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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Kings Road Apothecary Herbal Subscription Unboxing & Review-October, 2015

Kings Road Apothecary Indie Herbal Subscription Unboxing & Review October 2015 Crunchy Parent

King’s Road Apothecary is a company owned by herbalist Rebecca Altman. In addition to selling handcrafted seasonal herbal products through her site, Rebecca offers a monthly indie subscription service. Each monthly box features four herbally-based, small-batch, handcrafted items that center around a theme. Box pricing is $54.00 plus shipping each month when ordered individually, but multi-month subscriptions include shipping. The October theme was “Into the Dreaming.” As of this writing, the October box is still available for purchase. To see my other Kings Road Apothecary unboxing and reviews from prior months, look here.

I was kindly sent this box for review purposes. I received no additional compensation for my review. All opinions are my own.

Please enjoy the complete unboxing video. If you want to better acquaint yourself with some of the herbalism terms that I use throughout the video you can do that through the Crunchy Parent Herbal 101: Glossary of Common and Unusual Herbalism Terms and 50+ Great Ideas for Using Herbs. If you just want to see closeup photos of what was in the box, scroll on down.

The idea behind the KRA Surprise Boxes is that each month Rebecca picks the theme for the box, gathers plant material local to her that fits with the theme, 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 theme was less focused on local, wildcrafted herbs and was inspired by kava kava, cacao, and palo santo, and their capacities to evoke relaxed, dreamy states.

The box came with the entire contents wrapped in a piece of muslin, hand dyed in beautiful shades of mossy green. All items were carefully protected with bubble wrap, 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 watercolor painting of beautiful green leaves created by Rebecca exclusively for this box. On the back of the drawing were recipes for palo santo ice cream with honey and dates and for a palo santo and cacao tincture. In addition to the above, the box included a letter from Rebecca describing the box contents.

Kings Road Apothecary Kava kava hot chocolate and Kava & Palo Santo massage oil crunchy parent

The first item that I pulled from the box was a bag of Kava Kava hot chocolate. (Approximate weight 2 oz., ARV: $4.50) The blend mixes kava kava along with cacao, Dutch cocoa, coconut, cinnamon, and vanilla. I was a bit surprised at first with the earthinesss of the flavor profile influenced by the kava and cacao, but then I realized that this was not a packet of instant cocoa; it was a blend of herbs and spices. I added some coconut milk and honey to my cup and enjoyed the sophisticated, rich, flavor and the slightly numbing quality on my tongue. With the relaxing properties of the kava, this would make a nice beverage to wind down with at the end of a day.

Next in the box was a glass bottle of Kava Kava and Palo Santo Massage Oil (1 oz., value: $12.00). The massage oil is a blend of several different moisturizing oils that have been infused with palo santo and kava kava and then scented with essential oils of coconut, cacao, vanilla, palo santo, and sandalwood. The oil was easy to work with for massage; providing moisture and glide without being absorbed too quickly. The addition of the kava kava should help support muscle relaxation, another great quality for a massage product. The fragrance was absolutely delicious. I found that the palo santo and cacao were the most pronounced notes to me. I absolutely love the scent, as evidenced by my initial reaction to it in the video.

Kings Road Apothecary October unboxing review kava bath decoction spiced kava elixir

The next product discovery was a jar of Kava and Coconut Bath Decoction. (4 oz., value: $8.00). The instructions were to boil the contents in a big stock pot for 20 minutes and then strain into the tub. I was a bit dubious about my ability to strain a big boiling pot of water into the tub without making a grand mess of it all, so I placed the bath decoction into some t-sacs, stapled them shut, and tossed them in the pot to boil. After 20 minutes, I poured the whole pot directly into a warm bath. The fragrant soak was heady with the scent of the coconut and cacao. After a long bath I felt the salts and kava kava had worked together to ease my muscles. My legs definitely felt wobblier than is typical for me when I exited the tub, and I was not at all upset that my bed was close by so I could cozy up and enjoy feeling warm and relaxed.

The final item in the box was a bottle of Spiced Kava Kava & Cacao Elixir (1 oz, ARV: $15.00). This elixir was exclusive to the box, but the KRA site has this similar kava kava elixir available for purchase. The description indicated that it would numb the mouth slightly, which I did experience when tasting it in the video. When I tried it again another day, I did not feel mouth numbing and neither did Rich when he tried it, so this may vary with use or user. The elixir is suggested to induce feelings of dreaminess. I am not sure that this was the case for me, but I did take it prior to going to bed so the dreaminess may have manifested in slumber for me. I will continue to experiment with the elixir, and would love to hear your reactions if you have tried it, or if you have used kava kava in the past to promote relaxation or dreaminess.

kings road apothecary indie herbal subscription October-into the dreaming

I really enjoyed this box. The focus and intention to promote relaxation and dreaminess seems so appropriate for the time of year when we tend to begin to focus on holidays and over-scheduling ourselves. I appreciated the reminder to slow down, relax, and tune into my creative spirit. I think that Kings Road Apothecary is such a unique subscription box offering. As I’ve said before, it feels a bit to me like being an artist’s benefactor. I love the idea that the cost of the subscription supports hands-on wildcrafting and creating unique, small-batch products that are so closely tied to nature.

As mentioned above, the October box is still available for purchase as are a few of the September boxes (you can see the September review here). The November box is also available for preorder. Its theme is Reishi and Hawthorn with the intention of grounding, centering, and calming amidst the mounting holiday excitement. Among the four herbal products included in the box may be any of the following, or other inspired creations: reishi, hawthorn and cacao bitters; reishi and wild mushroom salts; reishi and hawthorn spirit elixir; reishi and chaga body butter; wild reishi double strength elixir; deep forest tea: reishi, hawthorn, douglas fir, aralia californica; black reishi cocoa; reishi and hawthorn drizzling syrup; reishi, hawthorn, and cacao tea; reishi, Douglas fir, and hawthorn flower atmospheric mist; reishi and douglas fir foot bath/ bath soak.

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, so if a particular theme speaks to you, you may not wish to wait. Are you starting to feel the pull of the holiday energy as fall rolls along? What herbs do you turn to during times of stress?

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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Barganic Alert: Kings Road Apothecary 3-day Fall Sale

Crunchy Parent Barganic Alert: Kings Road Apothecary 3-day fall sale

As seen in the Crunchy Parent Ultimate Guide to Crunchy-Friendly Subscription Boxes, King’s Road Apothecary is a indie herbal company owned by herbalist Rebecca Altman. KRA offers a subscription service of wildcrafted and handmade products through their monthly surprise boxes. The Kings Road Apothecary site also sells other handcrafted seasonal herbal products to support a healthier, happier body inside and out with items such as teas, elixirs, and salves; candles, oils, and serums.

In celebration of her upcoming birthday, Rebecca is offering 15% off all orders now through Monday night. Just enter the code HAPPYBIRTHDAY at checkout. Subscription boxes qualify for this promotion, and I noticed the September, October, and November boxes were all still available as of this writing, as are a handful of six-month subscription shares. In addition to the subscription boxes, services such as a private consultation with a custom made elixir; best-selling products like the Busted Joint Ointment; and subscription box favorites such as Coconut & Vanilla Sugar Scrub and Kava Kava & Palo Santo Massage Oil are all available to purchase.

To get a sense of what to expect from the Kings Road Apothecary Surprise Boxes, you can see my unboxing and reviews from prior months here. I will be reviewing the October box in the days ahead, but spoiler: it smelled wonderful and was a box filled with relaxation.

Are you going to take advantage of this sale? what are some of your favorite KRA products or healing and nourishing herbs?

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

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PureBox Indie Green Beauty Subscription Unboxing & Review: November 2015

CrunchyParent PureBox Indie Green Beauty Subscription Unboxing and Review November 2015

PureBox is a recently launched subscription service, just added to the fall update to the Crunchy Parent Ultimate List of Crunchy-Friendly Subscription Boxes. Created by the owner of the online green beauty shop, Devine Beauty Emporium, PureBox sends a monthly collection of carefully screened and curated handmade, natural, organic, indie products for skin, hair, and body. Boxes feature a mix of 4-6 full-size and deluxe sample sized items from one or two featured green beauty brands each month (and sometimes some additional samples sneak in too). Retail values for each box will average $60-$80. PureBox strives to introduce subscribers to lesser-known indie brands that are true gems.

Boxes cost $39.00 per month, which includes shipping. There are discounts for multi-month subscriptions, and all subscribers receive 10% off of any future product purchases from Devine Beauty Emporium. Use the code PURECRUNCHY for $10 off your first box when you sign up for a subscription. As of this writing, about 20 boxes remain for November, so if you want to receive the box reviewed, do not hesitate. Once November boxes are gone, new subscribers will need to wait to receive December’s box.

PureBox kindly sent me this box to review. I received no additional compensation, and all opinions are my own.

If you would like to see the live-action PureBox unboxing, featuring my budding, green-beauty-appreciator, Eva 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 in a cardboard shipping box with the actual PureBox inside. Everything was received intact and leak-free. I liked the PureBox flower stamp on the box lid’s top and underside, as well as on the bright pink tissue. There was definite care taken with the wrapping and presentation; it felt like a special gift waiting to be opened.

PureBox indie natural skincare and beauty subscription box

Purebox included an elegant enclosure card. This month’s box focused on highlighting two brands, and the enclosure card dedicated one side to each brand and their products. As always, I quickly set the card aside so as not to spoil any surprises when unboxing. I was eager to dig in. The card came in handy later when I was all ready to try my new goodies.

PureBox Zabana Essentials natural deodorant & bath soak

The first items that I pulled out of the box came from Zabana Essentials, an indie brand that was new to me. I was so impressed with this brand that I will be reviewing several of their products more extensively in a post to come. The first Zabana Essentials product that I grabbed was a positively adorable mini deodorant stick (value $5.95). In addition to being being precious, the lemongrass nectar deodorant is 100% natural, vegan, and free from baking soda. Some people find that baking soda can throw off the ph-balance of their skin and cause irritation over time, so it is always nice to find effective options that are baking soda-free. I loved the lemongrass scent, and have received several compliments on my deodorant since using this product. I think that is a first for me, and I have to get used to saying “it’s my deodorant!” with pride when strangers sniff me and ask what smells so good.

Bath Soak closeup to show gorgeous rose petal and eucalyptus leaf bits.

Bath Soak closeup to show gorgeous rose petal and eucalyptus leaf bits.

The next discovery was a deluxe sample bottle of Zabana Essentials geranium eucalyptus Bath Soak (4 oz., approximate value $3.25). The bath soak blends dead sea salt and epsom salt to help soothe muscles. The formula is enriched with coconut oil to soften, essential oils to fragrance, and bits of petals and leaves to add beauty to the experience. I was blown away by the gorgeous fragrance. The eucalyptus grounded the sweetness of the geranium, and the geranium softened the assertiveness of the eucalyptus. It was magical.

PureBox Zabana Essentials bath bomb and armpit detox bar

As a lover of relaxing baths, I was thrilled to see the next item, a Zabana Essentials Rose Bath Bomb (value, $4.95). Also made from a mix of salts, oils, and botanicals, the bath bomb supercharges the bathing experience with the addition of citric acid, causing the bomb to fizz and bubble upon being tossed in the tub. Eva was having a rough night the day that we did the unboxing. I offered her the bath bomb, and her whole mood was turned around after a nice hot bath with the flowery, fizzy bomb. As much as I would have loved to horde the bomb for my own use, seeing it bring a smile to her face and ease her spirit was a far better gift for me.

Prior to using the bath products, I was a bit concerned about the pieces of plant material damaging the tub jets or drain. I popped the bomb and the salt into a stocking before putting each one in the tub. Shanell, the creative spirit behind Zabana Essentials, suggested tying the product up within a cotton square or in a muslin drawstring bag if there was desire to minimize cleanup and to protect jets or drains. I thought that these suggestions were brilliant; bathe on everyone!

Coconut Charcoal and Clay Armpit Detox Bar closeup

Coconut Charcoal and Clay Armpit Detox Bar closeup

The final Zabana Essentials item was a product unlike any that I had seen before, their Coconut Charcoal and Clay Armpit Detox Bar (approximately 1 oz., estimated value $1.75). A common complaint heard when people try to make a change from a conventional deodorant/antiperspirant to a more natural deodorant option, is that the natural options just don’t control odor well. Zabana Essentials’ detox bar helps to unclog pores hampered by conventional deodorant use. The coconut charcoal and clay clear out the funk to ease the transition to more natural products, or to provide an armpit refresh whenever needed.

Sweet Sisters sample packets of skincare

I was excited to move onto the second course in my PureBox, but first I delighted in the palette cleanser. PureBox included three foil sample packets from Sweet Sisters, another brand that was a new discovery for me. The value of these was a little tricky to estimate since no size was listed, but Stephanie of PureBox shared that she values these at $6.00 total. She also added that although my preview box had three sample packets, November box recipients will actually receive four sample packets from Sweet Sisters with a total value of $8.00. Although I generally do not like messing around with foil packets, I welcome the chance to have a little taste of a new green beauty product line. I think that these would be great to toss into a travel bag, and I look forward to giving the line a try.

Biodara Travelers Set in PureBox

The final surprise from PureBox was actually a trio of items in the form of the Biodara Traveler Set (value $32.00). Biodara is a luxury green beauty line blending organic and wildcrafted ingredients to create their skincare products. The Traveler Set included their Luminous Cleansing Oil, Immortal Mist, and a muslin cloth to gently cleanse, exfoliate, and hydrate. It took me a little while to adjust to the cleansing oil. It is a bit heavier than most that I have used in the past, presumably due to the castor oil in the blend. That said, after the initial use, I found that my appreciation for the product grew. I prefer using it in the evening when my skin can soak up the benefit of a more moisturizing product overnight. I noticed that it left my skin soft and looking refreshed and bright by the next morning. The gentle, botanical fragrances of the cleansing oil and the of the rejuvenating mist are just beautiful and added to the luxurious sensory experience.

PureBox November Green Beauty Subscription Box Unboxing & Review Crunchy Parent

I calculated the overall value of the box to be $55.90, including the values provided for four foil packets. This is a bit less than the expected average box value suggested on the PureBox site; however I think that the amount, variety, and quality of products received was exceptional. I was actually surprised when I crunched the numbers that the total retail value was not higher. I think that this speaks to the balance that PureBox provides by representing quality green beauty brands at various price points. I am a tremendous appreciator of luxury, high-end green beauty. I love that as a society we are coming to realize that natural can be luxe and decadent and yield gorgeous results just as well or even better than conventional luxury beauty brands. Likewise, I am thrilled to discover brands that have found a way to bring a high quality, effective, natural product to consumers at a price point that is more broadly accessible to any green beauty fan. Biodara and Zabana Essentials are both brands that I was happy to be introduced to in the box, and I know that I have used or will use every item that PureBox included.

I continue to be amazed and grateful for the growth in “green lifestyle” subscription box genre in recent years. PureBox is an exciting new subscription with great potential for people who want to discover and become well-acquainted with several products from lesser-known green beauty brand lines. People often balk at the cost of changing from conventional to green beauty products, and PureBox does a great service by curating boxes that showcase green beauty brands representing different price points for their subscribers. I look forward to seeing how this subscription continues to grow in the months ahead. Are you going to grab one of these November boxes before they sell out? Remember to use code PURECRUNCHY for $10 off if you do.

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, and be sure to subscribe!

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Kings Road Apothecary Herbal Subscription Box Unboxing and Review-August 2015 (Cactus and Cool)

King’s Road Apothecary is a company owned by California herbalist Rebecca Altman. In addition to selling handcrafted seasonal herbal products through her site, Rebecca offers a monthly indie subscription service. Each monthly box features four herbally-based, small-batch, handcrafted items that center around a theme. Box pricing is $53.50 plus shipping each month when ordered individually, but multi-month subscriptions include shipping. The August theme was “Cactus and Cool.” The August box is sold out, but as of this writing there are still a handful of September Surprise boxes available for purchase (more on those in a bit). To see my other Kings Road Apothecary unboxing and reviews from prior months, look here.

Please enjoy the complete unboxing video, during which you may feel compelled to toss slippery elm lozenges or bags of tea at the screen as you listen to me cough my way through the unboxing with a bothersome cold that still lingers. Sorry about that. If you want to better acquaint yourself with some of the herbalism terms that I use throughout the video you can do that through the Crunchy Parent Herbal 101: Glossary of Common and Unusual Herbalism Terms and 50+ Great Ideas for Using Herbs. If you just want to see closeup photos of what was in the box, scroll on down.

The idea behind the KRA Surprise Box is that each month Rebecca picks the theme for the box, gathers plant material local to her that fits with the theme, and takes the month to reflect on the plants and experiment with new recipes for products. Her four favorites end up in the box. I was very excited for this month’s box as I have been really drawn to prickly pear cactus and its remarkable medicinal and skincare uses over the past several months. I am not sure if it is gaining a stronger foothold in our collective consciousness and consequently being used more, or if I am just so taken by it that I have had my eyes out for it everywhere that I go so I’m noting it more often. In any case, I was looking forward to seeing what Rebecca would create this month and to receiving the goodies.

King's Road Apothecary Subscription Box Unboxing Review August 2015 Cactus and Cool

The box came with the entire contents wrapped in a piece of muslin, hand dyed in beautiful shades of purple, berries, and wine. All items were carefully protected with bubble wrap, 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 watercolor painting of a prickly pear cactus with beautiful bright pink blooms that was penned by Rebecca exclusively for this box. On the back of the drawing was a recipe for prickly pear fruit syrup and a prickly pear margarita. As luck would have it, a local market was having a sale on prickly pear fruit this week, so I have a bag of them ripening up in my kitchen waiting for their big moment to shine in these recipes. I love when my subscription boxes inspire me to try new things and discover new favorites. In addition to the above, the box included 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 August Subscription box-cactus & cool

The first item that I pulled from the box was a bag of Prickly Pear and Hibiscus white tea (approximately 1 oz., maybe 2 oz.? I drank several cups before I could weigh it and also made the bag messy before the photo-op. Forgive me). The KRA site indicates that both prickly pear pads and hibiscus are good for soothing and moistening. At the time that I filmed the video I had an irritated, dry throat and nagging cough. Immediately after finishing the video I brewed myself some of this tea and continued to drink it in the days that followed because it helped my throat feel so much better (hence the reason why the bag looked far more full in the video than when I got around to taking the photo-oops).I do not generally drink caffeinated teas because I am often sensitive to caffeine, but I had no problems with this. Likewise, I am not much of a hibiscus fan, but I found the flavor enjoyable and appreciated the medicinal properties of the plant; accepting what it had to offer me with gratitude.

Next in the box was a 1 oz. bottle of Prickly Pear and Rose After Sun Potion. The lightweight gel combines prickly pear with aloe vera, rose, and calendula to provide quick soothing and cooling relief to skin that has been upset by too much sun. Although I have not spent too much time in the sun since receiving the box, I can say that in testing the product, it smells really good. There is a distinct rose presence but also something astringent and not quite citrusy that I cannot put my finger on. Maybe it’s what the inside of a prickly pear pad smells like. I don’t really know (if you do, please tell me because I’m terribly curious. I’m holding myself back from going downstairs to cut open and sniff a prickly pear paddle right now). The product was exclusive to this box and is not available for purchase through the KRA site.

KRA herbal subscription box cactus and cool-prickly pear summer heat relief elixir & prickly pear and sage wound powder

The next product discovery was a 1 oz. bottle of Prickly Pear and Rose Summer Heat Relief formula. Unfortunately the instructions on this bottle were accidentally mislabeled and the ingredients were incomplete (sometimes small-batch products made by human hands will come with the occasional human error; a small price to pay if you ask me). When I reached out the Rebecca, she offered apologies and clarified that the elixir is to be taken at a dose of “3-30 drops, 3 times a day or whenever you’re feeling extra aggravated.” I may have suggested that as a mom of three young kids/tweens I have occasion to feel extra aggravated that is not even related to the summer heat, but I am sure that it is excellent for heat relief too. I can say that the elixir is delicious. I don’t think that I’ll ever get enough of how wonderful rose tastes in anything and everything. I wish that the elixir had arrived a couple of weeks sooner. We spent a sweltering day at a local Renaissance Faire recently, and by the day’s end all of the children were hot, aggravated, and looking like this.

Hot & sweaty day at the Renaissance Faire. Some Summer Heat Relief elixir would have hit the spot I am sure

Hot & sweaty day at the Renaissance Faire. Some Summer Heat Relief elixir would have hit the spot I am sure.

Bet that potion sure would have come in handy, and I would have felt all Renaissance-y talking about getting my herbal elixir from the apothecary to treat our ailments. I know that I will get good use out of this potion on hot days or whenever that hot aggravated feeling sweeps over us. This product was another box exclusive.

The final item was a 1 oz. bottle of Prickly Pear and White Sage Wound Powder. I have been very intrigued by wound powders. I have just recently become aware of them and they are quite unlike anything that I grew up using to treat cuts, scrapes, or burns. I guess that I was more accustomed to using a salve, cream or ointment to treat wounds, so I am finding herbal powders very novel and fascinating. This wound powder blends prickly pear with yarrow, white sage, rose, plantain, and calendula to help fight potential infection and promote healing. I greatly appreciate being able to build an herbal first aid kit and will be happy to grab this the next time that one of us gets a bit banged up. The powder smells fantastic, but I may be biased because I could sit and sniff white sage happily all day long (more on that in a moment too). This item was yet another box exclusive and is not offered for sale at this time.

King's Road Apothecary Herbal Subscription Box Unboxing & Review August 2015 Cactus & Cool

I always look forward to my Kings Road Apothecary boxes. I find Rebecca’s creativity to be inspiring and she shares so much of her process and research through her email newsletter as well (signup for the free newsletter here). I love seeing and using her formulas and find them to be delicious, effective, and they all smell wonderful. As I have been subscribing over several months I see how her products have woven their way into my life from my kitchen to my shower, to my first aid kit. I don’t think that there is any other subscription box out there currently that offers a comparable herbal experience month to month. I really enjoy supporting a small business and feel connected to the process by what Rebecca shares with her subscribers as she works on the items throughout the month. This box feels very luxurious to me; handcrafted products that are created exclusively for a small group of subscribers with wildcrafted ingredients at their peak. I don’t think that I could want for better.

I am anxiously anticipating the arrival of the September box, which focuses on what may be two of my very favorite herbal ingredients, at least based on olfactory delight alone. The September box theme is “Pinion and Sagebrush” and is inspired by the plants one would find walking the pinion flats of southern California in the fall. The box is designed to be a sensory experience, with products intended to delight at least four of the five senses. Among the four herbal products included in the box may be any of the following: pinon, white sage, and sagebrush room and body spray; white sage, juniper, and sagebrush smudge sticks; juniper and sagebrush foot cream; juniper, sage, and pinon digestive bitters; pinon and juniper scented candle (with a hint of white sage); wild pinon pine nut liqueur; pinon flat elixir (for lung health); pinon resin infused body oil; pinon and pinon nut caramel black tea; or pinon oxymel.

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 September box before they sell out? I can only imagine how the whole room will smell when I open that box. I can hardly wait!

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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Cosmic Box Indie Subscription Unboxing and Review-August 2015

The Cosmic Box is a recently launched indie subscription service aimed at sending you a cosmically amazing care package for the soul. This lifestyle box is curated by a holistic nurse, and is designed for the free-spirited and eco-conscious. Each box includes a mix of 3-6 trial and full size products, or 1-2 luxury full size items. Every box is hand packed and sent with heaps of love. You will find items ranging from toxin free skin care, organic/gmo free artisan edibles, unique home goods, gems and more. A portion of the sale from every box goes to support a charity, which varies from month-to-month. The August box sales supported the charity Every Mother Counts, a non-profit organization dedicated to making pregnancy and childbirth safe for every mother. The cause is one close to my heart. I personally have had challenges at some point with all three of my pregnancies. I suffered multiple hemorrhages in the days following my first birth, which required three separate blood transfusions and surgery to resolve. My very dear friend experienced severe complications after the birth of her second, which left her in the hospital fighting for her life for over seven months. I was very happy to know that a portion of my purchase was supporting this very worthy charity.

The August and September boxes are sold out, but orders are currently being taken for the October Box with a Supermoon/Harvest theme. Boxes cost $29 per month, which includes shipping, and are less with multi-month subscriptions. I purchased this box and was not compensated in any way for this review. All opinions are my own. You can check out my other Cosmic Box reviews here.

If you would like to see the live-action unboxing, please enjoy the video unboxing below. Once again I am in transition trying to find the right place to film videos in the new house, so forgive the boring background and poor lighting. If you prefer to skip right to the product close-ups and details, scroll down past the video.

The box came well-packaged in a surprisingly small box, distinguished by a cute owl “The Cosmic Box” sticker. Everything arrived to me safe and intact. I liked how Cosmic Box protected the items during shipping by wrapping the smaller bits in tissue paper. That kept them from rattling around and was a nice eco-friendly alternative to bubble wrap or other plastics.

The Cosmic Box Indie Subscription August 2015

As with my last box, there was a small enclosure card that gave a bit of information about the items in the box and about The Cosmic Box as well. The first tissue-wrapped bundle that I unwrapped was a small (approximately 1 oz.) piece of lepidolite crystal (TCB stated value $3.00). I was not previously familiar with lepidolite. Cosmic Box states that it is, “a stone of balance and calm. Great for aiding in times of transition.” It sounded perfect to me, as we are up to our ears in transition with the move to the new house and all of the kids starting new schools. I thought that the crystal was a very pretty pale lavender color with sparkles, and I can see it finding a home in one of the children’s rooms, on a nature table, or in our play room where rocks, shells, and crystals seem to make their was into all sorts of games and play.

The Cosmic Box Indie Subscription August 2015-Wild Honey Apothecary scrub and Phoenix Botanicals Faerie BalmIMG_0726

The next item revealed was one that had been released as a spoiler earlier in the month, and was an item I was very much looking forward to receiving. Kat, the woman behind The Cosmic Box has another company, Wild Honey Apothecary that makes small-batch, skincare and body items using wild harvested botanicals. It was a natural fit to feature some Wild Honey Apothecary products in The Cosmic Box from time to time and this month the Wild Honey Apothecary Honey Love Face Scrub made an appearance (2 oz. value $25.00). The 100% organic scrub enhances pure honey with Manuka honey powder, corn flour, and frankincense to gently exfoliate skin. I have been resisting the urge to eat it by the spoonful because it smells delicious. The directions said that it can be applied to a dry or damp face. I tried dry but found the honey too think to rub around easily. I added some water to my palms and that diluted the scrub a bit and made it glide around my face beautifully. I was surprised by how “scrubby” it was because the corn flour looked so finely ground and unassuming. My face felt very soft after using it, and after rinsing my face and patting dry, my serum (Andalou Naturals today), oil (La Bella Figura today), and moisturizer (Eminence Organics today) went on like silk. In addition to using it as a gentle scrub, I think that I might also try using it as a base to mix with powdered face masks that I have in my stash.

I loved the Phoenix Botanicals multi-use Faerie Balm that I unwrapped next (.5 oz., value $8.00). The balm combines oils, shea butter, and beeswax and enriches them with linden blossom, wild rose petals, and lavender essential oil. The balm was recommended for lips, cuticles, and even under eyes. I am sure that we will get a lot of use out of this, and I really like the subtle but sweet scent.

The Cosmic Box Indie Zen Subscription August 2015-Triple Goddess Tie Dyed Tote Bag

The last item in this month’s Cosmic Box was a beautiful tie dyed Triple Goddess cotton tote bag (18” square excluding handles; TCB stated value $12.00). My bag had a triple moon design with a Celtic border and was tie dyed in shades of turquoise, green, and purple. I love the colors of the bag and know that I will get a ton of use out of it. I mentioned in the video that the bag had a surprising scent. It reminded me of incense, and I think that I will try to wait to wash it for a while so that I can sniff it periodically.

The Cosmic Box Indie Zen Subscription-August 2015 Box

I think that The Cosmic Box is a great option in the “zen lifestyle” genre. I really liked this box and found it well rounded. I appreciated that it included items for body and for home, and I enjoy the opportunity to try items from indie brands that are new discoveries for me. Once again, I like that The Cosmic Box gives a portion of the sale of each box to charity, but would love to see a little information about the chosen charity included in the box, maybe on the monthly enclosure card. I think that it is easy to forget the charity piece when unboxing if it is not mentioned, and it is such a nice part of the box’s concept. I also have had a hard time finding the month’s charity information on The Cosmic Box’s site by the time I receive my box. I think that it gets mentioned in the box description on the site at the time of ordering, but is often no longer on the site by the time that I receive and really dig into my box. I reached out to Kat via Twitter and she replied very quickly, but it would be nice to have the information just provided with the box each month.

The overall value of this month’s box was $48.00, which is a significant improvement over last month’s box and a great value for the $29.00 purchase price. I really liked everything included in the box, and like the balance of practical and useful items like the bag and the balm with more luxurious, feel-good items like the honey face scrub and the crystal. This box is a very good fit for my lifestyle. I have been using the bag and the balm since I opened the box, and I know that I will continue to use and enjoy the honey scrub as well. I very much appreciate The Cosmic Box’s charity involvement each month, and I really like the lesser-known brands and items included because it introduces me to new things.

I am intrigued by the September box, which is said to feature another Wild Honey Apothecary skincare product, as well as an item from ANFGB brand S.W. Basics. Have you tried out The Cosmic Box yet? What do you think about the increasing trend for energetically positive, zen, subscription boxes?

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, and be sure to subscribe!

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Doing Yoga With My Face: My Search for Greener Glamour (and a review of Jeffree Star Cosmetics)

I was at my Cancer Yoga class this morning. We were working on a balancing pose, and I was challenging myself with a more advanced version of the pose than I have been able to do before. Balancing is not my strength, especially after losing one of my quadriceps muscles to cancer. It is something that I have to work on consciously. As I was focusing on my breath and on the pose, aware of every wobble, I was actively reminding myself what we are often taught in yoga. This is my yoga practice. This is my practice to follow at my pace. The teacher or the person next to me are focusing on their practice; this is mine, and I am to focus on me. I may be at a different place in my practice from them today, or from myself last week or next week. This is my practice. This is my practice. I was grateful to be able to do more with the pose today than I had before. It is where I was today. It was not important how I compared to someone else, or even to other versions of myself.

I am practicing in my motherhood as well. The balance poses are the hardest for me there too. I have so often been completely consumed with my desire to meet the needs of my children to the highest degree and at the most advanced level, that I have been totally unable to find my balance at times. When the children were younger and nursing, waking at all hours, or needing to be sung to sleep, it was nearly impossible not to have my life revolve almost entirely around their needs. There was an extreme imbalance of self-care and child-care. I am not suggesting that is the way that it must be or should be; that is where I was in my practice at that time. I was at the bottom of my own list. Sleep was the most luxuriant indulgence that I could imagine when I could get it. Nutritious food (or any food sometimes) was the next. Focus on flattering clothing, cute shoes, or pretty makeup was beyond my scope. There was a considerable shift after I had cancer. Balancing became something that I needed to work on consciously in my yoga practice and in my “mommy practice” too. I am consciously striving to advance in my balancing in all aspects of my life. I want to acknowledge where I am today, each day, and focus on my practice as a mother, and as a woman too. I try not to compare myself to anyone else.

I received my July Birchbox in the mail recently. I imagine that I may not be the Birchbox target demographic. I find that the some of the products that they send are not a good fit for me and my green beauty preferences, but I have also discovered some great crunchy-friendly brands through them that keep me holding on to my subscription. I generally put some of the samples to the side and focus in on the healthier, greener choices that arrive. This month, Birchbox’s theme was “Go Bold.” They emphasized the point by including a bold, saturated, liquid lipstick in every box. The color that Birchbox selected for me was a bright, no-nonsense RED. This lipstick would have had no place on my face when I was a sleep-deprived new mother and it was all that I could do to make sure that the diapers were washed, the breast pump parts were cleaned, and the food was packed for the next day of work and daycare. It would have had no place on my face when I was a not-so-new mother and I was juggling the needs of a baby, a preschooler, and a second grader while trying to keep my eyes open as the toll of daily radiation treatments washed over me in a wave of exhaustion. This was not a “mommy” lipstick, certainly not a natural, crunchy mama lipstick, right? Natural, crunchy mamas are not bold. They are muted, and subtle, and Earthy. Then I remembered, this is my practice. It is about where I am, not the woman next to me. Not my perceived definition of what I am supposed to be. This is my practice, and I may be in a different place today then I was before; a different place than I will be the next week.

I had a moment of uncharacteristic impulsivity. I swear that the entire score from Kinky Boots started playing in my head and I grabbed for that red lipstick without even so much as glancing at the ingredients. This completely unprecedented move resulted in a bold, confident pout that had me looking for Mr. DeMille and mugging for my closeup. I felt glamorous in a way that tipped the scales drastically. This was not your mommy’s lipstick. I wore it out for a night on the town (well, I went and saw a movie with a friend, but that’s kind of a big deal for me these days).

The next day I sobered up from my lipstick euphoria, and took time to research the ingredients. I couldn’t help but notice both methylparaben and propylparaben. For those who are less familiar, parabens (methyl, ethyl, butyl, and propylparaben) are used as preservatives in cosmetics. There is increasing evidence to suggest that parabens can disrupt the endocrine system and may be linked to cancer. I avoid products that contain parabens. The lipstick was destined to be a one-hit-wonder for me. Now that I knew better, I was going to have to do better.

So with bold, glamorous dreams to motivate me, I went off in search of a liquid lipstick that would mirror the matte finish, bold saturation, staying power, and above all, gorgeous red shade of the Birchbox lipstick, but with greener, friendlier ingredients. It was no an easy quest, I tell you, but it led me to Jeffree Star Cosmetics, an indie brand with a cult following so strong that there are purchasing limits on each lipstick shade. (*Warning, Jeffree Star is bold in more than just lip color, you may wish to wait to view the website away from children or work as it is on the daring side.)

Jeffree Star Liquid Lipstick Ingredients

Although not marketed as a green beauty brand in the traditional sense, the gorgeous liquid-to-matte lip colors are free of parabens and gluten, and are vegan and 100% cruelty free. Enough to make me take notice. A definite step in the green beauty direction. I ran the other ingredients through the EWG skin-deep database, and they all looked pretty good; not perfect for a hard-core, crunchy-greenie, but pretty good overall. I scanned the colors to assess what might be the best match to the bold Birchbox red, and I settled on Redrum, described by Jeffree Star as, “the perfect red.”

Jeffree Star Redrum Velour Liquid Lipstick

When my lipstick arrived, I began my much anticipated side-by-side comparison. I could not believe how spot-on the color was. The shade and saturation of the two liquid lipsticks were almost identical. It seemed that I had found my perfect “greener red.”

Jeffree Star Redrum on the top. Birchbox bold red shade on the bottom.

Jeffree Star Redrum on the top. Birchbox bold red shade on the bottom.

Much like the Birchbox contender, The Jeffree Star lipstick went on easily and took just a little practice to achieve a neat line. In about a minute it had dried down from the shiny liquid to a stay-put matte. The Jeffree Star formula was ever so slightly more tacky to the touch and left a whisper of a mark on my water glass, but stayed bold and beautiful for hours. Most importantly, I loved how the color looked on my lips. Without a doubt, this was me being bold.

Trying on Jeffree Star Cosmetics Redrum Liquid Lipstick

I found that with both lipsticks removal was an adventure in color, and I looked strikingly like the Joker in The Dark Night, but it was only temporary. A cleansing oil followed up by a foaming cleanser removed all traces of the color.

I will continue to be on the lookout for ever greener options, but I was thrilled to be able to find Jeffree Star Cosmetics to scratch my newly sparked liquid lipstick itch. I was impressed by the staying power of the lipstick and the rich, saturated colors. I am pleased to see that even brands who do not market themselves as “green beauty” are being mindful about avoiding parabens, gluten, and other unnecessary ingredients in their products. I am glad to have a healthier choice that I can feel good about when I am in the mood to reach for that more advanced “Glamour Mama” pose in my life practice. After all, it’s all about balance.

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The Cosmic Box Subscription Box Unboxing and Review-July 2015 (relaxation)

The Cosmic Box July 2015 Box

The Cosmic Box is a recently launched indie subscription service aimed at sending you a cosmically amazing care package for the soul. This lifestyle box is curated by a holistic nurse, and is designed for the free-spirited and eco-conscious. Each box includes a mix of 3-6 trial and full size products, or 1-2 luxury full size items. Every box is hand packed and sent with heaps of love. You will find items ranging from toxin free skin care, organic/gmo free artisan edibles, unique home goods, gems and more. A portion of the sale from every box goes to support a charity, which varies from month-to-month. The July box sales supported the charity Wild Aid, whose mission is to end illegal wildlife trading.

Boxes cost $29 per month, which includes shipping, and are less with multi-month subscriptions. Right now, first time subscribers can use the code FIRSTBOX to receive 20% off of their first month’s subscription.

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 which features my sweet middle child this month, 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 in a small box, distinguished by a cute owl “The Cosmic Box” sticker. Everything arrived to me safe and intact. The July box featured a relaxation theme.
As you can see in the video, one of the first things that I noticed upon opening the box was how wonderful it all smelled. I am very sensitive and responsive to scents. I love subscribing to crunchy-friendly subscription boxes, knowing that the great smells will be all-natural and not headache-inducing for me. I always enjoy taking that first sniff of every box. This one was really fantastic, and did trigger a relaxed and happy vibe. The box smelled like sassafras, lemon grass, and other such deliciousness.
The Cosmic Box July 2015 Free GWP

I had only recently discovered The Cosmic Box, but when I stumbled across them they were advertising a promotion for a free pair of handcrafted earrings with a new subscription. I could not pass it up, and was thrilled when I opened the box and found these beautiful copper lotus petal earrings from Bright Star & Buffalo (value $25.00). They are delicate, nature-themed, and completely my style. This promotion is no longer available and this free gift with purchase was not included in all of the July boxes. What was included in all of the July boxes was an information card describing the box contents and letting you know where you can follow The Cosmic Box on social media.

The Cosmic Box July 2015 sweetgrass and tea

Among the first items that I saw in the box was a long braid of what appeared to be dried grass, but smelled far better than any grass I’ve even encountered. It turns out that it was a 12” braid of Washington grown sweetgrass, something that I had never seen before. According to The Cosmic Box’s website, sweetgrass has been enjoyed historically for it’s calming, clearing and spiritual properties. They describe the scent as sweet, warm, and vanilla-like, although I personally thought that it smelled sweet and mildly woodsy with a hint of licorice. The Cosmic Box recommend using the sweetgrass for smudging, or for just resting in a bowl. I did try lighting the sweetgrass, but did not find the smoke to be as fragrant or pleasant as the dried grass itself. That said, after seeing this Organic Authority article that The Cosmic Box mentioned on their site, I realize that I did not follow the proper sweetgrass smudging instructions. I may have burned a part of the braid that was too dry to provide a fragrant smoke. I will need to try again. I do not know the exact value of the sweetgrass included in the box, but I found this source, suggesting an approximate retail value of $1.30 for a single braid.

Also discovered in the box was a deluxe sample size tin of six pyramid-shaped, compostable tea bags by indie brand Flying Bird Botanicals. The Peaceful Spirit tea is mixed by hand; blending organic and wild crafted herbs such as lemon balm, rosemary, and gotu kola, which is then packaged in a recyclable tin (value, $9.00) The Cosmic Box also included a code for 10% off purchases at Flying Bird Botanicals.

The Cosmic Box July 2015 serum and candle

The next item in the box was Blissoma’s Stress Relief Serum (full size, value $10.99). Packaged in a glass roll-on vial, this blend is perfect to pop in my purse to have on-hand when I need a bit of calm. According to Blissoma, the serum blends three forms of chamomile with peppermint, lavender, and ginger to help cool and calm. It is recommended to ease muscle tension and headaches. I grabbed for it when I was feeling a headache coming on the other day and applied it to my temples and at the base of my head. After rubbing it in a bit, I found the cooling sensation and the uplifting fragrance helpful. As an aside, one of the three forms of chamomile used in the serum is chamomile CO2. If you watched my recent Kings Road Apothecary unboxing, you know that I spied coconut CO2 in the ingredients there. According to the Blissoma site, the CO2 extract is the most true, concentrated, and clean essence of a plant. It seems to be the latest, greatest plant ingredient that is just popping up everywhere.

The final treasure that I again smelled before I saw, was a small tea light candle (approx. .5 oz.; value $2.50) by indie brand House of Good Juju. Handcrafted during the New Moon, the Aura Cleansing candle blends soy wax with dried herbs, crystals, and essential oils. It is designed to help balance and cleanse your aura to allow for better flow of positive energy. This candle was beautiful and smelled divine. I personally recognized the lemongrass scent as a standout as it is one of my favorite scents. I said in the video that I was going to wait to burn the candle until after our move next month but I just couldn’t. I lit the candle while writing this review and enjoyed the scent greatly. I will look forward to using this in our new home when I feel a need for balancing or to prepare for yoga or meditation. Interestingly, this same Aura Cleansing tea light from House of Good Juju was also included as a bonus item in the current BuddhiBox Jewelry subscription box. It is unusual for two identical items to overlap in subscription boxes at the same time, so I thought that was noteworthy, although certainly not a big deal. The Cosmic Box also included a code for 10% off purchases at House of Good Juju.

The Cosmic Box appears to be another option among the growing trend of subscription boxes focused on positive energy, natural healing, and zen. I thought that the box was well curated and represented the relaxation theme, in addition to The Cosmic Box’s overall mission. I like that The Cosmic Box gives a portion of the sale of each box to charity, and would love to see a little information about the chosen charity included in the box. I think that it can be easy to forget the charity piece when unboxing if it is not mentioned, and it is such a nice part of the box’s concept.

The overall value of this month’s box, excluding my free promotional gift was approximately $23.79, which is lower than I’d like to see for the $29.00 purchase price. The free gift promotion more than doubled the value of the box, however so I do feel like I got very good value in that respect. Despite the less-than-impressive dollar value, I really liked everything included in the box and thought that it was a good fit for my lifestyle. I have already put many of the items to use and discovered new brands that I probably would not have found otherwise. Not only is The Cosmic Box an indie subscription box option, but they appear to go out of their way to promote other indie businesses. As with making conscious choices to support small business, indie subscription boxes mean that you are often supporting an individual or family-owned business. The Cosmic Box seems to strive to go a step beyond by paying the small business concept forward to other indie brands and to promote charities as well. I think that this adds “cosmic” value to the purchase. I am curious to learn more about this box in the months ahead. What did you think about the July Cosmic Box?

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, and be sure to subscribe!

**Note, item value for the House of Good Juju candle was provided to CrunchyParent.com by Kat, founder of The Cosmic Box, for the purpose of reporting in this review**

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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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Mindfulness Box Subscription Box Unboxing and Review-July 2015

8please excuse images that may look wonky on some devices-we're working to fix it.

*please excuse images that may look wonky on some devices-we’re working to fix it.

Mindfulness Box is a recently launched subscription service aimed at promoting mindfulness, inner peace and balance by giving people the tools to live with more intention and in the present moment. This lifestyle box includes holistic and homeopathic, essential oil, and mineral based health care products, handcrafted jewelry, delicious biodynamic treats, natural minerals/crystals and more. Each box contains 4-5 items accompanied with guided dialogue to enrich the recipient’s journey to balance and inner peace. Boxes cost $29 per month, which includes shipping, and are less with multi-month subscriptions.

I purchased this box and was not compensated in any way for this review. All opinions are my own.

Mindfulness Box July 2015

If you would like to see the live-action unboxing which features my sweet middle child this month, 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 as always and the outer box was marked “fragile” to protect the contents. Everything arrived to me safe and intact. The first thing that I noticed upon opening the box was how wonderful it all smelled. I tend to be very sensitive to artificial fragrances, which can trigger migraines for me, so it is really nice to take a delicious inhale of natural scents and know that I won’t feel ill afterward.

Mindfulness Box July 2015 enclosures

Like last month, this month’s box featured a single enclosure card describing the box contents, listing retail values, and providing suggestions for use, as well as some additional reflections and meditations. There was also a second card this month which appeared to be advertising a yoga-based crowdfunding campaign.

Mindfulness Box July 2015 soap and RAOK cards

A trend that I have noted is for Mindfulness Box to include an exclusive Mindfulness Box branded paper product in their boxes. This month there was a small packet of five note squares with a positive, affirming saying on each one. MB suggested that these cards be used to promote random acts of kindness for others, highlighting the idea that all of our actions and energy are connected. Alina also thought that they would be nice to frame or display in one’s own space to use as positive self-affirmations. Smart girl, that one. Since these cards are exclusive to this box, there is no stated value. Next we discovered that one of the reasons that the box smelled so great was due to this awild soapbar Sea Scrub soap (value $6.50) The organic soap combines sea salt, clay, and kelp along with pumice and a mix of floral, citrus, and spice essential oils, all topped with Himalayan pink salt. It smelled so fantastic, and I cannot wait to use it.

Mindfulness Box July 2015 candle, keychain, wish papers

The next good-smelling treasure was an Aloha Bay Chakra Energy Votive in Abundance paired with a glass votive holder (value $5.00). The candle is made with eco-friendly palm wax and scented with essential oils. Alina loved the fragrance and said that it reminded her of the way that her former Waldorf school smelled, which if you’ve ever visited a Waldorf school is high praise.

Alina was also excited by the Flying Wish Paper Kit (value $11.00) which instructs the user to write their wish on the wish paper, roll it up, and ignite it. The paper burns down to almost nothing and then flies up into the air, lifting the wish with it. After watching the video on the Flying Wish Paper website, I think that this would be a cool activity to do with the kids that would punctuate the idea that putting intention out into the Universe can be a meaningful action. That said, I think that I would want to do this activity outdoors on a non-windy day, and with close adult supervision, i.e. lighting one child’s at a time.

The last item in the box was an Agate Geode with Quartz Crystal Keychain (value: $10.00). According to Mindfulness Box, the crystal helps soothe, calm, heal inner tension and create a sense of personal security; adding that agates have long been associated with strength, courage, longevity, love, healing, gardening and protection. I personally can never have enough keychains to help me find my keys amongst all of the treasures that live in my giant Mommy Bag, and this one is such a unique and pretty one.

I continue to look forward to receiving Mindfulness Box each month. The mission of the box to provide simple reminders to live more deeply in the moment is always reflected in the products chosen. I am impressed by the curation, and tend to find the items useful and beautiful in my home and in my life. It is par for the course with subscription boxes that some items will be hits and others will be misses for each individual, but I have been very happy with the number of hits for me in the Mindfulness Box boxes.

The total value of this month’s box is $32.50, not including the small “Random Acts of Kindness” notes, which I am not sure how to value. This is close to the cost of the box, and not a high price-to-value ratio as far as most lifestyle subscription boxes go. I do think that the curation, item uniqueness and quality, and meditative suggestions add value, but I would like to see the actual item value increase as this subscription continues to establish itself. Additionally, this month Mindfulness Box launched a new Mindfulness Box for kids ages 3-12 years aimed at teaching mindfulness to children. I am curious to learn more about this box in the months ahead as well. What did you think about the July Mindfulness Box?

If you would like to see my most recent listing of “crunchy-friendly” subscription boxes, you can find that here. It has been newly updated and expanded. To see other crunchy subscription box video unboxings, look here on the Crunchy Parent You Tube channel. If you have any suggestions or requests for future videos, please let me know in the comments, and be sure to subscribe to CrunchyParent!

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