Beauty Heroes Luxury Green Beauty Subscription Unboxing & Review: April 2016

Crunchy Parent Beauty Heroes Luxury Green Beauty Subscription Unboxing & Review April 2016

About Beauty Heroes

Beauty Heroes is a luxe green beauty subscription service. 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 from a premier green beauty brand. They often also include a smaller bonus item from the featured brand as well (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 features the best in luxe green beauty skincare, hair, and body care items; occasionally highlighting non-toxic cosmetic items as well.

Beauty Heroes boxes cost $39.00/month (shipping included) and are less with multi-month subscriptions. In addition, all Beauty Heroes members receive 15% off of any purchase from the Beauty Heroes online clean beauty shop. This month’s box is available for purchase through April 20th and while supplies last.

I purchased this box and was not compensated in any way for this review, although review may contain affiliate links. This simply means that if you join Beauty Heroes through my links, I may receive a small compensation, which allows be to put more dollars back into the blog. All opinions are my own. To see my other Beauty Heroes unboxings and reviews, look here.

Beauty Heroes: April Unboxed

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 was not the only one in the house drawn to the Beauty Heroes box. The kids were home for spring break when I did the unboxing. Asher popped into the room for a quick photobomb, and watched the unboxing from the wings.

Beauty Heroes April 2016 Asher photobomb

When I opened the box, I found pale silver tissue enveloping this month’s products as well as a sparkly turquoise Beauty Heroes mask. Beauty Heroes also sent a detailed enclosure reviewing the brand and products highlighted (more on that in a moment), as well a handy pocket guide listing both villain and superpower ingredients to notice in cosmetic, skincare, and beauty products.

This month’s expert selection comes from the brand True Nature Botanicals. I had seen True Nature Botanicals and their products at A Night for Green Beauty last summer, and had tried their Lip Treatment in the past, but I still did not know much about the story behind the brand.

True Nature Botanicals was founded by Hillary Peterson, a thyroid cancer and melanoma survivor. Hillary was driven to create a line of skin, hair, and body care products that would be effective, use the highest quality ingredients, and completely avoid toxins. True Nature Botanicals uses independent clinical studies to assess the efficacy of many of their most popular products. With an eye on the purpose and power of high quality botanical ingredients, True Nature Botanicals spends upwards of five times more on their product ingredients than leading luxury skincare and perfume brands. As a cancer survivor with an intense respect for plants and their ability to nourish and support, I was excited to sample more products from this brand.

Crunchy Parent Beauty Heroes True Nature Botanicals Exfoliating Moisture Mask April 2016

The superhero item featured this month is a full size jar of the Pacific Exfoliating Moisture Mask (1.7 oz., value $90.00). I adore face masks so I was especially excited to see this selection. The Pacific Exfoliating Moisture Mask is all about brightening and hydrating the skin. The mask had a lightweight consistency and was almost gel-like on the skin. Meant to be applied as a thin layer and left on for a few minutes or more, this mask offers a quick way to give your skin a real pick-me-up. The formulation is packed with powerful natural ingredients and absolutely no fillers. It uses lactic acid to actively exfoliate and moisturize, as well as a host of natural butters and oils to bathe the skin in vitamins, nutrients, and hydration.

Beauty Heroes April 2016 True Nature Botanicals Exfoliating Moisture Mask Closeup

I’ve used the mask twice in the week since receiving the box and I love the results. It is an active mask; you can really feel the lactic acid working hard to exfoliate the skin. Individuals with sensitive skin may wish to do a small patch test before trying the mask, and may err on the side of caution by leaving the mask on for a shorter period of time. The mask can be used for just a few minutes or as long as fifteen minutes. I tried both longer and shorter durations and my skin was fine with either one. I really loved that the mask provides the option of a facial treatment that can be done even in just a few minutes when you are short on time, but in need of some skin pampering.

The mask itself has a pleasant fragrance. I found the sweet floral smell of the neroli oil to be the most pronounced scent. Of course, what I loved the very most about the mask was the way that my skin felt after its use. The mask left my skin feeling buttery soft and smelling faintly of orange blossoms. It was such a luxurious feeling and I had to stop myself from petting my face (which did not stop me from prompting my other family members to touch it to experience how soft it felt). In the true spirit of the Beauty Heroes pairing, this superhero product was made even better with the help of the sidekick product included this month.

Crunchy Parent Beauty Heroes April 2016 True Nature Botanicals exfoliating moisture mask & face oil

The sidekick item this month was a trial size bottle of the True Nature Botanicals Pacific Face Oil (size not listed, stated value $28.00). The face oil blends together an impressive list of natural ingredients from land and sea. It features familiar skincare botanicals such as argan, hemp, avocado and grapeseed oils, as well as more esoteric ingredients such as watermelon seed, kiwi seed, red pine needle, and passionfruit oils.

Beauty Heroes April 2016 True Nature Botanicals face oil review-closeup

The face oil is exceptionally lightweight and easily absorbed by the skin. My face just wanted to drink in this oil, especially following the use of the Exfoliating Moisture Mask. The oil has a gorgeous lightly floral scent that barely lingers on the skin. True Nature Botanicals’ clinical trial results have shown the face oil to be superior to Creme de La Mer across every aspect measured, from reduction of fine lines, wrinkles, and pore size to increases in hydration, smoothness, and elasticity. I’m looking forward to seeing how the oil benefits my skin over time. In the meantime, I will appreciate the incredible scent and feel of the product, and how soft it leaves my skin.

Beauty Heroes April 2016 unboxing & reviewcloseup

April Beauty Heroes Box: Overall Impressions

I think that Beauty Heroes hit it out of the park once again this month. I absolutely adore both of the items that were included in this month’s box and know that I will use every drop of them. I continue to be impressed with Beauty Heroes’s ability to bring some of the absolute best luxury green beauty brands to their subscribers each month, and to deliver such incredible value.

This month’s box featuring two products from True Nature Botanicals had a total value of $118.00 for the $39.00 box price. That represents a savings of over 65% off of the product retail price. I continue to be thrilled by Beauty Heroes’s ability to deliver such high quality products at an absolutely amazing value. Jeannie Jarnot, the founder of Beauty Heroes, has an obvious talent for finding and collaborating with outstanding green beauty brands. As mentioned in the video, she is also an advisor to the Indie Beauty Expo, which is coming to both coasts in the months ahead. If you are a green beauty fan and you want to meet many of these amazing brands, you can learn more about the event here.

Once again, if you are interested in this month’s box it is still available for purchase through April 20th as long as supplies last. Subscription purchases made after April 20th will begin with the May box.

If you would like to see my most recent listing of “crunchy-friendly” subscription boxes, you can find that here. To see other crunchy subscription box video unboxings, look here. 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 and the Crunchy Parent YouTube channel!

 

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Vegan Cuts Beauty Subscription Box March 2016 Unboxing & Review

Crunchy Parent Vegan Cuts Beauty March 2016 Unboxing & Review.

About Vegan Cuts Beauty Box

The Vegan Cuts Beauty Box is a monthly subscription service that sends 4-7 vegan, cruelty-free cosmetic and skincare items in each box. Products are a mix of full and sample sizes. Items are paraben free and are often organic and natural.

Boxes cost $22.95 per month, which includes U. S. shipping. There are discounts for multi-month subscriptions. I purchased this box and was not compensated in any way for this review. All opinions are my own. To see unboxing from other months, look here.

Vegan Cuts Beauty Box: March Unboxed

If you would like to see the live-action unboxing the March 2016 Vegan Cuts box, please enjoy the video unboxing below. If you prefer to skip right to the product close-ups and details, scroll down past the video.

Each month, Vegan Cuts includes an information card that provides photos, a brief description, and valuing information for all items in the box. The card also included the code MARCHBEAUTY for $10 off any purchase of $50 or more at Vegan Cuts Beauty Shop. I think that Vegan Cuts (and their sister subscription company Goddess Provisions) have some of the best looking information cards that I’ve seen.

Vegan Cuts Beauty March 2016 unboxing & review-Pacifica, Shea Radiance, October Fields

I had seen the Vegan Cuts monthly preview video for March and was very excited to receive the first item that I pulled from the box. I love the Pacifica brand. They have an eye on quality ingredients; work to benefit the environment, and their products are cruelty free and affordable. The full-size Tunisian Jasmine Lime Roll-On Perfume (.33 oz., $12.00) is a new fragrance recently released by Pacifica. The scent blends the floral notes of jasmine and orange blossoms with a hint of fresh citrus.

I love Pacifica’s roll-on perfumes for their ease of application and their exclusive reliance on natural and essential oils to fragrance the products. They are a great alternative to artificially-fragranced perfumes. I have them in several scents and use them individually or in layers to make “custom” blended creations.

Next up was a bottle of Black Soap Body Cleanser by Shea Radiance (59 ml, $5.00). I have used facial cleansing products based on African black soap, but this is the first black soap body wash product that I have received. I was expecting that the body wash might have some texture due to the plantain and cocoa potash and the oatmeal included, but it was a smooth softening gel. I was pleasantly surprised by the fresh, mildly minty fragrance of the body wash; scented with blend of grapefruit, lavender, and spearmint essential oils.

The body wash left my skin feeling soft and moisturized. I think that it will be excellent for use this summer, when my skin is craving moisture and I can use a cool minty pick-me-up. Although labeled as a body wash, the Shea Radiance site indicates that the product can be used on face and hair as well. Many of the reviews praise it especially as a face wash for combination skin.

The third item that I found tucked in the box was a scented, soy-wax, tea light candle from October Fields (value $1.00). I can always use tea light candles so I was happy to find this in the box.

Vegan Cuts Beauty March 2016 unboxing & review-Everclen, Erthlab Cosmetics, DermOrganic

I was intrigued by the box of Everclen Eye Cream that I spied next (.5 oz., $20.00). I was not familiar with this brand previously, but I liked that they formulate specifically for sensitive skin types. I have mentioned before that the skin around my eyes is especially sensitive relative to the rest of my skin, so an eye cream for sensitive skin seemed right up my alley. I appreciate that the ingredients list doesn’t include any artificial fragrance. I’ll need to take a closer look at all of the product ingredients to consider if it looks like a good fit for me and my uber-sensitive under-eye area.

The next item was another previewed item. The DermOrganic 8-Way Thermal Spray (2 oz., $10.00) is designed to protect hair from heat damage due to styling. The spray is also formulated to protect hair color from fading. The DermOrganic spray is gluten-free as well as being free of paragons, phthalates, sulfates, dyes, and artificial preservatives.

The final item in the box was a full size Vegan Eye Liner from Earthlab Cosmetics. This black mineral-based eyeliner uses jojoba and other natural oils and waxes as its base. Vegan Cuts had sent out an Earthlab Cosmetics vegan mascara in their January box. Clearly they are fans of this vegan, green beauty brand.

March Vegan Cuts Beauty Box: Overall Impressions

Crunchy Parent Vegan Cuts Beauty Subscription Box March 2016 unboxing & review

I really liked this box by Vegan Cuts. I appreciate that they take time to curate a balanced box of vegan products. The March box had items for skin, hair, body, home, cosmetics, and a fragrance. I was happy to find some new brand and product discoveries. I know that many of them will really brighten my spring. Although it is still up to each consumer to review product ingredients to determine goodness-of-fit, the products in the box are greener than most conventional counterparts, and free of many nasties. As a reminder, if you’re in the market for a green vegan lifestyle subscription, Vegan Cuts’ sister company, Goddess Provisions offers a lifestyle box where all of the items are cruelty-free, vegan, and green/natural. I love that box too (see Goddess Provisions reviews here).

The overall value of this month’s box is The value of this month’s box is $68.00. I think that this is a fantastic value for the $22.95 box price. I also appreciate that the items were all full size or generous deluxe-sample sizes that will allow me to get a good sense of product performance over an extended period of time. I think that the Shea Radiance Black Soap Body Cleanser is my favorite new discovery in the box so far. Did you find a new favorite in this month’s Vegan Cuts? If you would like to see my reviews of past Vegan Cuts Beauty Boxes, look here.

If you are curious to learn about the April Vegan Cuts box, they have released a sneak-peek video that reveals two fantastic spoiler items.

If you would like to see the most recent Crunchy Parent List of Crunchy-Friendly Subscription Boxes, you can find that here. 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 or reviews, please let me know in the comments.

To keep up with all the Crunchy Parent happenings, be sure to subscribe to CrunchyParent.com and the Crunchy Parent YouTube channel and visit me on Facebook Pinterest and Twitter!

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LaRitzy Vegan Beauty Subscription Unboxing & Review: March 2016

Crunchy Parent LaRitzy Vegan Beauty Subscription March 2016 Unboxing & Review 3-27-2016

About LaRitzy Box

LaRitzy is a monthly beauty subscription service that sends 4-5 vegan, cruelty-free cosmetic and skincare items in each box. Although not specifically marketed as a green beauty box, the brands that LaRitzy sends have tended to be non-toxic, natural brands.

Boxes cost $24.99 per month, for the standard LaRitzy box, as reviewed here. LaRitzy also offers a LaMini Box featuring 2-3 items at a price of $14.99/month. Both subscription offerings include U.S. shipping. There are discounts for multi-month subscriptions. I purchased this box and was not compensated in any way for this review. All opinions are my own. You can see my other LaRitzy reviews here.

LaRitzy Box: March Unboxed

If you would like to see the live-action unboxing my March 2016 LaRitzy box, please enjoy the video unboxing below. If you prefer to skip right to the product close-ups and details, scroll down past the video.

Last month, LaRitzy has made a change to eco-friendly “e-cards” to describe the products in their monthly box. Subscribers spoke out saying that they really preferred tangible cards with the boxes. For March, LaRitzy has returned to including an information card in the box that provides a brief description and valuing information for each of the enclosed items.

Crunchy Parent LaRitzy Vegan Beauty MArch 2016 review-Deco Miami 8-free polish & Lippygirl gloss

The initial glance inside the box gave a clear “spring” vibe. There were lots of bright colors, and I was excited to dig in. The first item that I grabbed was an adorable box of Deco Miami nail lacquer in the color “Feeling Fuego” (5 ml., $9.50). This coral cream color has spring written all over it. I have been extremely particular about the ingredients in nail lacquer ever since reading this 2002 report during my first pregnancy. In brief, the report linked the presence of phthalates in cosmetic products to damage to the male reproductive system of developing fetuses. It was my first major push towards awareness of the importance of green beauty not just for me, but for my future children. It was also the reason why I didn’t polish my nails for the next ten years.

Healthier cosmetics offerings have grown by leaps and bounds since 2002, and this Miami Deco polish is a testament to those changes. This polish is “8-free” meaning that the formulation avoids eight chemicals commonly found in conventional nail lacquer that are suspected or known to be less than healthy. Eight-free is the most “free” designation that I have seen for nail lacquer to-date. Of course, it is up to every individual to decide their comfort level with the ingredients in their products. If you are a nail polish-enthusiast however, this formulation looks like a great “greener” choice, and the packaging couldn’t be cuter.

Next up, I discovered a tube of lemon-yellow, organic lip gloss from Lippygirl. The brand and product are both new to me. I love discovering new green beauty brands through subscription boxes. The Extra Virgin Lip Gloss (14 g., $11.00) is a blend of organic oils and butters. It is very moisturizing and gives a nice shine to the lips without being sticky at all. The formulation also left my lips feeling super-soft. It is not easy to find an softening, moisturizing, non-sickly gloss that is also petroleum-free. This gloss hits the nail on the head, and is certified USDA organic to boot. The gloss has a light orange and coconut scent that made me think of summer sun and days at the beach. As with all LaRitzy Box products, the Lippygirl gloss is vegan and cruelty free.

Crunchy Parent LaRitzy vegan beauty subscription review March 2016 Juice Beauty eye cream & Modern Minerals shadow

I am always looking for products that will help nourish the delicate skin around my eyes. LaRitzy included a full size Green Apple Nutrient Eye Cream by the popular green brand, Juice Beauty (.5 oz., $38.00). The product is aimed at brightening dark circles under the eyes as well as reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. I have found that the skin around my eyes is exceptionally sensitive and I have developed dry, scaly patches that have been slow to heal after using certain under-eye products in the past. I’m a bit concerned that the fruit acids from the apple juice-based product may be too active for the sensitive skin under my eyes. For those who have less sensitive skin and have used this product, I would love to hear your thoughts about it.

Crunchy Parent LaRitzy vegan beauty Modern Minerals smoky quartz shadow swatch

The last product in this month’s box was a lovely Smoky Quartz eyeshadow sphere by Modern Minerals (10g, $16.00). Modern Minerals has built upon the idea of using natural mineral pigments in cosmetics, infusing their mineral eye shadows with rose petals, honeysuckle, vitamin E extract, and coconut for natural hydration as well. The smoky quartz color blends gray with a hint of brown and lavender; finishing with a subtle shimmer. I personally use mineral shadows as eyeliner; applying with a bit of water and an eyeliner brush. I have loved using the smoky quartz color. It makes a great daytime liner, and I would use it as a shadow to amp up an evening smoky eye look. It is a good color for transitioning into spring, when those fall and winter dark shades can be given a bit of a lighter, brighter lift.

Crunchy Parent LaRitzy March 2016 unboxing & review closeup

March LaRitzy Box: Overall Impressions

I liked this box more and more as I explored the products. The Lippygirl gloss was my favorite surprise find. At first glance another clear gloss didn’t seem all that special, but after using the product, I was really impressed with the ingredients and the performance. I loved the overall spring feel of the box. Each product brought a little brightness to the party; whether it was softening or brightening my skin for spring, or lightening my color palette for the warmer weather. The total value of this month’s box is $74.50. LaRitzy continues to deliver incredible value for their $24.99 box price. If you want to see how this box compares to prior months, you can find those reviews here.

I think that LaRitzy is a great option for individuals looking for vegan and cruelty free cosmetic and skincare options, who also have an eye on healthier, green beauty. All of the products in this month’s box were healthier alternatives to their conventional counterparts, without sacrificing performance. I am excited to see what LaRitzy has in store as the weather continues to heat up. I imagine that we will continue to see bright colors and products aimed at keeping our skin soft and moisturized as we peel off the layers of parkas and sweaters and emerge from the long winter months. What do you think about LaRitzy?

If you would like to see the most recent Crunchy Parent List of Crunchy-Friendly Subscription Boxes, you can find that here. 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 or reviews, please let me know in the comments.

To keep up with all the Crunchy Parent happenings, you can subscribe to my YouTube channel be sure to subscribe to CrunchyParent.com and the Crunchy Parent YouTube channel and visit me on Facebook Pinterest and Twitter! Before you go anywhere though, remember to subscribe here at CrunchyParent.com.

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Goddess Provisions Spirit-Enhancing Subscription Unboxing & Review: March 2016

Crunchy Parent-Goddess Provisions March 2016

About Goddess Provisions

Goddess Provisions is a subscription service, created by the owners of Vegan Cuts. Goddess Provisions is a monthly lifestyle box for women. They send products 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 are 100% vegan and cruelty-free.

Boxes cost $33 per month, which includes shipping. There are discounts for multi-month subscriptions. 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. For my other Goddess Provisions unboxing and reviews, starting with their very first box, look here.

Goddess Provisions: March Unboxed

If you would like to see the live-action unboxing of the March Goddess Provisions box, 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 well-packaged, and everything was received intact. As always, I loved the bright and informative enclosure card. Goddess Provisions does an exceptional job of highlighting their featured brands and products, as well as weaving the theme into the box. This month’s theme was “Self Awakening” and focused on the crown chakra. Goddess Provisions included products to help awaken the goddess within each of us.

Crunchy Parent Goddess Provisions March 2016 unboxing review-house of good juju & nicobella organics

The box was jam packed with items to support this month’s theme. The first item that I snapped out of the box was a House Blessing/Cleansing Herb Kit http://www.houseofgoodjuju.com/shop/house-blessingcleansing-herb-kit from House of Good Juju (2 oz., $7.00). I found this tin of botanicals, resins, stones, and wood to be intriguing. At first I thought that perhaps it was to be burned like incense or smudging herbs. Looking more closely at the House of Good Juju description, the tin is to be used as part of a multi-step ritual to cleanse or bless a home or space. During the ritual, the contents of the skin are scattered and tossed around the space. This is a way of blessing a space that is new to me. It was an interesting discovery in the box.

I couldn’t help but grab the next item with excitement (as evidenced by my tearing it open before even remembering to take the photo of the complete box-oops!). The Nicobella Organics Omega Munch looked like a bag full of brownie chunks (2 oz., $5.95). In truth, the bag held delicious crunchy chunks of organic chocolate, walnuts, and flax seeds. The week that the Goddess Provisions box arrived, I had been logging a lot of hours at the hospital with an ill family member and the Omega Munch was the perfect snack to toss in my bag to have with me. It was rich, chocolaty, satisfying, and completely delicious. The Omega Munch is organic, gluten free, and as the name suggests, it is packed with Omega-3s.

Crunchy Parent-Goddess Provisions March 2016 review chakra love, purple frog patches, your joyologist journal

The next item that I found in the box was a continuation of a new trend for Goddess Provisions. For the first several boxes, Goddess Provisions had included a small crystal in each box. These last two months, there seems to have been an evolution to incorporate crystals in the box in new ways. This month Goddess Provisions sent a beautiful necklace from Chakra Love.

Chakra Love necklace closeup

Chakra Love necklace closeup

I received a blue lapis stone necklace, representing the heart chakra (value $25.00). I could not find the exact necklace online, so it may have been exclusive to the box. Other necklaces from the Chakra Love line can be found here.

I loved the next discovery in the box, in large part because it was completely unlike anything that I have seen before. The Air Awakening air fresheners from Purple Frog Patches offer an easy alternative to chemicals (12 patches, $15.00). One of the founders of Purple Frog Patches was diagnosed with a rare cancer at age seventeen. The experience enhanced his appreciation for the role that environmental toxins play in our over health and well-being; motivating him to find an alternative to chemical air fresheners. As a rare cancer survivor myself, the desire to decrease the toxic burden on one’s body resonated strongly with me. I do not use any artificially fragranced air fresheners or candles in my home, yet I had never seen anything like the Purple Frog Patches before. These personal air fresheners come on a pad of 12 self-adhesive discs. To use, a circle is removed from the pad and bent to pop the aromatherapy capsule and release the essential oils into the air. The pads can then be stuck anywhere that needs some freshening. The Air Awakening patches blend peppermint and eucalyptus to give a bright, fresh scent to any area that needs a pick-me-up.

The final item in the box was a mini gratitude journal from Your Joyologist (value $10.00). The bright red color is a mood-boost on its own, but the “Gratitude is My Attitude” emblazoned on the front is a great reminder to reflect on life’s blessings. The lightweight journal is perfect for tucking into a pocket or purse. The simple, lined pages are ready for any thoughts that you my wish to explore or reflections that you want to hold onto.

Goddess Provisions: Overall Impression

Goddess Provisions March 2016 whole box

I am always excited to discover new products through subscription boxes, and this month’s Goddess Provisions box was packed with items that were new to me. The Nicobella Organics Omega Munch was undoubtedly the most delicious, but the house blessing kit and aromatherapy air freshening pads may be tied for the most novel products for March. The items in this month’s box have a total value of $62.95. I think that the value is great for the $33.00 purchase price. The curation stayed true to the self-awakening theme, with items to lift one’s spirit and environment.

What do you think of Goddess Provisions? Do you like the changes to the crystals in the box? If you want to get your hands on your very own Goddess Provisions box, sign up at Goddess Provisions. I’m also looking for some new boxes to review in the months ahead. If you have a request for a specific box or a type of box (e.g., kids, food, beauty) that you would like to see me review, please let me know.

As a reminder, there is still time to enter the Crunchy Parent MommyCon ticket giveaway. MommyCon is another great way to discover natural, crunchy products as well as to learn about natural parenting topics and to meet like-minded people.

If you would like to see the most recent Crunchy Parent List of Crunchy-Friendly Subscription Boxes for other great crunchy-friendly subscription or gift ideas, you can find that here. 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 or reviews, please let me know in the comments, and be sure to subscribe to CrunchyParent.com and the Crunchy Parent YouTube channel!

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MommyCon 2016 Review & Ticket Giveaway

Crunchy Parent MommyCon 2016 Chicago natural parenting conference review & ticket giveaway

Yesterday I reviewed MommyCon’s recent Chicago stop, focusing on the overall natural parenting conference experience and speakers. Today I wanted to spend some time highlighting the expo side of MommyCon, and reviewing MommyCon’s great gifts and giveaways.

I’m also excited to jump on the giveaway bandwagon myself. MommyCon has provided me with two free tickets to give away to the upcoming MommyCon event of the winner’s choice. You can enter to win at the end of the post. You can also knock $5.00 off of any MommyCon ticket price with the discount code CRUNCHY16.

MommyCon Vendors

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As much as MommyCon is appreciated as a natural parenting conference, I think that they are equally well known as an expo; bringing together great vendors whose products cater to natural families. Any time that you wanted to pry yourself away from the speakers, and all throughout the lunch hour, the exhibitor area was bustling with activity at all of the wonderful booths. For people who frequently only get to explore natural specialty products online, this was a great opportunity to see, touch, and interact with items, and to make purchases, often at promotional MommyCon discounted prices.

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Over 100 vendors were present at the show, selling baby carriers, cloth diapering supplies, teething jewelry, reusable menstrual products, natural personal care items, organic mattresses, hip advocacy and nursing wear, and more.

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In addition to vendors selling their products, there were also companies promoting their products through product samples, local service providers raising awareness about their businesses, and organizations spreading the word and rallying support for their causes.

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The vendor area also housed the Babywearing School stage toward the back, where babywearing topics were presented. Products were demonstrated to show different wrapping and wearing techniques to accommodate children of various ages.

Sprinkled throughout the vendor area were informational tables helping to educate conference attended about feeding techniques and cloth diapering.

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Cloth Diaper Resource Center

For anyone who has ever tried to figure out the difference between a fitted, AIO, pocket, or prefold, there were displays on-hand allowing parents to touch, see, and consider which products might work best for their families.

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More Cloth Diaper Resource Center

Consultants were also on-hand to help answer questions that parents might have about cloth diapering in general. I thought that these informational displays and consultation areas were great low-pressure ways to promote the use of more natural products and increase awareness.

My one regret was that I walked throughout the vendor area taking it all in without buying any products initially. I planned to wait to make my purchases at the end of the day because I didn’t want to have to carry them with me throughout the show (I was already lugging a bag, snacks, a reusable water bottle, note pad, etc.) My intention had been to take the 20 minutes in between the final big presentation of the day and the end-of-the-day product giveaway announcement to scoot back to the vendors and make my purchases. As I came to learn, that plan was flawed (more on that in a moment). As a result, although I saw many products that I would have loved to have brought home from the show, I ended up not buying anything. Fortunately, several of the vendors included special MommyCon promotion codes for savings off of online purchases in the show materials, so the chance for future orders remains. Still, had I known how the end of the day was going to shape up, I would have planned my purchasing differently.

MommyCon Giveaways & Gift Bag

If there is one thing that has earned MommyCon great word-of-mouth, it is their amazing gift bags and giveaways. Before going to the show, I learned that every attendee to the show would receive a jam-packed gift bag. In addition, MommyCon gives extra gift bags to attendees of their VIP events. All MommyCon attendees are also be entered in the end-of-the-show giveaway to receive any of a number of amazing prizes ranging from car seats and organic crib mattresses, to high chairs and baby carriers. MommyCon had also promoted some mysterious “scavenger hunt” prizes through their Facebook page with small items hidden throughout the MommyCon convention space that could be redeemed for prizes. In all, there is no doubt that MommyCon knows that people really love gifts and free goodies.

The MommyCon conference day ended with 25 minutes of giveaways, for which the winner was required to be present. What that looked like in actuality was every last man, woman, and child at the conference descending upon a central area to hear if their tag number might be called as a winner. As mentioned before, the prizes were fantastic and the giveaway was clearly a huge draw and an incentive for people to stay, learn, and shop the expo up until the very last moment. Unfortunately, this also meant that the room was filled to bursting with overtired babies and toddlers who had been troopers through almost 8 hours of the conference already, and the noise level began to climb with restless, crabby children. It also meant that as everyone filtered into the room, many gathered toward the back near the doors, making exiting and entering the room a bit of an adventure.

MommyCon Chicago 2016 giveaway crowd

The MommyCon crowd awaits the giveaways. Photo Credit: Katie Hovland www.katiehovland.com

I had been seated near the front of the room during Jade Beall’s presentation that ended 20 minutes before the giveaway was scheduled to begin. As mentioned, I had intended to scoot back to the vendor room to make my purchases in those 20 minutes and return for the giveaway, but as I saw the traffic situation in the room shaping up into a major bottleneck by the doors, I gave up that idea, and stayed put in my chair.

The giveaway dragged on a bit, not helped by the restless crowd. I am sure however that the many winners were completely delighted by the items that they received, and found them well worth the wait. Once the last product had been handed out, all of the attendees poured out of the room and headed toward the elevators and parking garage. Despite the large numbers of people, I was surprised by how smoothly the transition went. It wasn’t long before I was back in my car, and ready to make the drive back home.

The gift bag that I received was for members of the Media Team, since I was attending MommyCon as part of their Blogger Collective. I’m not sure how the Media Bag differed from any of the other gift bags, but since it was in a different area than the general gift bags, I can only assume that it is unique in some way, so I wanted to provide that caveat.

I have to be honest and say that I was rather impressed when I went to pick up my gift bag and was handed a giant reusable MommyCon tote filled with goodies plus an adjunct item. I have attended many conferences and expos in my day and never have I received anything like this. I was eager to get back home and look through all of the goods.

MommyCon Media gift bag

MommyCon Media gift bag

The bag contained loads of informational and promotional materials from vendors and sponsors of the event, many of whom had included special codes for MommyCon exclusive discounts off of orders. The bag also held many great products from vendors at the conference.

If I was a mother of very young children, I would have been especially thrilled by all of the useful items, which ranged from disposable breast pads and glow-in-the-dark sippy cups to a cloth diaper wet bag and a breastmilk pumping and feeding system. As a parent of children who are past their infant, toddler, and preschool years, only a fraction of the items included were relevant for our family at our current stage of life. I felt a little guilty for being the recipient of such lovely items that we have no use for. I am sure that I will have no trouble finding a friend who will enjoy the items, but nevertheless I wish that more of the products were useful for families with children beyond the nursing, diaper, and bib stage.

The theme for MommyCon 2016 is “Growing Together” and I know that a lot of emphasis has been placed on including topics relevant to older children, families, and to parents themselves. I loved this step forward to embrace more of the natural parenting community, but the gift bag didn’t seem to hold true to this idea as well as the conference and expo on the whole. I would have been thrilled to find a reusable menstrual product, advocacy wear, un-paper household product, or other items that would have helped the overall balance of the bag to better reflect this year’s theme. I am nevertheless still blown away by the general awesomeness of the gift bag and will savor the yummy foods, household, and personal care items that were included in the bag.

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Evenflo scavenger hunt prize

In addition, my eagle eyes were fortunate to find one of the “scavenger hunt” items hidden in the conference area by Evenflo. As a prize for my good fortune, I received a cute Evenflo coffee mug and a $10 Starbucks gift card, which by far was Rich’s favorite thing that I brought home.

Final Thoughts about MommyCon Chicago

I was a bit dubious about attending MommyCon as a mom of children in elementary and middle school. I wasn’t sure if there would be much for me to learn after parenting from a natural/attachment parenting perspective for over thirteen years; and with the birthing, nursing, diapering, and babywearing years behind me. I was encouraged by the “Growing Together” theme, and figured that even if I didn’t find the topics to be directly relevant to my family, the conference would still be a great chance to meet other like-minded parents in the area.

I was really pleased to find the conference experience to be completely satisfying and enriching. There was not a moment of my time that I did not feel was being spent productively; learning or discovering something new that was relevant to me and to my family. I came away from the day feeling more empowered and prepared to take on approaching milestones for my children at their current ages, and for enhancing my relationship with my husband at this point in our marriage. I reflected on myself as a woman beyond my role as either wife or mother, which I know is far too easy to loose touch with, especially when one is oriented toward a very hands-on approach to parenting.

Overall, I was very impressed with the extent to which MommyCon attempted to cater to the needs of parents and children attending the conference. From diapering, feeding, snuggling, napping, playing, and more MommyCon had given thought to what their guests would need to comfortably enjoy the day. This alone is such a juxtaposition to so many conferences and expos, where children and their needs must be “managed” by parents so that adults can attend, rather than woven into the fabric of the event as it was at MommyCon.

For any parent of young children navigating the waters of natural, gentle, crunchy, or attachment parenting, I would assert that MommyCon is a safe place to find your tribe; to learn, to discover, and to grow. For experienced crunchy parents of older children like myself, I am pleased to report that I found MommyCon to move the conversation of natural parenting forward into later phases of parenting as well. In addition, MommyCon shed light on the too-often neglected topic of parents themselves, and their needs as individuals and partners. I am already looking forward to MommyCon returning to Chicago next year.

MommyCon Ticket Giveaway

If you are still waiting for MommyCon 2016 to arrive at a location near you, you’re in luck. In addition to offering the CRUNCHY16 code for $5 off tickets, I have two tickets to give away to one of the upcoming MommyCon 2016 events*. I will select one winner who will receive 2 free ticket to the 2016 MommyCon event of their choice*, or two passes for a 1-day attendance to MommyCon’s Milk or Wear conferences.

Fine Print: The winner is responsible for any transportation or accommodations as needed. Contest will remain open through Tuesday March 29, 11:59 PM Central time. Winner will be notified by me within 24 hours via email, so please enter with an email address that you check regularly. If I do not hear back from the winner with their city of choice within 72 hours of being contacted, prize will be forfeited and a new winner will be selected. Crunchy Parent will make every effort to arrange and support prize distribution, however ticket giveaway and distribution are ultimately the responsibility of MommyCon. Good luck!

*The April 2nd Seattle Conference is not eligible as a prize option due to the timing parameters of the giveaway.

Win 2 tickets to MommyCon! (Please click the link to enter)

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La Ritzy Vegan Beauty Subscription Box: Unboxing & Review February 2016

Crunchy Parent La Ritzy Vegan Beauty Subscription unboxing & Review February 2016

La Ritzy is a monthly beauty subscription service that sends 4-5 vegan, cruelty-free cosmetic and skincare items in each box. Although not specifically marketed as a green beauty box, the brands that La Ritzy sends have tended to be non-toxic, natural brands.

Boxes cost $24.99 per month, for the standard La Ritzy box, as reviewed here. La Ritzy also offers a LaMini Box featuring 2-3 items at a price of $14.99/month. Both subscription offerings include U. S. shipping. There are discounts for multi-month subscriptions. I purchased this box and was not compensated in any way for this review. All opinions are my own. You can see my other La Ritzy reviews here.

If you would like to see the live-action unboxing my February 2016 La Ritzy box, please enjoy the video unboxing below. If you prefer to skip right to the product close-ups and details, scroll down past the video.

New this month, La Ritzy has opted for eco-friendly “e-cards” to describe the products in their monthly box. They are no longer including enclosures in the boxes. I received an email announcing my monthly products several days prior to receiving my box.

La Ritzy February 2016 unboxing with Lovefresh natural deodorant and Lather cucumber cleansing milk

Due to a lack of willpower, I had looked at the La Ritzy email and previewed what I would be receiving this month. I was very excited to get my hands on the items. The first one that I plucked out of the box was a full size Lovefresh Natural Cream Deodorant Stick in Rose Absolute (3.6 oz. $24.00). As I mention in the video, I had first seen the Lovefresh deodorants at A Night for Green Beauty. The Lovefresh tables were so swarmed by admirers throughout the evening that I could not get close enough to take a close look. I was thrilled to get my own full size product to try. I love the rose absolute fragrance, which smells just like a bouquet of fresh cut roses. The twist-up stick applicator is easy to use, and I have been loving using the product. It is an effective deodorant and I find that it works well as a mild anti-perspirant too, likely due to the absorbing properties of the kaolin clay in the product. The formulation does include baking soda, which is not a problem for my skin. For those who do react to baking soda in their deodorants, Lovefresh offers baking soda-free formulations as well.

The next item that I explored was a new discovery to me, Lather Cucumber Milk Facial Cleanser (2 oz., $6.00). As with so many indie green beauty brands that are growing in popularity, Lather was created by a passionate individual whose appreciation for natural personal care products grew out of her own health challenges. Emilie Davidson Hoyt, the founder of Lather, suffered with debilitating migraines throughout her childhood. After experiencing relief from the scent of a lavender bath soap, Emilie merged her interests in aromatherapy and skincare along with her respect for the healing properties of nature to create Lather. The Cucumber Milk Facial Cleanser is designed for combination, dry, or mature skin types. Ingredients like aloe, oats, cucumber, and seaweed extract work together to gently nourish and tighten the skin, and to reduce free radical damage. I absolutely adore the fresh cucumber scent.

La Ritzy vegan subscription box February 2016 review with Palmetto Derma Antioxidant face mask and Doe Beauty Bora Bora Hair Pact

I was excited about the next item in the box because it was an item that I have used and really enjoyed in the past. La Ritzy included a full size jar of Palmetto Derma Rejuvenating Antioxidant Mask (1.75 oz., $64.00). I describe the mask texture as something between a souffle and a mud. It is a clay and aloe-based mask with a laundry list of botanical ingredients to provide antioxidants, detoxify, and brighten the skin. It is an “active” mask. Ingredients like lactic acid and cayenne let you feel it working on your skin. I personally do not mind the tingle of the mask, but a spot test is recommended to determine if the mask is appropriate for your skin. Supercharged plant ingredients like gotu kola, horsetail, and dandelion freshen the skin, and left my face feeling silky smooth and with a healthy glow.

The final treat this month was Doe Beauty’s Bora Bora Hair Pact (100 ml, $17.00). The hair pact is designed to be used as a deep conditioning pretreatment to tame frizz and boost softness and shine. The Doe Hair site does not list the ingredients in the hair pact. Since I always want to know what is in a product before I buy, I thought I’d list them for you:

Coconut Oil, Castor Seed Oil, Jojoba Seed Oil, Avocado Oil, Vitamin E, Guava Seed Oil, Lime Oil.

Each pact contains enough product for multiple uses, and I really liked the easy twist off cap. I was a bit concerned that the product might be difficult to dispense, but it came out much like toothpaste from a tube (albeit a different texture). It was easy to warm in my hands and apply through my dry hair, and I thought that it smelled like Key Lime cookies (that’s an official smell in my brain library of scent reference points). I let it sit for the requisite 30 minute minimum. Ten minutes in, I decided to make the most of my time by also applying the Palmetto Derma mask to my face.

Face and hair courtesy of Palmetto Derma Antioxidant Mask & Doe Hair Pact.

Face and hair courtesy of Palmetto Derma Antioxidant Mask & Doe Hair Pact.

After twenty more minutes, I popped in the shower and came out feeling like I had nourished both my hair and my face.

Post shower; fresh-face & happier hair

Post shower; fresh-face & happier hair

I’m not sure that I noticed a significant difference in my hair texture after using the hair pact, but my hair is quite thick and pretty coarse so it may need a few applications to show results. I intend to give the hair pact a couple more tries to see its effect over time. I’m glad that the pouch will last me for at least a couple more uses.

I really loved this box from La Ritzy. I think that it is my favorite one that I have received to date. I liked the curation of the box and the representation of items across haircare, skincare, and personal care. Face masks are one of my very favorite skincare items so I especially appreciated that La Ritzy spoiled subscribers with a luxurious mask, and I loved finally being able to try a Lovefresh deodorant for myself. Discovering two new-to-me green beauty brands was icing on the cake for me this month. I continue to appreciate that La Ritzy not only features vegan and cruelty-free products, but that they are also seeking out products with high-quality, plant-based ingredients, and an eye on minimizing exposure to toxins. The value of this month’s box is an amazing $111.00. Considering the $24.99 box price, this is a jaw-dropping value. Three of the four items included were full-sized products, with the fourth being a deluxe sample. I think that La Ritzy is a strong option for people looking for cruelty-free, vegan products that tend to be organic and green as well. If you want to see how this box compares to prior months, you can find those reviews here.

If you would like to see the most recent Crunchy Parent List of Crunchy-Friendly Subscription Boxes, you can find that here. 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 or reviews, please let me know in the comments.

To keep up with all the Crunchy Parent happenings, you can subscribe to my YouTube channel be sure to subscribe to CrunchyParent.com and the Crunchy Parent YouTube channel and visit me on Facebook Pinterest and Twitter! Before you go anywhere though, remember to subscribe here at CrunchyParent.com.

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Goddess Provisions Spirit-Enhancing Subscription Unboxing & Review: February 2016

Crunchy Parent Goddess Provisions Subscription Box Unboxing & Review February 2016

Goddess Provisions is a subscription service, created by the owners of Vegan Cuts. Goddess Provisions is a monthly lifestyle box for women. They send products 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 are 100% vegan and cruelty-free.

Boxes cost $33 per month, which includes shipping. There are discounts for multi-month subscriptions. 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. For my other Goddess Provisions unboxing and reviews, starting with their very first box, look here.

If you would like to see the live-action unboxing of the February Goddess Provisions box, 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 well-packaged, and everything was received intact. As always, I loved the bright and informative enclosure card. Goddess Provisions does an exceptional job of highlighting their featured brands and products, as well as weaving the theme into the box. This month’s theme was “Self Love” and focused on the heart chakra. Valentine’s Day can be a less-than-positive trigger for some. I thought the theme a great one for February and appreciated that the love was centered on one’s self.

Goddess Provisions February 2016 box Self Love-heart chakra

The box was packed full of colorful and intriguing goodies. The first item that I plucked out of the box was a heart chakra candle from In Light and Love Candles (6 oz., $12.00). I have received a different chakra candle from this line in the past from another subscription box service. I love the idea of writing one’s intention on a candle before lighting it; it brings substance to the ritual. I also think that the tiny piece of chalk that is included for writing an intention on the candle is adorable, and I appreciate that the chalk lets you erase and write new intentions as your mood and desires change. I think that the tin is just beautiful and makes the candle practical for travel as well. I personally find the fragrance of the candle to be a bit too strong for my preferences, but I know that many people love candles with a robust scent throw.

Chocolita Strawberry Passion bar close-up...Yum!

Chocolita Strawberry Passion bar close-up…Yum!

The next item was another one that I have received in some form in the past. Goddess Provisions sent a bar from Chocolita in their first ever box, and I was excited to see them once again. The raw, dark chocolate, Chocolate Strawberry Passion Bar (1.25 oz., $4.86) is enhanced with aphrodisiac herbs and strawberries to, “ignite your passion and open your heart.” I have been savoring the rich chocolate bar, and I really like the brightness that the strawberries lend to the flavor.

Goddess Provisions February 2016 unboxing & review

I was a bit taken aback when I saw a twist on a theme from Goddess Provisions. Historically, Goddess Provisions has included a precious bag with a small crystal in every box. This month, they sent a bag of three Self Love Stones from Energy Muse (value $15.00). I could not find this exact set online so I defer to GP’s stated value. The bag contains a single polished stone of rose quartz for unconditional love; rhodonite for compassion; and aventurine for opening the heart. I loved the beauty of the stones and the meaning behind them.

I think that my favorite discovery in this month’s box may have been the “grace” bracelet from Mudlove ($8.00). I love the minimal, earthy design of the stamped pottery bracelet. As someone with larger-than-average wrists I also really appreciate when bracelets are adjustable. After I took some time to explore Mudlove’s website I was even more impressed. The company began with a mission to provide clean, potable water to communities in Africa where this life-giving resource was scarce. For every item purchased, Mudlove makes a donation to Water for Good that provides for a week’s worth of clean water for one person. I was also blown away by the extensive selection of bracelet words and phrases that could be ordered in any of a rainbow of band colors. They also offer gorgeous pottery mugs (I have a pottery mug collection that adds beauty to my herbal tea drinking experience). Goddess Provisions included a coupon for 30% off a Mudlove purchase for subscribers. I think I’ll be grabbing some bracelets and a mug for me, as well as some bracelets for the girls to give to friends as gifts.

Mudlove bracelet

The beautiful colors of the Dive in Deck (value $20.00) are what first caught my eye when I noticed this item. This standard sized deck of cards pairs captivating pictures with provocative questions or thoughts designed to stimulate conversation or introspection. The deck consists of 33 cards with prompts such as, “How do you explore and expand the edges of your comfort zone?” and “When do you feel most empowered?” I love the intention of these cards to help people tune into and connect with what is important to them and to those around them. I had brought a comparable product more specifically geared to family on a trip with my mother and sister several years back. The prompts helped us start many meaningful conversations that gave us all a better appreciation for one another’s perspectives and experiences. I can think of many uses for these cards with my own kids, therapeutically, or otherwise. I had mentioned in the video that I would show close-up photos of some of the cards, but I decided not to open it; I think that it is the perfect item to have on-hand for a spur-of-the-moment gift to brighten someone’s day or to show appreciation.

Dive in Deck details

Dive in Deck details

I am really impressed with the curation and theme of this month’s box. Love is a significant focus during the month of February as partner and “Galentine’s Day” celebrations abound. I appreciated the thought that went into centering this box around love for self. I liked the balance of items, and think that a gift of chocolate, jewelry, a candle, crystals, and an interactive gift focused on introspection makes a wonderful package to receive. The value of this month’s box totals $60.00 and pays forward by providing someone in Central Africa with a week’s worth of fresh water. I think that is an incredible value. I continue to appreciate all of the boxes that I have received from Goddess Provisions. It has quickly become a favorite subscription that matches my lifestyle and values very well.

What do you think of Goddess Provisions? If you want to get your hands on your very own box sign up at Goddess Provisions. I’m also looking for some new boxes to review in the months ahead. If you have a request for a specific box or a type of box (e.g., kids, food, beauty) that you would like to see me review, please let me know.

If you would like to see the most recent Crunchy Parent List of Crunchy-Friendly Subscription Boxes for other great crunchy-friendly subscription or gift ideas, you can find that here. 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 or reviews, please let me know in the comments, and be sure to subscribe to CrunchyParent.com and the Crunchy Parent YouTube channel and visit me on Facebook Pinterest and Twitter!

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MommyCon 2016 the Conference for Forward-Thinking Parents with a Natural Flair Coming to Chicago! (+ Discount)

MommyCon 2016 conference schedule for naturally-minded parents

As some of you know, I began this blog almost nine years ago. Eva was in preschool at a lovely, nature-based, Waldorf school. Alina was a barely a toddler, spending most of her time snuggled up to me nursing away in a wrap or sling. The blog was my way of processing my parenting journey and connecting with other parents on similar paths. It motivated me to learn more, try new things, and share ideas and thoughts with others.

One of the big things that I did that first year as a natural family blogger was to seek out festivals, expos, and conferences oriented toward “crunchy” families. I was fortunate that it happened to be the 50th anniversary of La Leche League International that year, and they were having a big weekend-long conference in Chicago that summer to celebrate. Rich and I signed up to attend. Eva stayed with my parents and my little nursling Alina came along with us to enjoy the experience.

It has been many years since I attended that first big conference, but I still remember it as a real rallying point for me. The Waldorf school was a small, like-minded community where we found connection, but the conference felt like we were part of a larger movement. Everywhere I looked there were parents with babies, toddlers, and young children in carriers of all shapes and sizes, many of which I oogled and envied (the carriers I mean, although the children were cute too). Babies looked adorable in their little leg warmers and soft-soled shoes, which were still “fringe” choices at the time. We parents smiled with appreciation at the amber teething necklaces and plump, cloth-diapered bottoms all around us. It felt warm and familiar; as though all of the people behind the usernames in the natural parenting forums had leapt forth from the screens and materialized right before me.

Alina crawls around the conference room floor while mommy learns about medication and breastfeeding.

Alina crawls around the conference room floor while mommy learns about medication and breastfeeding.

The sessions that we attended at the conference spoke of topics that resonated strongly with us and our hunger for guidance and validation on our parenting path; gentle child birth, creating a natural family living community, informed health choices, parenting spirited children, breastfeeding with confidence in the face of challenges, co-sleeping, and more. I learned so much about the decisions ahead of me and processed a great deal about the milestones that had already passed; some of which had turned out differently than I had hoped.

Fangirling on Day 1 of the LLLI Conference in 2007. That's Peggy O'Mara and a starstruck me.

Fangirling on Day 1 of the LLLI Conference in 2007. That’s Peggy O’Mara and a starstruck me.

Rich and I walked with wide eyes and broad smiles down the aisles in the exhibitor’s area. All of the beautiful products that I had spent hours admiring online were right in front of me where I could touch them and ask questions about them. I was shown how to use the Moby wrap that I wore on the second day of the conference to back-carry Alina with ease (a maneuver that I had lacked the confidence to try previously). I admired adorable cloth diapers in all shapes, sizes, and configurations. I looked at beautiful nursing jewelry. I felt in my element in a way that was so rare and so needed at the time.

Happy toddler being back carried in my Moby Wrap-I learned something new!

Happy toddler being back carried in my Moby Wrap-I learned something new!

I am at a different point in my parenting journey now. My first baby turns thirteen next week. My littlest one is almost six. Pregnancy, breastfeeding, cloth diapers, and potty learning are all in my rear view mirror. I still continue to be a crunchy parent whose thoughts are often occupied with how to parent mindfully; what is healthy for my family, and where is my supportive tribe. The specific questions evolve, but the driving philosophy remains the same.

When I resurrected my blog a year ago it reignited a spark and a drive to learn more, to try new things, and to share more along my natural parenting journey and my journey as a naturally-minded person. That is why I was so excited to learn about the opportunity to attend the MommyCon Conference, an annual gathering across the nation that brings together, “forward thinking parents with a natural flair.” This, without question, is my tribe. I was so excited by the prospect of what MommyCon had to offer through their conferences that I went through the process to become a member of the MommyCon Media Team, to help other like-minded parents learn about and experience MommyCon.

MommyCon has already kicked off their 2016 schedule with their conference in Atlanta. In just two weeks they will be headed to Chicago. I am so excited that I will be there to connect with other naturally-minded parents, and parents-to-be. The schedule of speakers and list of vendors has been announced. I am already trying to decide how to choose between the amazing sessions topics which range from postpartum care, cloth diapering, treating childhood illness, positive body image, babywearing, creating intimacy among partners, and all things in between.

As a mom of (relatively) older children, I greatly appreciate that MommyCon has remembered that parenting mindfully extends beyond those first few years. The 2016 theme is “Growing Together” and can be seen in the range of topics being presented. MommyCon had the wisdom to clearly indicate which topics are best suited for parenting children in their first year, second year, toddlerhood and beyond; as well as topics focused on moms and those that are great for dads. The schedule layout makes it easy to find topics in your area(s) of greatest interest.

I think that one of the most challenging lessons for me to learn as a naturally-minded, child-focused parent was the importance of self-care (I’m still working on it). I am especially heartened to see the emphasis that MommyCon has placed on this topic and I hope that every mom in attendance makes time to fit in at least one session that focuses on her needs as well.

Of course, as much as I want to learn new things and meet other parents, I cannot wait to check out the exhibitors and see the great products and concepts that they bring to the show. MommyCon has lined up almost 100 exhibitors to help families feed, wear, clothe, diaper, celebrate, and care for their children and for themselves in a natural, mindful way.

MommyCon has also set up rooms to focus on areas of special interests; the Babywearing Lounge showcases over 40 different popular baby carriers that attendees can see, try on, and receive input about from certified BabyWearing Studies instructors. The Cloth Diaper Resource Center demystifies cloth diapering allowing attendees to see the many different types of cloth diapers available and learn about how to choose the ones to best meet their child’s needs and their budget. Experts are on-hand to discuss issues such as cloth diapering, car seat safety, promoting positive sleep habits, and more. MommyCon even offers stocked diaper changing stations, a feeding lounge, and play stations to meet the needs of even the tiniest conference attendees. Of course I saved the best for last, all attendees receive a gift bag from event sponsors and the event will end with over $10,000 in giveaways.

Tickets for the Chicago conference on March 5th had sold out but 400 more tickets were just added and are going fast. The code CRUNCHY16 will take $5.00 off the price of each ticket. If you have young ones who might want to have their own fun while you learn, the Chicago conference is also offering a Littles Make + Play Camp for children ages three and up. Kids can engage in supervised art and craft fun and creative play during individual sessions or for the whole day.

For those who make not be located close to the Chicago conference location, MommyCon will be hosting many other conferences across the country throughout the year in addition to more specifically focused conferences highlighting babywearing and infant feeding. The code CRUNCHY16 will reduce ticket prices by $5.00 for all locations.

I am counting the days until the Chicago event on Saturday March 5th. Can I look forward to meeting you there?

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Beauty Heroes Luxury Green Beauty Subscription Unboxing & Review: February 2016

Crunchy Parent Beauty Heroes February 2016 Unboxing & Review

Beauty Heroes is a luxe green beauty subscription service. 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. Beginning with this month’s box, Beauty Heroes will be featuring the best in luxe green beauty cosmetic items in addition to their previous concentration on non-toxic skincare, hair, and body care items. This box is available for purchase through February 20th and while supplies last.

Beauty Heroes boxes cost $39.00/month (shipping included) and are less with multi-month subscriptions. In addition, all Beauty Heroes members receive 15% off of any purchase from the Beauty Heroes online clean beauty shop.

I purchased this box and was not compensated in any way for this review, although review may contain affiliate links. This simply means that if you join Beauty Heroes through my links, I may receive a small compensation, which allows be to put more dollars back into the blog. 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 pink tissue nveloping this month’s products as well as a sparkly pink Beauty Heroes mask. Beauty Heroes also sent a detailed enclosure reviewing the brand and products highlighted (more on that in a moment), as well a handy pocket guide listing both villain and superpower ingredients to notice in cosmetic, skincare, and beauty products.

This month’s expert selection comes from the brand Beautycounter. Beautycounter is on a mission to make safer products for healthier people. Motivated by the discovery that 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with cancer, Beautycounter strives to reduce individual toxin exposure through safer skincare and cosmetics (and as one woman who has received a cancer diagnosis, I am certainly grateful for their efforts). Beautycounter maintains a list of over 1500 ingredients that they will not allow in their products. Focused on using organic and plant-based ingredients in combination with safer synthetic ingredients, Beautycounter has created a range of luxurious green beauty products that you can feel good about using.

Beauty Heroes February 2016 Beautycounter body oil

Beauty Heroes made good on their promise to add green cosmetic items to their boxes in 2016. In addition to the decadent Superhero product they added a sidekick with some colorful flair.

This month’s box was awash in pink, reminding me that February is all about love and tenderness. The box contained a beautiful full-size glass bottle of Beautycounter’s Rose Neroli Body Oil (2.7 oz., value $73.00). The formulation is a lightweight blend of nourishing oils including marula, argan, meadowfoam, rosehip, and grapeseed oils. Bitter orange flowers and rose otto lend a delicate floral scent that sets the perfect tone for February.

Beauty Heroes Beautycounter lip sheer

Beauty Heroes must have known that once my skin was was all hydrated and I was smelling softly of flowers, I would want a kiss of color on my lips. Like a good superhero, Beautycounter’s Lip Sheer came to the rescue. Outfitted in a beautiful golden case, the full-sized lip sheer in the Petal shade lends the lightest blush of soft pink to the lips (value $30.00). The hydrating lippie is scented with real vanilla and has a rating of 1 (low hazard) on the EWG Skin Deep Database. I am especially particular about green lip products, as these are the most frequently ingested simply by their use on the lips.

Beauty Heroes February 2016 unboxing & review

I must admit that as a green skincare enthusiast, I was a bit concerned what I heard that Beauty Heroes was going to be changing up their subscription to include cosmetic items. I loved that this month’s Superhero product was a luxurious item to pamper my skin from top to toe and I still received a flattering non-toxic cosmetic item in addition. The Beautycounter products feel and smell luxurious and are packaged beautifully. Using them feels special.

This month’s perfectly-pink box had a total value of $103.00. I continue to be delighted by the service that Beauty Heroes offers; allowing me to experience luxurious green beauty items every day at a substantially reduced price. As a full-time, at-home mom it is a special teat to be able to take time to care for myself. Using decadent products on my skin and face that smell, feel, and look beautiful take routine self-care to a level that feels like pampering. That can go a long way not just for my outside appearance, but for my psyche as well.

Once again, if you are interested in this month’s box it is still available for purchase through February 20th as long as supplies last. Subscription purchases made after February 20th will begin with the March box.

What do you think about Beauty Heroes’ first box featuring cosmetics?

If you would like to see my most recent listing of “crunchy-friendly” subscription boxes, you can find that here. To see other crunchy subscription box video unboxings, look here. 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 and the Crunchy Parent YouTube channel!

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Vegan Cuts Vegan Beauty Subscription Unboxing & Review: January 2016

Crunchy Parent Vegan Cuts Beauty Subscription Unboxing & Review January 2016

The Vegan Cuts Beauty Box is a monthly subscription service that sends 4-7 vegan, cruelty-free cosmetic and skincare items in each box. Products are a mix of full and sample sizes. Items are paraben free and are often organic and natural.

Boxes cost $19.95 per month, which includes U. S. shipping. There are discounts for multi-month subscriptions. I purchased this box and was not compensated in any way for this review. All opinions are my own.

If you would like to see the live-action unboxing my January 2016 Vegan Cuts box, please enjoy the video unboxing below. If you prefer to skip right to the product close-ups and details, scroll down past the video.

Each month, Vegan Cuts includes an information card that provides photos, a brief description, and valuing information for all items in the box. The card also included the code JANBEAUTY for $10 off any purchase of $50 or more at Vegan Cuts Beauty Shop. I think that Vegan Cuts (and their sister subscription company Goddess Provisions) have some of the best looking information cards out there.

Vegan Cuts Beauty Subscription unboxing & review Jojoba Company & Aubrey Organics

The first item that I saw this month was a deluxe sample-sized pump bottle of Aubrey Organics Revitalizing Therapy Moisturizer (1 oz., value $13.00). The formulation is designed to nourish dry skin and target fine lines and wrinkles. I think that anything made for dry skin is perfect for the winter months around here. The moisturizer includes a host of nourishing herbal ingredients including aloe juice, rosehip seed oil, kelp, arnica, elderflower, and hops. I found that the moisturizer was rich but absorbed into my skin within a minute or so. It had a fairly strong scent that reminded me of almonds, but it dissipated quickly. I think that it would work well for me for daytime. For less dry complexions this might work well for nighttime.

The next items in the box were a pair of products from The Jojoba Company: a sample tube of their Gentle Cleansing Balm, and a small vial of their 100% Natural Ultimate Jojoba Youth Potion (total value: $6.00). The Jojoba Company is new to me, and I was happy to be introduced to this Australian company and their beautiful natural products.

The Gentle Cleansing Balm is a non-foaming cleanser designed for sensitive and dry skin. It is bursting with jojoba and other plant-based ingredients to hydrate and nourish. In addition it contains Alpha Hydroxy Acids from papaya and melon to brighten the skin.

The Youth Potion is a beautiful blend of oils including jojoba, argan, boabab, meadow foam seed, and more. It has an absolutely gorgeous delicate floral scent that I suspect is from the linden blossom oil in the ingredients list. The potion is designed to be used like a face oil, in conjunction with or in place of a serum, and followed by a moisturizer. It went on like silk and was light and quickly absorbed. I was really quite captivated by it.

Vegan Cuts Beauty unboxing January 2016 Earthlabs Vegan Mascara, Wabi-Sabi Botanicals cleansing grains, Lashea body scrub

My next discovery was a 1 oz. glass jar of Sagga Charcoal and Rose Cleansing Grains from Wabi-Sabi Botanicals (value $8.00). The versatile powder cleanser is designed for acne-prone skin. It can be mixed with water or other base and used to gently cleanse and exfoliate the skin. It can also be left to dry on the skin as a facial mask and then gently rinsed. The charcoal and clay will help to absorb oils and toxins, while the gluten-free oats and rose petals will soothe and brighten. I was expecting a gray product due to the inclusion of charcoal, but the powder is oatmeal-colored and mildly scented. I love powder facial care products because they tend to have greater shelf-stability and they allow for customization through the use of different bases such as honey, water, floral hydrofoils, or yogurt. I know that I will get a lot of use out of this one, and may encourage Eva to give it a try on her adolescent skin as well.

I couldn’t get over the cuteness of the wee sample jar of Lashea Butter Whips Essential Body Scrub (value $1.50). The creamy body scrub blends sugar and soy seeds along with a host of moisturizing butters and oils to gently exfoliate and enrich the skin. Although Lashea does not specify which essential oils are contained in there blend that scents the product, it had a a fresh citrus scent. I think the rich texture and the bright citrus fragrance would make this a great winter pick-me-up for the skin.

The final item in the box was Vegan Lash Mascara by Earthlab Cosmetics (full size, value $25.00). Like many other natural mascaras that I have tried, this aloe-based formulation is not heavy and can be layered to give the lashes a more dramatically-enhanced look, or used conservatively for a more natural effect.

Vegan Cots Beauty Box review January 2016 Crunchy Parent non-toxic

I was impressed with this box by Vegan Cuts. I liked that the curation seemed to be focused around a multi-step skincare regimen with the addition of a cosmetic and a body care product as well. I though that the overall emphasis on hydration and moisturizing was seasonally-appropriate, but I also appreciated that Vegan Cuts included products that could work for other skin types as well. I can see myself using the Wabi-Sabi Botanicals product as an occasional detoxifying face mask on my dryer skin, whereas Eva may use it more regularly as a balancing cleanser on her more temperamental adolescent skin. The value of this month’s box is $53.50, which I think is really fantastic for the $19.95 box price, especially given that the products are all vegan and natural as well.

If you are curious to learn about the February Vegan Cuts box, they have released a sneak-peek video that reveals two fantastic spoiler items. Among other items, the box will include 100% Pure Eye Creamsticks in one of two color combinations (value $18.00), and The Wonder Seed Facial Cream (value $16.95). The first 500 new subscribers will also receive a bonus bottle of this daring purple Raga Varnish polish (value $12.50).

If you would like to see the most recent Crunchy Parent List of Crunchy-Friendly Subscription Boxes, you can find that here. 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 or reviews, please let me know in the comments.

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