Margarita's Blog

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Scentbird, $15/month for mini-perfume sprayer
I paid: $15

Scentbird is not a subscription box per se.  It’s more like a “book of the month” club concept, where you get to chose the books or, in this case, perfumes.  Basically, Scentbird is a combination decanting/subscription company.  They have somewhere between 300 and 350 fragrances which they decant into 8 ml atomizers.  You make a queue of the perfumes you want among those they have available, and every month you get the one at the top of your queue. You get a case where to put your atomizer with your first perfume, and thereafter every 6 months.  You can also buy cases for around $13.

The perfumes Scentbird offers are mostly department store designer fragrances, with emphasis on popular ones.  They don’t seem to have any niche perfumes or those by smaller lines.  Most of the available perfumes retail for about $50 to $100 for a 50 ml bottle, though they can often be found online for half as much.

I subscribed to Scentbird because I like to wear all sort of different perfumes, which means that I never get close to finishing a 1.7 oz bottle.  I also wanted to find new perfumes that I would like.  Unfortunately, it seems that I’m not very good at guessing what I’ll like based on the published notes.  My first month I got Un Jardin Sur Le Nil By Hermes, a perfume that to me smells just like grapefruit.  I like it very much and I spray it several times a day just to smell it, but it has no staying power (thus my need for multiple applications).

This month I chose Gucci Envy Me 2, a discontinued perfume which was described as a citrus scent and was supposed to be a “green floral fragrance with notes of orange, violet leaf, magnolia, rose, purple heliotrope, patchouli, vanilla and sandalwood.” It turns out that the patchouli, vanilla and sandalwood overtakes all the other notes so it ends up smelling like a stereotypical oriental.  My daughter described it as smelling “like old lady” and she’s right.  In other words, I hate it.  Spending $15 on something I hate is just not cool.

I unsubscribed from Scentbird for now, though I may subscribe again when and if I find some specific perfumes that I know I’ll like and have staying power on me.  I’m also trying Scent Trunk, which sends 3 much smaller samples a month. They do the selection for you, based on your preferences.  I’m hoping that they’ll do a better job than I have and that at least one of the samples will work for me.

Birchbox for $1!

Birchbox is having an AMAZING promotion.  Subscribe using code TATIOFFER and get your first box for just $1! The usual price for a box is $10, and while you can get deals that give you extra points, this is as cheap as the box can get. To see what the box offers, please read my reviews.

Things to bear in mind:

– This offer is only good until May, 28, 2015.

– You will most likely get the May box as your first box – though bear in mind that Birchbox offers over 30 different boxes per month, and people can get the same sample in different months.

– If you want to cancel your subscription after the first box, you must do it by May 31st, 2015.  To do it, just go to “my account” and click on the “cancel” choice.

– Supposedly you can cancel your subscription right after they bill you for the first box, assuring that you get one box for $1, and no more.

– If you don’t cancel, you will be billed $10 a month, on the first of the month, for that month’s box.

– You can have multiple Birchbox accounts, with the same name and address, but each has to have its own e-mail address.

– If you have a Birchbox account already, you can cancel it and immediately re-subscribe using this code, but your account is “reset”, which means that you may end up getting samples you got before.

– Your points stay with you no matter whether you subscribe, cancel, resubscribe or re-cancel

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Birchbox: beauty samples, $10/month
Promo: TATIOFFER to get first box for $1.
I paid: $11, including tax

Birchbox sends you five beauty samples a month, generally a mixture of skin/haircare and makeup.  It comes in a cute little box that you can re-use.  You can review each sample you receive for 10 points, and exchange 100 points for $10 off their online store, including gift subscriptions to their box. When you subscribe, you can fill out a questionnaire telling Birchbox which type of products interest you, though you may still get products you don’t care for.  Lately, Birchbox has allowed subscribers to chose between a curated box, that lists what samples are included, and a mystery box.

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This month I got two Birchboxes.  I already had a subscription going when Birchbox came up with a promo that you’d get a Beautyblender sponge and solid kit for free with a new subscription.  Beautyblender is a makeup application sponge and it gets amazing reviews.  It’s exactly the sort of tool my daughter would love, but I wouldn’t pay $24 (including the cleanser) for.   So I reactivated an old subscription in order to get the sponge and ended up with a second May box (when you subscribe to Birchbox your first box will always be for the month when you subscribed).

I was all in all very happy with what I got in this box.  There were no repeats with either the products I got on my other May birchbox or products I’ve gotten in previous boxes.  I will use three of the products and give one to my daughter. The last product is made in China so I’m passing on trying it.  The total value of the box, excluding the Chinese mask, was about $30, or $55 adding the sponge.  I can’t complain.

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Dr. Jart+ Premium Beauty Balm SPF 45 in medium deep, 5 ml, value $4

I love getting BB creams because, specially those with a broad spectrum SPF.  I can get sun protection and smooth out my complexion all at once! I really like this BB cream. It goes on very smoothly, and the color matched my complexion perfectly, though I think it may accentuate the wrinkles around my eyes. As I currently wear glasses, these are not too noticeable, however.  What’s even better, Paula’s Choice gives it four stars, highlighting its gentle sunscreen ingredients and the fact that it contains arbutin, which may help get rid of brown spots.  This cream does not cover up brown spots, but I have yet to find a BB cream that does.  My only concern is how expensive it is. I can’t believe the tiny sample I got, which won’t last me a week, is $4! Made in Korea.

 IMG_0026Macadamia Professional Nourishing Moisture Oil Treatment, 1 oz (full travel size), value $14

Hair oils seem to be the “it” product in subscription boxes lately, I keep getting them.  I’d never used them myself but my daughter seems to think it makes her hair softer.  I tried this one and liked the scent.  It did make my hair feel softer, but it also made it look limper.  I have very fine hair, so this really may not be a product for someone like me. I gave it to my daughter and I hope she enjoys it.  Made in USA.



IMG_0017Naobay Oxygenating Cream Moisturizer, 20 ml, value $14 (but really, less than $4)

At first I thought this was just a body lotion.  After all, it’s think like a body lotion, it absorbs very quickly and it’s main ingredient is water.  Plus the sample came in one of the squeeze bottles that are most often used for lotions. But the price, $36 for a 1.7 oz bottle, threw me for a loop. Who would pay that much for a lotion, specially one that doesn’t have any magical ingredients?  But it turns out that this moisturizer is for your face.  OK, but I still don’t get why anyone would pay so much for a lotion that claims to moisturize and nothing more.

That said, this is a pleasant body lotion.  It’s pretty light and applies very smoothly.  My skin absorbed it very quickly.  The lotion smells just like lemon cream sandwich cookies, I haven’t eaten those forever but I know what to lick my skin :-)  The moisturizer is made in Spain, and yet all the marketing information for the brand seems to be in English. I’m not happy that the brand claims its products are “natural & organic” when the small print on this cream shows that it only has 12% of organic ingredients and not all ingredients are natural.

In any case, I’m happy to get this cream which I plan to use as a body lotion, but I don’t think the sample is anywhere near $14 – for my purposes I’ll give it a generous value of $4.


IMG_0016W3LL PEOPLE The Expressionist Mascara in black, deluxe sample, value $8?

This is an all natural mascara. I tried it and I really like how easy it was to apply and how it didn’t leave any instant smudges. It did make my eyelashes look longer.  However, reviews say that it doesn’t last long and that after a couple of hours it starts to smudge under the eye.  I guess I’ll have to test driver for longer and report back.  There is no information about how large the sample is and I can’t really venture to guest, but it’s a good size sample.  These samples are selling on e-bay between $5.50 and $10, so I’m giving it a value of $8.  It’s made in the USA.


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Wei Golden Root Purifying Mud Mask, single application, 8 ml, $0

This is yet another Wei mask made in China.  And this one is a mud mask! China’s soil is heavily contaminated, often with heavy metals, and while Wei might have found some non-contaminated mud somewhere, I, for one, am not willing to take the risk.  Plus I already have a jar of Argentine clay at home that I can mix with oils and water to make my own mask.

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Birchbox: beauty samples, $10/month
Promo:BB50OFF for 50% off first box.
I paid: $11, including tax

Birchbox sends you five beauty samples a month, generally a mixture of skin/haircare and makeup.  It comes in a cute little box that you can re-use.  You can review each sample you receive for 10 points, and exchange 100 points for $10 off their online store, including gift subscriptions to their box. When you subscribe, you can fill out a questionnaire telling Birchbox which type of products interest you, though you may still get products you don’t care for.  Lately, Birchbox has allowed subscribers to chose between a curated box, that lists what samples are included, and a mystery box.

This month I opted for their mystery box.  I was lucky because I can use all the products and some seem very cool. Update: I found out that one of the products (the mask) is made in China, which makes the box quite a disappointment, specially as last month I e-mailed Birchbox asking that they don’t include Chinese products.

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Each box comes with a list of the contents of the box.  This time I got 3 skin products, 1 hair product and 1 makeup item.  In all the value of the box was $20, not super high but not bad given that I’m planning to use all products.


IMG_20150513_133854Aruba Aloe Luxe Foot Creme, 1 oz, $9

This seems to be a new product as I can’t find it anywhere but its own website and birchbox.  It’s first ingredient is water (the second one is aloe vera), so I consider it more a lotion than a creme.  It’s pretty thick and while it left an oily feeling on my hands, it was quickly absorbed by the callused skin on the bottom of my feet, leaving it much softer.  However, the feeling doesn’t last for too long – though that may be because my feet are very rough.  It has a pleasant, soft scent that is partly minty but not quite.  In all, I’m very happy to get this. It’s made in Aruba.


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Amika Perk Up Dry Shampoo, .75 oz, $2.5

Given the drought in California and the suggestion that we skip daily showers, I’m happy to get a dry shampoo. This one gets pretty good reviews on Amazon and is made in the US.


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Cotz Flawless Complexion Spf 50, 5g, $1.5

This is a tinted sunscreen with a 50 spf. So far I tried it only on my hand and it was fairly easy to apply and left my skin feeling silky.  The color completely disappeared into my skin.   The only think I’m unhappy about is how tiny the sample is, though I’ll just leave it in one of my purses for when I’ve left the house unprepared.  Made in USA.


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Cynthia Rowley Beauty Creamy Lip Stain in Hearthrob (dark pink), .07 oz , $8

This is the second time I get this sample in Birchbox, not surprising as I have more than one account.  This is what I wrote during my first review: “This has to be the most overpriced lip stain/gloss ever.  But then again, I really didn’t like it.  First, the color – which I think is supposed to be red – looked too pink on my lips.  Second, it was way too liquidy. That made it easy to apply/smooth all over my lips, but left them wet and very stainy. Unfortunately my husband figured out what I was up to before I could kiss him and leave my mark on him   It took quite a while for my lips to dry and then they didn’t feel particularly moist.  The sample size seems too small, but it’s almost half a regular size. Definitely not a product I would buy. ”  Unfortunately there is no information about where this product was made. I e-mailed the company and if they respond that it wasn’t made in China, I’ll let my daughter have it.


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WEI Kakadu Plum Brightening Sugar Mask, 1 mask, $7.5

This seems to be the same thing as the WEI Kakadu Plum Whitening Sugar Mask. The only ingredient differences are that the whitening mask has butylated hydroxytoluene (an anti-oxidant) while the brightening mask has phenoxyethanol (a preservative).  The term “brightening” might have more appeal than “whitening,” however.  I, for one, have no interest in whitening my skin.  The gimmick with this incredibly expensive mask is that the “kakadu plum” is very rich in vitamin C, which is good for the skin.  However, there have been no studies to show its effectiveness in topical form, much less in a scrub.  In any case, it’s one of the last ingredients listed.  That said, I love trying new masks so I’m happy to have this.

Update: It was difficult to find any information as to where this product was made, but finally found on WEI’s webpage that their products are manufactured in China.  That is enough for me to not try this mask. I can only hope someone will want to swap with me.

Update 2: I found this sample semi-opened (yes, I suspect the kids) so I figured it wasn’t fit for swapping and I checked it out.  It basically looks, feels and smells like your run of the mill sugar-lemon juice scrub.  The instructions say to leave it on your face 3 to 5 minutes, I assume any more and it can start irritating your skin.  But I think you should be able to do the same with any sugar scrub you have at home – or make your own for just a couple of dollars.

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Ipsy, $10 a month, beauty samples
I paid $11, including tax

Ipsy is the main competitor to Birchbox, offering five beauty samples a month, also for $10.  Ipsy has a reputation for sending out more make-up items and Birchbox specializing in skin care, though I could not notice a difference in this, our first box.  I actually got Ipsy for my 13-yo daughter who is looking to experiment more with makeup.  I thought she would be disappointed in the products, but she actually was quite happy with her box and wants to continue her subscription.  As she says she’ll use all the items, it was a pretty good value at $31.

Ipsy samples come in a mini-makeup bag which changes every month. My daughter absolutely loved this month’s bag.  Because this bag is so cool, I’m giving it a value of $2.

These were the contents of the bag:

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In all, she got a face cleanser, a toner, a CC cream, a hair oil and an eye shadow:

IMG_20310930_153654GlamGlow Thirstycleanse Daily Hydrating Cleanser, 1 oz, $5

This cleanser apparently starts as a mud and then transforms to a foam.  The mud has subtle exfoliating properties. It gets mixed reviews at Sephora.com.  Most people love it, but those with dry and/or sensitive skin seem to feel this dries out their skin even more and even gives them breakouts.  I’ll report on how my daughter liked it later.

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Dermalogica Clear Start Breakout Clearing All Over Toner, 1 oz, $4.5

This toner gets great reviews from consumers. It’s also another acne product so my daughter is happy to receive it. Made in the USA.


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It Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC Cream with SPF 50+ in medium, 4 ml, $5 value

This BB cream (because really, there is no difference between BB & CC creams in America) gets great reviews at Ulta. My daughter used it and she is very happy with it. She’s not super fair so the color worked perfect on her.  According to Paula’s Choice this product has citric oils which increase photosensitivy.  However, my daughter doesn’t have sensitive skin and she’s at the age where she might develop acne, so citrus oils are not a bad idea for her.  In the questionnaire we told Ipsy we were interested in acne products, so Ipsy got it right here. It’s made in Korea.


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Balanced Guru organic farm Style Me hair oil, .5 oz, $9.5

This seems to be a new brand as I wasn’t able to find reviews about this oil.  Though we have a lot of hair oil right now, I’m sure it’ll be eventually put to use. It’s a nice size bottle. Made in USA.


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theBalm NUDE ‘dude Eyeshadow in flirty, 1 g, $4

This is a great color for my daughter, so she’s happy.

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Allure Beauty Thrills, $55 (including shipping), one-time box, occasionally available
I paid $60, including tax.

The Allure Beauty Thrills box contains a plethora of toiletries and beauty items.  It’s issued three times a year, in May, August and November, and it usually sells out very quickly.  The box features only full size products, but they are all drugstore brands, several low-end.  While the box has a very high value, how much value it has to you depends on whether you are OK using those brands and how many products you will use.  I’m not a beauty snob – indeed, I’ve only started using high-end products since I started getting subscription boxes -, so I’m perfectly fine with these products.  I’m also happy that the majority of them are made in America.
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In all, this box included 2 facial cleansers, 2 facial creams, 2 body washes, 1 shampoo, 2 conditioners, 2 deodorants, 2 self-tanners, 1 hair oil, 1 hair mousse, 1 hair voluminizer, 1 razor, 1 lotion, 1 package makeup remover wipes, 1 toothbrush, 1 toothpaste, 1 beauty accelerator and 3 makeup items.  It has a total value of $206.  The value of the products that I would have bought anyway is around $52, so for an extra $8 I was able to get a plethora of other products.  We will use or gift all of them so I’m quite happy with my purchase. Here is what I got:
IMG_20150512_133810Bioré Charcoal Pore Minimizer, 3.1 oz, $7

This is a face wash with charcoal and some exfoliating ingredient.  It’s supposed to help reduce the appearance of pores and according to reviews it does a fair job at that.  My daughter loves Bioré so she quickly claimed it, but as she doesn’t have large pores I doubt she’ll see any results.  This is a drugstore product. It’s made in the USA.

Update: My daughter likes this cleanser even more than the original. She feels it really makes her face smooth.

derma e Anti-Wrinkle Vitamin A Glycolic Cleanser, 6 oz, $9

I was excited to try this product at first as both vitamin A and glycolic acid can help with wrinkles and dark spots, but it’s not clear how much vitamin A and glycolic acid it actually has.  According to studies, a 10% ratio is needed to see results, and given how low in the ingredient list glycolic acid, it’s likely to be much less than that.  It also turns out that while application of topical creams with glycolic acid prior to sun exposure can reduce sun damage, application during sun exposure actually increases the chances of sun damage. In any case, I’m planning to use this cleanser.  According to the bottle, this product is “Made in the USA of foreign and domestic components.” I reached out to them and they assure me that currently none of their ingredients come from China.

Update: I’ve been using this cleanser and it has a light gel-like consistency and a light pleasant scent. It pumps a little bit too much, but it does a pretty good job of leaving my face clean. I’m happy with it.

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Pond’s Anti-Wrinkle Cream, Rejuveness, 7 oz, $8

I have so many face creams that I probably will give this away, but does get reviews on Amazon.  It gets a mixed review from Paula’s Choice, mostly because it contains some skin irritants (but other than my nose, my skin almost never gets irritated) and doesn’t have any ingredients against blemishes.  I’m putting so much stuff on my skin, however, that I don’t need every product to do everything.  Plus at least I know where it’s made, Mexico, which I trust much more than China.

derma e Anti-Wrinkle Vitamin A Retinyl Palmitate Crème, 4 oz, $10

Retinol is one of the few products that has proven to work against wrinkles.  I only have a sample of retinol creme right now, so I’m happy to get this.  Made in the USA of foreign and domestic components.

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MD Complete Anti-Aging Even Tone & Texture Accelerator, 1.7 oz, $36

This is such a new product that I couldn’t find anywhere online that sells it other than the MD Complete website.  However, Target carries other MD Complete products and I assume they’ll also carry this one soon.  It’s supposed to be an anti-aging product intensifier.  Basically, it’s supposed to make your wrinkle and dark-spot treatments work better. It has so many ingredients that there is no way that I could evaluate if it does.  And, truth be told, I’m using so many products now that I probably won’t notice if it works.  My one concern about this product is that I couldn’t find any information as to where it’s made. I have contacted the company and will update if they respond.

Update: I heard back from the company and all their products are made in the USA. I’ve been using this product for several days now, and while I can’t vouch for how well it works, it at least has not irritated my skin.

Cetaphil Intensive Moisturizing Cream, 3 oz, $7

I don’t have particularly dry skin, so this may work better on others.  It’s a pretty thick cream, not the smoothest thing to apply.  It feels very greasy on my hands and elbows and it took long for my skin to absorb it.  That may be because my skin wasn’t dry enough.  On my feet, the cream absorbed quicker.

The cream gets fairly good reviews in Ulta, specially from people who have dry skin though not extremely so.  According to Paula’s Choice this is a pretty generic cream, not more moisturizing than others and it’s tested on animals (which personally I don’t think it’s a big deal, as the alternative is testing on people).

I may keep this cream as a foot cream, depending on how it works long term.  It’s made in Canada.

IMG_20150512_133944Dove go fresh Revitalize Body Wash, 22 oz, $5

This body wash gets 5 stars on Target.com but to me a body wash is a body wash.  I have switched to using Aleppo soap, as I feel it leaves my skin cleaner and with a better ph-balance, but I’m glad to get body wash as some members of my family prefer it and the more body wash they use, the more soap is left for me. Made in the USA.

Suave Naturals Gold Body Wash, Sea Mineral Exfoliating, 12 Ounce, $3

I wasn’t able to find any reviews of this product, though I found many “reviews” pimping the product in blogs that have been removed. They all were written in bad English and had similar language/format.  In any case, I hope this body wash is good enough for my family so they don’t touch my soap.
IMG_20150512_133826Dove Advanced Care Original Clean Deodorant, 2.6 oz, $5

This gets great reviews at Target.com.  I prefer rollons to sticks but as we’re always in need of deodorants, I’m not complaining.  It’s made in the USA.
Secret Outlast Completely Clean Scent Clear Gel Antiperspirant & Deodorant, 1.7 oz, $2.50

It’s a deodorant, it gets great reviews at Amazon and we’ll use it.  It sells for $4 at Amazon, but you should be able to find it in a store for around $2.50.

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Jergens Natural Glow Instant Sun Sunless Tanning Mousse in Deep Bronze, 6 oz, $12

It’s an understatement to say that I have no need of this product.  I tan extremely easily.  Living in California, I only need to go outside for a few minutes a day to keep a tan several shades above my normal skin throughout the year.  So I’m going to give this product to my sister who takes much better care of her skin than I.  It gets great reviews on Amazon so I hope it’ll work well for her.  It’s made in the USA.

Suave Professionals, Gradual Self Tanner, Visible Glow, 7.5 oz, $7

It seems silly to include two self tanners in the same box.  I haven’t used any of these products but I can only imagine they last for quite a while.  I hope to find someone to give this to.  It’s made in the USA.

IMG_20150512_134157Clear Scalp & Hair Active Damage Resist Ultra Nourishing Shampoo and Conditioner, 12.8 oz, $5 each

Apparently this shampoo & conditioner help prevent breakage in hair.  Personally I’m not picky about my shampoo & conditioner but I welcome them because they are useful. Made in the USA

IMG_20150512_134305Aloxxi Style Lightweight Sculpting Wax, 6 oz, $16

This seems to be a new product because, while it’s sold at Amazon, I wasn’t able to find any reviews about it.  It’s basically a hair mousse but it’s supposed to give volume and help protect against UV rays – an issue for colored hair.  My daughter claimed it and I hope it works on her as her blue hair fades very quickly.  At least we’ll be able to test it.  It’s made in the USA.

Not Your Mother’s Clean Freak Cleansing Conditioner, 8oz, $7

As I mentioned above, I’m always happy to get conditioner as this is an item will surely use.  This conditioner seems to do a good job on thick, dry hair. It gets fairly good reviews at Ulta, but it seems that the key is to use only a little bit.  Unfortunately this bottle leaked in the box, fortunately it wasn’t too much and it didn’t ruin any products.  It has a pretty strong minty smell that is not really my thing.



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 John Frieda Frizz Ease Nourishing Elixir Oil, 3 oz, $8

This oil is supposed to fight frizz and give your hair softness and shine.  For the most part, reviewers agree. My daughter has just started using oils for her color treated hair and I’m sure she’ll eventually get to this one. Made in the USA.

Update: My daughter LOVES this hair oil.  She says it leaver her hair softer, shinier and fuller. She likes it better than the very expensive hair oils we’ve gotten in other boxes, which she feels weigh her down.  Sometimes cheaper is better.

Suave Professionals Luxe Styling Infusion Volume Weightless Blow Dry Spray, 5 oz, $5

This is a product you apply before blow drying your hair and it’s supposed to give you volume.  It gets very mixed reviews on the Target website – people either love it because it works for them or they hate it because it doesn’t.  Many of the ones who love it say they have fine, straight hair so this may be a good product for that demographic.  I don’t blow dry my hair so I’m not going to use this, but may daughter might, in which case I’ll report on how it works.


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 Dickinson’s Original Witch Hazel Daily Refreshing Clean Cleansing Cloths, 25 Count, $7

My daughter wanted makeup remover cloths so she was happy to get these.  In my experience none of these cloths work nearly as well as just washing your face.  They don’t get great reviews either. Note they are $10 at Amazon but you can find them cheaper elsewhere. Made in USA.

Bic Soleil Glow, 1 razor, $3.50

This is another product that is useful and gets fairly good reviews.

IMG_20150512_134353Colgate Optic White Platinum Toothpaste, Express White, 3 oz, $4

I haven’t tried this yet – and I won’t until we run out of the currently open toothpastes – but it’s toothpaste, it’ll be used.  It’s made in Mexico.

Colgate Optic White Toothbrush + Whitening Pen, $7

I’m always glad to have more toothbrushes. My daughter claimed it, however, so I’m not sure I’ll be able to assess if it works.

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Revlon Ultra HD Lipstick in Gladiolus, .1 oz, $8

This is a very red lipstick, which none of us can really rock.  It’ll go to my youngest daughter (see below) who is still playing with makeup as opposed to putting on makeup. I tried it as well and it felt like any other lipstick.  It’s made in the USA.

Revlon Photo Ready Eye Art Lid Line and Lash in Desert Dazzle, .1 oz, $7

This product gets mixed reviews at Ulta.com but I can only imagine the people who reviewed it used a lighter hand than my daughter.  She loved it, though.  She felt she looked like a fairy and is planning to use it for Halloween.  I’ll give it a try myself and see if this can actually be used by an adult – although I’m sure it’ll have to be a rather young adult.  Made in the USA.

Physicians Formula Eye Booster instant Lash Extension Kit in Ultra Black, 0.21 Ounce, $12

This is one of those products that I’d never buy as it’s so expensive, but that I’m thrilled to have.  My oldest daughter has somewhat skimpy eyelashes and she was dying to try it.  I’m pleased to say it worked.  It was easy to apply (you put on the mascara, then the powder and you finish it off with more mascara) and it really made her eyelashes look longer and curved upwards (see below).  She was thrilled.  Note that while this product is $22 at Amazon, you can find it at drugstores for $12.

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Camila wearing the Revlon lipstick and eyeshadows.

The eye lash extension kit in action.

The eye lash extension kit in action.

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BeautyFix, $25+tax/month, assorted beauty products
Promo: You can save 15% when you sign up for a new account at DermStore or $10 if someone refers you (ask me)
I paid ~$28 with tax

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BeautyFix is a monthly beauty subscription box from DermStore, an online beauty store and offshoot of Target, which specializes in upscale brands.  Their monthly boxes include an assortment of beauty products, though there is an emphasis on skin care.  Boxes have up to 10 products, a mixture of full size, deluxe samples and foils/tiny samples.  I’ve been subscribed for 3 months and have loved the variety of products, how useful they are and how great the value is.  Subscriptions open up the first week of the month and they sell out quickly.

Products come in standard box with no extra padding – still, none of them have arrived broken.  That may be because most of the products come in their original box (when they have one).  BeautyFix includes a card detailing the products in the box.  This is what I got this May:

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This box included a total of eight products, there were 5 full size and 3 samples, and there was a bonus foil.  The box included a comb, 2 makeup products, one hair product and four skin care products.  The total value of this box is about $155. This is what I got:

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Harry Josh Pro Tools Carbon Tail Comb, $12

It has been ages since I last used a fine tooth comb and I wasn’t particularly excited to get one in this box.  The picture made it look like just another cheap, flimsy comb.  It’s pretty solid, however.  It was able to comb my straight, fine hair without a problem, but not without tearing some hair.  My daughters who have thicker hair and more knots weren’t so enthused. It did work fairly well on my husband’s thick straight hair, though he doesn’t usually have knots. In any case, I’m keeping it as brushes tend to disappear from our bathroom. Made in China.

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SmartBrow Eyebrow Filler & Cleanser Duo in Blonde and Brunette, 15 ml each, $30 each

DermStore sent two full size eyebrow fillers in two different colors.   That was a nice touch as color specific products don’t work for everyone.  These two colors still work for people with lighter color eyebrows.  I have pretty skimpy eyebrows, so I’ve been wanting to try an eyebrow filler for a while.  Alas, this seems to be a more complicated process than I thought.  I don’t want to have eyebrows that are noticeably drawn, but in my two attempts at using this product I couldn’t find the middle ground between no effect and the cartoon effect.  I will ask my daughters to apply it to me and see if that makes a difference. Made in USA.

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Blowout Beauty Anti-Frizz Volume Boost Treatment Oil, full size 2 oz, $45

Non of us has hair that gets frizzy, so at first I thought I would swap this product.  But really, when will I have the chance of trying a $45 hair oil again?  So I think I’ll keep it.  It gets fairly good reviews and it’s supposed to give you shine and volume as well.  What I’m hoping is that this may help my daughter’s died hair to be less dry.  Made in USA.

Update: My daughter has been using the oil and she says it helps make her hair soft and she really likes the smell.

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Peter Thomas Roth Anti-Aging Defense Sunscreen Stick SPF 50, 15 ml full size, $26

Living in California, I love getting sunscreens in my subscription boxes. I only wish I got more.  This sunscreen is very nice.  It comes in a tube that you need to twist to get a small amount of sunscreen which you should then apply to your face with your fingers.  It goes on very smoothly and left my face feeling extremely soft and hydrated.  It does smell like sunscreen, though it doesn’t have that coconut smell that I so hate.  It protects against both UVA and UVB.  All in all, I’m thrilled to get this. I anticipate using it daily. Made in USA

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Citrix Vitamin C Pro-collagen Brightening Serum, 1.75 ml, sample value $4

This is another vitamin C serum.  I have a few of these but I never remember to put them on in the morning, I’m using a different serum at night.  Still, happy to get it.  Made in USA.

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Dr. Brandt Needles No More, 2.5 g, sample value $5

Dr. Brandt Needles No More is an anti-wrinkle creme. It’s supposed to both fight wrinkles and help minimize existing wrinkles – though according to Paula’s Choice it does not have ingredients to do the former.  While it does have the necessary stuff to fill in wrinkles, I didn’t find any noticeable differences myself.  Indeed, if anything, it made me look more closely at my wrinkles just to realize how wrinkled I am!  It didn’t make me feel good.  It’s just as well, the sample tube seems almost empty (which is why I’m lowering its value from $15 for 2.5 g, to $5)  Made in USA

NeoStrata – Skin Active Perfecting Peel1 peel & 1 neutralizing pack, $3 value

I love trying peels, and the NeoStrata one gets fairly good reviews. Made in USA.

 BONUS: Yon-Ka Excellence Code Creme single use sample and Yon-Ka Age Exception Cellular Code single use sample.

The Yon-Ka Excellence Code Creme is an anti-aging cream which promises the fountain of youth at a price: a jar retails for $185. The Cellular Code, meanwhile, promises to regenerate your cells and balance your aging skin for $135.  Call me skeptical.  They both have a lot of good anti-aging ingredients, though I’m sure I won’t see any results after a single application. Made in France

Update: While I’m utterly unable to judge whether these product did anything for me, I did love the sample packaging. Not only is it cool looking, but it allows you to close the sample after you use it so as to not waste any remaining product.  In all, both samples gave me 3 applications. The code creme had a light and pleasant smell, that reminded me of coriander.  The cellular code, meanwhile, smells mostly of cumin.  At least on my facial skin – though that may be because I’ve been cooking with a lot of cumin lately so perhaps it just enhances the natural cumin fragrance on my skin.

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DermStore Grab Bags, $30-$45, occasionally issued, skin, makeup and/or hair products
Promo: You can save 15% when you sign up for a new account or $10 if someone refers you (ask me)
I paid $30 with discount and tax

Every so often DermStore issues mystery grab bags with an assortment of full size and sample products.  I previously reviewed their Winter Wonders grab bag and their Forever Young grab bags, both of which concentrated in skin care products.  This time I got the Makeover Mystery Grab Bag ($35).  I ordered it at the same time as the Forever Young one, but it took this one an extra 4 days to arrive.

I hadn’t meant to order this box at all, but I made a mistake and added it to my cart.  All in all I’m very pleased with it, though I’m concerned that one of the full-size products I got is expired and one of the samples seems old and mishandled. I contacted the company and saw a $10 refund on my credit card, so I ended up paying $20 for a box with a total value of $154.

DermStore promised 12 products in this bag and it delivered (minus the expired and old BB creams). In all, I received 6 full size products and 6 samples. These included 2 lipsticks, 3 eye shadows, 1 primer, 1 foundation, 3 BB creams, 1 bronzer and 1 blush. I was also supposed to receive an extra “gift”, but that appears to have been one of the samples.

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LipFusion Plump and Shine Lipstick in Babydoll, .04 oz, value $9

The LipFusion lipstick actually fulfills its promise of making your lips look plumper, in particular your lower lip.  I’m not sure that it’s a good look for me but I’ll probably keep this lipstick rather than give it to my daughter.  It’s a pretty shear pink and while it applied pretty pink to start with, it quickly melded with my lip color, providing shine and plumpiness.  Unfortunately the lipstick case is very cheap and it feels like it’s going to break quickly. Made in the USA.

glo.minerals lipstick in spark, full size, $17

The glo.minerals lipstick is a pretty nice neutral tone, which gives my lips just a bit of color for the summer.  It’s a pretty solid lipstick, it doesn’t leave your lips shiny when you are done applying it.  I still haven’t decided whether it’s too young a color for me.  If it is, I’ll give it to my daughters. Made in the USA.

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Cargo BeachBlush in Cable Beach, full size, $30

I rather like the blush.  I rarely wear it – for one, I don’t really know how to put it on – but the color itself is rather understated and natural.  I’m pretty sure one of the girls will claim it for herself. Made in the USA.

Cargo Eye Shadow single in Oz, full size, $16

Yellow is not an eye shadow color I’d consider wearing, so I’ll probably try to swap it.  It’s made in Canada.

This is Camila wearing the LipFusion Babydoll lipstick on her lips and the Cargo Cable Beach foundation on her right cheek (left is untreated).

This is Camila wearing the LipFusion Babydoll lipstick on her lips and the Cargo Cable Beach blush on her right cheek (left is untreated).

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Pixi by Petra Lid Last Shadow Pen in Graphite Glint, full size, $18

This is basically an eye shadow crayon in medium gray.  It’s goes on very smoothly and it’s easy to apply.  On the other hand, this pen requires sharpening and I’m not sure if I have a sharpener large enough. Made in Germany

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Vapour Solar Translucent Bronzer in Simmer, full size $36

This bronzer is worth more than the price of the box – but I don’t use bronzer. I don’t really want to look any more tan that I am. The color is for people with light skin color, which means everyone in the family except for me as my face tans very quickly. It gets fairly good reviews. I’m giving to my sister.  Made in the USA.

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Dr Brandt BB Matte with Signature Shine Erase – Light to Medium, full size: 1 oz, DISCONTINUED

I have become a fan of BB creams, though I’ve been quite happy with the $2 Korean BB cream I get at our local discount store.  Still, I like trying new products.  Unfortunately the Dr Brandt BB cream was a bust.  The cream was discontinued and it expired last April.  It’s a pity because I swatched it on my hand and it went on smooth and seemed to provide good, if somewhat sheer, coverage.  DermStore refunded me $7 because this lotion was expired.

Cover|FX BB Gel Mattifying Anti-Blemish Treatment – N Medium, 5 ml, value $5?

I liked the Cover|FX BB cream.  It went on a little orange, but the tone disappeared when I put it on.  It provided me with good coverage and did a good job of smoothing out my skin.  My only complain is that the sample is so small. The tube may be 5 ml, but it seems mostly empty. Made in the USA.

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Laura Geller Spackle Under Makeup Primer, .5 oz sample, $7

I don’t wear makeup very often but I’ve been curious about how primers work and now I get to try it myself.  Well, if I ever get it back from my daughter who does wear makeup.  This primer gets rather good reviews. Made in the USA.

Laura Geller Baked Liquid Radiance Foundation in Golden Medium, 5 ml sample, $6

I got this foundation in my April BeautyFix box and I didn’t like it then. It’s too orange and it doesn’t really provide good coverage. So I’ll try to swap it. Made in the USA.

Laura Geller Cool Leads Creme eyeshadow in silver sands, 5 ml sample, $12

I liked that I could easily apply the eyeshadow with my hands. The color is light silver,  too shiny and young for me, but it actually went well with the gray eyeshadow pen.  It should work for my daughters, specially if they go for the princess look. Made in Italy.

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Sarah McNamara Miracle Skin Transformer Face, 5 ml sample

This product seems to be a BB cream by another name.  It’s supposed to “hydrate, prime, enhance, mattify & protect your skin in one simple step.”  Unfortunately the sample came in a tube that was dirty and had many of the words rubbed off.  It doesn’t expire until August, but it’s still off-putting.  I don’t think I’ll use it.  Update: I contacted DermStore and they refunded me $3 for this product. Made in the USA.

Other Samples

 Whenever you order from DermStore you get one extra sample. This time I got two:

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Nia 24 Rapid Exfoliating Serum, foil

This exfoliating serum has to be the coolest product I’ve ever seen in a subscription box.  It’s not just a chemical exfoliator, no siree, but actually a tester for schizophrenia.  The serum contains 5% niacin. Put it on, if your skin flushes you are fine, if it doesn’t I’m sorry to tell you that you have schizophrenia.  Of course, you probably know if you have schizophrenia, but how about your friends and colleagues?  Have you ever suspected one of them may be crazy? Now you can find out, just make an excuse to put this serum on their faces and watch if they get red.

More to the theme, Nia24 claims this serum is for “sun and age damage”.  It might be, but according to the University of Maryland Medical Center “[r]esearchers are studying topical forms of niacin as treatments for rosacea, aging, and prevention of skin cancer, although it’s too early to know whether it is effective”. Plus, why waste it on skin care when it’s other use is so much more titillating? Made in the USA

SkinCeuticals Advanced Pigment Corrector, small sample

This is the third sample of SkinCeuticals pigment corrector I got from DermStore.  On the plus side, the first sample lasted me almost two months.  On the minus, I have seen no reduction of my hyperpigmentation whatsoever.

DermStore Grab Bags: one-time only purchase, occasionally released, $30-$45
This Bag: Forever Young
Price: $38.5 after tax, I paid, $27.5 after discount and tax

Every so often, Dermstore releases mystery grab bags with a variety of products. They can be a good value but you don’t know what you are getting.  Sometimes they are in stock for a while, so you can read reviews of them, but this time around all the grab bags sold out almost immediately. I managed to get one of he Forever Young boxes and all in all, I’m happy.

DermStore had promised that this bag would have 13 products and a $218 value.  There were 13 products, but 3 of them were small samples and one was a foil!  Still, the box did have two full size products and 7 deluxe samples, so I can’t really complain.  DermStore often inflates the value of its boxes, this one had an actual value of $130, much below the $218 they advertised.  Still, for $38 it’s not a bad deal.

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I was pretty surprised about how light the box was when I picked it up, but I shouldn’t have been given that skin products often come in small containers. This time all the products came in a transparent plastic bag. Unfortunately it has one of those cheapy ziploc closures that is likely to break quickly, otherwise I’d use it for when I fly.

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As advertised, all products were anti-aging and suitable for face and eyes.  In all, there were four serums, 2 eye creams, 2 exfoliators, a mask, an anti-wrinkle cream, an a pigment corrector and a moisturizer. However, as several of these products have multiple functions, these categories are not as concrete as they may seem.

This is what I got:

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Medicell Labs Instant Brightening Peel, 2 oz (full size), $30

This peel is full size and has azelaic and lactic acid, but no parabens  It’s not available at Dermstore, so I wonder if it’s been discontinued  It does get great reviews.  I am covered for a while in the facial mask department, but I’m sure I’ll eventually use it. It’s made in the USA

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Glytone Essentials Hydrating Eye Cream, .53 oz (full size), $38

This is another eye cream that gets great reviews; people say it helps with wrinkles and eye bags  I have lots and lots of eye creams now – and you use such a small amount of them, that I think I’m covered for years to come.  Or I could see if my mom wants one. It’s made in the USA

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StriVectin-AR Advanced Retinol Night Treatment, deluxe sample .25 oz, value $16

This product gets pretty good reviews on Amazon, though according to Paula’s Choice it’s over-hyped and over-priced.  Fortunately I got it in this box, so the price does not affect me for now.  As someone approaching 50, I have my share of fine lines and wrinkles, so I’m looking forward to trying it. I’m also happy that as I don’t currently have any retinol products, I can start using it straight away.  What I’m not thrilled about is that the sample came in a much larger box, which is both wasteful and deceitful. Made in the USA

Update: Retinol can be harsh on skin.  Interestingly, most of my facial skin did not react to it.  My nose, however, started burning and became both inflamed and red.  Obviously I won’t be wearing it on my nose again.

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Sarah McNamara Miracle Skin Transformer Hydroactive Microderm, .5 oz sample, value $10

I don’t have any microdermabrasion products, so I’m happy to get this sample as well.  It’s safe to use every other day.  I’ll start using it as soon as I’m done with the exfoliator I’m using now.  It’s made in Canada.

Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2 Percent BHA Liquid Exfoliant, 1 oz sample, value $6.5

I’ve been wanting to incorporate a BHA product into my skin care routine (why? because it’s just one more item I can add and thus prolong my “me” time at night), so I’m thrilled to get this. It’s made in the USA.

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La Roche-Posay Redermic Eyes Cream, 5 ml sample, value $11

This is an eye cream with retinol. It gets very good reviews and it seems to help with the appearance of dark circles and wrinkles.  I think I may give it a try when I’m done with my present eye cream.  It’s made in France.

Vichy Idealia Life Serum, 3ml small sample, value $4

This is a facial serum which is supposed to renew your skin in 8 days, reducing the appearance of pores and hyperpigmentation.  Reviews are mixed, I rather get the idea that the people who saw results were not using any serums before.  I’ll probably use it when I travel. Made in France.

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Skin Medica Dermal Repair Cream, .25 oz sample, value $14

I have a lot of facial moisturizers but this cream gets such great reviews that I plan to start using it soon. It’s a small sample, so I hope my results will be as quick as other people’s! It’s made in the USA.

SkinCeuticals Advanced Pigment Corrector, small sample

I got this same sample in another DermStore box and I’ve been using it religiously. I actually run out of it yesterday, which means that small as it is, it’s lasted me for two months.  That said, I have not seen any difference whatsoever in the reduction of my brown spots or sun damage.  I’ll continue using it, why not?, but I don’t have much hope for it. It’s made in the USA.

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SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic, small sample

Though I have a sample of a vitamin  C+E cream, I haven’t used it yet, mostly because I haven’t yet incorporated a morning skin care routine (I don’t really feel the need for “me” time in the morning), but I now have enough products that I really should do so.  This serum gets great reviews so I may use it before the cream. It’s made in the USA.

Skinceuticals Hydrating B5 Moisture-Enhancing Gel, small sample

This gel is supposed to be used in conjunction with the C E Ferulic serum above. I’ll try it. It’s made in the USA.

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NeoStrata Antioxidant Defense Serum, 2 ml sample

This is just a serum which I’ll try after I’m done with my other serums which is likely to be a long time from now. It’s made in the USA.

Vichy Laboratories Liftactiv Serum 10 Anti-Aging Power Serum, foil package

I personally don’t see the point of foil packages. It’s not like after a single use you’ll know whether you like a product or not.  I did apply this serum and I liked the light gel like consistency, but I don’t see how I’ll be able to tell if it does any good given how many other products  I put on my skin.

DermStore includes a free sample with every order. This is what I got this time, though be aware that not everyone gets the same sample:

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Phytomer HydraContinue Moisturizing Body Milk

This lotion has a light consistency and a subtle grown up perfume. It’s pretty moisturizing and easy to apply. At 7ml the sample is really tiny for a lotion, however.

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Little Lace Box
, $60/month, theme-based lifestyle box

Promo: RAMBLIN10 for $10 off your first box
I paid: $40

Little Lace Box is a themed-based subscription box.  When they started they promised to send at least one item by an upcoming designer in each box, and while they’ve drifted away from that a little bit, their boxes have usually been carefully curated and a great way to discover new products.  They have also been very high value.  Unfortunately, they sort of fell off the tracks with their February box and they decided to re-organize so that they could fulfill the dreams of the boxes they really wanted to offer.  They’ve increased the price of their boxes by 50% and they will now be sent every other month.   Existing subscribers are grandfathered in at the $40 price, however, giving us an incentive to stay subscribed.  This box was the last one under the old system, though some new subscribers also got it. It has a value of around $100 – which is actually quite good.  Hampton Lane, which sends out monthly food/kitchen boxes, charges $47 a month for boxes that seem to have an average of $60 value while Mantry, an artisan foods subscription, provides an average of $55 value in its boxes while charging $75!

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This month’s “Little Lace Box” was not so little. The box itself was probably twice as large as regular ones.  Most items came wrapped in plastic wrap, which meant that I had to unwrap each one, which was rather cool. All my items arrived well, but a lot of subscribers report that their bottles were broken and spilled all over the box.  LLB is providing replacements for those customers.  But perhaps they should rethink sending breakable items or figure out how to wrap them better.  I doubt that making postal workers be gentler is much of an option.

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This month’s theme was “Nonna’s Kitchen” so, of course, I knew to expect Italian food and kitchen products.  This was a nice assortment and every item was carefully chosen.  The box includes an information sheet that lists every product and notes why they’ve been included.  I’ve found that their stories help me enjoy the products more but, more importantly, help me stop and pay attention to little things in life.

Here are the items, in the order I took them out of the box:

IMG_20150424_150707Market List Notepad by Brianna, $5

This notepad was designed by Brianna, one of the LLB owners, to match the tea towel also included in the box.  Like them, I make lists all the time but usually in notepads with the name of printing companies or political candidates which I pick up at the Democratic Convention every year.  They’re utilitarian but not pretty.  This one is.  I am planning to use it for the final draft of my shopping list, the one I actually take to the market (or, more often, give to my husband).


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Porcelain Jewelry Dish by Stuck in the Mud Pottery, $15

They’ve included this dish based on memories of their grandmother taking off her jewelry and putting it on a small dish prior to washing dishes.  I don’t usually wear rings or bracelets, so I don’t really need a jewelry dish in my kitchen, but I’m always finding earrings on my bathroom counter so I’m planning to use it there.  I love the concept in any case.

I also like the dish very much but then again, I love rustic decorations.  My ten year old daughter, meanwhile, felt this was something she could make herself and didn’t think it was so cool.  Different strokes…

This dish comes in a few variations. Some are stamped on the top and others on the bottom.  The dish is supposed to mimic a piece of broken pottery from an olive oil jar.  Mine is stamped on the bottom, which I prefer, as it looks more natural.  They also come glazed and unglazed.  I got the unglazed kind which overtime is supposed to develop its own patina.  I hope so because my only complaint about this dish is that it is too white.

 

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Trentasette Black Olive Pate, $9

Little Lace Box often sends variations on items, and in this case subscribers got different flavors of pesto, sauce and pate from Trentasette, an Italian company.  I’m not a huge fan of olives, so I wish I had gotten the pesto instead, but I do like tapenade.  Unfortunately, this one is too strong to eat on its own on a piece of bread, but they recommend serving it with fresh mozarella – I’ll have to get some.  I did try it with cream cheese, but the flavors didn’t work well together.

 

IMG_20150424_150917Cucina Concentrated Dish Detergent in Lime Zest and Cypress, $9

Ironically, I think I would appreciate this item more if I had a dishwasher. Then I could feel all posh while washing my hand-wash only dishes with this expensive natural dish soap.  But I don’t have a dishwasher, so I’m more concerned about then performance than the style of my dish soaps.

So far this one seems fine but not outstanding.  It has a wonderful smell, which I do enjoy, but I think my old trusty Palmolive does a better job with both the dishes and my hands.  I’ll report back after trying it some more.

Update:I LOVE, love, love this detergent. It does an amazing job of removing grease and makes scrubbing pans so much easier. It’s quite amazing what a good job it does both dissolving grease and getting caked in food from pans and dishes.  Given its cost, I’ve taken to washing regular dishes with Palmolive and using Cucina for anything that would need extra effort.  I’ll definitely buy another bottle when I finish this one.
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Belle & Union Co. Tea Towel, $15

I wish I had a way to display cute kitchen towels like this one.  I don’t, so I’ll just keep it to use as a cover for items I bring to a potluck.  It might even encourage me to go to a potluck. Meanwhile I’ve been using to cover all the bread I’ve been baking to eat with the olive oil and vinegar.

 

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Le Cadeaux Olive Oil Dipping Bowls, 4, $15

These little bowls are just darling and I loved getting them.  They are made of melamine, a hard plastic, and they’re weighty enough that I didn’t first realize they weren’t ceramic.  While in theory I like ceramic products better, in practice I think the fact that they are plastic means I’ll use them more often as I won’t be as paranoid about the dog and cat knocking them over.  In any case, I have already put them to use to dip olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Update: I just spent a day in Sonoma and found these bowls at several winery gift shops. They were usually around $4.50 each and they had them in a wide variety of designs.

 

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The Ancient Olive Milanese Gremolata Flavor Infused Olive Oil and Sicilian Lemon White Balsamic Vinegar, 60 ml each plus one oil/vinegar of your choice, total value $24.

I love flavored olive oils and balsamic vinegars so I was thrilled to get these two little bottles – and even more thrilled to know I’d be able to order a full size bottle (200 ml) of the oil or vinegar of my choice.  I know I’ll order a white balsamic vinegar, but I’m not sure what flavor yet.

I loved the sicilian lemon vinegar. It had a great, bright and sweet lemon flavor. I got the box yesterday and I’m almost half way through the bottle (yeah, it’s a tiny bottle, but still…). I wasn’t as fond of the oil.  The citrus gave it a nice flavor but there was something else there that gave it a very unpleasant bitter note.  At the end of the day, none of us liked it – at least by itself on bread.  It may be better mixed with the olive oil.

 Update: The olive oil is better on sourdough bread than simple French bread.

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Filotea Pennette della Domenica Pasta, 8.8 oz, $8

I’m the sort of person who thinks twice before spending $3 in a pound of Italian pasta, so needless to say I’d never, in a million years, spend $8 in half a pound.  But I am very much looking to try it.  Actually, I think it’d be wonderful to conduct a blind taste/texture test.  I’ll get some cheap penne, cook both pastas according to instructions, add some butter and Parmesan and see if people can tell the difference between the two.

Update: We had a blind taste between this pasta and Allegra penne, which is also made in Italy but sells for $1-$2 lb (as opposed to $15).  I personally thought that the Filotea had a stronger flavor than the Allegra, which was distinct but difficult to describe. Somewhat nuttier/more whole grainish (though they both have durum semolina). The Filotea penettes were interesting in that they were basically rolled pieces of pasta, that were not held together.  In the blind test my husband preferred the Filotea and my 10-yo daughter preferred the Allegra. I could go for either one, but that’s because I eat my pasta with a strong sauce so the flavor of the pasta doesn’t matter much.

In all, I think this was a great box. I loved the curation and I love getting to experience some luxury items I would never buy otherwise.

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