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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LaRitzy Vegan Beauty Subscription Unboxing & Review: March 2016

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

About LaRitzy Box

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

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

LaRitzy Box: March Unboxed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Crunchy Parent LaRitzy vegan beauty Modern Minerals smoky quartz shadow swatch

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

Crunchy Parent LaRitzy March 2016 unboxing & review closeup

March LaRitzy Box: Overall Impressions

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

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

If you would like to see the most recent Crunchy Parent List of Crunchy-Friendly Subscription Boxes, you can find that here. To see other crunchy subscription box video unboxings, look here on the Crunchy Parent You Tube channel. If you have any suggestions or requests for future videos or reviews, please let me know in the comments.

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

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

Crunchy Parent-Goddess Provisions March 2016

About Goddess Provisions

Goddess Provisions is a subscription service, created by the owners of Vegan Cuts. Goddess Provisions is a monthly lifestyle box for women. They send products to nourish your inner goddess and grow your spiritual practice. Boxes feature a mix of 4-6 full size items, spanning across the categorizes of aromatherapy, apothecary beauty products, superfood snacks, teas, crystals, books and more. All items are 100% vegan and cruelty-free.

Boxes cost $33 per month, which includes shipping. There are discounts for multi-month subscriptions. I purchased this box and was not compensated in any way for this review, although review may contain affiliate links. All opinions are my own. For my other Goddess Provisions unboxing and reviews, starting with their very first box, look here.

Goddess Provisions: March Unboxed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chakra Love necklace closeup

Chakra Love necklace closeup

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

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

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

Goddess Provisions: Overall Impression

Goddess Provisions March 2016 whole box

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

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

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

If you would like to see the most recent Crunchy Parent List of Crunchy-Friendly Subscription Boxes for other great crunchy-friendly subscription or gift ideas, you can find that here. To see other crunchy subscription box video unboxings, look here on the Crunchy Parent You Tube channel. If you have any suggestions or requests for future videos or reviews, please let me know in the comments, and be sure to subscribe to and the Crunchy Parent YouTube channel!

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Green Beauty Review: Affordable Skincare Routine Featuring Blissoma, 100% Pure, Andalou Naturals, & The Wonder Seed

Crunchy Parent Green Beauty Review Affordable Skincare Routine Featuring Blissoma, 100% Pure, Andalou Naturals & The Wonder Seed

As I mentioned last week, new research out of University of California-Berkley has shown just how quickly a person’s chemical body burden can be decreased by swapping out conventional beauty and personal care products for greener, healthier choices. Specifically, researchers found that the detected levels of parabens, triclosan, and phthalates in the urine of a sample of teenage girls plummeted within three days of the girls switching to healthier personal care products. As a mother of two girls (and as a human who presumes that the the research findings likely generalize to other people beyond teenage girls,) these findings only serve to reinforce the importance of choosing healthy products to put on our bodies.

Although research supporting the importance of greener personal care and cosmetic items continues to mount, barriers remain when it comes to the average consumer accessing these products. It can be overwhelming to wade through the sea of “green” or “natural” products, some of which may be relying more on marketing hype and lax regulations than on truly beneficial and effective ingredients to sell products.

In addition, product cost can also deter consumers from viewing green products as accessible. The reality is that quality ingredients are often more expensive than fillers and synthetics. On the plus side, many green beauty brands spend relatively smaller amounts on marketing than their conventional counterparts, which can help to control costs.

I’ve talked before about my commitment to trying to break down barriers to living a greener, healthier, crunchier life. I think that if someone wants to make healthier lifestyle choices, cost should be removed as a barrier. Of course, no amount of money is well spent if the product purchased yields disappointing results. To that end, I want to continue my green beauty reviews today with a focus on an affordable, moderately-priced skincare routine.

Any of these products could be rotated into your regimen as your less green product gets used up, or if you are just looking for a new product to try. I am providing my own experience and opinions here, but I am not a dermatologist, herbalist, cosmetologist, etc. Please check out my video review of the products. Below the video you will find more details about ingredients, product pricing, where to buy, and more.

I’ve listed all of the product ingredients for your review. I have also indicated resources where you can purchase the products, sometimes for even less that the full retail price. Of course, everyone’s skin is different. I have tried to indicate the skin type(s) that each product was designed for. If it’s not a perfect match for you, there may be other similar products in the line better suited for your needs. You can also let me know in the comments what types of products you’d like to see reviewed and I’ll work on addressing them in future posts. If you have moderately priced skincare favorites, please mention those as well.

1. Fresh-Mild Rice Facial Cleanser by Blissoma (4 oz., $31.99) This soap-free cleanser is designed for all skin types. In addition to being 100% natural, the product is vegan and cruelty free.

The real magic in the formulation is due to its ingredients. Julie Longyear, the founder and formulator behind Blissoma, has background in chemistry and a passion for the power of plants to support wellness. A host of botanical infusions and oils combine in the Fresh formulation to gently cleanse, hydrate, balance, and detoxify the skin. Skin-soothing and healing herbs like marshmallow, chickweed, plantain, and chamomile lay the foundation for this nourishing product. Despite its bland appearance, the cleanser smells deliciously fresh and citrusy and leaves skin feeling soft.

See the complete list of ingredients below. I have not been able to find the Fresh cleanser for less than full retail price, but it can be ordered through Amazon with Free Prime shipping and is well worth the retail investment in my opinion.

Infusion of Althea officinalis* (marshmallow), Stellaria media* (chickweed), Plantago major* (plantain), Rosa damascena*, Arthemis nobilis* (chamomile), Glycerin*, Helianthus annuus (sunflower) Oil*, Oryza sativa* (brown rice), Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Cocos nucifera (coconut) Oil*, Prunus armeniaca (apricot) kernal Oil*, Glyceryl Stearate, Salix alba* (willowbark) extract, Cannabis sativa (hemp) Oil*, Cetearyl Alcohol, Gluconolactone, Echinacea purpurea Extract*, Populus tremuloides (aspen) bark extract, Essential Oils of Lavandula angustifolia, Litsea Cubeba, Cymbopogon martini (palmarosa), Canarium luzonicum (elemi), Boswellia carterii (frankincense), Vetiveria zizandoides (vetiver), Xanthan Gum, Rosemary Oleoresin Extract, Grain Alcohol*+
essential oils in this product contain: linalool**, geraniol**, limonene**, citral**
*from Certified Organic Agriculture
**natural components of essential oils

2. 100% Pure Jasmine Green Tea Tonique (4 oz., $29.00) After I cleanse my skin, I like to hydrate it with a toner or mist. The Jasmine Green Tea Tonique is intended for normal to dry skin types but is gentle enough for use on all types of skin. The product is 100% natural and vegan. Once again, these labels only give us part of a product’s story, for the full details we have to look at the ingredients. Soothing aloe vera juice and rose hydrosol (LINK) lead the way along with green tea extract and calendula hydrosol. Additional plant ingredients help to improve circulation, reduce inflammation, soften and rejuvenate skin. The addition of the wildly popular hyroluronic acid helps the skin retain moisture and appear smoother.

My bottle has a spritz applicator although the current packaging does not. As I mention in the video, the product can either be applied with a cotton pad or cotton ball, or be transferred into a spray bottle if that is your preferred application method.

As of this writing, Amazon is currently selling the product for $28.00 with free shipping. 100% Pure also periodically runs sales through their website which might help you to find the product at a discount. Sign up for email alerts from 100% Pure to be alerted to sales and promotions.

Aloe Barbadensis Leaf (Organic Aloe Juice)*, Rosa Centifolia Flower Water (Organic Rose Hydrosol)*, Extracts of Camellia Sinensis (Organic Green Tea) Leaf*, Calendula Officinalis (Calendula Hydrosol) Flower, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root, Chamomilla Recutita (Chamomile) Flower, Symphytum Officinale (Comfrey) Leaf, Centaurea Cyanus (Cornflower) Flower, Echinacea Purpurea (Echinacea), Equisetum Arvense (Horsetail), Hyssopus Officinalis (Hyssop) and Lonicera Caprifolium Flower and Lonicera Japonica (Honeysuckle), Jasminum Officinale (Jasmine Essential Oil), Hyaluronic Acid, Benzyl Alcohol**, Benzyl Benzoate**, Linalool**
Certified Organic ** Component of Natural Essential Oil

3. 1000 Roses Moroccan Beauty Oil by Andalou Naturals (1 oz., $19.95). I am a huge fan of adding oils to my skincare routine. They give a wonderful boost to my normal-to-dry skin. Individuals with combination-to-oily complexions often focus attention on trying to remove oil from the skin, but stripping the skin of oil can have the opposite effect. The skin’s sebaceous glands can respond by kicking into overdrive, producing even more oil.

Andalou Natural’s 1000 Roses Moroccan Beauty Oil is designed to be gentle enough for sensitive skin. The product is vegan and cruelty-free, in addition to being gluten free and non-GMO certified. As always, I add these certifications as information, but they alone are not guarantees of product quality. The ingredients are the best place to look for clues about product quality and efficacy.

The Moroccan Beauty Oil uses a base of gentle, neutral oils including sunflower oil and jojoba oil. In addition to having many benefits to the skin, these oils are relatively inexpensive, keeping the product cost down. The sunflower and jojoba oils are fortified with a host of other beneficial oils and botanicals including antioxidant-rich rosehip and cranberry oils, as well as pomegranate and argan to help regenerate and balance the skin.

The lightweight oil feels absolutely gorgeous on the skin, and the rich rose scent is lush and beautiful. I love everything about this oil from the packaging and ingredients to the results and the price. The complete ingredients are:

Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower), Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba), Rosa Canina (Rosehip), Punica Granatum (Pomegranate), Vaccinium Macrocarpon (Cranberry), Camelina Sativa, Argania Spinsosa (Argan) and Hippophae Rhamnoides (Sea Buckthorn) Oils*, Fruit Stem Cells (Alpine Rose, Malus Domestsica, Solar Vitis) and BioActive 8 Berry Complex*, Soothing Complex: [Hyaluronic Acid, Magnolia Officinalis Bark, Phoenix Dactylifera (Date) Leaf Cell and Boswellia Serrata (Boswellin) Extracts], Sorbitol, Caprylic/Capric Triglycerides, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Aloe Barbadensis Extract, Camellia Sinensis (White Tea) and Aspalathus Linearis (Rooibos)*^, Citrus Tangerina (Tangerine) and Pelargonium Graveolens (Rose Geranium) Oils*, Rosa Centifolia (Rose) Oil

Non-GMO verified *Organic ^Fair Trade

You can purchase the product directly from Andalou Naturals. The $19.95 retail price is very affordable relative to many other skin oils. Of course, if you are looking to stretch your green beauty dollar (and who isn’t?), Amazon is selling the oil for $14.49 with free Prime shipping. Vitacost is currently selling the Moroccan Beauty oil for $15.96. Use this link for $10 off your first Vitacost purchase for more savings. The product is even less through Frontier Co-Op’s Wholesale program, although membership is required to purchase at Wholesale prices. For more about Frontier Co-Op, look here.

4. Hemp Facial Cream, English Daisy by The Wonder Seed (2.4 oz., $16.95). This product is also 100% vegan & cruelty free. The formulation is a reasonably lightweight emulsion of water, hemp and grape seed oils, and aloe vera, boosted by many additional botanicals. Hemp seed oil, which serves as the foundation for all of The Wonder Seed’s products, is very rich in essential fatty acids and can help to address various skin issues like acne, rosacea, eczema, and psoriasis.

I like that the cream absorbs easily and has a gender-neutral scent, owed to the English daisy essential oil. I have encouraged Rich to use it after shaving. I have been using it on my neck and dellecotage in the evenings and anticipate that I will use it even more in the summer months when my skin benefits from a lighter moisturizer. I think that it is a great option for normal, combination, and oily skin types seeking an economical green option. The complete ingredients list can be seen below.

Purified Water (Aqua), Virgin Organic Hemp Seed Oil, Grape Seed Oil, Organic Aloe Vera, English Daisy Essential Oil, Organic Green Tea Extract, Glycerin (Vegetable), Behenic Acid (Natural Plant Based), Ginseng Extract, Mandarin White Oil, Organic Sweet Almond Oil, Jojoba Oil, Sorbitan Stearate (Natural Plant Based), Soybean Oil, Vegetable Glyceryl Stearate (Natural Plant Based), Chamomile Extract, Borage Seed Oil, Cetyl Alcohol (Coconut Oil Based), Retinyl Palmitate (Natural Plant Based), Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Hyaluronic Acid (Natural Plant Based), Geranium Extract, Glycyrrhiza Glabra Root Extract, Dextrin, Stearyl Alcohol (Natural Plant Based), Lauric Oil Extract, Wolf Berry Extract, Soluble Natural Plant Collagen, Potassium Sorbate (Natural Plant Based), Nutmeg Oil Extract, Sea Salt

This cream seems to be a little-known product at this point. Amazon looked like the most readily-available and fast retail option at $16.95 with free prime shipping.

I love discovering new green beauty products that perform well. I think that the secret is not only avoiding harmful ingredients, but including powerful plant-based ingredients that provide benefits to the skin. As with conventional skin care products, price and performance varies. I hope that the above selections represent a price range that will be accessible to many seeking greener options and will provide a level of performance that is well worth every penny.

To see my other green beauty reviews, take a look here. To discover new products in future reviews, subscribe to Crunchy Parent and the Crunchy Parent YouTube channel, and follow Crunchy Parent at your favorite social media outlet; Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest. If you have requests or suggestions for future green beauty reviews, please let me know.

All of these products were purchased by me and have been used by me over time with results that I have been pleased with. This post has not been sponsored by any of the brands featured, although it may contain affiliate links.

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Vitacost Haul Video: Gluten-Free food, supplements, natural home care & personal care items

*I purchased all of these items and receive no compensation from Vitacost for this post, although affiliate links may be included. What follows are my honest opinions*

If you read my post about Barganic Alerts you know that I am really passionate about making natural, green-living choices accessible to anyone who desires to make them. Throughout my evolution as a parent and as a person, one of my goals has been to seek out healthier foods, which for us includes prioritizing organic foods, avoiding GMOs, and respecting our gluten and dairy sensitivities. This can add a lot to our food cost bottom line, but it is well worth it to me; better health is priceless.

In addition to what we put in our bodies, I am also mindful of what we put into our home environment via cleaning and household products, and what we put on our bodies through cosmetic and personal care items. This week, research out of University of California-Berkeley demonstrated that by swapping out just a few personal care products for ones with safer ingredients, the chemical body burden of teen girls decreased significantly within a period of a few days. This powerful finding only serves to reinforce for me the importance of prioritizing healthy products for my family.

The desire to buy the best food, supplements, home, and personal care products that we can afford has moved me to research the resources available to us in our community and through the interwebs to stretch our dollars. There are a few online retailers that I have found who offer very competitive pricing on high-quality natural, organic, and food allergy-friendly food items. Vitacost is a retailer that I shop with often for supplements, personal and home care items, and nonperishable foods. Not only is the value very good, but they offer an extensive range of products that are not always available to me locally.

Recently I got an email from Vitacost promoting a 15% off any order of $100 or more. This was the motivation that I needed to place an order. I also went through ebates and earned an additional 4% off of my purchase. You can see the complete haul video above. A select few of the items that I ordered were excluded from the promotional offer, but I still found the Vitacost price to be better that what I could find elsewhere.

I encourage you to do your own research to see how pricing compares to what is available near you. To give a sense of the prices during this deal, I have provided a sample of my purchase prices below. The promotion is no longer active, but Vitacost frequently offers various deals. You can sign up for their emails to be alerted of sales.

Prices are before tax and do not reflect the additional rebate received through ebates. For ease of comparison, I have converted pricing for “bulk” items into price per ounce or per pound as appropriate.

Xlear Spry gum 600 count: $33.99
Herbatint Permanent Haircolour Gel: $6.79
Ancient Secrets Bath Salts-2 lbs.: $7.51
Biokleen Automatic Dish Powder-32 oz.: $6.54
Ener-G GF pretzels: $2.16/bag (8 oz.)
Kinnikinnick GF graham crackers $3.29/box (8 oz.)

So what do you think, are these prices a good value for your area? Do you have any healthy food and personal care resources to share?

If you are new to Vitacost, this link will save you $10 off of your first order.

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Beauty Heroes Luxury Green Beauty Subscription Unboxing and Review: March, 2016 featuring SkinOwl

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

Beauty Heroes is a luxe green beauty subscription service. The Beauty Heroes mission is to provide their customers with products from the very best non-toxic, clean, green beauty brands. Each month Beauty Heroes sends one full size luxury product, sometimes with a smaller bonus item (because every superhero loves a good sidekick). Products are chosen to fit with the season, and are screened to avoid an impressive laundry list of villain ingredients such as parabens, mineral oil, and triclosan; and to include natural superpower ingredients to nurture your skin such as turmeric, reishi mushroom, and sea buckthorn. Beginning with this month’s box, Beauty Heroes will be featuring the best in luxe green beauty cosmetic items in addition to their previous concentration on non-toxic skincare, hair, and body care items. This box is available for purchase through March 20th and while supplies last.

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

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

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

As always, I was thrilled to see the box with the big, bright “Beauty Heroes” label on my doorstep. I opened it to find an enclosure reviewing the brand and products highlighted, as well a handy pocket guide listing both villain and superpower ingredients to notice in cosmetic, skincare, and beauty products.

Beauty Heroes March 2016 Skin Owl Beauty Drops PM

Superhero Product:
This month’s expert selection comes from the brand SkinOwl. SkinOwl was a new brand discovery to me, and a reminder of one of the many reasons why I love receiving Beauty Heroes. I know that when introduced to a new brand through them, Beauty Heroes has already done all of the legwork to ensure that the brand and their products meet exceptionally high standards for using high quality, nourishing ingredients that will not be harmful to my body or my planet.

Beauty Heroes did a fantastic Q&A session with Annie Tevelin, the founder of SkinOwl. Annie began her career as a makeup artist. Frustrated by the lack of results achieved with conventional skincare products, Annie sought out help with her eczema and severe acne education and certification in Cosmetic Chemistry. Through this experience she gained appreciation for the importance of the ingredients in skincare products rather than the marketing spin. Annie appreciates simplicity in her formulations; highlighting one or two star ingredients with a supportive cast as needed. She appreciates a less is more philosophy what it comes to her products. In keeping with a respect for ingredients, SkinOwl is mindful to use only ethically and sustainably harvested ingredients; organic and cold pressed oils; and essential oils of the highest quality.

Having learned more about SkinOwl, I was excited to see the products that Beauty Heroes had selected for its subscribers this month.

This superhero product selection for March is a full-size glass bottle of SkinOwl’s Mangosteen Beauty Drops PM (2 oz., $85.00). The deliciously simple blend of boabab and mangosteen oils works to support skin health by healing free radical damage. The naturally anti-bacterial and anti-viral oils also soothe skin and reduce inflammation, working to improve blemished or chronically dry skin. The oil feels exceptionally lightweight on the skin and absorbed very quickly after use. I loved the lightly sweet, fruity scent of the oil and how soft it left my skin. I look forward to seeing how my skin responds to the oil over time and will report back with a more complete green beauty review of this gorgeous product. I must admit that the idea of “beauty sleep in a bottle” is a very appealing one to this mom of three who still sees sleep as a precious, and sometimes elusive, commodity.

Beauty Heroes March 2016 featuring SkinOwl Beauty Drops pm & Heroic Helichrysum Beauty Steam

Beauty Heroes added another level of skin pampering to this month’s box by including a sample sized bottle of the SkinOwl Heroic Helichrysum Beauty Steam as a sidekick product (.6 oz., $14.40). I could not find the exact product on the SkinOwl site, but they do have this similar, Marigold Glow Beauty Steam in their shop. This absolutely beautiful blend of flower petals and herbs is designed to be added to boiling water and then used to gently steam the face. SkinOwl adds that after steaming, the warm tea can be applied to the face with a cloth, blanketing the skin in a nourishing compress of botanical benefits. Botanical steams and compresses have been emerging as a highly regarded, and nurturing skincare practice. I look forward to trying out this ritual. The sheer gorgeousness of the flower buds, petals, and herbs inspires appreciation for beauty and serenity.

Beauty Heroes March 2016 SkinOwl Heroic Helichrysum Beauty Steam close up

I could not find the Heroic Helichrysum ingredients listed anywhere, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that it probably includes helichrysum, a flower believed to help heal wounds, even skin tone, and relieve inflammation (more on helichrysum here). I was also able to identify lavender buds and rose petals in the blend. I hesitate to guess at the other green leafy bits as many dried plants can look the same all chopped up, but I am confident given SkinOwl’s focus on ingredient efficacy that the blend will be a gift to my skin.

Beauty Heroes March 2016 unboxing & Review featuring SkinOwl

Final Thoughts:
This month’s box featuring SkinOwl products had a total value of $99.40. I continue to absolutely amazed by the value that Beauty Heroes provides each month for a $39.00 subscription. Once again, if you are interested in this month’s box it is still available for purchase through March 20th as long as supplies last. Subscription purchases made after March 20th will begin with the April box.

As I mention in the video, I am feeling a great deal of conflict about Beauty Heroes at the moment. They are without question one of my favorite subscription boxes of all time. I think that the work that they do to bring effective, safe, and conscious green beauty to their subscribers is outstanding. Moreover, I love that they educate their customers about ingredients to allow them to become more knowledgeable green beauty consumers. Lastly, the focus on luxury green beauty brands at an accessible price makes me truly feel pampered every month when I open the box, and every day when I use products that have made their way to my home through Beauty Heroes.

The conflict comes from my desire to introduce Crunchy Parent readers and viewers to a range of naturally-oriented subscription boxes across genres such as food, craft, children, green beauty, and more. Although I wish that I had the budget to add more boxes each month, I do not. I need to occasionally discontinue a subscription so that I can add something new. It’s breaking my heart a bit to think about a month without Beauty Heroes, but I think that a hiatus is probably in the near future so that I can focus the “bloggy subscription box budget” elsewhere for a bit.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about SkinOwl and Beauty Heroes. Have you ever tried a beauty steam or facial compress before? If you have any tips please leave them in the comments.

If you would like to see my most recent listing of “crunchy-friendly” subscription boxes, you can find that here. To keep up with all the Crunchy Parent happenings, be sure to subscribe to and the Crunchy Parent YouTube channel and visit me on Facebook Pinterest and Twitter!

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

MommyCon 2016 conference schedule for naturally-minded parents

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Barganic Alert: Goodbeing Limited Edition box + 2 month subscription bonus!

Goodbeing Share the Lov ltd. ed. box + bonus

If there was ever a time to act fast, this is it. Today only, Goodbeing (formerly Goodebox) is offering an amazing bonus along with the purchase of their limited edition “Share the Love” box ($95 for $255 in luxury green beauty products).

All customers who purchase the limited edition box will also receive a two month gift membership of the Goodbeing subscription box. They can send the membership to someone else, or keep it for themselves. For more details about what to expect from a Goodbeing subscription box, see my Ultimate List of Crunchy-Friendly Subscription Boxes (look under their former name, Goodebox).

The limited edition box features products from Osmia Organics, One Love Organics, Lilikoi Living, AILA Cosmetics, LOQI, and jewelry from Me to We. See link for complete product details and to purchase.

There is no coupon necessary to take advantage of this bonus offer, but it is only valid today until 3pm PST, so don’t delay.

**Barganic Alerts are an effort to spread awareness about affordable crunchy goods and services (and here’s why). They are not endorsements. They tend to be time-limited, and often go quickly. To make sure that you are always in the know, subscribe to to receive emails of all Barganic Alerts as soon as they are posted** or follow me on Twitter Twitter or my Pinterest Barganic Alert board.

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Vegan Cuts Vegan Beauty Subscription Unboxing & Review: January 2016

Crunchy Parent Vegan Cuts Beauty Subscription Unboxing & Review January 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you would like to see the most recent Crunchy Parent List of Crunchy-Friendly Subscription Boxes, you can find that here. To see other crunchy subscription box video unboxings, look here on the Crunchy Parent You Tube channel. If you have any suggestions or requests for future videos or reviews, please let me know in the comments.

To keep up with all the Crunchy Parent happenings, you can subscribe to my YouTube channel or follow me on Pinterest and Twitter.

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100% Natural Does Not Mean 100% Safe: A Cautionary Tale

I love natural, green beauty products. I have dabbled in crafting lotions and potions, and have explored products from hundreds of natural beauty brands for decades. Needless to say, seeing words like, “100% natural,” “organic,” and “no artificial ingredients” on products excites me. On occasion, I need to remind myself that while such terms suggest that a product might be gentler and more natural than a conventional counterpart, they are not guarantees that the product is beneficial, effective, healthy, or even safe.

Yesterday I was lamenting my sore back due to some new exercises that I’ve been doing at the gym. I decided that a nice hot bath would be a great way to soothe my aching muscles. I ran the water into the tub and went exploring my shelves for the perfect bath product to enhance my soak. Initially I was thinking that a bath salt might be nice, but then I spied an unopened bottle of a liquid bath soak. I had received it before we had moved into the house (i.e., before we had a bath tub) and thus it had languished in a box of bath goodies, neglected until now.

The bottle had the words “100% natural” and “vegan” splashed across the label, and the ingredients were simple; a naturally fermented liquid base, high grade essential oil, and some natural preservative. The label explained that it was normal for the product to separate in the bottle since it contained no emulsifiers, and the essential oil and the “water” base do not mix. I followed the instructions to shake the bottle to mix well, and to add a tablespoon to the bath. The label also indicated that the product ingredients would relax my muscles and ease tension in addition to uplifting my spirit (perfect!). I was struck by the beautiful vibrant color of the liquid as I poured the directed amount into the bath.

After I finished running the water, I eased myself into the tub, preparing to be uplifted and soothed. The bath smelled beautiful; fresh and citrusy. The water felt warm though, too warm, hot really. I turned on the cool water to adjust the temperature. Something was really hurting on my side. I looked at my left side along my ribcage. I didn’t see anything, just the faint lines from the workout top that I had been wearing moments earlier. It really hurt though. It was distracting. I was not relaxing, I was in pain. I looked again. There appeared to be two very faint scratches on my side, probably made by the tag from my top when I took it off. As I watched, the lines grew redder and angrier. Now the underside of my legs were burning. Really burning. Something was wrong. I looked around the tub and there was a vibrant colorful ring all along the edges at the water line.

My brain clicked, and I immediately stood up and started draining the tub. I grabbed a bath pouffy and some soap and began washing off my skin. This did little to stop the burning sensation that had now consumed my side, back, and legs. I spied a sponge and some tub cleanser, grateful that I use chemical-free cleaning products as I stood cold, wet, and naked in the tub spraying and scrubbing the colorful stripe off the bathtub all around me. The tub had drained now and I used the handheld sprayer to rinse off every inch. I began to refill the tub with fresh water, but my skin was still burning. I knew that I needed oil, but I didn’t have any within arm’s reach. I went for the next best thing; a jar of body scrub made with a host of nut and plant oils. Fortunately, it too separates into layers, so I poured some of the top layer of oil off into my palm, taking care to avoid any of the scrubbing grains which would have likely decimated my tender, burning skin. I started rubbing the oils onto my skin. The burning began to subside. I sat back down into the fresh water, digesting what had just happened.

I wondered if this was a fluke. As is probably natural, I assumed that with a mass-marketed product made by a well-respected company the problem must have been due to user error on my part. They couldn’t possibly be selling a product that was unsafe, right? Especially not one labeled as 100% natural. It was not an inexpensive product either; costing over $25.00 for the small bottle. I must not have shaken it up enough. Maybe I used more than a tablespoon (although I do not think that I did). It had to be me. The problem had to be with me.

When I got out of the tub and dried off, I decided to do a little sleuthing. Some quick online searches led me to the answers. I was able to find product ratings and reviews on two sites; the brand’s own website and Amazon. In total there were over a dozen reviews. Approximately 95% of these reviews were one star and contained words like, “warning,” “worst experience,” “burns like crazy,” “horrible burning sensation,” “hurt for hours,” and “severe prickly burning.” I felt reassured that this was not user error. More importantly, I was pleased to see that the product has recently been discontinued.

In hindsight, I’m disappointed in myself that I didn’t know better. The product was attractive due to its simple ingredients, but they were too simple. Something very important was missing. There was no carrier oil in the product to dilute the high percentage of essential oil. Even though the bottle instructed me to shake the product to combine the essential oil with the fluid, this does not dilute the essential oil because the essential oil and “water” never really mix; the essential oil just breaks down into smaller, undiluted droplets. These droplets then drift back together over time, where they can settle onto the skin in these concentrated amounts (and make really vibrant rings around the tub). This is why carrier oils are always needed to dilute the strength and intensity of essential oils before they come in contact with your skin. You can read more about the phenomenon in this article.

When I looked at the bottle (which had once again separated out into two distinct layers,) I could see that the formulation contained a ratio of about one part essential oil to six parts of fluid. I did some quick math to determine that the tablespoon of product had added about a half teaspoon, or approximately 50 drops of undiluted essential oil to my bath. It is no wonder that my skin felt like it was on fire and the superficial abrasion on my skin had quickly become inflamed. In truth, this product really was unsafe as formulated, despite being all-natural, vegan, cruelty-free and from a reputable company.

I have chosen not to name the specific product or company because the product has been discontinued and is no longer on shelves. I have used many other wonderful products from this brand without incident. This was clearly a misstep and a shining example of why natural does not always mean gentle, healthy, or safe. It is still the responsibility of the consumer to determine what is natural, healthy, and safe for them. It is always best to educate one’s self about product ingredients and to read labels. When in doubt, a quick Google search before jumping in the tub might help to prevent a very unpleasant experience.

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