My Texas Market October 2016 Subscription Box Review

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My Texas Market is a monthly subscription box containing 4-6 items from small businesses in Texas that focuses on small batch and artisan products that fit a monthly theme. Have you ever wandered around the farmers market and wondered what to buy? It’s like they selected the products for you and shipped them to your house! The subscription is $35 a month or you can choose a 3- or 6-month subscription and save a little dough. Right now if you enter promo code MAIL25 you will save 25% on your first box! You can also send the box as a gift or purchase previous boxes and some featured items in their Online Market. To subscribe to My Texas Market, click here. This box was sent to me for review purposes (thank you My Texas Market!!!).

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Usually I find a product information card and other product info on top but they must have been overlooked! My Texas Market always does a great job at presentation but this month had a lot of glass so there was also a lot of bubble wrap (I use it with my students to practice fine motor skills!).

I found the following on the My Texas Market website:

The theme for the October box is “Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice.” This box is part of our fall celebration extravaganza and is inspired by the delicious tastes, sights, and scents of autumn. Get into the season with savory pumpkin, yummy apple, and more. Enjoy! The October box will also make a wonderful gift. We have reserved a few October boxes for individual purchase, and they are first come first serve. Items include pumpkin chocolate, holiday spice sugar, starbucks wax melts, pumpkin spice brown sugar scrub, and caramel apple bourbon jam.

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Oh, I love the looks of this fall-themed box! It does indeed look nice and spicy!

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Confituras is an Austin-based business that creates delicious seasonal jams and jellies. Their Bourbon Caramel Apple Jam is similar to apple butter and would be great on top of some brie and a cracker. I plan on serving it with my pumpkin waffles and gingerbread pancakes.

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From Scratch Farm Homemade Body Scrub in Brown Sugar-Pumpkin Spice worked well but the product was hard to mix and you will need a spoon or something to get the product out of the jar unless you have freakishly long fingers. It smelled lovely, was very moisturizing, and exfoliated well. I think I would prefer that this product came dry and then I could just mix in my own olive or coconut oil.
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Spaulding’s Specialty Spices Holiday Spice Sugar combines fair-trade cane sugar with cinnamon, clove, ginger, nutmeg, lemon, and fenugreek. They suggest using it in your coffee or holiday baking but I plan on using it in herbal tea and as an upgrade to cinnamon toast.

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Tradition Scents Soy Wax Melts in Starbucks Coffee made my home smell as good as the coffee shop. Notes of coffee, vanilla, and caramel filled the air and it is pretty strong and long-lasting. I walked into the living room this morning and even though my warmer is off it STILL smells great!

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SRSLY Chocolate is another Austin-based business that grinds their own chocolate and hand-pours into individual bars. This ain’t no Hershey bar. This chocolate was barely sweet and had texture thanks to the pumpkin pie spices.
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I ALWAYS enjoy getting my monthly taste of Texas! These products fit the theme so well and were tasty, seasonal, and dare I say luxurious? Not just apple butter, but apple butter with bourbon! Not just cinnamon sugar, but spicy holiday sugar! Plus my house smells amazing, my skin is soft, and I had fancy CHOCOLATE!  I love that My Texas Market takes the time to visit farmers’ markets across the state and then picks the best of the best!

If you would like to give My Texas Market a try then click here and get ready to enjoy the best of the Lone Star State!

Play! by Sephora May 2016 Subscription Review

Play! is a monthly beauty subscription box from Sephora. It is $10 per month (plus tax in my state) and there is no customization so everyone receives the same samples. I have been receiving the boxes since the service started last September in limited release but Sephora recently opened up more subscriptions. If you would like to subscribe click here.

This month the box looked a little different. There is usually another box inside the striped box but it looks like Sephora decided to go in a different direction. This is also the first month that the box has been more widely available so I’m thinking they decided to do an overhaul.

Instead of a box all of the items were inside of a drawstring bag!

Usually Sephora has a booklet with all of the product info and suggested uses inside but this month they included a foldout instead. The theme this month was “The Forces of Nature” and the products chosen are supposed to be high performing and good for you.

One thing they kept was the bonus card that lets you earn 50 extra points when you make a purchase at any Sephora store. I have noticed that the cards expire much sooner than they used to.

Origins Maskimizer Skin-Optimizing Mask Primer This product is designed to be used with a mask as follows:

Maskimizer™ Skin-Optimizing Mask Primer preps, primes, and optimizes skin for mask to follow. It improves spreadability and rinseability of masks while hydrating, soothing, and boosting skin’s radiance immediately. Great for use with every type of mask except peel-off, it softens skin and boosts hydration levels.

There were also two foil-pack mask samples from Origins: Clear Improvement Charcoal Mask   and Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask. The charcoal mask is a traditional mask that is rinsed off after drying and the overnight mask is really more like a moisturizer that you apply before bed.

Briogeo Don’t Despair, Repair! Deep Conditioning Mask ($9 value) This weekly treatment contains rosehip and almond oils and algae extract to help smooth and strengthen hair.

Atelier Cologne Orange Sanguine Cologne Absolue (sample size) I like Atelier colognes and already have a small version of this and to me it smells just like fresh orange or tangerine zest.  It doesn’t last long but it is a comfort scent to me and I like it!

Korres Wild Rose Advanced Brightening Sleeping Facial ($12.67 value) This is my first ever product from Korres and it is designed to help improve uneven skin tone and dark spots. I didn’t care for the fragrance, it reminded me of hairspray. Not tested on animals.

Bite Beauty Amuse Bouche Lipstick in Kimchi ($8.67 value) This shade is shocking pink with blue undertones. This is very bright and I would have loved it in high school. I did manage to tone it down with a darker color. Almost all of my lipsticks must be mixed anyways since I still haven’t found my signature color. This one is smooth and lightly flavored.

Tarteist Lip Crayon in Latergram by Tarte ($2.77 value) This is a 2-in-1 primer and liner for lips and the shade is described as mauve but is more like the exact color of my lips. Tarte offers a matching lip paint. This didn’t go on very smoothly but it did make my lipstick last a little longer.

Bite Amuse Bouche in Kimchi
Top color: Tarte Latergram. Bottom color: Bite Kimchi.

When I first started receiving Play! I loved it but the last few months have been meh. The value (not including the small packets and perfume) was over $30 but most of that is from products I didn’t care for. Also, I am not sure what to do with the little bag; a proper makeup bag would be more useful. I know that the purpose is to get out of my comfort zone a little and to try something new but that lip color is bright.  I do appreciate that they chose masks for both young and slightly more mature skin types though.

What do you think of Play! by Sephora? If this was your first box/bag, what did you like best? If you have been getting them for a while, are you still happy with this sub? I saw the spoilers for June and I am looking forward to my next box!

April LaRitzy Mini Box Review

LaRitzy Box is a vegan and cruelty-free beauty subscription box. They offer a “regular” box which is $24.99 per month and contains 4-5 full or deluxe sized items or a LaMini box which contains 2-3 items and costs $14.99 per month. Both boxes are available in 1, 3, or 12 month plans, with a lower price for the longer subs. My review is of the LaMini box, which contained 3 items. The LaMini box doesn’t come with a product information card, however, I did receive an email that said which items I could possibly have in my box and the value of each item. LaRitzy recommends that you subscribe to either the regular OR mini box but not both as you will receive some of the same products in each box.

There was some literature on top that explained how to use one of the products and another card that contained a discount code for one of the other products.

Everyone received the face oil and lipstick and then received either the oil-pulling sachet or Juice Beauty CC Cream.

LippyGirl Vegocentric Organic Vegan Lipstick (Full size! $18 value) These lipsticks are made with castor seed and jojoba oils, carnauba wax, and shea butter and are vegan and cruelty-free (no beeswax here). I received the shade Hot Diggity Yam which is a very light peachy shade that really didn’t show up on my lips so I will mix it with a darker color or use it in the summer. It really didn’t have a scent and no taste that I could detect so I am happy with those aspects!

Toogga 100% Pure Organic Desert Date Oil for Face, Body, and Hair (Full size! Value $19.00) I grew up eating dates as a child but I didn’t realize that the seeds could be cold pressed into an oil! This oil absorbed quickly into my skin and it can also be used on hair and nails. The amber colored bottle helps protect it from light and it is vegan and cruelty-free too.

Pearlies by Leo & Goa ( 1 sachet, value ?) This is a brand new product and there isn’t much info yet but it is a coconut oil and essential oil blend (?) that you swish around in your mouth for 5-15 minutes before spitting it out and it is supposed to naturally whiten your teeth and take loads of bacteria out along with it. I have a very strong gag reflex and have a hard enough time brushing for two minutes without feeling ill so just the thought of swishing for at least 5 minutes makes me feel queasy. I have heard of oil pulling before and swishing for 20 minutes (with plain old coconut oil) is the gold standard but most suggest starting with 5-10 minutes of gentle swishing. Spit the oil in to the garbage and not the sink (after all, it is oil) as that can clog your pipes. Also, make sure to continue to brush and floss as this won’t replace regular dental hygiene.

My April LaRitzy Mini box had a value of $37 (not including the oil pulling sachet). I loved the date oil and lipstick and always enjoy trying new-to-me products. Do you subscribe to LaRitzy or any other cruelty-free boxes? What do you like most about them (besides the obvious!)? Finally, what are your thoughts on oil pulling?

If you are considering joining LaRitzy I would appreciate it if you used my personal referral link here. Thank you!

Birchbox April Box Review

Birchbox is a monthly beauty discovery subscription service that sends you 5-7 deluxe sized samples (and the occasional  full sized product) for only $10 a month. You earn 10 points for reviewing your samples for a total of at least 50 points ($5) each month and your points can then be used like cash in the online Birchbox shop. Points accrue and it takes two months to earn 100 points, which is $10, but points must be used in $10 increments. You also earn points on shop purchases and for every friend who uses your personal link to sign-up. Combine points with promo codes and sales to reduce the price of items or even get them for free!
Birchbox lets you choose from a curated box (samples are already chosen based on a theme) or will send a random box of samples based on answers you provide at signup. This is my review of my April “random” Birchbox. My personal link along with discount codes are at the bottom of this post.

 

I received five products this month from the hair, face, and makeup categories. My favorite category is body care though so hopefully next month I will receive a lotion or shower gel.

There was a pretty little card inside with some info about this month’s box. They sent out some ingredient-conscious choices and hinted that they would soon release a Limited Edition Box.

The flip side of the card lists the products I received plus the value if I were to purchase the full size in the online Birchbox shop.

There was a cute card with a code for 20% off of a purchase from RIFLEPAPERCO.com.

Parlor by Jeff Chastain Volumizing Lifting Spray  (1 oz, $4.90 value) I received this product earlier this month in my Birchbox April Elegant Essentials box and loved it so I am happy to have another one! This volumizes with marshmallow root and smells good too. I had lasting volume which is hard to get with my baby fine hair.

Briogeo Don’t Despair, Repair! (1 oz, $4.25 value) I blow dry and curl my hair every single day so once a week I use a deep conditioner. I still had a rough time combing my hair after trying this one but my hair did feel extra soft all day long. If you are looking for a natural product that is cruelty-free then check it out.

Burt’s Bees Lipstick (Full size! Value $9) I received color #514 Brimming Berry which works well with my coloring. This is moisturizing and hangs around for a good while. It is also all natural and contains moringa oil and vitamin E to keep your lips soft.

Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask (7.5ml, value $14.50This is a mask that according to Birchbox “targets excess oil, evens skin tone, and sheds dead cells to give your complexion a healthy, all natural glow”. I do not have oily skin but I gave it a try by spreading some on my face and waited 20 minutes before rinsing. It felt a little tight as it dried but my skin did look good when I woke up the next morning. It has a slight rose scent which is not my favorite but I would love to try some other products from this brand in the future.

Supergoop Daily Correct CC Cream SPF 35 (3ml value $2.04) I tried this CC cream in a previous box and fell in love. This is my go-to moisturizer/face tint in the summer since it contains SPF 30 and gives my skin a dewy glow without being sparkly. A little goes a long way and it makes me look well rested and did I mention I love it?

Swatches of Supergoop and Burt’s Bees

 

I was pretty happy with my Birchbox this month! I love the volumizer and CC Cream and the lipstick is nice too but I would have loved a body product. This month’s box had a value of $34.69 and every item will be used. If you would like to subscribe to Birchbox you can go to their website or use my handy dandy personal link here. Right now when you subscribe and enter promo code RIFLEBOOKS at checkout you will receive two mini notebooks (while supplies last). Or, enter promo code SUBSCRIBENOW50 for 50 bonus points at sign up. If you already subscribe, let me know which beauty category is your favorite!

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Whole Foods “Hello, Beauty” Bag Review

When Whole Foods announced that they would offer a one-time purchase beauty bag that was available in store only I gave thanks that a.) I live near a Whole Foods or 3 and b.) I would be on Spring Break and able to make the drive to the store to get one at 10 a.m. when they went on sale. The bag was $15 and the tag attached said that it was an $80 value. Let’s break it down and see, shall we?

I paid $15 for my beauty bag and found it full of deluxe sample sized products along with two full sized makeup items.

The bag itself is from RIJIgreen and made of cotton by survivors of human trafficking. The survivors are paid fair wages, given healthcare and daycare, and given literacy and budget training. The lining of the bag as well as the zipper tassel are made from saris. ($11.99 value)

The front of the bag with the sari tassel
The flip side

The bag contained 9 products in all. Those are some pretty deluxe sized samples and 2 items are full sized.

Last year when I had just learned about subscription boxes and bags I found out about the Whole Foods Beauty Bag and picked one up. While  in the store I found someone demonstrating Evanhealy products and bought a starter kit. I later returned to buy the full sizes since they worked so well at helping my red, irritated skin calm down and look normal.

I combined the  Evanhealy Rose Geranium Facial Tonic HydroSoul with the Trilogy Rosehip Oil (see below) and patted it into my face before applying a moisturizer. Just combine two drops of the oil in the palm of your hand and spray the HydroSoul into it 3-4 times, give a quick swirl to gently combine, and then press upwards into your skin. (HydroSoul value $8.50)

I love oils and serums and this Rosehip Oil from Trilogy is certified organic to boot. They suggest rubbing in 2-3 drops twice a day to the face. ($12 value)

I have tried Acure products before but the Pore Minimizing Facial Scrub is new to me. It had a gel like texture (a little slimy to be honest) and black jojoba beads that didn’t irritate my skin, more like they glided over my face. ($3.25 value)

There were a few new-to-me brands in this bag including Dr. Hauschka and this Soothing Cleansing Milk  was a nice introduction. It is recommended for sensitive and mature skin and can be used to remove makeup. ($2.71 value)

Derma/e Purifying 2-in-1 Mask “purges pores of deeply rooted toxins, then exfoliates away micropollutants for purely glowing skin”. I haven’t tried it yet but sounds promising! ($5.74 value)

I really loved the Weleda Skin Food, in fact my skin ate it up! I think this may have been designed as a hand cream but my face loved it and I didn’t get clogged pores either. ($2.58 value)

MyChelle Perfect C Serum  is an anti-aging serum designed to reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles. It did have a rather strong scent to it. Use after cleansing and before moisturizing. ($14.96 value)

The two full sized items were both makeup products. I didn’t know that Burt’s Bees even made lipstick but I am now the proud owner of Sunset Cruise, which is a coral shade and is more moisturizing than colorful. ($9 value)

Lastly there was a Mineral Fusion Lash Curling Mineral Mascara in the shade Gravity/Black. This is supposed to be gentle and non-irritating but I have a backlog of mascara to use before I can try it out. ($18.99 value)

I loved trying these good-for-you products and enjoyed finding new brands to add to the rotation. As for the value, all totaled it was worth $89.72! I used the suggested retail price as listed on the products’ websites. Did you grab one? If so, what was your favorite product?

LaRitzy Mini March Cruelty Free Box Review

LaRitzy Box is a vegan and cruelty-free beauty subscription box. There is the “regular” box which is $24.99 per month and contains 4-5 full or deluxe sized items or the LaMini box which contains 2-3 items and costs $14.99 per month. Both boxes are available in 1, 3, or 12 month plans, with a lower price for the longer subs. My review is of the LaMini box, but I had 4 items in my box! My box didn’t include a product information card, however, I did receive an email that said what items I could possibly have in my box and the value of each item. LaRitzy recommends that you subscribe to either the regular OR mini box but not both as you may get some of the same products in each box. For example, they said EVERYONE would be getting a Modern Minerals eye shadow this month. I actually won this box by being one of the first 20 people to sign up using a promo code on their website when the box went live this month! In my excitement and haste I apparently entered some mailing info incorrectly but a quick email got that fixed.
My first LaRitzy Mini Box!
I was so surprised to see FOUR items in my box! I was expecting three based on the email I received. The email showed 5 products that I could possible receive, and the eye shadow and lip gloss were my guaranteed items.
First up was the Grab Me/Scrub Me/Rinse Me Body Scrub in Lemon from Otavea ($16 for 8oz). This smells AMAZING, so luscious and fresh.  I love fruity scents, especially citrus, so this is a winner for me. The ingredients are very basic too: sugar, organic oils, dried lemon peel, and lemon essential oil. I didn’t even need to use a separate moisturizer afterwards. ($6 value according to LaRitzy, but if this is only 2 oz, then it is worth $4)
The scrub was sealed in plastic and even had another inner seal over the product but there was some leakage in the cap. Using this promo code the scrub would cost $12.80. There are a few other scents in the shop and I think I may need to get the peppermint one since that is my other all time favorite scent!
Next we have Lather Cucumber Milk Facial Cleanser ($19 for 6oz). This is a non-foaming (non-Lather-ing?) facial cleanser that is designed for dry, combination, or maturing skin (my skin teeter totters between combination and dry). This has a light cucumber scent that I like but I am not sure that it is powerful enough to take off my makeup at night. I will use it in the morning though! (Value $6.33)
Another new to me brand is Lippy Girl and according to their website this lip gloss is so pure they called it Virgin! Actually, it is called Extra Virgin and is free of petroleum and beeswax so it is even vegan. This has an orange flavor thanks to orange oil in the ingredients and is extra shiny and soothing. This company is located on Canada so their price ($15 Canadian Dollars) is different from the value in the US. LaRitzy lists it as $11, but I found it for sale from $12-$15 online and the exchange rate would make it $11.45 so that is what I will use. ($11.45 value)
I have been wanting to try Modern Minerals so I was so happy to learn that I would be receiving one in my box! I received the Infused Eyeshadow Sphere in the shade Pink Sand which is described as a neutral earthy pink tone and has a matte finish. I had a hard time swatching it (as seen below) but it went on just fine (I used it in my crease) and there was no “sprinkling” of eyeshadow dust under my eyes or on my cheeks. I shook a little into the cap then dipped my eyeshadow brush in it to apply. ($16 value)
Just sprinkle, dip, and apply
I did swatch the eyeshadow, but it barely showed up!
I tried smearing the eyeshadow on the lid of the box but again, it didn’t cooperate. Luckily for my eyes it worked just fine.
I am so glad that I had the opportunity to grab a LaRitzy Mini Box this month! They sold out super quick, on the first day of the month I believe, so if you want to sign up I think they have a wait list now and will email you when it is time to subscribe for April. I would appreciate it if you used my personal LaRitzy link here if you do decide to sign up! My box had a value of $37.78 and every item will be used up.