Green Beauty. I enjoy receiving products from familiar luxe green beauty brands and being introduced to new brands that I quickly come to love. The value of this month’s box was $88.00, which I think is a fantastic value for the $39.00 box price. Beauty Heroes allows me to integrate luxury green beauty into my life on a regular basis at a sustainable and affordable price. I truly am beginning to feel like I step into a spa every time I enter my bathroom and use my growing collection of luxe natural products. I think that it is safe to say that Beauty Heroes is my favorite beauty subscription to date. I feel like it was tailor made for me, but I imagine that anyone passionate about green beauty with an appreciation for high quality luxury would feel the same.

I would love to hear your thoughts or experiences with Beauty Heroes. If you want to get your hands on the October box, do not delay. You must order on or before October 15th to receive this box. Remember to use the code HEROLOVE for $10 off of your first box. Orders placed October 16 or later will receive the November box as their first shipment.

If you would like to see my most recent listing of “crunchy-friendly” subscription boxes, you can find that here. It does not have Beauty Heroes on the list, but they will be added to the autumn update very soon. To see other crunchy subscription box video unboxings, look here on the Crunchy Parent You Tube channel. If you have any suggestions or requests for future videos, please let me know in the comments, and be sure to subscribe to Crunchy Parent.

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Kombucha 101: Grow your own SCOBY

Crunchy Parent Kombucha 101 Growing your own SCOBY at home from store bought kombucha

I remember the first time that I tasted kombucha, a fermented tea beverage. I was at a trade show for the specialty food industry with my mother and some brand representative thrust little cups of this exotic, fizzy, tea beverage into our hands as we walked down the aisles of vendor booths. We each took a sip, turned to one another with expressions that communicated our displeasure, and deposited our little cups into the next trash receptacle down the aisle. This was about fifteen years ago and I have no recollection what brand we were trying, why we found the taste so unpleasant, or how I came upon kombucha again with a more open mind years later, but it is now one of my very favorite beverages to make and to drink.

For those unfamiliar with kombucha, it is a beverage made by introducing a symbiotic culture of (good) bacteria and (good) yeast (known to its friends as a SCOBY) into a batch of sweetened tea. The SCOBY feeds off of the sugar in the tea and releases carbon dioxide throughout the fermentation process, creating a bubbly brew. The fermenting process allows the yeasts and bacteria to multiply into the tea, yielding a probiotic elixir that can do all of the wonderful things for the gut that we have come to understand and expect from probiotics. (See this article for a bit more about which probiotics have been found across kombucha samples). As we have also been learning more about the important connection between our gut and our overall immune system, kombucha may represent another way to introduce robust probiotic populations into our diet and into our gut, resulting in an overall healthier immune system.

I had become interested in kombucha once again when I began to learn and think more about cultured foods as the kids advanced through their Waldorf school. Part of the parent education piece in preschool included discussions about diet and the gut, and featured a lot of conversations about Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions, as well as Weston Price, both of whom emphasized cultured foods and gut health. As I played around at home with sauerkraut and other cultured vegetables, at some point a bottle of kombucha made its way into my cart at the health food store. This was a bit odd for me as I am a water and hot tea drinker by nature. I really do not enjoy any other beverages and am not inclined to experiment with them often. That said, I loved the refreshing bite and bubbles in kombucha, and it quickly became another preferred way to hydrate and refresh.

As any regular kombucha drinker knows, a kombucha habit can become costly to support as bottles can run upwards of $4-$5 each at the store. Moreover, although the selection of available kombucha options is ever-expanding as kombucha’s popularity soars, one is still limited to the flavors available at their local markets. Fortunately kombucha is very inexpensive to make on your own, especially once you get your basic ingredients and set up ready to go (i.e., loose tea, organic sugar, good water, a brewing container, bottles, and of course your SCOBY). I knew how to source out the basic ingredients, but finding a SCOBY can be a challenge. I was lucky because one of the teachers at the school at the time brewed her own kombucha regularly and thus had SCOBYs to share (each batch will yield a new “baby SCOBY” in addition to the reusable “mother SCOBY”). I used the SCOBY that I was gifted and its resulting babies to brew and share for years. Unfortunately, with our move and extended time living in someone else’s home, I could not maintain my brewing or my SCOBYs. As soon as we got into our new house, brewing kombucha was high on my list of things to do right away, but despite asking around I could not get my hands on a new SCOBY. I considered several options (purchase one online, drive a distance to a store that sells them fresh, etc.) but in the end I opted to just grow my own.

There has been a fair amount of debate in kombucha brewing circles for a while about the feasibility of growing a SCOBY from store-bought kombucha. I participate in an active kombucha-brewing discussion group and this topic pops up a lot. Some of you may recall that a number of years ago, Whole Foods sent a panic out to their kombucha-drinking customers when they pulled all of the kombucha off of store shelves for months due to concern that the alcohol content in these beverages may have exceeded the 0.5% threshold that distinguishes “non-alcoholic beverage” from “Mommy can’t drink that in the car on the way to yoga class.” As a result of this debacle, many kombucha manufactures modified their brewing practices. It has been speculated that these changes in the brewing process have somehow altered the viability of the kombucha in such a way that it hinders the growth of a SCOBY. The general consensus is that if one is attempting to use store-bought kombucha to grow a SCOBY, they should look for a bottle that is clearly labeled “raw” and that has no added flavoring agents, like juice. To grow my SCOBY, I purchased a 16 oz. bottle of GT’s Original Organic Raw Kombucha. For good measure, I looked for one that had a lot of “gunk” in the bottom of the bottle (which I think is technically yeast, not gunk, but nevertheless having more seems to jump start the process).

Empty bottle. So excited to get started that I forgot to take a picture first.

Empty bottle. So excited to get started that I forgot to take a picture first.

There is not much that is required to grow a SCOBY, but it is important that you keep everything really clean. Because you are working with a fermentation process, you don’t want to have bad fungi or bacteria hanging out and proliferating along with the good. Accordingly, you want to make sure that you use a sterilized, clear, non-leaded glass vessel to grow your SCOBY or a sterile ceramic fermenting container. DO NOT use a plastic container or any glass with additives such as colors or metals as chemicals will leach into the tea and SCOBY during the fermentation process, which means that you’d be sipping toxins with your tea and we do not want that. I used a quart size glass canning jar that I sterilized in my dishwasher and immediately removed to put to use as my SCOBY incubator. You can also sterilize your glass jar in boiling water, in a low temperature oven, etc. I would recommend using a large-mouthed jar if possible to allow for the best air flow and surface area for SCOBY growth. The SCOBY will grow to the exact circumference of the container and you want a good size SCOBY for future batches. Also, if the top of the container is more narrow, it can be tougher to get your SCOBY out of the jar in one piece when you are ready to make your batch of kombucha.

Once you have your sterile glass jar all clean and dry, just open up your bottle of kombucha and dump it in. It’s that simple. You are going to want to let your kombucha breathe while it works to grow that SCOBY since it needs to keep taking in oxygen and releasing carbon dioxide. That said, you don’t want your jar open to all of what is floating or flying around in the air. I generally cover my jar with a scrap of clean muslin or cotton. In a pinch a scrap of an old (clean) cotton shirt will work, or in the case of having just moved into a new house and not knowing where anything is, you can use a piece of a clean paper towel. Secure your cover to the jar with a rubber band, string, or the band of the canning jar lid (without the lid piece). Next you just want to place your SCOBY jar in some out of the way place. Not too cool or too hot, and not in direct sunlight. You also want to be mindful of the need to breathe, so a counter top is good, but a closed cabinet is not. In my experience the kombucha does not like to be jostled about, especially in the early stages when a new SCOBY is growing. If you do it will disturb the SCOBY growth, which happens along the very surface of the tea. This may cause the growing SCOBY to drop down from the surface and a new one will have to start growing all over again (not a critical error, but annoying). So it really is best to find some out of the way counter space for your SCOBYs growth process, which can take from weeks to a month or so.

The following photos show my SCOBY’s progress:

Here she is after about three days. Not a whole lot going on.

Growing SCOBY from store-bought Kombucha. Slow progress on Day 3

Now we’re about a week in. You can see a thin film starting to form on the surface. That is the new SCOBY growing. From the top it looks a bit patchy, which sometimes makes people freak out (they think that it’s getting moldy). If it is fuzzy, blue, green, or black you may have a problem; but slimy, white, brown, or tan are typical SCOBY traits, and those patches will expand and grow together to make the complete SCOBY surface.

Kombucha progress-Day 7 of growing my own SCOBY from storebought GT's

It’s been about 19 days. SCOBY is starting to thicken up. You can see a couple of layers because there were two occasions when I jostled or moved the jar a bit because I was trying to get a better angle for taking pictures for demonstrative purposes to show you what it would look like. I also was worried that there might not be enough sugar in the tea to support healthy growth, so I added about a teaspoon of organic sugar to it and tried to push down the edge of the SCOBY gently with a clean straw to allow the sugar to dissolve into the tea. The new SCOBY just continued to form over the layers and they had not totally separated from the top so no biggie.

Growing my own kombucha SCOBY from storebought booch. Progress on day 19

Day 30 (today)!!! I can’t believe that it’s been a month already. I really should have unpacked more by now, which has nothing to do with the topic at hand, but goodness a month already!?!

Growing my own kombucha SCOBY from scratch. Progress day 30. Success!

The SCOBY is not quite 3/4” thick and is very pretty, if you’re into that sort of thing. You can see some of the CO2 bubbles trapped below the SCOBY and some yeast “gunk” hanging off the bottom of the SCOBY to the right. I will be brewing up my first batch of kombucha with my new SCOBY soon, as well as using the remaining tea in the jar as the starter tea for the batch. It is still a small SCOBY, so I will need to brew a relatively small batch, but it will get the job done.

If you want to join me in kombucha brewing, start growing your SCOBY now and get your hands on some organic sugar and non-flavored, loose leaf, black tea or you can blend black, green, and/or rooibos tea (unflavored is a must though). You’ll also want a larger non-leaded glass container for your larger brew. I use this type of jar without the lid. They are often sold in 1/2 gallon, 1 gallon, or 2 gallon sizes at stores like Target. Hold onto that kombucha bottle as well because it will come in handy when you are bottling your homemade brew. We’ll talk more about the “why”s of all of those specifics next time, but just trust me for now.

Have you ever brewed your own kombucha at home or grown your own SCOBY from scratch? If you have any tips or favorite flavor combinations to share, I’d love to hear them.

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Beauty Heroes Subscription Box Unboxing and Review-September 2015

Beauty Heroes natural, green, subscription box

Beauty Heroes is a recently rebranded subscription service (formerly Spa Heroes). The Beauty Heroes mission is to provide products from the best of the best non-toxic, clean, green beauty brands to their customers. Each month Beauty Heroes sends one full size product, sometimes with a bonus surprise. Products are chosen to fit with the season, and are screened to avoid an impressive laundry list of villain ingredients such as parabens, mineral oil, and triclosan; and to include natural superpower ingredients to nurture your skin such as turmeric, reishi mushroom, and sea buckthorn. Beauty Heroes boxes cost $39.00/month (shipping included) and are less with multi-month subscriptions. Subscribe now and use code HEROLOVE to get $10 off of your first box. Orders placed by September 15th will receive the September box reviewed here, while supplies last.

When I first discovered Beauty Heroes, I mistakenly thought that they were based in the UK and did not ship to the US (I have no idea why). I was so happy to learn that I was wrong. Beauty Heroes is based in the US and will ship not only to the US but also to the UK, Canada, Australia, Sweden, and France (see site for details).

I purchased this box and was not compensated in any way for this review, although review may contain affiliate links. All opinions are my own.

If you would like to see the live-action unboxing, please enjoy the video unboxing below. If you prefer to skip right to the product close-ups and details, scroll down past the video.

The box came with a big, bright “Beauty Heroes” label. I opened it to find an enclosure announcing this month’s expert selection; listing the ingredients and highlighting why it was chosen (more on that in a moment). The enclosure also included an apropos quote from Maya Angalou, “When you know better, you do better,” and a handy pocket guide listing both villain and superpower ingredients to notice in cosmetic, skincare, and beauty products. I think that this pocket guide would be great to carry around as a reference when shopping for personal care items.

When I lifted up the puff of protective packing shred, I was delighted to see this month’s product mysteriously shrouded in tissue, and decked out in a bright red bow and matching red superhero mask. I thought that it was just adorable and made a clear and lasting impression that some beauty products can be superheroes for our health and beauty, whereas others may not. Tucked in next to my masked superhero product was a faithful “bonus” sidekick.

The brand being highlighted this month is Kahina Giving Beauty. I had become familiar with the brand when researching for A Night for Green Beauty. I had learned that Kahina is a woman-owned company started Katharine L’Heureux after travels to Morocco introduced her to argan oil, a seemingly wondrous skincare ingredient that the Berber women of Morocco have been using for generations to protect their skin against the rough desert conditions. Katharine brought together her years of experience working in public relations for many natural food and beauty brands, along with her philanthropic nature to develop Kahina Giving Beauty. Kahina partnered with the Berber women to establish cooperatives of women to provide high quality argan oil for the beauty line; providing these women with a fair wages and a sustainable source of income. For more on this incredible brand and the story behind their unique packaging, you can see the video above.

Just prior to A Night for Green Beauty I had cashed in Birchbox points that I had been squirreling away and had ordered a number of green beauty products that I wanted to try, including the Kahina facial cleanser. I have been using the cleanser for the last month or so and have been very happy with its efficacy, and its light, natural scent. My skin has been soft and balanced. When Beauty Heroes released its September pick and announced that it would feature a full size Kahina Giving Beauty product with a travel size sidekick, I was sold.

Beauty Heroes September 2015 subscription bo Kahina Giving Beauty Eye Serum

When I unwrapped my Beauty Hero product, I was gazing at a full size bottle of the Kahina Eye Serum (15 ml, value $78.00). As mentioned, Beauty Heroes had already revealed the box contents, so I knew that this was on the way to me, and I was very eager to try it. I have been on the lookout for a nourishing eye product. I tend to have a lot of darkness under my eyes, which I do not love. I also am very sensitive to eye products. Many of them have left me with scaly patches under my eyes that take a long time to correct. I was on the prowl for a gentle and effective eye serum that would be green and healthy for me as well. Facial and eye serums can be quite an investment so I was grateful to have the opportunity to try this eye serum from a trusted green beauty brand for a discounted price. I will add that a little drop of the serum is plenty for the area around both of my eyes so I can see this bottle lasting a very long time. The serum in light and non-greasy. It absorbs quickly and has a very gentle, natural scent. I have only been using it for a couple of days so I cannot comment much about efficacy, but I will say that the skin around my eyes is very soft and I have not had any sign of the serum drying out the super-sensitive skin under my eyes.

Beauty Heroes non-toxic Kahina Giving Beauty facial lotion

The sidekick product tucked in next to our hero was a generous travel size bottle of Kahina’s Facial Lotion (30 ml, stated value $37.00). This lightweight moisturizer also has a natural, gentle scent. It spread over my skin easily and absorbed quickly on its own, and I liked that I could enrich it even more for evening or dry weather by adding a drop or two of a facial oil (as I am prone to doing because I like to gild lilies). Moreover, in addition to being natural, mildly scented, and pleasant to use, both products came in Kahina’s beautiful dark glass bottle with pump dispensers, allowing me to use just the right amount of product and avoid contamination from the outside world (basically, my fingers).

Beauty Heroes September subscription box Kahina Giving Beauty

I am beyond thrilled with my first Beauty Heroes experience. The product quality, packaging, information, and value were all excellent. I must admit that I get a bit nervous with subscription services that send only one main product each month because it can be quite a gamble. I feel far safer betting on Beauty Heroes after seeing the brands that they have chosen to work with in the past and the extent to which they scrutinize products to make sure that they are sending out the true heroes of green beauty. Their list of avoided villain ingredients is the most extensive that I have seen of any green beauty subscription to date. In addition, Beauty Heroes releases the contents of their monthly box at the start of the month, allowing the month-to-month subscribers to skip the month for whatever reason if they wish (see Beauty Heroes FAQs for details). Beauty Heroes also maintains a shop of products from many of the brands that they have featured. All Beauty Heroes members are offered a 15% discount off of shop purchases at any time. In addition, the hero theme is carried out so brilliantly through the product inserts, consumer education, and packaging. I was right in my video prediction. That mask did make its way into the children’s hands. The next time I went into Asher’s room, I spied Bongo giving me the side eye.

Beauty Heroes mask finds a new superhero

I would love to hear your thoughts or experiences with Beauty Heroes. If you want to get your hands on this fantastic Kahina box, do not delay. You must order on or before Tuesday September 15th to receive this box. Remember to use the code HEROLOVE for $10 off of your first box. Orders placed September 16 or later will receive the October box as their first shipment.

If you would like to see my most recent listing of “crunchy-friendly” subscription boxes, you can find that here. It does not have Beauty Heroes on the list, but they will be added to the autumn update very soon. To see other crunchy subscription box video unboxings, look here on the Crunchy Parent You Tube channel. If you have any suggestions or requests for future videos, please let me know in the comments, and be sure to subscribe to Crunchy Parent.

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A Night for Green Beauty: Recap and Review (Part 2)

A Night for Green Beauty 2015

Oh my goodness, I cannot believe how overwhelming it has been to try to unpack and settle in after our move. It boggles my mind how the time has flown since I posted Part One of my A Night for Green Beauty Recap and Review. I wanted to wait until I was a bit more settled and could give the second part of the recap the attention that it deserved. If you missed out, A Night for Green Beauty is an exceptional event that brings together top green beauty brands and fans from around the globe, as well as new up-and-coming brands.

A Night for Green Beauty

As mentioned in Part One, this year’s event featured thirty-four amazing brands striving to raise the bar on glamour, quality, and luxury within the green beauty industry. I was thoroughly impressed by the brands represented and the products on display at the show. It was exciting to see new products being unveiled at the show, and a true delight to speak directly with the product creators. It was inspiring to see the drive and passion of the innovators in green beauty. Please see Part One for more complete details of the event and a review of several ANFGB brands.

I wanted to talk about another handful of the outstanding companies at the event. As mentioned earlier, I did my best to spend time at every table and attempt to engage the brand creators or representatives in conversation about their products, but was not able to chat with each and every one. Likewise, although I tried to take as many photos as possible, I wasn’t able to represent all of the green beauty brands at the show. Please consider the following pictures and description to be a window into the event, but not a complete illustration of the utter fabulousness.

There were many draws for me with respect to ANFGB and a strong one was the ability to see and feel products that are not readily available to me at brick-and-mortar retailers. One product that I was especially interested to try in person was the coconut oil from Cocovit. As I have mentioned before, there was a time when the green beauty market was underdeveloped or unknown to me, yet I was so against putting potential toxins onto my skin in the name of beauty that I had distilled my beauty routine down to aloe gel, shea butter, and coconut oil. It did not work well for me, so I was very intrigued by Cocovit’s coconut oil which claimed to be a unlike the coconut oil that I knew. I was dubious about the idea that coconut oil in a pretty jar could really be significantly different than what I used in my smoothies or for skincare in the past. I had read Sarita Coren’s post singing the praises of Cocovit’s coconut oil, but I wanted to see it for myself.

Cocovit at A Night for Green Beauty 2015

I made sure to stop by the Cocovit table and was pleased to learn that the growing company is local to Chicago (and therefore local to me). In addition to their foundational product, coconut oil, Cocovit had also introduced two new products just prior to, and at the show. On display was their new Coconut Charcoal face mask made from a blend of coconut charcoal, bentonite clay, and herbs to detoxify the skin. They also were showing their new Orange and Basil Lip Balm which smelled divine. I however made a beeline directly for the coconut oil itself, and I must say that it was completely different from any coconut oil that I have experienced before. It had a luxurious, velvety texture and was far less greasy than traditional “market” coconut oil. I could very much see it working well in beauty and skincare applications. I was both surprised and impressed by the quality of the product, which I had assumed would not be as distinct from my familiar and disappointing coconut oil of the past. Although I did not come home from the show with any of Cocovit’s product, I look forward to having an chance to try their line in the future.

Josh Rosebrook at A Night for Green Beauty 2015

One line that I had an opportunity to try prior to the show was Josh Rosebrook. I had received his Cacao Antioxidant Mask as part of a limited edition Goodebox to benefit the breast cancer fund (now sold out). I loved the powerful herbal and other plant ingredients in the mask. Whenever I used it, not only did I feel like I was covering my face in a rich chocolate sauce (nothing bad about that), but it left my skin feeling baby-soft and looking refreshed. I was fortunate to be able to speak with Josh at length. He was delightfully warm and kind, and so clearly fascinated by the power of plants and their ability to enhance healing. I was struck by the use of herbs that I haven’t often seen in skincare such as the chickweed and skullcap in his delicious-smelling Deep Hydrating Serum, a scent owed in no small part to the marshmallow root and organic vanilla also listed among its ingredients. Josh also spoke about recent experiences using neem to support healing and his desire to incorporate it even more in future products. I would have enjoyed staying around to talk with Josh longer, but he had other people to chat with and I had other green beauty brands to explore.

R.L. Linden at A Night for Green Beauty 2015

Not surprisingly, I continued to find myself drawn to brands that were grounded in herbalism. I quickly noticed chickweed among the many beautiful ingredients in products at Laurel Whole Plant Organics (as I had now developed a chickweed fascination). Laurel Whole Plant Organic’s extensive flower and herb-based line boasts biodynamic, organic, and raw ingredients. Laurel has clearly put tremendous knowledge, thought, and integrity to work in creating her namesake line and products, and it was a pleasure to meet her and hear her talk about her creations. I also adored talking to herbalist Lynn Till, who along with friend and certified Master Nutrition Therapist, Robin King created the company R.L. Linden. R.L. Linden has an array of products in their line ranging from teas and perfumes, to skincare and body care items. In full disclosure I got so completely caught up in my fantastic conversation with Lynn that I neglected to explore the products in person at the show. At the end of the night I was absolutely kicking myself as a result. In the process of researching all of the companies prior to ANFGB there were some products that I had starred and highlighted as must-sees. Several of the R. L. Linden Denver-Inspired Perfume Oils were front and center on that list. Fortunately for me, R. L. Linden sells sample packs of many of their products through their website as well as perfume samples, so trying out a host of their products can be done with ease by those who could not attend the show or those, who like me, found themselves so sept away by the event at times that we forgot our full agendas.

R. L. Linden at A Night for Green Beauty 2015

Despite my affinity for those with herbalism leanings, there were a host of brands whose roots came through other experiences and areas of expertise. I had an opportunity to speak with Heidi Miller from May Lindstrom’s team who told me about May’s upbringing on a farm in rural Minnesota and her explorations into the plants and earth all around her throughout her childhood. Heidi indicated that May seems to have developed a sense of how plants and ingredients will work together; creating the jasmine garden botanical mist in a short burst of reflection and tinkering after a customer requested a jasmine-scented product. The resulting creation was so well-received that it was made a permanent fixture in the line, which also contains products designed to cleanse, detoxify, and hydrate face, body, and hair using a combination of organic, raw, and wildcrafted ingredients.

Bottega Organica A Night for Green Beauty 2015

Bottega Organica came to skincare through a rather circuitous route. One of their founders is molecular geneticist Andrea Alimonti, whose research into cancer cures led him to an appreciation for the impact of specific plant extracts on cellular health. This marriage of health science and botany led to the development of a line focused on anti-aging products aimed at preserving and rejuvenating cellular health using 100% natural ingredients. The researcher and the cancer survivor in me appreciated the brand’s focus on the scientific basis of their key ingredients and the clinical testing used to evaluate product efficacy; as well as their commitment to using ingredients that support health, avoidance of harmful ingredients, and donation of a minimum of 10% of all profits to organizations involved in cancer cure and prevention. Bottega Organica graciously provided me with samples of a couple of their products (reviews to follow), and I cannot say enough positive things about the stunning list of plant-based ingredients or the intoxicating scent derived from prawn sage, one of their signature ingredients.

La Bella Figura at A Night for Green Beauty 2015

I simply could not end A Night for Green Beauty without visiting the La Bella Figura table as they are the amazing brand that created and founded the entire ANFGB event. Another Chicago-based company, La Bella Figura showcases skincare, perfumes, and cosmetics that embody luxury and beauty. I have made no secret about my passion for prickly pear, and La Bella Figura bases many of the products in their line off of barbary fig (prickly pear) seed oil. In fact, one of the special features of ANFGB was the offering of some products that would be completely exclusive to the show. Among these was a limited run of La Bella Figura’s Organic Barbary Fig Seed Oil enhanced with prickly pear flower essential oil. I had to stop and catch my breath after hearing about the the serendipitous discovery of an apothecary in Italy which had a few precious bottles of prickly pear flower essential oil that was made there only once each year. These bottles were brought back to Chicago and used to create La Bella Figura’s ANFGB exclusives. I had to purchase a bottle of this treasure for myself out of respect for the care and craft of every person along the way who contributed to its creation. I have been using it with love and gratitude since the show and will review it, and some of La Bella Figura’s other beautiful products, in a separate post.

I ended the evening with a smile on my face and a bag filled with purchases, samples, and business cards that I have will look forward to reviewing and sharing. I cannot overstate how extremely pleased I was with the whole event and the opportunity to connect with, and learn more about, these exceptional green beauty brands. I am a bit anxious to hear about the future plans as the green beauty market evolves and explores different platforms for interacting with the community. This was the final year for the A Night for Green Beauty Event, but my fingers are crossed that we have not seen the last of magical green beauty events to remember.

Have you recently discovered any favorite new products from this year’s ANFGB brands? I would love to hear your product thoughts and recommendations.

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A Night for Green Beauty 2015: Recap and Review (Part 1)

A Night for Green Beauty 2015

If you have stopped by CrunchyParent.com or my CrunchyParent Twitter in recent weeks, you have probably heard me talking about A Night for Green Beauty. Ever since I first learned of the event that brings together top green beauty brands and fans from around the globe, I have been counting down the days until I could attend. I could not have been more thrilled that ANFGB picked a venue in local-to-me Chicago to host their third, and final year of A Night for Green Beauty.

A Night for Green Beauty

This year’s event boasted thirty-four amazing brands striving to raise the bar on glamour, quality, and luxury within the green beauty industry. In preparation for the event, I broke out my Ph.D. research skills and thoroughly vetted all of the brands who would be in attendance. I was universally impressed with each and every brand, and I have never been accused of being easily impressed. There was no greenwashing to be found; every brand had a story as well as a passion for wellness alongside the enhancement of beauty and the preservation of cellular health. Countless brands were rooted in herbalism, several were founded by physicians, and most of the companies had come into being in the last several years in response to a need for healthy skincare, cosmetic, or fragrance items in their own lives that was not being satisfied by what they were finding in the market. Looking more deeply into the individual product lines, the list of plant and mineral ingredients were amazing. I was incredibly eager to take advantage of opportunities to speak with the brand founders and representatives in an effort to learn more about the function of the various ingredients and to see, smell, and touch these gorgeous creations.

The ANFGB event ran from 6-10 pm. on a Thursday night. It was free and open to the public. I arrived at the Venue One, where ANFGB was being held, just moments before the doors opened. The ANFGB Twitter suggested that show attendees received goody bags from Integrity Botanicals. If that was the case, I missed out so I cannot confirm the bag or its contents, but I am sure that whatever they housed was amazing. The room for the event was spacious, yet still packed with other natural beauty enthusiasts. The area had two levels of vendor displays winding their way across the floor and along the walls, in addition to a separate boutique section where products exclusive to the event were being sold. The vendor display tables varied in their aesthetic, but all were beautiful. I personally found myself drawn to the tables that showcased captivating crystals or raw ingredients such as fruits, herbs, and butters. Something about seeing natural, raw ingredients pulls at my inner being and my curiosity about what goes into the products and makes them effective and special.

I did my best to spend time at every table and attempt to engage the brand creators or representatives in conversation about their products. Of course, I was not the only person vying for their attention and was thus unable to speak with every one. Likewise, although I tried to document the event in photos as much as possible, in some cases I simply could not get close enough to a crowded table to get a shot. On the other hand, there were occasions when I got so caught up in a discussion with a brand creator that I forgot to take a photo entirely. Please consider the following pictures and description to be a window into the event, but not a complete illustration of the utter fabulousness. I will try to hold back on a minute-by-minute description of how I spent the entire four hours there, although it will pain me to leave anything out. Rich reminds me on occasion that not everyone is as captivated by the minutia of green beauty as I am, but I am not entirely convinced that he is correct. Nevertheless, in the interest of writing a blog and not a book at this juncture, I will edit myself (sob), and also review the event in a two-part miniseries.

Among the many exciting opportunities at ANFGB, was the chance to see the upcoming product launches for the various lines. The first table that I visited at the event was Province Apothecary.

Province Apothecary

Province Apothecary

I was intrigued by many of the beautiful skincare, fragrance, and wellness items in their line, but my attention was quickly grabbed by their Full Brow Serum. I have been on the lookout as of late for natural eyebrow enhancement products. Eyebrows have been having a moment in recent years, yet I have been struggling to find eyebrow enhancement products that are not mineral-oil based or otherwise less than green. Julie, of Province Apothecary, told me that the brow serum is their newest, yet-to-be-released product. She added that the rosemary and coffee in the serum stimulate blood flow and enhance eyebrow growth and fullness over time. Other serum ingredients of note included burdock root, cedarwood, bay, and horsetail (a hot ingredient seen throughout the show,) along with additional natural ingredients in a blend of oils such as castor seed, argan, pomegranate, and broccoli. Providence Apothecary handed out samples of various products to show guests, and happily that included me. Look forward to reviews to come.

As I moved throughout the room, I made my way to Mun. Their streamlined skincare line features a single serum and toner, both of which are inspired by prickly pear, a plant that has fully captured my heart and held my attention since my recent travels out to the Sonoran Desert. It is another powerful plant ingredient that appeared in multiple product lines at the show.

Mun new release

Mun’s new release

Mun was giving a sneak peek of their next products scheduled for release. The first was a kit stocked with a trio of travel-sizes of their products, specifically the No.1 Aknari Brightening Youth serum; the No.11 Anarose Rejuvenating Rose toner; and No.0 Argon Pure Argan Oil, a new product that is currently exclusive to the travel kit. The second item that Mun debuted at the show the No. 7 Ayour Body Toning Serum, a silky soft serum with an intoxicating cucumber scent (if you are as in love with cucumber as I am). There was not a list of ingredients on-hand at the event, but Mun reached out to me to confirm that the delicious aroma was due to the inclusion of 100% pure cucumber seed oil from Chile.

Meow Meow Tweet-woodland display and eye-catching artwork.

Meow Meow Tweet’s woodland display and eye-catching artwork.

I had wonderful conversations with the women behind the brands Meow Meow Tweet, Mahalo Skin Care, and Stark. I expect that if we lived closer, we could all spend a lot of time together chatting about plants and skincare. I think that we would have a lot of fun.

Mahalo Skin Care's signature bamboo packaging

Mahalo Skin Care’s signature bamboo packaging

All three brands craft their small-batch, ingredients-driven products by hand, and house them in distinctly different yet equally striking packaging. I received product samples, or already own products from all three lines, so I will save more extensive descriptions of each brand for individual product review posts in the interest of the aforementioned blog vs. book goal.

Stark Skincare-clean and simple packaging with an urban edge

Stark Skincare-clean and simple packaging with an urban edge

As I rounded out the first floor of the show area, I lingered for a while at the Strange Invisible Perfumes table. I had been reading about their scents, which are crafted with the highest standards for botanical perfumes that I have seen to date.

Strange Invisible Perfumes-something very special

Strange Invisible Perfumes-something very special

They use only certified organic, wildcrafted, biodynamic, and hydro-distilled plant essences, which they hand blend and age for at least six months in a base of custom-distilled esprit de Cognac. I was curious to learn about hydro-distillation, having only been familiar with steam distillation methods for essential oil extraction. I was treated to a photo illustration of the hydro distillation process, which reminded me a bit of dehydration methods for raw foodists; a gentle heating with a low temperature threshold that preserves even the most delicate plant chemistry and aromatic profile. I was captivated by the four scents in the line that I smelled at the show (the line encompasses twenty-six distinct fragrance blends in total). Each perfume was a complex synergy of fragrances that somehow still allowed the individual components to shine through. Although all blended with flowers as a key note, the cognac base kept the perfumes very adult in personality; none were cloyingly sweet. Likewise, despite containing many familiar scents such as rose, gardenia, and vanilla, the fragrances are enhanced with more esoteric botanicals and blended to create incredibly distinct personalities that left a lasting impression. I regret not being able to take time to more fully explore a scent for me to bring home, but with all that there was to see at the show, I got swept away and never made it back to the Strange Invisible table for a more in-depth look before the show ended.

This handful of brands gives a sense of some of the variety and quality available on display at this year’s A Night For Green Beauty event. It was evident throughout the show that green beauty has come a very long way in the past 5-10 years. It seems to me that the green beauty industry is on the precipice of something very special; a true leap into luxury beauty with powerful plant-based ingredients that deliver incredible results without harming the user or the world around us. The understanding of herbal tradition and the range and quality of plant ingredients included suggested not just a vision for skincare and cosmetics that would not harm, but products that truly nourish the body. It was exciting to experience. If you haven’t gotten enough of A Night for Green Beauty (and how could you have?) I have Part 2 of my ANFGB 2015 miniseries still to come (you can now read it here). It will feature more of the incredible brands and more of the remarkably talented and passionate people behind the brands.

What did you think of A Night for Green Beauty 2015 and the brands represented? Did they live up to, or even exceed your expectations?

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Barganic Alert: Goodebox giveaway for all 5 ANFGB boxes (value $1600+)!

Goodebox ANFGB giveawayGoodebox ANFGB Giveaway

Were you able to make it to Twitter for this evening’s chat hosted by A Night for Green Beauty? Many of the brands that will be featured at next week’s ANFGB event in Chicago were tweeting away along with green beauty enthusiasts. If you missed out, you can read up on all of the chat details using #ANFGB15Chat. A lot of exciting and interesting information was shared, but I think everyone would agree that the most exciting bit of news was saved for the end.

As featured in the Crunchy Parent Guide to Crunchy-Friendly Subscription Boxes, Goodebox is also one of the fantastic ANFGB sponsors. Over the past several weeks, Goodebox has released a series of five limited edition boxes featuring products from the ANFGB brands. All boxes were extremely limited and sold quickly. The last box sold out earlier today (you might remember me talking about it). Well, take a seat and grab a glass of water because at the end of the chat tonight, Goodebox announced that they will be giving away all five of the ANGB boxes to one very lucky winner. This prize totals over $1600 in amazing green cosmetic and skincare items. The contest runs through August 6th, the night of the ANFGB event, so get moving and enter!

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Barganic Alert: fifth and final Goodebox limited edition anfgb box available Thursday, July 30th at 10 am CDT

Goodebox ANFGB Box #4

August 6th, and the Third Annual “A Night for Green Beauty” (ANFGB) are almost here! ANFGB brings a slew of fantastic and amazing green beauty brands to Chicago to meet their adoring fans and fans-to be (which will include me!). For who are not fortunate enough to be able toattend, of who simply cannot get enough from the ANFGB green beauty brands, Goodebox has a solution.

Included on the Crunchy Parent List of Crunchy-Friendly Subscription Boxes, Goodebox is a monthly subscription service, which sends healthy beauty, personal care, and wellness items to their subscribers. In anticipation and celebration of ANFGB, Goodebox is offering a series of very limited edition deluxe boxes featuring ANFGB brands. Box #5 is the final box in the series of limited edition boxes. It will be available for purchase beginning at 10:00am CDT tomorrow (Thursday), and is sure to sell out quickly.

The box costs $145 and includes shipping, which is less than airfare to Chicago. The box will feature eight! full size products with a retail value of over $300. Check out the link for details about all of the items included. Products have been donated by the manufacturers and all proceeds from sales will go to support the No Barriers Youth Experience. These limited edition boxes are one-time purchases and will not initiate a Goodebox subscription.

If you want to get to know the ANFGB brands even better, there will be a chat on Twitter tomorrow (Thursday) night from 8-9pm Central time. Look for #ANFGB15Chat. I’ll be there. Will you?

**Barganic Alerts are an effort to spread awareness about affordable crunchy goods and services. They are not endorsements, nor am I compensated in any way. They tend to be time-limited, and often go quickly. To make sure you are always in the know, subscribe to CrunchyParent.com to receive emails of all Barganic Alerts as soon as they are posted**

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