First Use Clove and Hallow Cloud Cleanser

Clove and Hallow sent their brand new Cloud Powder Cleanser for me to try out and review. While I will give a more full some review after I’ve used to for a full thirty days, I wanted to go ahead and give my first impressions. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Clove and Hallow they are a clean beauty brand as well as vegan and cruelty free. Their products are sustainably made in the United states as well.

shaker lid

And I know packaging isn’t everything (although some packaging is clearly better for the world than others so I suppose I should say beauty isn’t everything, maybe…) but I love the look of this packaging. Simply put it is glass and looks like a spice shaker. And truthfully once the cleanser is all used up and the jar rinsed out, this glass bottle will have a second life in my spice drawer. I’m sure eventually it will make it’s way into the recycling, but it will be well reused here.

But before that day comes, there is a product to use and review. Let’s took a look at what Clove and Hallow have to say about their new Cloud Powder Cleanser.

a little powder

Who doesn’t want skin as soft and bouncy as a cloud? Packed with soothing colloidal oatmeal, vitamin B5, and mango extract, Cloud Powder is a water-activated cleansing powder that gently washes away makeup, sweat, and impurities. Even the most sensitive skin will feel deeply cleansed, but still nourished and soft to the touch. CLOVE + HALLOW cares: Cloud Powder Cleanser is packaged in a glass jar which can be reused or infinitely recycled. Its cap is made with recyclable plastic.

Clove and Hallow
just a little bit of water

See it isn’t just me planning to reuse the bottle. It was designed that way. Aren’t they fabulous? I really like the thought of a powder cleanser. I used the Amore Pacific cleanser which comes in powdered form and beyond how the cleanser performed (which was lovely by the way) I really enjoyed the powder format. It let me control how much water I added to the mix. In the mornings I could add a little more water and just do a quick clean rinse, but in the evening add less water for a thicker product which made me feel like I was truly taking off the last of my makeup.

So I am down for a good powder formula. I also like the fact that it doesn’t run the risk of leaking during travel. I do love a good pump cleanser, but you can’t really travel with them. I had an unexpected travel moment this weekend and this cleanser was fantastic. The glass bottle was sturdy and traveled with no issue and as it is a powder there was no leakage.

bubbles stay as it applies and then rinses off clean

The cleanser dispenses into the hand through the shaker top. I did notice I have a tendency to shake out more product than I needed. I think because it is shaped like a spice jar (or at least my spice jars) I tend to give it a couple of vigorous shakes. One shake is all you need and you have enough product. After a few days I remembered that and I was fine.

There is a light scent to it that is almost vanilla-y but not quite. I had to look on the label and I think the almost but not quite vanilla is from the Mango. It is that borderline vanilla scent/taste that some mangos get. I personally really like it. It is a very light scent though and disappears almost instantly. And trying to get closer and sniff just gets cleanser up your nose. I do not recommend that.

For a first use (or first weekend use actually) I really enjoyed this cleanser. It was gentle on abraded skin (it was a very emotional weekend leaving my skin extra sensitive) and it gave my skin a great clean. I am looking forward to using this Cloud Powder Cleaner from Clove and Hallow for the next month (and beyond) and seeing how it performs over time. As a first use though it gets a thumbs up on smooth clean skin, a second for a light, pleasant but quickly dissipating scent and at least one more for sustainable and reusable packaging. I know, that is more thumbs than I have, but I am really enjoying the Clove and Hallow Cloud Powder Cleanser. Hopefully the love will last the month. See you in thirty days…

Andalou Naturals Apricot Probiotic Cleansing Milk

I am always on the look out for a good cleanser. Even though I use a wide variety of skincare, it is the cleanser that never leaves the list. I may trade out serums to treat specific issues, Vitamin C to brighten, Hyaluronic Acid for those pesky fine lines, but cleansers are always a staple.

While coffee helps me out in the morning, I don’t really feel awake enough to make the coffee before I’ve washed my face and removed the remnants of my night time skin care. Serums and moisturizers can wait, but the cleanser is first thing. After exercising, I will often need a gentle cleanser to remove the sweat and salt from my skin. Otherwise I will just feel icky all day. And of course at night, after i have used a makeup remover to remove the makeup I need a product that can rinse off whatever is left behind leaving me a clean canvas for my night time skincare.

And lets face it, sometimes mornings are rushed and sometimes I am o tired at the end of the day that my eyelashes are sweeping the floor. I may skip other elements of my routine, but I don’t skip the cleanser. All of this means that it is not only a necessary element of my skincare, one may even claim the most necessary part, but it means I use up more cleansing products than i do any other product in my skincare routine.

I like a wide variety of cleansers. I like creams and thing foaming ones are just loads of fun. Cleansing Milks are not a category I have too much experience with however. I’ve tried one before this and it was extremely liquidy. That isn’t my favorite consistency. I like being able to apply the cleanser to my damp face and see where the cleanser is and then massage it into the skin to make certain all of the skin is covered. With liquids I simply find it harder to tell where the cleanser has been. Is that skin damp from water or did I go over it with the cleanser?

I know it is not the most profound reason for liking formulas, but half-awake or half asleep, I need something that requires very little thought. So as a consequence I rarely purchase Cleansing Milks. This Andalou Naturals Age Defying Apricot Probiotic Cleansing Milk however arrived in a subscription box. Petit Vour I believe. I received several Andalou Naturals products from Petit Vour Subscriptions, which isn’t all that surprising.

Petit Vour specializes in clean beauty products. As this cleansing milk uses certified organic and fair trade ingredients, it falls right into their wheel house. I’ll admit, I was hoping that this would be a good product. Partially because I like the ingredients and the clean aspect of the product, partially because I am partial to apricot and wish it was seen more in products and partially because I have seen the brand Andalou Naturals on the shelves at my local grocery store.

Again that sounds like a small thing. Most of my products I do order on line. Skincare, Hair care and body care were mostly ordered on line before the world turned upside down. Occasionally things would be picked up on multi-store shopping trips, but once lock down hit and the only physical outing was the once a month grocery run, everything non grocery related went to on-line ordering. while Andalou Naturals can be ordered on line (the links in this post all going to their on-line site) I like the thought of having a list of products that I can pick up quickly when I run to the grocery store.

That way if I run out, I can just grab a replacement and then have time to place an order if need be. I am actually trying to get at least one in store favorite in every skincare category. I really just like knowing that I could pick up something quickly if need be and that I know it is good. Recently I added the Olay Regenerist Moisturizer to the list (which shouldn’t be surprising as most of the Olay Regenerist line is on my list – Incidentally Olay is having a sale at the moment, clicking on the link will take you to the Olay site.) So will Andalou Naturals make the list?

First let’s look at what the claims are for this Age Defying Apricot Probiotic Cleansing Milk.

on the face

Fruit Stem Cell complex from the Apple & Grape, Resveratrol CoQ10 and skin-friendly vegan probiotics gently remove make-up and impurities, rinsing away dull surface cells and balancing skin flora. Apricot and Borage Oils are infused to rejuvenate dehydrated skin, for a fresh glow and a rejuvenated complexion.

Vegan Product

Andalou Naturals

Okay, sounds pretty good and basically what you would expect from a cleanser. So dispensed in the hand it isn’t a liquid. I know surprising for something that is labeled Milk right? It mostly resembles under whipped cream. If you are whipping cream and almost to the soft peak stage, that is the texture of the cleansing milk.

I dampened my skin lightly and applied the cleanser. It didn’t apply like a thick cream and it didn’t foam, but I could definitely see where the cleanser was applied on the skin. I know what areas of my face were washed and which weren’t. Which I like. It rinsed off well, but left a little bit of a residue on the skin. I think it is the moisturizing aspect. In truth it wasn’t heavy and my skin did feel lightly moisturized. I tone my skin right after washing so whatever was left on the skin was taken off as the toner pad glided across my face.

I’ll be honest as far as makeup removing went, this cleanser wasn’t that great. It took off powders but left mascaras and foundations in place. This is a cleanser that is meant to be used as the stage two of a two part cleanse. Take off your makeup then use the cleanser to wash your face. The makeup remover will leave a little residue behind, but this cleanser will take off whatever is left behind. it just needs someone to come in first and break up the party before escorting guests to their vehicles. As the second part of a two step cleanse it was fantastic.

In addition, this was also a fabulous mid day sort of cleanser. After my walk and workout, my skin needs just a bit of a gentle cleanser or I am just going to feel gunky the rest of the day. I could use the Andalou Naturals Age Defying Apricot Probiotic Cleansing Milk with no fear of stripping my skin through over washing. In fact the post work out cleanse was where this product really shined. I could wash my face and not have to reapply other products because it was very hydrating. The only thing I added after washing was another dose of sunscreen. And then I put on my makeup.

The scent of the cleanser is fresh and light. It has a slight apricot scent to it, but mostly it is just a fresh clean skincare kind of scent. It reminds me a little of the health food store my mother used to take me into as a kind, which I think might be the result of the Borage oil. But again it is a very light scent. The scent also washes away when you rinse off.

Over all I was very impressed with this cleansing milk. It isn’t going to be a big makeup removing product, unless you only wear a light dusting of powders. It is fantastic if you want a post workout cleanser that isn’t going to strip your skin or make you feel over washed. I truth, once I start going back to the gym, I think this might be the cleanser I add to my bag so that I can rinse off my face before leaving. It is definitely something i enjoyed using and will make it onto my to purchase again list. I never would have picked this up on my own, if only for the fact that the term cleansing milk gave me an impression of a product I wouldn’t like. Now of course, I think I’ll peruse the product line next grocery trip and see if anything else catches my eye. Hopefully other Andalou Naturals products will be just as good.


Petit Vour February 2021 Unboxing

I believe the final February subscription box has now arrived. It’s actually not surprising it is Petit Vour as they don’t ship until about the 20th and as February was a short month, it is not unusual for there to be a little overlap. I just find it kind of fun that I’m already getting e-mail shipping notices for some of the March boxes. Honestly with February this happens every year regardless. the short month just plays havoc with everyone and if feels like February’s boxes barely arrive before march is on the doorstep. Since January always feels like it takes forever it sort of feels like February tries to accelerate to make up for it. But speaking of moving on…

It is time for the February Petit Vour unboxing. For those that don’t know, Petit Vour is  a cruelty Free subscription box that costs $18 per month.  They do have a Petit Vour Plus that costs $25 per month.  I have not tried that one so I can’t vouch for it.  The regular Petit Vour box contains four items that are generally deluxe sized samples with the occasional full sized item thrown in.  While I really do enjoy this subscription, this will be my last Petit Vour box for a while. I will continue to shop on their site as they offer really good deals on lots of clean products that I really enjoy. I am certain I will be back at some point for the box as well, but I needed to take a little break from it. 

So what is in the February Petit Vour Box?

Well the first item up is from a brand that pops up routinely in the Petit Vour Box and that is K Voss.  This time it is the K Voss Perfecting primer. It claims to be a multi use illuminating primer that naturally adjusts to your skin tone.  As I have an ongoing love affair with the primer category, I am very much looking forward to trying this out. I think it may end up in next week’s make up bag.

The second item in this month’s box is also from a brand we see quite often.  Personally I have an unsteady relationship with the brand Goldfaden, MD.  Everything about it says I should like ti and I always approach with high hopes.  Only occasionally are those hopes realized. 

This month I received the Goldfaden, MD Doctor’s Scrub which is an exfoliate.   I love exfoliants as much as I love primers.  I actually tried a full size of this a while back and if I remember correctly it was a good exfoliate but it was also the kind of exfoliate you only use once a month at most.  I could be wrong, I will have to check my notes, but I believe that is the case. It is a small enough sample that I can easily test it again to confirm.  I’ll keep you updated on that once I take it out to try.

lip swatch

There was actually a second makeup item in the box this month ant it is the lip color pencil from the brand Slate Cosmetics.  The name sounds vaguely familiar but I don’t think I have ever actually tried them. I tried looking up the lip pencil but only found skincare on their site. i will do my best to find out more information before I use it and report back to you.  I am always up for trying a new lip product and when I swatched it the color seemed nice.  So I will add it to the products to put in the makeup bag for testing. I find the fact that I can’t find much about it on line rather intriguing.

And finally we have the fourth item in the box and that is Davids Premium Natural Toothpaste.  I’ve seen the toothpaste around, but never tried it before.  In general, I am a Crest girl at least as far as Toothpaste and whitening strops go.  I tend to go with Listerine for my mouthwash.  I am however almost out of my Crest toothpaste so perhaps I will give this a trial instead of repurchasing my standard tube.

One think I like about this subscription box is that they so often send items I would never think of picking up on my own. Often times I find brands that I’ve never heard of or only heard of and never tried.  A few of my new favorites have come out of this subscription box like the Akar Balancing Toning Mist and the Bkind exfoliating scrub of course Bkind also now has a Papaya Enzyme Scrub and as I am really liking the Elemis Papaya Mask so I may have to give that a try as well soon, but that is another story. 

I really like both and would not have found either on my own. While I am taking a break from this box for a little while, it is only so that I can try out other subscription boxes, not because I don’t like it.  This is a box I will definitely be circling back to in the future. But for now, I must bid a fond adieu until we meet again.

Cruelty-Free Beauty Box

Washing up with the Pa’akai Cleansing Cream

I have seen the Pa’akai Cleansing cream advertised often on vegan and cruelty free skin care websites and always thought it looks pretty. Somehow I never got around to trying it even though everyone always raves about it.  So when it appeared in my Petit Vour Box, I was very pleased to have a chance to give it a try. According to the product page…

Cleansing Hawaiian salt and antioxidant rich hibiscus combine to create a gentle daily cleanser that will leave your skin feeling soft, smooth and hydrated. Seaweed extract works to strengthen and renew the skin, while accelerating the natural skin repair process. The Pa’akai Cleansing Cream is great for all skin types.

Ingredients: 100% Cruelty-Free and Vegan | Pure Vitalized & Coconut Water (Aqua), Organic Rose (Rosa damascena) Hydrosol, Organic Witch Hazel Water (Hamamelis virginiana), Wild Harvested Seaweed Extract (Fucus vesiculosis), Hibiscus( Hibiscus sabdariffa) Co2,Honua Pa’akai (Hawaiian Salt) Organic Herbal Oil Infusions of Rose Petals (Rosa damascena), Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), Chamomile Flowers(Matricaria recutita), Calendula Blossoms (Calendula officinalis), Comfrey Leaf & Root (Symphytum officinale) & Rosehips Seeds (Rosa mosqueta) in Organic High Oleic Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius) & Sesame (Sesame indicum), Sorbitan Olivate, Organic Aloe Vera Gel (Aloe barbadensis), Organic Vegetable Glycerin, Organic Lecithin, Organic Gromwell Root CO2 (Lithospermum erythrorhizon), Sage (Salvia officinalis) & Organic Rosemary Antioxidants (Rosmarinus officinalis), *Lactobacillus Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Fruit Extract and *Sodium Anisate *denotes New Green Beauty Approved Preservative System, Made in USA

Pa’akai site

Now I have grown hibiscus before and know how good it is for the body internally. The tea is not only fantastic but it tastes far more citrus-y than the flowers would lead you to believe. I made hibiscus tea and jam and loved both. I have not used it in skincare though, at least to my knowledge. As working with it turned my skin pink, I was not surprised that the cleansing cream is a pretty shade of pink. 

two pumps needed to wash the face

The cleanser comes in a glass bottle with a pump dispenser at the top.  I like that the pump has a wide flat top actually as it makes operating it with wet hands quite easy.  While packaging isn’t everything, some considerations are necessary. This packaging was well thought out in terms of the pump. 

The cleansing cream foams well on the face, cleans the skin well and rinses off clean.  The product itself I had no issues with.  It worked well. Two pumps was all that was necessary to get my entire face clean.

My issue is with the scent.

I know, when does scent not come into play with me?

The hibiscus scent is strong. Really strong.  It is a very perfume-y flowery scent that I just don’t care for.  Oddly, it is more perfume-y smelling than the actual flowers.  My hibiscus had more of a tart scent to it than this does.  If this actually just smelled of hibiscus than there would be less of an issue.  The scent actually prompted me to go back to the ingredients list. While I initially noticed only that everything was a not bad for my skin ingredient I didn’t pay too much attention. With cleansers the product stays on the skin for so little time that I am not as focused as I probably should be on the ingredients list. The culprit here, scent wise, I believe might be the rose.  It seems to take the tart of the hibiscus right out and brings the whole thing into perfume land.

As good as this product is, I just can’t get past the scent.  The longer I used it the less I liked the scent.  It is pretty.  The container is well thought out.  I love the ingredients list and I love the way the cleanser performs on my skin.  But because of the scent, I was incredibly happy when the container was empty and I could move on to another cleanser. Because of the scent, using it up was a chore for me. If you like the scent of rose, then I would highly recommend this cleanser as it is a really good product.  While I like the light scent of rose in many French skincare products, this was just too much of a perfume bomb for me, especially in a cleanser.  So I will not be purchasing a full size of this in the future. I am however very glad I finally got to try it.




Testing out the Goldfaden MD Detox Hydrating Gel Moisturizer

Goldfaden, MD is one of those brands that every time I look at it I think, ‘I should like that’.  It is skin care designed by a dermatologist and it has a clean look to it that says this is serious skin care.  I also like the fact that they are a clean skin care.  I tried the Exfoliating scrub from the brand a while back. It was supposed to be for daily use, however I found it surprisingly harsh and ended up using it once a month until it was gone.  My skin just couldn’t take its level of exfoliation more often than that.

Then I had a surprising number of Goldfaden, MD products appear in my subscription boxes so I got excited about seeing the brand again and testing out more products from them.  After all, they still look like they should be good skin care and I did have three products to try.  The first one I decided to give a go was the Detox Hydrating Gel Moisturizer.  According to the website this $68 moisturizer…

This antioxidant-rich detoxifying gel provides anti-pollution protection and antioxidants to prevent premature aging from environmental stressors while beta hydroxy acids keep pores clear and free from breakouts. Achieve a pure, calm complexion with this moisturizer for oily, problematic skin.

Ingredients: Water Propanediol Glycerin Carrageenan Gluconolactone Sodium Benzoate Calcium Gluconate Saccharide Isomerate Citric Acid Sodium Citrate Sodium Hyaluronate Glycerin (and) Marrubium Vulgare Meristem Cell Culture (and) Xanthan Gum Malva Sylvestris (Mallow) Extract Alchemilla Vulgaris Extract Melissa Officinalis Leaf Extract Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Leaf Extract Veronica Officinalis Extract Achillea Millefolium Extract Primula Veris Extract Xanthan Gum Cellulose Gum Salicylic acid Centella Asiatica Extract Euterpe Oleracea Fruit Extract Potassium Sorbate Sorbic Acid Phoenix Dactylifera (Date) Fruit Extract

Goldfaden MD

As I have taken to using a detoxifying mask to keep maskne in check it seemed like the perfect time to try this out. Now, it is a sample size which usually means about one to two weeks’ worth of product. While this is not long enough to see any long term results it is generally enough time to let me know how it is going to react with my skin and if I would want to purchase a full size to do a full trial.

The gel like formula

This tube of Goldfaden MD Detox Hydrating Gel Moisturizer held a lot of empty air and about three days’ worth of product.  And even that was stretching it.  It was one of those tubes that just wasn’t filled properly before being sent out. 

Normally, I would complain, but three days of this moisturizer was about as long as I wanted to use it. While it may or may not do anything long term to acne, I can tell you that it was sticky on the skin and never felt like it really absorbed. 

To be honest it felt like a makeup gripping primer more than a moisturizer.  That’s how sticky it was.  The second morning I tried this moisturizer I decided to go sans makeup until it actually absorbed to see how long it took.  It never really did fully absorb.  It remained sticky on the skin.  I was not a fan. 

Usually gel formulas and I really get along as they just melt right into the skin.  This one I didn’t like.  There are several items in the ingredients list that many of my latest moisturizer (the ones I liked) didn’t have, so I am going to have to do some digging to see if those ingredients are ones I need to avoid (or if they do occur in other products), but for now, I just know I will not be purchasing a full size of the Goldfaden MD Detox Hydrating Gel Moisturizer in the future.  I still have two Goldfaden MD products to try out, so fingers crossed I like them better than I liked this one.


Shop Annmarie Gianni Today.

Trying out the Codex Beauty Bia Exfoliating Wash

I am a big fan of exfoliants.  I tend to use them about once a week, occasionally twice, depending on my skincare needs.  While there are several that claim they can be used daily, it is rare to find one that actually can be used daily without causing too much exfoliation to the skin.  The Codex Beauty Bia Exfoliating Wash claims to be a…

Gentle everyday cleanser that lightly exfoliates and tones skin. Bia Exfoliating Wash lightly exfoliates and tones skin, making it gentle enough for everyday use. Jojoba grains provide exfoliation without irritating the skin and castor oil helps clear pores and impurities and evens the appearance of skin tone. This wash never leaves skin feeling tight or dry and is clinically proven to improve the appearance of skin flakiness. Scent: Uplifting Grapefruit and Elderflower

I received this in a subscription box (Glossy Box actually) and I have to say the daily cleanser/exfoliate was a combo that I found interesting.  The deluxe sample was enough for me to use twice a day for two weeks.  It is a cream consistency with the particulates (the jojoba grains) suspended in the product.

I have to say that it was gentle enough that I could use it twice daily without feeling like my skin was being scrubbed raw. It actually did no damage and did exfoliate well. It is an extremely gentle exfoliate.  You can feel the jojoba grains in the product but they tend to break down a bit as you wash rather than break your skin down and stay solid hard particles.  I had no fears that I was doing any damage to my skin while using it.

The cleanser aspect of the product foamed well when rubbed into the skin, but not extravagantly. this is not a suds galore product. It is more of an exfoliating product that also cleanses. The cleansing part is very much secondary to the exfoliation, but at the same time I didn’t feel as though I needed to go back and wash my face after rinsing off the Codex exfoliating wash which is a big plus. Typically with exfoliates I use an oil or cleansing balm to remove makeup, then exfoliate if I am going to and then use a cleanser. This did eliminate the need for an additional cleanser.

So it cleansed nicely and exfoliated well, achieving both of it’s stated goals. I appreciate that. The only drawback I had with this product was the scent.  While it claims to be a grapefruit and elderflower blend, what I got was mostly castor oil with a slight citrusy back note.

It isn’t a bad scent, but I don’t think it is for me.  I can always tell when a product is really good but the scent isn’t for me (other than the scent) because I will reach for it and sigh. I know it’s just me in the bathroom so there is no one I need to be dramatic for, but it is something I always do. Good products with scents I don’t care for get the sigh, because I want to use them, I just can’t get past the scent.

In case you are wondering products that don’t work well but smell nice, don’t get the sigh. Those just get moved along. I think the sigh is a sign of disappointment, either for the product of for my inability to get past the scent to use the product that works well. Because let’s face it, I know me. I am very scent oriented. I may know this (or any other) product works well, but if I don’t like the scent I am just not going to reach for it. I can power through a sample, but not a full sized bottle.

While I think the Codex Beauty Bia Exfoliating Wash itself is nice and it does an excellent job of cleansing and exfoliating the skin, I don’t think I could take the scent of the product every day. 

I kept hoping I would get used to it, but somehow, I never did. Which is a shame.  It really is a great product and I love that it is a gentle enough exfoliating wash to be used daily.  It is one of the few products I’ve tried that have made that claim and been able to live up to it. I love that it uses natural ingredients and plant based preservatives. I love their sustainability ambitions.

But for me, the scent is the killer. I tried very hard, but I just can’t get past it.  So sadly, while an excellent product, a full sized purchase will not be in my near future. If I purchased it, the tube would just sit there because I would find excuses not to use it.  I will however, keep the efficacy of the product in mind and look at other products from the brand in the hopes that they work just as well but have a different scent to them.



Trying out the Akar Skin Balance Toning Mist

I’ll be honest, most of my thoughts involving toner include things like ‘I really need to pick up some reusable cotton rounds instead of using the disposable ones’ or ‘I don’t like the scent of this toner.’ And of course there is the, ‘wow my makeup remover really left a lot behind if that is what’s coming off on the toner cotton round.’

It is the skin care product that in the past I have not given a lot of thought to. Which is strange really when I think about it.  There have been times where I have skipped moisturizer or serums, but I never skip toner.  I have been washing my face and then using toner since middle school. Admittedly then it was mostly an acne fighting toner, but it still counts.

Perhaps it is that I now have more acne from wearing a mask in the heat than I have had since my teen years that has caused me to think about this.  Either way, think about this I have and I am starting to pay more attention to toners.

Now for those of you wondering why bother with toners at all, I was always taught that they remove the last traces of the day from your face.  They take away whatever dirt, excess oils or even any residue left behind by your face wash. It is essentially the tag team partner for the face wash. When used in the morning it gives you a clean canvas for whatever you put on during the day and at night it takes everything off so that you can sleep without whatever life put on your face sinking in over night. (or clear the path for your night time products).  Then of course there are the ingredients included in the mix that are supposed to do something other than just take off the day.  Each product is different. 

According to the product page for the Akar Balance Toning mist

Deemed as the “Holy Water” by Allure, spray your way to glowing, healthy skin. This non-sticky Rose and Neroli scented mist sets gently into the skin, providing deep hydration, improving overall elasticity, while simultaneously keeping the pH value of the skin’s acid mantle layer at the optimum level. Salicylic acid from White Willow Bark is both anti-microbial and exfoliating, helping prevent build-up in pores as well as acne-related issues. Stem cell extracts from the rare Saffron flower contain antioxidants and carotenoids which aids the epidermis in repair and regeneration. Last but not least, Balance enables greater absorption of nutrients by lowering the skin’s surface tension, which means that all the good stuff – in this toner, and everything you apply next – will be fully absorbed, right into your skin.

That seems like a lot for this toner and to be honest, I am not entirely certain how to actually test many of those claims.  But let’s go through what I am capable of testing at home.

First of all, it is a spray.  To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of spray toners. I’ve used them before, but it isn’t my preferred method.  I really do prefer that I dispense it onto the cotton round and then apply it to my face rather than spritzing my face first and then wiping it around. I will say that it is a very fine mist and sprays out nicely. And the spray is not a deal breaker.

The rose and neroli scent was interesting. For me I think it was a little odd mostly because I tend to like perfumes with neroli in them.  It is a scent that I like.  (For those not familiar with it, the scent is slightly orang-y – like the fruit not the color – but not overly sweet, more of a tart orange). It does blend well with the rose and it is a lovely scent.  However combined with the spray application it made me feel as though I was spraying perfume on my face. I knew I wasn’t, but it sort of felt like I was.

Also, it is a sticky spray.  Not oh my goodness I’m coated in honey sticky but tacky to the touch. I didn’t mind this all that much, especially since the description listed it. It was relatively easy to get used to thought.

But it is really all about the effect on the skin.  Now I have been getting more break outs recently.  I did find that with this spray, the blemishes that erupted weren’t as red and painful and tended to heal more quickly with less scarring. With the exception of the places where the mask connected to my face (where I tend to get an outline of clogged pores if I wear it in the heat) I did notice I had less clogged pores appearing on my face as I used this toner.

To be honest, it was a very good toner.  My skin did like it and it did really keep the irritation down on my break outs.  Personally I’m attributing that to the willow bark. And despite my early qualms I did enjoy using it. 

Would I enjoy using it again?  Absolutely. 

Do I think that it works so much better than my regular toners that I would be willing to pay the $55 price tag on a regular basis? No. I do not.

I understand that some of the ingredients, like saffron are quite expensive.  I have a family recipe that calls for saffron that I make once a year and I am always stunned by its price when I have to buy it. So I understand why this toner is so expensive.  My regular toners are between $5 and $10 (generally speaking Thayers and Pixi products).  Occasionally I will splurge and try out a toner in a higher price range, there are several that I really do like that are higher priced. However, for me to pay $55 for a toner on a regular basis, it has to be a lot better than my standard toners.  While I am willing to admit that it is a bit better than my other toners, it is not far enough above them in function to justify the price.

Will I keep this on my list of products to look out for if there is a skin care sale?  Absolutely.  If there is a sale that knocks $10-$15 off the price I would scoop this up in a heartbeat. I would then use every drop. It is a great product.  It is just slightly over priced for what I feel I get out of it.

Would I feel differently if it weren’t a spray? I don’t believe so.  I really think that it comes down to a benefits versus price scale.  Truthfully if it were $15 less I would be willing to forget about the spray (and slightly perfume-y scent) and purchase this anyway. Perhaps if I did buy a full sized and saw benefits over a longer period of time, I would feel differently.  This sample sized toner spray that came in my August Allure Box lasted two weeks. It contained 1.5 mL worth of product. The full size is 70 mL.  So there is the full size would last a little over a year and a half.

There is something to be said for that, however the little expiration jar on the back of the sample sized Akar bottle claims the product expires in 6 months.  I don’t know if the larger bottle has the same expiration date.  If it does, I don’t know if I could use the product completely before it became expired.  I think I would have to look into that before making a purchase.  If it didn’t expire in under 12 to 18 months than I could almost see the price being justified.

While my thrifty soul will still be holding out for a sale, I will be looking into the expiration date as well.  Meanwhile it was a lovely glass bottle that I enjoyed seeing in my skin care line up and enjoyed using.  I was glad it came in my subscription box and I am now adding it to my empties bin.  Perhaps it will return, perhaps it won’t, but it was a very good product to receive in my Allure Beauty box.




Reviewing the Snow Mushroom Water Serum by Volition

The newly opened serum with the innovator card

Volition beauty recently sent me three products for the purpose of review.  While they did send the products to me, the reviews of them are my own opinions. As a quick note, the links included in this post are for the Volition website and while I highly recommend visiting their site to anyone interested in finding out more about their products or the company (and they are a really interesting company) Volitionbeauty.com only ships to US and Canada. If you are not in either the US or Canada, @cultbeauty ships Volition Beauty worldwide, and @meccamaxima / @meccacosmetica ship to Australia and New Zealand.

Snow Mushroom Water Serum|Free Shipping, Free Returns & Free Sampling

When testing skin care, I tend to rotate products in one at a time and let my skin get used to them before swapping out any other elements to my skin care.   The first product I added in of the three I was sent was the Prismatic Luminizing Shield with SPF 50, mostly because I needed a sunscreen I would actually wear. It is billed as the sunscreen for people who hate sunscreen (which is me) and is a fantastic product that has gotten me into the habit of actually wearing sunscreen daily. The link above will take you to the fill post if you are interested. 

The second product I rotated in was the Snow Mushroom Water Serum and then a week later I added the Celery Green Cream.  So next week I will be posting the Celery Green Cream Review after using it for a full month.

For those that are unfamiliar with Volition Skincare. They produce clean, cruelty free, vegan skincare.   In addition they produce crowdsourced items.  So if you have an idea for a product, you fill out the form and send it to them.  They then ask the community what they think of the idea.  If it is approved, then they set a team of specialists to work turning the idea into a product. 

I thought this idea was interesting when I came across it the first time.  I have to say that having tried some of the products produced thorough this system, I am even more impressed by it.  I love that each product comes with a innovator card, letting you know who came up with the skin care idea.  The Snow Mushroom Water Serum was thought up by Keidy. And what is the serum supposed to do?

According to the site…

Snow Mushroom. It’s nature’s sponge. It holds nearly 500 times its weight in water. It’s the wonder ingredient in this hydrating face serum that delivers a surge of moisture as it naturally minimizes the appearance of pores.

Now I am the first to admit, I love a good serum.  I will also say, I love mushrooms.  I love all sorts of mushrooms and for a while I was even growing my own blue oyster mushrooms.  (mostly because I could never find them at my local grocery). I was a little skeptical about them in my skin care though.  However, I am all for minimizing the appearance of my pores.

However it isn’t just the snow mushroom that makes up this serum.  It has some help.

  • Snow Mushroom: Delivers hydration and helps improve moisture retention.
  • Marine Water: Helps detoxify skin, reduce shine, and minimize the appearance of pores.
  • Watermelon and Apple Extracts: Excellent sources of Vitamins C and A; visibly brighten the look of skin.
  • Lentil Extract: Rich in Vitamin B5; Helps to soothe and smooth the skin while helping retain moisture resulting in the appearance of softer, clearer, firmer-looking skin.

Full Ingredients: Tremella Fuciformis (Mushroom) Extract, Propanediol, Glycerin, Argania Spinosa (Argan) Kernel Oil, Sodium Hyaluronate, Sea Water, Citrullus Vulgaris (Watermelon) Fruit Extract, Pyrus Malus (Apple) Fruit Extract, Lens Esculenta (Lentil) Fruit Extract, Sodium PCA, Sodium Lactate, 3-O-Ethyl Ascorbic Acid, Water, Pentylene Glycol, Caprylyl Glycol, N-Prolyl Palmitoyl Tripeptide-56 Acetate, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Polyglyceryl-4 Caprate, Diheptyl Succinate, Xanthan Gum, Capryloyl Glycerin/Sebacic Acid Copolymer, Sodium Carbomer, Ethylhexylglycerin.

volitionbeauty.com

As you can see there are a lot of good ingredients listed.  My skin loves vitamin C and it is often in my serums. I’ve never thought of lentils as a skin car ingredient but I do have a favorite recipe that uses both lentils and mushrooms so I find it oddly comforting to see them paired together here. (and yes I realize that makes little scientific sense, but it is still true)

Before I used this serum I took a look at the reviews. I like to kind of see if there are any problems I should look out for when trying a new product out. Plus I also like to find out whose reviews closely match mine so I can compare with other products.  The reviews were overwhelmingly positive.  I lifted a skeptical eyebrow and continued on. Given how positive the reviews were however, I was very much hoping my experience was as positive because it sounded fantastic in a Liz Lemon -I want to go to there – kind of way.

And yes, the first thing I did was open the bottle to take a sniff. 

Cause it’s me and you know that’s what I am gonna do. 

I was expecting a kind of earthy mushroom funk. I will say there is a slight underlying earthy note, but it doesn’t come right out and say I am mushroom come smell the funk.

Which is fine.  I may love the smell of sautéed mushrooms, but I wasn’t too certain of how I would feel about the scent in my skin care. While it does have that base earthiness, the serum just smells fresh and clean.  Maybe it is just because they used the snow mushroom water.

Or because they weren’t sautéing them.

I know that the Snow Mushroom Water is one ingredient, as opposed to water pairing with serum, however this serum has a very thin ‘water-like’ consistency. It is extremely light weight.  If you fear heavy pore clogging serums, then lean in this direction.  It feels extremely light on the skin and I had no trouble with any clogged pores while using it.

A small amount covered my face neck and decollete with no problem.  After applying it though, I did need to wait a minute before moving on with the rest of my skin care.  It wasn’t terribly long. 

I generally found if I applied it, and then brushed my teeth, then by the time I finished with my mouthwash rinse, my skin was ready for the moisturizer. If I didn’t wait then the two products mixed and both took longer to settle in. Since I had to brush my teeth anyway, it wasn’t a hardship to wait.

I used this serum twice a day for a full thirty days as part of my trial.  I applied it in the morning and in the evening.  After thirty days I am exactly halfway through the bottle.  So It is a fair estimate that the bottle will last two months. 

For me this is good to know because I will so be ordering a replacement bottle when this runs low and I need to know when to order it.  I really enjoyed this serum.  While it is light weight on the skin, it really does a heavyweight’s job. My skin felt hydrated and refreshed.

The pores on my cheeks and nose were reduced enough that I actually used a non-pore filling primer and  my skin still looked smooth.  I  also noticed a reduction in the fine lines at the corners of my eyes.  The skin was plump enough with retained moisture that they were less noticeable.  I stopped using my eye cream while using this serum for my trial because I wanted to make sure it was this product doing the line filling and not a combo effort. 

It was definitely the Snow Mushroom Water Serum.

closed

My only criticism of this product, and it is a slight one, has to do with the packaging.  It is in a lovely frosted glass bottle with a nice rose gold cap.  When you turn the cap the top pops up and operates the dropper inside.  All of this is fabulous.  It worked really well and it was easy to tell when the bottle was opened or fully closed.

open

  The only drawback I had was that the entire cap is smooth.  While opening it is no problem, closing it involves either hands still slick with left over serum after I’ve massaged it into my skin or hands slick from washing them post application. (yes I dry my hands but they are still slightly slick) There were a couple of times I almost dropped the glass bottle.  If the lid had just a little bit of texture to it, I would be less worried about dropping it with slick hands.  

I know I could just wait until I reach the end of my skin care regimen and my hands are clean and dry, but I don’t like leaving products open too long after I use them.  Plus, I recently had to bid an untimely farewell to one of my favorite concealers because I forgot to recap it. So it is sort of on my mind.  But with this I really was worried about dropping the glass bottle. 

While I’m sure it is shatter resistant, I wouldn’t want to risk losing even a single drop.  I may have to set this aside to try out new skin care items, but I know this is one that I will consistently return to use when I am not testing things out or need a break between tests. At the moment I am considering easing out of using it so that should my next trial not go as smoothly, I will have product remaining to repair whatever damage it does. It is a fantastic formula and The Volition Snow Mushroom Water Serum will remain on my favorites list for a long time to come.


Volition Beauty|Free Shipping, Free Returns & Free Sampling

Annmarie SkinCare Review

The line up for the the two week Annmarie Skincare Trial

For the past two weeks I’ve been testing out various Annmarie Skincare Products.  They very kindly sent over samples for me to review.  I have to say it was very interesting to test out not one, but an entire series of products from the same company at the same time.  In case you haven’t heard of Annmarie Skincare, according to their website

We carefully select organic and wildcrafted ingredients — including herbs and plant extracts — to meet the highest standards of quality and effectiveness for your skin and body. We carefully audit our sources to ensure that they continue to meet our standards of purity and sustainability. 

I’m a big fan of their commitment to sustainability and was thrilled to be able to try out their products. Before I get into the individual products, let me go over the regime I’ve been following during the trial.

First up was the Aloe Herb Cleanser which I used twice daily, once in the morning and once at night. There was also the Anti-Aging Serum which I also used twice daily after cleansing. As AnnMarie Skincare provided me with two types of facial oil, I used the Herbal Facial Oil for the first week and the Anti-Aging oil for the second week.  The oil I applied twice daily as well, applying it to my skin after the serum was given a little time to sink in. 

On Tuesdays and Thursdays I used the Ayurvedic Facial Scrub.  The final element to this skin care trial were the face masks.  Two masks were provided.  The first week I used the Illuminating Pearl Mask Monday , Wednesday and Friday and the second week I used the Purifying Mud Mask for the same three day system.

The only item I didn’t have with this line was a moisturizer so I used the Purlisse Blue Lotus Moisturizer since I knew how it performed from an earlier trial of the product.

Over all, I really enjoyed these products and I think they worked really well together.  Individually there are some that I liked better than others. So let’s get into the individual products .

First up is the Aloe Herb Cleanser. It is an herb infused facial cream cleanser that smells of lemon verbena.  Seriously, the scent alone is worth buying the product.  It is a wonderful aroma to wake up to and equally pleasant to take off the day.  But a cleanser isn’t just about scent, no matter how scent oriented I am.  According to the product page…

The cleanser is creamy but doesn’t really foam up. It does however work well and smell amazing.

Cleanse and lift excess oil with this pH-balanced, aloe vera-based cream cleanser. Infused with beautifying herbs and a light blend of natural oils containing essential fatty acids, to keep your skin naturally hydrated. Gently removes makeup and impurities without drying or leaving any residue. Leaves your skin feeling nourished, soft and beautiful.

I have to say, my skin felt nourished and soft with no residue left behind.  It isn’t the greatest at removing mascara, but it took down all other makeup with no problems.  And then I did a quick clean-up of the raccoon eyes with the Makeup Eraser easy peasy. Since most cleansers have some issues with mascara, I’m willing to give it a pass on that, especially because of the scent.

Next up, was the Anti-aging Serum.  Again this is a product I really liked. The sample vial had just enough product to last for the two week test.  I took the eye dropper from an empty bottle of serum and used three drops of the serum for each application.  It covered my face well, absorbed quickly and smelled deliciously herbal.  I couldn’t identify any particular herbal scent but it is very herbal-ly smelling. I was very sad when the bottle was empty. I actually upended the bottle and tapped it on my hand to get the very last drops out of it befire I finally had to admit that it was empty.  On the product page…

This versatile, aloe vera-based serum provides active nutrients for all skin types, firming and tightening the appearance of aging skin. Hyaluronic acid hydrates, while the herbal extracts buddleja davidii and edelweiss protect skin from environmental stressors. Life everlasting flowers soothe and refresh.

Perhaps I couldn’t identify the herbs by scent because I am unfamiliar with how most of the ones listed actually smell on their own.  Either way I did see an improvement in my skin’s texture and while my fine lines weren’t magically erased, they didn’t get any larger and my skin had a healthy glow to it.

The anti-aging oil

Next up we come to the oil and I have to admit, I had a little bit of a problem with the oils. The scent of both the Herbal Facial Oil and the Anti Aging oil are sharply herbal, but despite the two oils smelling different from each other they both have a slight medicinal scent to their aromas that I didn’t find all that appealing.  Perhaps it is the willow bark. In addition, they both have a slightly thick texture to them that I didn’t particularly care for. It is purely a textural issue as both products performed well. 

The Herbal Facial Oil is…Specially formulated with cleansing botanicals, white willow bark and neem, this delicate herbal blend helps unclog pores and balances natural oils. Lightly moisturizing with a fast-absorbing grapeseed oil base. Leaves skin soft and smooth for a bright and beautiful complexion.

While the Anti Aging Oil is described as… This luxurious, herb-infused formula delivers intense moisture to keep dry and mature skin supple and dewy. Antioxidant-rich seed oils — chia, goji berry, and broccoli — firm and tighten, while reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Jojoba oil resembles your skin’s natural oil, softening and conditioning mature skin. Your skin vibrates in perfect harmony.

When applying them I had to think ’this is good for me’ before I applied them. And they were good for my skin, even if I wasn’t the biggest fan of the scent or texture.  My complexion is smooth and bright, my skin clear and kind of glowy. They really work well, but that scent and texture really threw me.

The scrub comes as a powder, which I like but it is a little too gentle a scrub for me.

The Ayurvedic Facial Scrub is designed for sensitive skin and is a very mild exfoliate.  The product page describes it as…

This fragrant Indian herbal treatment with horsetail and fenugreek seeds exfoliates and softens. Mineral-rich Rhassoul clay from the Atlas Mountains of Morocco absorbs excess oil. This gentle but powerful treatment leaves skin revitalized, fresh and alive.

It has a similar scent to the Purifying Mud Mask, which shouldn’t come as a surprise since it has some of the same ingredients.  Like the mud mask, it comes as a dry powder that you mix with a little bit of water to turn into a paste. The process made me feel like a mad scientist when I used it.  It is a decent exfoliator and if you have sensitive skin, I can see this being perfect for you.  It left my skin feeling fresh, but I personally prefer a slightly more exfoliating exfoliator. It was fun to mix though and I enjoyed playing around with the consistency.

I reviewed both the Illuminating Pearl Mask and the Purifying Mud Mask in separate posts so I’ll just link those reviews instead of going into great depth here ( Previous in depth reviews: PEARL and MUD), but to sum up both posts; I loved the face masks. The Illuminating Pearl Mask left my skin glowing and the Purifying Mud Mask left me feeling deep down clean.  Personally, I prefer the Purifying Mud Mask, but I tend to lean towards more pore cleansing masks in general.  Both are good and well worth trying out.

Of the products I used during this trial I have to say the Aloe Herb Cleanse, the Anti-aging Serum and the two masks were the absolute best and they are products I will be adding to my list of products to purchase. I loved how they performed and how they made my skin feel.

While the Ayurvedic Facial Scrub is not my absolute favorite, I have a couple of friends with sensitive skin who I will definitely recommend it to as I think it would be more up their alley than mine. 

I think I would have to pass on the facial oils.  Although they did lovely things for my skin, I just don’t think I could take the texture of them long term. I think if I purchased them, I would look for reasons not to use the oil.  In all fairness though, my mother actually uses the Herbal Facial Oil for oily skin and she absolutely loves it. It is one of the few facial oils she can use that doesn’t leave her feeling greasy. Since a little goes a long way, and I was using two separate oils, I have some left over.  She has already staked a claim on them and they will be leaving my bathroom and going straight to hers where they will be used and well loved.

Over all I really liked this trial and I loved the way my skin looked and felt.  I found some products that I really liked and will be ordering and some that just weren’t for me. It’s always good when a brand that has such a good ethos also has good products and I was very pleased with Annmarie Skincare.