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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Kings Road Apothecary Herbal Subscription Box Unboxing and Review-July 2015 (Lime and Coconut)

I took advantage of the Spring Solstice sale at Kings Road Apothecary in March and signed up for a multi-month subscription to the “Surprise Box,” which brought the individual box price down to $47.38 each including shipping. Each monthly box features four herbally-based, small-batch, handcrafted items that center around a theme. Box pricing recently increased to $53.50 plus shipping when ordered individually, but multi-month subscriptions include shipping. The July theme was “Lime and Coconut.” As of this writing the July box is still available for purchase as is the August box. More details about the August box below. To see my other Kings Road Apothecary unboxing and reviews from prior months, look here.

Please enjoy the complete unboxing video, with my oldest child Eva as the special guest star. If you prefer to skip right to the photos and the nitty gritty, keep scrolling down. Also, if you are newer to herbalism and herbal-based products, I have explained many frequently-used herbalism terms in the Crunchy Parent Herbal 101: Glossary of Common and Unusual Herbalism Terms and 50+ Great Ideas for Using Herbs.

Kings Road Aothecary July 2015 Subscription Box Enclosures

The box came with the entire contents wrapped in a hand-dyed piece of seafoam green cotton muslin and tied with kitchen twine. All items were carefully protected with bubble wrap, individually wrapped in green-themed coordinated tissue paper, and tied with kitchen twine. In addition to the four herbal items, the box also came with a copy of a beautiful drawing of a beachy palm tree scene penned by Rebecca exclusively for this box. On the back of the drawing was a recipe for the spiced hibiscus syrup and for a hibiscus mojito. In addition, there was a letter from Rebecca describing the box contents, and an invitation to post box images on instagram to enter to win a little gift.

Kings Road Apothecary July 2015 Subscription Box-Lime and Coconut

As I’ve mentioned before, each month Rebecca picks the theme for the box, gathers plant material and takes the month to reflect on the plants and experiment with new recipes for products. Her four favorites end up in the box. This month’s winners started with a small (2 oz.?) bottle of spiced hibiscus syrup. This is the same syrup that was included as a recipe on the back of the drawing. I am delighted that Rebecca shared the recipe because this syrup is beautiful and delicious. I can see it making its way into a lot of summer drink recipes, including the Hibiscus Mojito recipe, also included on the back of the enclosed drawing. Unfortunately, the syrup was also leaky. It tended to cling to the threads on the screw top so that when the cap was removed, the syrup ran down the bottle. This was managed (and enjoyed) via licking fingers as shown in the video, but was a bit sticky. This syrup is unique and exclusive to the box so the value is unknown.

Next in the box was a dropper bottle of Lime and Bay Leaf Bitters. This blend of vodka, lime, star anise, gentian root, and two varieties of bay will help to stimulate and aid in digestion, or can be used to flavor cocktails. I enjoyed the sour lime flavor, grounded by the bay and other herbs and spices. This exact variety of bitters was exclusive to the box, but similar ones can be found at Kings Road Apothecary here (1 oz. retail value $15.00).

Kings Road Apothecary Subscription Box July 2015 lime and coconut

The other two items included a deluxe sample size of Summer Glow: Lime and Coconut Body Oil (1 oz. retail value $13.00). The oil is light and super-moisturizing, with gold micro shimmer for a summer glow. It contains coconut Co2, which was an ingredient that I had not heard of before. After putting my finely-tuned Googling skills to work, I learned that coconut CO2 is the product of extracting coconut oil from coconut pulp with carbon dioxide. The resulting coconut CO2 preserves the luscious coconut aroma, allowing for a natural coconut scent to be added to body care products. All I can say is that the body oil smells really yummy. It reminds me of key lime shortbread cookies, although Eva thought that it smelled like pumpkin and cardamom (she must be missing fall). In any case, I think that the oil is glowy, moisturizing, and deliciously scented; making it perfect for using after a relaxing day at the beach.

The final item was a deluxe sample size of Coconut and Vanilla Sugar Scrub (4 oz., value $12.50). Rebecca had mentioned on Facebook that during the experimental process in preparing for the box, she had initially added more essential oils to this sugar scrub. In making the batch for the boxes, she was so struck by the delicious scent of the sugar, coconut, and vanilla that she decided to stop there. I think that was an excellent choice because this smells just. so. good. I made everyone who I could find take a sniff. We had differing opinions as to whether it smelled like macaroons, cookie dough, frosting, etc. We agreed that it smelled like something that you’d want to eat with a spoon. I fully intend to squirrel this away until we move next month and I luxuriate in the master bathroom (and bathtub) that I have pined for. I’m not going to leave it until I am all pruney and smell exactly like this sugar scrub. As of this writing, this scrub is not available for purchase, but you can find similar products on the KRA site here.

Kings Road Apothecary July 2015

I always enjoy receiving my Kings Road Apothecary boxes. Compared to other boxes they may seem like a bit of a splurge because there is not a dramatic item value relative to the price paid as is typical of more mainstream beauty boxes. That said, they are so beautifully curated and crafted. I find the contents so inspiring for my own herbal creations, and I discover new products and ingredients to incorporate into the things that I make (going to get my hands onto some of that coconut CO2). I also appreciate receiving Rebecca’s email newsletter that talks about the theme of the month while she works on creating the recipes for the boxes. I feel like I learn so much about plants and their uses, and I get better acquainted with plants that are not native to my region (signup for the newsletter here; no purchase necessary). Additionally, I think that there is something special about discovering and receiving indie subscription boxes in the mix of crunchy-friendly subscription boxes that I receive. Not only are you supporting a small business, generally run by one person or family, but you are also discovering products and companies that will only be found there, not across other subscription box services. Something about that feels exclusive and precious.

At this moment, the July Kings Road Apothecary box is still available on the KRA site. The August box with a Cactus and Cool theme is currently available for preorder and is scheduled to ship for arrival around August 24th. The box will include four herbal items for home, health, or body. The four items in the box may be chosen from among the following list of brainstormed items (or may be some related spontaneous brilliant idea): Shimmering coconut + cactus facial serum, Nopal and hibiscus white tea, a summer cold infusion blend, Cactus and coconut after-sun potion, a calming summer heat elixir, Cactus fruit liqueur, Prickly pear + cucumber facial mist, Cactus + rose burn and wound powder (great for sunburn, or as an addition to your first aid kit), Cactus flower gut healing tea, Prickly pear + hibiscus flower face cream, or Rose + cactus flower elixir.

As a reminder the KRA boxes are made using wild crafted ingredients. In an effort to support plant sustainability in harvesting, only a limited number of boxes are available each month. Are you going to grab a July box before they are gone? Does Cactus and Cool sound like it will hit the spot for August?

If you would like to see my most recent comprehensive listing 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, please let me know in the comments, and be sure to subscribe!

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Kings Road Apothecary Subscription Box Unboxing-May 2015 (Ocotillo and Wild Rose)

Kings Road Apothecary is a small, herbal apothecary business, owned and run by a woman named Rebecca. KRA features small batch, handmade herbal products for body, home, and health, with an emphasis on seasonally wildcrafted and organic ingredients. They offer a monthly “Surprise Box” indie subscription service. Each monthly box features four herbally-based, small-batch, handcrafted items that center around a theme. Box pricing recently increased starting with this month’s box to $53.50 plus shipping when ordered individually, but multi-month subscriptions include shipping. The May theme was “Ocotillo and Wild Rose.” Unfortunately, the May box is no longer available but there are still a handful of June boxes available for purchase. More details about the June box below. To see my other Kings Road Apothecary unboxing and reviews from prior months, look here.

Please enjoy the complete unboxing video. If you prefer to skip right to the photos and the nitty gritty, keep scrolling down. Also, as I mention in the video, sometimes it is challenging to keep all of the herbalism terms straight. If you find it confusing to distinguish a salve, ointment, and cream or an oxymel, shrub, and cordial, I have explained them all in the Crunchy Parent Herbal 101: Glossary of Common and Unusual Herbalism Terms and 50+ Great Ideas for Using Herbs.

Kings Road Apothecary May 2015 enclosures

The box came with all items individually wrapped in coordinated tissue paper and tied with kitchen twine. In addition to the four herbal items, the box also came with a copy of a beautiful drawing of ocotillo blossoms and wild roses penned by Rebecca exclusively for this box. On the back of the drawing was a recipe for Rose Gulkland, which was described as an ayurvedic rose petal paste. The box also included a letter from Rebecca describing the box contents and a small, hand stamped, muslin, drawstring bag that contained a small piece of rose quartz crystal. Rebecca suggested that the rose quartz be carried as a talisman or to be dropped into water and allowed to sit overnight to charge the water with creative energy.

Kings Road Apothecary May 2015 tea and oxymel

The first item that I unwrapped was a bag of Hawthorn and Rose Creativity Blend Tea, approximately 1 oz. by weight (estimated retail value: $5.00). Blending herbs and flowers, the tea is described as being a calming, relaxing, creativity-enhancing decaffeinated tea blend. This tea blend appears to have been made exclusively for this box. Other Kings Road Apothecary teas can be found for purchase here.

Discovered next was a 2 oz. glass dropper bottle of Strawberry and Wild Rose Oxymel. The oxymel blends roses and strawberries with other other flowers, berries, organic apple cider vinegar, and raw honey to make a concentrate that can either be dosed by drops or more commonly added to sparkling water over ice to make a refreshing drink. This item was another box exclusive. I saw no other oxymels available for purchase on the KRA site, or really anywhere in my Google adventures. Therefore, I have to consider the value of this little gem to be priceless.

Kings Road Apothecary May 2015 oil and elixir

The other two items included a 1 oz. glass bottle of Wild Rose and Santal Body Oil. This oil smelled of roses, and was a smooth, silky blend of rose, sandalwood, and ocotillo blossoms in a base of many nourishing and moisturizing fruit, seed, and nut oils. This would make a beautiful body oil for use after shower or bath, or as a massage oil. Although the online descriptions and bottles do not specify, I believe the bottle sold online to be a 2 oz. size, based upon the size and pricing of this similar oil, therefore I am estimating the value on the 1 oz. bottle included in the box at $13.00.

The final item was a 1 oz. glass dropper bottle of Ocotillo and Rose Heart Center Elixir (value $15.00). This calming and uplifting heart-centered elixir is designed to connect you to the core of who you are. This was another box-exclusive item, highlighting roses and ocotillo in addition to other natural and organic ingredients. Other KRA elixirs can be explored here.

Kings Road Apothecary May 2015 subscription box

Overall, I continue to be happy with this subscription. The value is not as high as with many other more mainstream subscription boxes, but I think of myself as less of a consumer and more of a supporter when I purchase this indie subscription. I like that I am supporting a small woman-owned business as well as the craft of herbalism. I love the curation of the box and the care that goes into the packaging and to each overall theme. I see added value from the KRA newsletter which discusses the box theme throughout the month and links to additional resources and recipes. I also find that the box items inspire me to learn new things about herbalism and expand my own herbal crafting. Lastly, because the items are made seasonally and in small batches, sometimes the items included are entirely exclusive to the box recipients, and many of the ingredients used are fairly esoteric and not often seen in mainstream products (e.g., ocotillo).

The theme for the June box is White Sage + Clarity and will start shipping on June 18th. The box items will come wrapped in a sage-dyed piece of natural fabric (cotton, silk or linen), with a printed drawing and recipe tucked inside, and a few sage leaves for burning and purifying your space. The four items in the box will be chosen from among white sage, black sage, wild rose and monkey flower smudge stick; white and black sage body scrub; coastal sage and blue curls healing salve; white sage and blue curls infused facial serum; white sage clarity elixir; hummingbird sage infused honey; white sage and wild mint body oil; white and black sage room-clearing mist; sage cleansing bath salts; chaparral fragrant mist (distilled from a variety of coastal chaparral plants); California cooking spice blend; white and hummingbird sage body wash; white sage and wild mint solstice candle, or white sage, wild mint and hummingbird sage digestive elixir.

As a reminder the KRA boxes are made using wildcrafted ingredients. In an effort to support plant sustainability in harvesting, only limited number of boxes are available each month. As of this writing, a handful of June boxes remain available for purchase, so take advantage of the opportunity if the June box appeals to you.

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 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!

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