Handmade Beauty Box: February 2015 Review

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Handmade Beauty Box is a monthly DIY beauty subscription box from the owners of Soap Queen and Brambleberry (in Bellingham, WA!). Subscriptions start at around $30. February’s project was a cuticle/lip balm project. Detailed instructions with pictures and tips are always included.
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I started by cutting out the labels for the tins. This tends to be the hardest part of any HBB project, which should tell you about their difficulty (which is not at all).
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I then labeled the tins and set them up for the balm to be poured into.
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I poured all of the [vegan!] included, pre-measured ingredients into a microwave-safe measuring cup – the spout made pouring easy.
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After microwaving, they were a nice liquid. I then added the flavor/scent, a berry rose. The instructions said there would be some left over, but as a fan of heavy scents, I used the whole vial.
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Then I poured it into the tins.
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It didn’t take long for them to solidify, as you can see from the bottom tins.

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By the next day, they were a nice solid cuticle and lip balm with a lovely scent.

Verdict: Since its first box, Handmade Beauty Box has been my favorite subscription. The projects are fun and easy, and I love sharing with friends. It even inspired me to start making other products; check out my Etsy shop here!

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Julep Maven: April 2015 Review

Julep Maven is a monthly nail polish and beauty box from Julep, which happens to be a Seattle company. Subscriptions start at $20 a month.

IMAG1568I joined Julep Maven a few years ago, back when you were allowed to skip any months where you didn’t like the products (new customers have limited skips). I’ve skipped quite a few boxes, but when I saw this month’s bright colors, I upgraded to the whole collection.

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Known as the Paradise collection, this month’s colors included (left to right) Jenna, Connie, Drew, Cassidy, Addison, Danica, Danielle, Randi, and April.

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I also added on Angie (a holographic shimmer), Brigitte (white, painted underneath bright colors, it causes them to pop), a base coat, and a top coat.

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For ordering at least three add-ons, I received a free surprise gift, which turned out to be a lip gloss.

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Vivid is a dark red and definitely not my shade. I’ll be swapping it.

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The box also included a coupon, inspirational quote, and colorful candy.

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Verdict: I’m a huge Julep fan – their products are vegan, 5-free, and some of the proceeds go to women’s empowerment. I also really enjoy visiting their local parlors. Maven is a great deal for polish and beauty product lovers: not only do you get Julep products at much lower prices, you get a discount on everything in Julep’s online store and free shipping. Just be sure you want a monthly commitment, as new subscribers only get the option to skip every three months or so.

Referral: Use my link to sign up for Julep Maven – you’ll get a free box and I’ll get a $15 Julep credit.

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Handmade Beauty Box: January 2015 Review

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Handmade Beauty Box delivers ingredients and instructions each month for a DIY beauty project. Subscriptions are around $30 a month.

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This is the box’s second month, and it featured a lavender herb bath bomb.

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If I’d known how darn easy it was too make bath bombs, I could have saved myself hundreds of dollars spent at Lush! I started by gathering my supplies and ingredients.

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I matched up the molds and cut out the labels before things got messy.

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I managed to lose my instructions overnight, so I adapted a recipe from the Soap Queen’s site (she is the founder of HBB). I know they would have sent me the instructions again – love their quick and friendly customer service! – but I was too excited to wait. I started by adding the citric acid and sodium bicarbonate, mixing them together by hand.

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Next I added the fragrance oil. The whole bottle of fragrance oil. I later realized you were only supposed to add about a quarter of the bottle… I do like strong scents at least! I also deviated a bit from the recipe and added some moisturizing jojoba oil.

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Then I mixed and put about two thirds of the mixture in a separate bowl and added the blue mica.

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I sprayed enough witch hazel on them to make the mix stick together in my hand.

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Once that was done, I packed them in the molds, layering the two colors and squeezing the two halves of the mold together to form a ball.

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Here’s where I wasn’t sure if I should take them out of the mold to dry or leave them in. So I did a little of both.

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The project was a little messy, but cleanup was a breeze! Baking soda and lavender are great countertop cleaners.

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And the mix left in the bowl just fizzed right up, then dissolved in water. You can see the lovely blue tint.

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I’ll give these guys some time to dry overnight, then tomorrow I’ll add the labels and ribbon.

Verdict: I’m a complete beginner at making my own products, but this box makes me feel like a beauty badass. I have so much fun making these products, and love chatting with and getting tips from the Handmade Beauty Box staff. It’s my new favorite box. I can’t wait to see what next month brings!
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Next day update: Leaving them in the molds seems to be the way to go. You can see how the ones that didn’t (top row) flattened where they were drying on the counter, and got paper towel stuck to them. Overall, they turned out beautiful, and very strongly scented.
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Handmade Beauty Box Launch Party

I joined the Handmade Beauty Box team in Bellingham’s Umpqua Bank for the box’s launch party. Guests were treated to drinks and hors d’oeurves, live piano, handmade soaps, a preview of the inaugural box, and a make-your-own bath salt bar. I got to meet the box’s manager and The Soap Queen herself. We learned HBB has over 400 subscribers, and that an upcoming box will feature ingredients for nail polish.

Being surrounded by such kind people who were so excited about natural beauty was a wonderful treat. I’ve just finished making my soap from the first box – post coming soon! – and can’t wait for next month’s box.

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Birchbox Review: December 2014

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Birchbox is a monthly beauty box starting at $10 a month. It features samples of makeup, skincare, and perfume. My friend Kathleen got me a subscription for my birthday and I love it!

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Each box is beautifully packaged and contains a card detailing this month’s selections. Major kudos to Birchbox for all cruelty free products this month! This month also came with $10 to spend at the Gap.

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Number Four is a French haircare company specializing in luxury vegan products. I was able to smell the shampoo without even opening it – it smelled very Parisian!

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I’m not in love with my current hairspray, so I’m happy to replace it with this Rusk spray instead. Birchbox gives you an option of choosing one sample a month. Mine was the Manna Kadar lip stain, which turned out to be even prettier in person.

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It even has a jewel on the lid!

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I’m still not entirely sure what this serum is, but apparently there are a million different ways of using it, so I look forward to playing around with it. And hello holiday parties… meet this gorgeous sparkly eyeliner!

Verdict: Cruelty free is what really does it for me, and I’m especially impressed that a box that doesn’t bill itself as such would go out of its way to pick all cruelty free products. And they’re great products; I’ll use all of them!

Referral: Use my link to sign up for Birchbox and I’ll receive a $5 credit towards full-size products.

Birchbox Review: Intro Box

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Birchbox is a monthly beauty subscription box starting at $10 a month. You can customize your profile and get to choose one sample per month; the rest are skin or hair care, makeup, or perfume surprises.

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My soul sister Kathleen got me a Birchbox subscription for my birthday. My first box arrived just a few days after; I was giddy to open it.

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Kathleen got me the Trendy intro box (aw yeah); the other two options are Classic and Customer Favorites.

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A card is included with details on each sample, including if they’re cruelty and paraben free – I was surprised and impressed by how many were!

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This perfume smells delicious, like juicy candy. And the eyeliner is a dark green with gold flecks: perfect for my hazel eyes. The lip and cheek stain wasn’t kidding – it stuck around all day and was a sweet, pretty pink.

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Here they are swatched.

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I can never have too many cleansers, especially the exfoliating kind. With winter in Seattle approaching I need all the brightening up I can get! The only item I’m not able to use is the shaving cream. I’m a loyalist to my Schick Intuition razor. It seems quite luxurious though, and I’m hoping to find a good home for it!

Verdict: The intro box promises good things to come, especially cruelty free ones! I can’t wait for my next box (and to try out that eyeliner).

Referral: Sign up for Birchbox using my link and I’ll receive points to use in their store.

My Subscription Addiction: MSA01 Review

Welcome to my new favorite-ever subscription box. If you’ve considered subscribing to a box, make it the My Subscription Addiction Box.

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I just can’t help but totally lose my cool and spend this entire review gushing like a giddy fangirl. You have been warned. My Subscription Addiction is the utmost authority on all things subscription box. When I heard Liz, the site’s owner, was making her own box, I signed up immediately for the $50/quarter subscription and waited with bated breath. Not only does Liz know what makes a box a good value (quality products, large sizes, unique curation, color variations, and leak-proof packaging), she and I share the same cruelty-free sensibilities and we delight in a little bit of luxury. I knew this box would be good.

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I was not disappointed.

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The box opened to reveal a personal, detailed letter from Liz on the box’s theme (fall), why she chose each and every item, and discount codes for some of the products.

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First off, let’s just get this out of the way, the lip gloss was the only miss for me. I love the taste, texture, and brand, but the color was a little too brown and I found it didn’t stick around on my lips for very long. I like when boxes send out random color variations but unfortunately this one didn’t work in my favor. As for my favorite item in the box: this face wash is $65. I now own a $65 face wash. From a $50 subscription box. I mean, how does that even work? I don’t understand. But I don’t want to question it. Because this magic $65 face wash turns into the softest, creamiest, slather-all-over-your-face ambrosia that makes my skin glow. I know I will never, ever, justify spending that much on a face wash on my own, so I’ve been hoarding it in a special corner of my shower, bringing it out only on those not-so-good days where I need to cover my face in luxury. My… precious…

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I’ve been saving this candle too, though I will probably break it out for my housewarming party. It smells like all the best parts of fall: chai, cider, leaves, pumpkins. Both the candle and its packaging are made from all-natural materials. And oh, this scrub. What a delight. I may not drink coffee but I sure adore the smell of it. This scrub will wake you right up and give you the softest of skin: I didn’t even need lotion afterward. Some of the grounds tend to stick around and deposit themselves on my towel, so I use this on towel wash days and they come right out.

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I’m ashamed to admit, I had serious doubts about this scarf. In the package, I wasn’t sure about the color or style, and I’m very picky about fabric texture, especially when it looks potentially itchy.

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I should have known better and I’m sorry I ever doubted you, Liz. Pulling it out if the package, the material was one of the softest I’d ever laid my hands on. I’m a huge fan of circle scarves and found the color and pattern to be versatile, and the scarf to be warm without being bulky. It came in three other colors, and this time I did get the luck of the draw. It will be a challenge to stop myself from wearing it every single day this winter.

Verdict: This is it, folks; the My Subscription Addiction box is The One. If you’re looking for luxurious, natural, generously sized all-natural products for a great value, get this box. Get it for yourself get it for your friends, get it for your cats. Just get it. It’s $50 a box and comes out 4 times a year. Also, check out the My Subscription Addiction site for behind-the-scenes box insight.