Review: August Goddess Provisions Box - Meditate + Celebrate

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

By: Ariana Palmieri
This month I was looking forward to this Goddess Provisions box the most. Why? Because, there was a stunning rose quartz sphere in this box and a 100% Pure lip gloss! I've been wanting a rose quartz sphere for so long now, so when this reveal was announced, I felt the universe heard my desires. Also, most of you already know how much I love 100% Pure, so getting a lip gloss from them was a total win - especially when the lip gloss has crushed semi-precious gems in it!
The only problem? My box never came. When I checked the status on my package, it said it had been on the way to my apartment, but was being returned to the sender. Confused by this, I contacted the post office to see what had happened. I found out my usual mailman was on vacation, and the new guy hadn't known which apartment unit I lived in, so he didn't know where to place my package.
Worried I'd never get my package, I contacted Goddess Provisions and let them know the situation. I really wanted my rose quartz sphere and lip gloss! They were happy to reship it for a small fee of $5, once it arrived back at their location. It took a while, but eventually I got my box, thank god. I suggest for anyone who has this problem in the future not to be afraid to contact Goddess Provisions. They were so eager to help and make sure I got what I paid for without having to repurchase the box. Now, without further ado, here's my in-depth review!

 
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Barefoot Island - Lavender + Cedarwood
Gypsy Soul Organics
 

Why you want it: This skillfully crafted aromatherapy spray will automatically transport you to days spent in a log cabin on a remote, forested island.

Its value: $19.99

My review: I love how Goddess Provisions almost always has some sort of aromatherapy blend in their boxes. In the July box, there was one spray-on and one roll-on, so I wonder if they're aiming to create a pattern here, or if it's just coincidence ( I was once told there were no accidents, soooo...). Anyway, this month's lovely spray-on is not too harsh on the nose and is the perfect blend of cedarwood and lavender. I smell a mix of both, but the cedarwood is a little bit stronger, by just a smidge. Unfortunately, the site its from doesn't list the ingredients in the blend, so if you're super picky and need to know exactly what's in all your aromatherapy blends (which I totally understand), this might not be for you. With that said, it's great for misting over yourself, a sacred space, or any room in your house to help balance out energy and relax you. I'd definitely recommend getting this if you like woodsy, earthy, but slightly spicy scents.

Ingredients
Lavender and cedarwood. Other ingredients used are unknown. 
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Gemmed Lip Gloss: Ruby
100% Pure


Why you want it: Perfect for the gem-obsessed lip gloss lover, this beauty leaves a subtle shimmer on your lips.

Its value: $25

My review:  If you've been following my blog, you know how much I love 100% Pure already. I trust their makeup because I know it's made with fruit pigments, and not icky chemicals. With this goodie, subscribers could have received one of three colors: Ruby, Citrine, or Crystal. I received Ruby and I'm so happy I did! It's such a stunning shade, and I love how glittery it is (don't you?). Either way I would have been excited to get any of the other colors, because they're all gorgeous. Made with real, semi-precious crystals such as pyrite, moonstone, and sunstone, this lip gloss enables you to give out real gem-kisses! It's not too bright or bold: Rather, it leaves a lightly tinted gloss over your lips that can be layered a little. I wouldn't suggest adding too much, only because it's a little sticky and doesn't feel good when you cake it on. However, a light layer will still get the job done and looks gorgeous. To apply, simply unscrew the cap and use the application wand to give your smackers some love (one coat on both the bottom and upper lip should do - don't forget to smack your lips together to even things out!). Another cool add in? The box this gloss came packaged in (which was a pretty hot pink in and of itself) is completely BPA and phthalate free, printed with biodegradable non toxic soy ink. Plus this product is cruelty free (like all of 100% Pure's products) and gluten free. Can you get any better than that? Apparently, yes: It's also vegan. Score!


Me wearing the Gemmed Lip Gloss in Ruby
Ingredients
Vegetable Glycerin, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Pigments / Extracts Of Vaccinium Myrtillus (Bilberry), Punica Granatum (Pomegranate), Wine (Red Wine) Lees, Vaccinium Macrocarpon Fruit (Cranberry), Rubus Fruticosus Fruit (Blackberry), Prunus Persica Fruit (Peach), Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa), Rubus Occidentalis (Black Raspberry), Aronia Melanocarpa (Chokeberry),Prunus Cerasas (Cherry), Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa Bean) And Vaccinium Angustifolium (Blueberry) Skin, Granatum (Pomegranate) Seed Oil, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Euphorbia Cerifera (Candelilla) Wax, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary), Origanum Vulgare (Oregano), Thymus Vulgaris Flower/leaf (Thyme), Natural Flavors, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Starch, Labradorite (Natural Mineral Stone), Moonstone (Natural Mineral Stone), Australian Opal (Natural Mineral Stone), Pyrite (Natural Mineral Stone), Sunstone (Natural Mineral Stone), May Contain Mica

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Meditation Station
Soulful Essence


Why you want it: This light, airy roll-on aromatherapy blend reminds me of lavender - perfect for winding down or meditating.

Its value: $23

My review: Mindfulness is hard to come by in a day and age of Pok√©mon Go, social media, and other technological advances (but not impossible). We're all being told to multitask, to do complete our to-do list, to rush about our day. This little roll-on blend reminds us to step back, breath in, and be mindful. Taking a moment for ourselves is not weakness, it's essential. What I love about this blend is its calming, but simple fragrance of juniper and frankincense. The affirmation on the back of it is pretty zen too. Once you apply the roll-on to your desired area (wrists, neck, etc.), inhale and affirm: I am more than my churning thoughts. I experience the deep richness of the now. This is designed to connect you to the present: Not always an easy task for go-getters (myself included). According to Soulful Essence, you can use this oil every time you meditate to create "a scent-memory bond that can bring you back your life enhancing mantra anytime you need it." So if you need to unwind and stop getting caught up in your inner voice, I recommend this soothing blend.

Ingredients
Coconut and essential oils (Juniper and Frankincense). 
 

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Wrapped Cashews
Karma Nuts


 

Why you want it: If you love cashews already, you'll love these even more (they're tastier, crunchier, and healthier!).

Its value: $2.65 ( full size $12.49 - only size available for sale)

My review: When I heard about this being one of the items in this box, I had my doubts. Sure, I love  cashews (probably my favorite nuts), but I've never heard of eating them with their skin still on. These cashews retain their natural skins and are "air roasted" to keep them as healthy (and oil free) as possible. I was surprised at how much I liked them - in fact, I liked them so much I polished them in one shot and forgot to take a picture of them before throwing out the wrapper (yes, I recycled it. No worries). Silly me, huh? That's why the picture you see above isn't one of my own, but one from the company's website. What I liked most about these nuts was how simple their nutritional value is equivalent to the ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) value found in berries such as blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries. If that's not good enough, then the taste certainly is. I don't think I can go back to regular cashews after this to be honest, they were that good. The skin gave these nuts an extra saltiness that amplified their yumminess. So if you're looking for a quick, guilt-free snack loaded with good-for-you-fat, give these a go!

Ingredients
Cashews, sea salt (yes it's really that simple!).

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Midnight Moonlight Candle
Ebb and Flow
 

Why you want it: There aren't enough non-toxic candles being sold in public places: This sandalwood and amber scented one is way better for the planet than what you'll find in generic candle stores.

Its value: $10 (full size $20 - only size available for sale)

My review: Candles are magical: They're able to capture fire and keep it controlled just enough so we can admire it from a safe, comfortable distance. That's why I was so excited to receive this beautiful goodie in the August Goddess Provisions box. Not to mention, this one is made from organic soy and has a hemp wick: It's completely eco-friendly and sustainable. I've never had a candle like this before because I never see them for sale in any local candle stores. With a Yankee Candle or Bath and Body Works on ever corner, it can be hard to find sustainable candles. This candle definitely made me want to purchase more in the future, even if it's not necessarily with this company (though now I know it's a trustworthy one to keep in mind). The scent of this candle is irresistible too. I can't stop smelling it. It's scented with sandalwood and amber, creating a sweet, but woody aroma. It goes well with the Barefoot Island aromatherapy spray I reviewed earlier because they both create the same woodsy, cozy-in-a-cabin feel. Its scent is very comforting. While not overpowering, it is powerful. Its smell is amplified when you light it too and can fill up a room. I definitely recommend this candle to anyone searching for an eco-friendly, hand-poured alternative to the toxic ridden ones at Yankee Candle or Bath and Body Works.

Ingredients
Organic soy, hemp wick, sandalwood + amber (scents).

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 Always in Retrograde Pin
Weird Empire


Why you want it: Hate Mercury Retrograde? This humorous pin does too.

Its value: $10

My review: Not everyone is familiar with Mercury Retrograde, but here's all you really need to know: The next cycle lasts from August 30 to September 22. Astrologers mark this as a time when communication is flawed, technology goes haywire, and anything that can go wrong, probably will. It's not a great time in the year: That's for sure. What causes it you might ask? Mercury. In astrology, Mercury rules intelligence, travel, technology, communication, mind, and memory. However, when it goes retrograde, all these aspects of Mercury go out of whack. Expect commuting delays, wacky internet connections, conversations gone wrong, and travel plans interrupted. Don't believe me? Even the Huffington Post wrote an article about what not to do during Mercury Retrograde. You can even see for yourself by observing what happens over the course of the next couple of weeks. Thankfully, this pin understands Mercury Retrograde and makes light of it. After all, what better way to overcome craziness than with sass? While I can't guarantee you'll have a better retrograde wearing this, I can say it'll be an interesting addition for anyone who loves pins. You can stick it on anything from your shirt, to your bag, plus its got a secure rubber pin back, so you won't poke yourself in the process (always helpful, trust me). Happy Mercury Retrograde!

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Rose Quartz Sphere
Goddess Provisions
 
 
Why you want it: If you love the healing, heart warming energy of rose quartz, you'll love it in spherical form (it's fun to hold and roll around in your hand!).

Its value: $1.95 - $200+ (depends on size! Smaller spheres = less money. The giant spheres are stunning though...)

My review: I don't know many people who don't find rose quartz stunning: Named after the queen of flowers herself, it's hard to ignore. As I type this I'm taking mini breaks just to hold it in my hand and stare into its gentle, pale pink shimmer. I've wanted a rose quartz sphere for a while now. They say there's a crystal for everyone, and I certainly feel this is the crystal for me. You can be drawn to crystals for a number of reasons: Maybe you just really love how they look, or maybe you know it has an energy all its own that wants to heal you. Whenever I see rose quartz I think of roses, yes, but I also feel love. Unconditional love, happiness, innocence, and sweetness. These are the qualities I value most in life and the attributes I strive to live by. Maybe that's why I'm so drawn to this crystal. Either way, I'm so glad I got my hands on it. If you'd like your own rose quartz sphere, I've provided a link above to Etsy where you can get rose quartz spheres in a multitude of sizes and prices. The smaller the sphere, the less money it'll be. Just remember: Rose quartz varies in color too. It can be very light, almost clear even, or dark pink. Make sure when you make your purchase you understand this and get the exact color and size you want. Mine is about the size of the palm of my hand and medium in color - not too light, not too dark. Perfect. I couldn't have asked for more. If you haven't experienced the healing power of rose quartz yet, you should. It'll open your heart chakra in a way you never thought possible (or at the very least make your eyes happy).
 
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Get your own box


Interested in becoming a Goddess? You already are, but you know what I mean. Just sign up using my affiliate link, here! Thanks a bunch and I hope you enjoyed this article!
 

How to Make a Trellis out of Chopsticks

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

By: Ariana Palmieri
I live in an apartment, so gardening space is limited. That's okay though, because I make the best of it and get to spruce up the place with pretty pots and lively greenery. This summer I decided to grow peas, carrots, swiss chard, basil, and flowers, all of which are doing pretty good. My peas were doing the best until recent - I noticed they were growing quite tall and their little vines were linking onto each other and the neighboring miniature rose plant (which was a big no-no). 
Troubled by this, I went to google for help (since google knows all), and found the solution: My baby peas needed a trellis! Trellises are great because they give vines something to latch onto, which, in turn, lets the plant grow. Only problem: Where was I going to find one? Sure, Home Depot sells them, but it's not exactly a 10 minute walk away from my house (and I don't drive). Not to mention their trellises were a little too fancy and pricey for my taste. I started to get antsy and really worried: I felt like my plant babies needed me and I wasn't providing! 
That's when it hit me: Just craft one! Surprisingly, it wasn't hard to do. I actually really liked how it came out (so did my plants), so I figured I'd share it with you! This step-by-step article will show you how I did it, and the best part? It'll cost you nothing (assuming you already have wooden chopsticks lying around the house). It's a great way to upcycle the chopsticks you get with Japanese take-out, instead of just throwing them out. Be sure to share this with any of your gardening friends!

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You will need:
  • At least 6 chopsticks (depends on how tall you want the trellis to be - you'd need more if you want a taller trellis)
  • Twine (I got mine at the dollar store)
  • Scissors
  • Hot glue gun + glue
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Part 1 - Vertical Sticks


Left - two chopsticks glued at the handle ends, twine looped underneath. Center - twine wrapped and knotted 3 times around glued area. Right - About to cut excessive ends of twine.

Since peas can grow quite tall, it's important they have a decently tall trellis. The trellis I made is about 14-16 inches tall (I didn't exactly measure it, silly me). Since I didn't want the trellis to be too high, I only used 2 chopsticks for each vertical stick, meaning I used a total of 4 chopsticks. If you'd like to make yours bigger, feel free to glue together more than 2 chopsticks for each vertical stick in the same manner I'll be describing below.

Individual chopsticks aren't too long, so you're going to have to elongate them to give your peas room to grow and scale up. This can be done simply: Just glue and tie 2 chopsticks together at the handle ends of each.

  1. Align both chopsticks vertically on the handle (thicker) ends (as pictured above). This requires you to flip one chopstick upside down. 
  2. The ends you use to hold the chopsticks should be the parts you glue together. Once the thicker ends of the chopsticks are propped together, use the hot glue gun to glue them in place. 
  3. The 2 chopsticks should now make one long stick. To secure, loop twine underneath the area you just glued and knot 3 times. This will help prevent breakage. 
  4. Cut any loose ends once twine is knotted firmly. Repeat process using 2 other chopsticks to create 2 elongated vertical sticks. These will be the part of the trellis that goes directly into the soil. 
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Part 2 - Horizontal Sticks


Note: Make sure to position the vertical sticks at a slight angle before gluing any horizontal sticks on. This should create the illusion the vertical sticks would intersect if they kept going.

Once you've created the vertical sticks (which means you used 4 chopsticks already), you can now move on to the horizontal sticks (which are the 2 remaining chopsticks). The horizontal sticks will help give support to both the vines and bodies of your plants.


  1. Place one chopstick horizontally across the 2 vertical sticks, as pictured above. The first horizontal stick should be low, but not too low (too low won't help the vines latch on or give any support). 
  2. Your lower horizontal stick should touch the left and right vertical stick once. Glue the lower horizontal stick to these areas. Pictured below is the lower horizontal stick touching the left vertical stick. Your end result should look similar. 
  3. Loop twine underneath each area the horizontal stick meets the left and right vertical stick, then tie three times (pictures depicting this are shown farther below). It's pretty much the same process as when you were creating the vertical sticks. Make sure to cut off any loose ends of the twine using the scissors. 
  4. Repeat this process for the upper horizontal stick. The upper horizontal stick should be up higher on the trellis, and since the vertical sticks are on an angle, the upper horizontal stick should be longer.


The area the horizontal stick meets the vertical stick should kind of resemble a cross or an X, depending on the angle you're looking at it from. Apply glue to this area so the 2 sticks become secure.


If you can't manage to find a longer chopstick than the ones you've been using, you might have to elongate one by gluing and tying an extra chopstick onto it (just follow the same process as though you were creating another vertical stick - this would mean you'd need 7 chopsticks total, and not 6). I managed to find a long chopstick, which made my life a little easier.

If your upper horizontal chopstick isn't long enough, it won't reach the vertical ones at all, which is a problem. Keep in mind the taller your trellis, the more elongated each horizontal chopstick would need to be.



Left - looping twine underneath the left vertical stick and lower horizontal stick in the area they touch. Right - about to tie the twine in a knot the 2nd time (I knotted it a total of 3 times).

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Part 3 - End Results


This is how your trellis should look once completed. Do you see where each chopstick links with one another?

If you wanted to, you could add a 3rd horizontal stick in between the lower and upper sticks, but it's not essential. It might give your plants a little extra support, and looking back I kind of wish I did add a 3rd stick. However, with that said, my plants are doing fairly well now. They're actually budding flowers, which is the first sign peas will be on the way soon!



This pea plant is doing fairly well, despite the yellowed and dried leaves in certain areas. Can you see the white flower bud?

Honestly, I'm pretty proud of my pea plants. They've come a long way. They're not perfect (as you can probably see from the pictures) and tend to lean in weird ways, and have dried leaves, but they're mine. I grew them from little seeds. I'm happy to see they're hanging in there and have been with me for a good portion of the summer. I'm looking forward to harvesting the peas they make and growing more in the future! 


This pea plant appears to be doing the best and has the most green leaves out of 4 plants. Check out the white flower bud on this one!

To grow your own organic peas, here's the sort I used. It's relatively easy to grow peas from seed. They are sturdy little plants and require only average soil with decent drainage, plenty of sun and water, and a trellis. Here's the soil I use (I like to keep everything organic). My only regret is that I didn't make this trellis sooner, so the babies would've had something to latch onto earlier (besides each other). 

Despite that, my plant babies are still hanging in there. Let this be a lesson to anyone who thinks they don't have enough room to grow plants in their house. They do. Trust me. I didn't think I did either, but moments like this prove otherwise. You don't need room to grow plants. You just need determination. Oh, and a trellis.



Get The Look: Minimalist Every-Day Glow

Monday, August 15, 2016

By: Ariana Palmieri
I got a lot of compliments on the picture I took below (thank you to everyone who commented!), so I decided to do a quick article on how to replicate my look. Trust me when I say it's simple, and very minimalist. I'll be including the skincare products I use as well as makeup. Let me know if you want me to do this more often!

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Step 1
MyChelle

Value: $25
I've reviewed this cleanser before, so I won't say much about it here. Just know that it's amazing and I use it religiously, morning and night. Application is simple: I apply some to my hands, add water, and massage onto my face. I do this before putting on my makeup to ensure my face is as clean and fresh as can be. Sometimes I'll also apply one of the moisturizers from the EWG box if my skin feels too dry. If you want to read more about the EWG box, check out my review of it here (the cleanser is the 4th item down).








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Step 2
Graydon
Graydon Face Glow


Value: $32

I received a sample of this from Credo Beauty right after I had run out of primer, so it was like a godsend.This primer does a pretty good job at helping my makeup stay in place, illuminating my features, and hiding my blemishes (it is tinted after all). It's a little thick on application, so I only tend to apply it to the places I need it most, such as eyelids, cheeks, and areas with acne. I don't wear foundation, so I don't apply it all over my face. Just dabbing a little bit onto problem spots gives me full coverage for most of the day (even in intense heat).















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Step 3 
Aveda


Value: $20.40


This liquid concealer is so easy to use with a wand designed specifically for spot treatment. I just open it (the cap is part of the wand) and dab the areas that need coverage. Usually I break out on my chin, forehead, and cheeks, and it does a very good job of reducing redness. Once on my skin, I just blend it in gently using my finger (sometimes applying more, most of the time not). It tends to dry quickly, so I make sure to cover my acne, then blend everything in. After I apply this, I don't need anything else (in terms of covering up pimples). It also comes in a different array of colors you can choose from such as Bamboo, Balsa, and Hazelnut (light to dark). I use Birch because my skin is quite fair, but even with a slight tan, birch works wonders and blends into my skintone beautifully. If Birch is out and you have a similar skintone as me, get Balsa (it's the second lightest one available).



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Step 4
Evelyn Iona


Value: $19.50

Similar to the primer I use, I also received this as a sample from credo when I was in need of a new blush. Its pink, rosy color is so sweet and perfect for summer. I prefer cream blushes because they're less pigmented and easier to layer and blend. If you mess up, you can just wipe them away, unlike powder blushes. This particular blush creates a gentle rosy hue to my cheeks and can be amplified for a bolder look through layering, if I so desire. I usually sweep it on each cheek twice after getting a good amount on my brush. Unfortunately it doesn't come in other colors, but I'm sure it'll add a nice touch to any skintone.



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Step 5
Elliot Ruth Cosmetics 


Value: $7

I've already reviewed this wonderful eyeshadow before, so I won't say much about it. To read more about it, go here (it's the first item I talk about). It's extremely pigmented, so I just need a little dab of it for both the corners of my eyes and that's it. I usually spread the remainder of it out towards my eyelid to create a nice, smooth fade.










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Step 6
W3ll People
W3ll People Expressionist Mascara


Value: $22

This stuff is amazing. Made with all-natural ingredients (of course), it really gives my lashes that extra boost. I only apply few layers to each eye, and I only add it to the top lash. I love how it doesn't clot and goes on so smoothly. I don't like clumpy lashes so that matters a lot to me. I don't apply this to my bottom lashes, but some people like to, so no judgement. It's just not my thing, but I'm sure this mascara would be good for that too. 









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Step 7
Cannon Balm*
Duke Cannon



Value: $10.07

Not only does it taste like peppermint but it also has SPF 15 in it, protecting lips from harsh summer rays. Perfect for on-the go people and sun lovers. Plus it's made with only organic, natural ingredients that I can actually pronounce such as sunflower oil, beeswax, shea butter, and peppermint oil. Just one swipe, and I'm good to go.













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Note: I am not an affiliate with all these brands, but the links I use may be affiliate links.

* If you see this, it means the link you are about to click on will direct you to an affiliate link. All this means is that I get a small commission if you purchase something using my link. The money I receive comes out of the company's pocket, not yours. Happy shopping!

Update: You can now find me on Bloglovin! Check it out here.

Review: Elliot Ruth Cosmetics

Friday, August 12, 2016

By: Ariana Palmieri
A lot of beauty bloggers start blogging because they want free samples: Not the case with me. While I'd love to get free makeup in the mail for the rest of my life, I started this blog to make a difference. I'm here to show you green beauty brands you can trust. That's why I'm reviewing Elliot Ruth Cosmetics: After Abby Beckman reached out to me, the owner of the brand, I decided to investigate her Etsy store. To say the least, I liked what I saw. Here is my honest review of the samples I received. As a disclaimer, I feel I should let you all know I wasn't paid to review these samples, and I certainly won't make any money if you purchase something. I'm just expressing my honest opinion. While I did receive these samples for free, it was out of Abby's kindness, not because I requested them for free. Please contact me if you'd like me to review any of your beauty products. Or, maybe you're in the mood for a video? Watch me upackage these goodies here

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Elliot Ruth Cosmetics
The basics



About the company:
Etsy is a great place to find homemade items, even cosmetics. Elliot Ruth Cosmetics is only one of the green beauty brands you can find on the site. Created by a woman named Abby Beckman, Elliot Ruth Cosmetics is a one person operation featuring mineral based beauty products. Abby became interested in natural beauty when she took a sustainability course in college that sparked her interest in clean, chemical free products. She started by creating chemical-free cleaning products but transitioned into makeup when she became pregnant with her son. When her family and friends began noticing the quality of her makeup products, they encouraged her to sell her homemade cosmetics online. Thus, Elliot Ruth Cosmetics was born. The store boasts a wide array of cosmetics such as eyeshadow, blush, foundation, and lip tints, all in various colors. The shop's newest products are lip tints (one of which I reviewed). She even sells vegan-friendly brushes for the eyes and face. As an all-natural makeup brand, she only uses simple, non-toxic, mineral-based ingredients that rate very low on Environmental Working Group (EWG) list of concern such as mica, titanium dioxide, and kaolin clay. By supporting her business, you'd not only be getting some really great makeup, but also taking a stand for green beauty. After all, if one woman can create safe beauty for a slew of people, why can't big name brands?

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Why you want it: Super pigmented, this slightly off-white eye shadow will stay on all day without melting off (even in intense heat)!

Its value: $7

My review: Have you guys ever played "The Last of Us"? If not, check it out (it's amazing - if you like zombie games and a great plot). There's a character in it named Ellie, so as soon as I saw this eyeshadow color, I  thought of her. That's not the reason I love it though: It's super pigmented to the point where just one little dab sticks onto my eyelids all day. I put primer on my eyelids before applying it, as I do with any eyeshadow. However, most eyeshadows I use (even with the primer underneath) will start to melt or crease at some point in the day. This stuff? Not even a little. I used it in the corner of my eye to create a more 'awake' look (which it's perfect for, since it's off-white), and it really made my eyes pop. The first time I used it I applied it to my whole eyelid (it didn't look bad, but I didn't expect it to be so bold. In the picture on Abby's website, it looked a little more sandy and golden than it did on my eyelids. This isn't to say the picture lied: When I opened the sample, it looked sandy, golden, and had a gorgeous sparkle to it. However, I suppose when mixed with skin it creates a slightly different color, which is fine by me! I was a little surprised by it, but not disappointed at all. It was actually quite exciting getting my hands on a eyeshadow I knew would pop, last, and stay on all day long. The ingredients in this product are safe too: Titanium dioxide received a 1-3 score from EWG, kaolin received a 1, and mica received a 2. In EWG terms, low scores are good scores because it means the ingredient is a low hazard to humans. If you're wondering why titanium dioxide received a 1-3 (3-6 is considered a medium hazard), check it out here. Apparently titanium dioxide's hazard score depends on how it's being used: The hazard level is only a 3 when titanium dioxide is airborne or used in a product you inhale. Since this is eyeshadow (and you shouldn't be inhaling it or throwing it into the air), you have nothing to fear. Remember: I would never recommend using anything I didn't feel safe using on myself. Since I absolutely loved this eyeshadow, (and the ingredients are very low hazard), it would be stupid not to recommend it. So definitely give it a try (especially if your eyes need a pick-me-up)!


Ingredients
Titanium dioxide, kaolin clay, mica (yes, it's that simple - only 3 ingredients!).

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Why you want it: If you love bold, rosy brown colors, you'll love this blush (a little goes a long way)!

Its value: $10

My review: This blush is a beautiful rosy pink brown color that reminds me of the forest, for whatever reason. I don't usually wear brown blushes, but this blush had just enough pink in it to make me want to try it. Very earthy, and very pigmented, I didn't need much to create the look I was going for. In fact, the first time I applied this blush I put way too much on. My cheeks ended up looking like a 5-year-old had done my makeup. I always use cream blushes, so I forgot how pigmented powder blushes can be (silly me). With cream blushes, you really have to layer them in order to achieve a bolder look, and you can rub it in/blend using your finger if you think you added too much. Not so with powder blushes. The first time I tried the June Mineral Blush, I kept trying to rub off the excess with my fingers and ended up just making it look worse. It was actually pretty comedic. However, when I tried again (using just a very tiny bit), it looked lovely. It gave my cheeks a sultry, slightly refined look. I also looked a little more mature while wearing it. I really liked it a lot and still have a lot more left. Less is totally more with this stuff, and it lasts on my cheeks a while, but not as long as the Ellie Mineral Eyeshadow. All the ingredients in this blush are the same as the ones in the Ellie Mineral Eyeshadow, expect for iron oxide. Iron oxide is a completely safe ingredient too, considering EWG gave it a score of 2 (which means it's low hazard). I would recommend this blush to anyone who likes dark pink powder blushes (and knows how to apply them).

Ingredients
Titanium dioxide, kaolin clay, iron oxide, mica (isn't it great how such an amazing pigment can be created from only 4 ingredients?).

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Punchy Lip Tint



Why you want it: This lip tint isn't subtle, but bright, tropical, and a total game changer (as soon as I applied it, it lit up my whole face)!

Its value: $6
 
My review: You always hear everyone talk about lipsticks and lip glosses, but what about lip tints? They need some love too! This one especially: Punchy Lip Tint is a super stunning coral pink shade perfect for the summer. You can apply a quick, light layer of it for a subtler look, or layer it for a brighter, more bold look. Either way, it reminds me of a beautiful red hibiscus flower (like this one), and makes me feel like one too. The best part? It nourishes my lips while I wear it. That's probably because its made with shea butter and coconut oil, two very moisturizing ingredients that never disappoint. Note: This lip tint may not be suitable for people into vegan makeup, due to beeswax being one of the ingredients. Aside from that, everything else about it is fantastic. Every time I wear it, I get compliments on how beautiful I look. It lights up my whole face and makes me feel super appealing. Plus it's easy to apply and practically glides on my lips. Unfortunately it doesn't stay on as long as the eyeshadow and blush do, but that's okay because it's simple enough to reapply. However, it never gets flaky or uncomfortable on my lips when it starts to deminish (like most lipsticks do). Since it's super light, I can barely tell it's even on my lips unless I smack my lips together. I totally recommend this to anyone who loves coral shades and lightweight (but nourishing) lip tints.


Ingredients
Beeswax, shea butter, coconut oil, mica (I wish I knew what color mica was used for this one - the color is stunning!).

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The (quick) rundown

Me wearing all of the Elliot Ruth Cosmetics samples.

The pros: Thankfully, the pros outweighed the cons.
  1. I really admire Elliot Ruth Cosmetics standards for clean beauty.
  2. I loved recieving some makeup samples for a change.
  3. I was impressed by how well everything performed: I didn't have a favorite product - they were all my favorite!
  4. I still have more left over from each sample.
  5. I didn't need much to get a pigmented look from each sample.
  6. Abby Beckman was super sweet and great to talk to.
  7. All the ingredients in the products were listed on EWG and had a low hazard rating.
  8. The samples came exactly when Abby promised they would, so no delays!
  9. Each full-sized product is super affordable (nothing over $10).
  10. Purchasing these items at full price would go to a great cause: Supporting home-run green businesses!
The cons: Not many cons at all, honestly.
  1. These products were so pigmented it was hard to get off, even with my favorite cleanser.
  2. If you use too much of the June Mineral Blush or the Ellie Mineral Eyeshadow, it might make you look a little silly (less is more!). 
  3. The samples were a little hard to open so I had to be careful the contents didn't go flying (unfortunately Ellie Mineral Eyeshadow did while I was trying to take photos - that's why it looks so empty!).
Conclusion: Out of all the makeup I've reviewed on this blog thus far, I loved these products the best. The quality of these makeup products are on the same level as 100% Pure products, which is saying a lot. While I understand mineral makeup isn't everyone's cup of tea, I highly recommend checking out Abby Beckman's shop, Elliot Ruth Cosmetics. She can be found on Etsy, Facebook, and Instagram. If you purchase something from her, let me know in the comments below! I'd love to hear what you think of her shop.


Vegan Pancakes with Strawberry Syrup Recipe

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

By: Ariana Palmieri
Lately I've been wanting to try more vegan food (I don't consider myself vegan, but I'm curious), so I decided to make a dish I found online. I saw a recipe for vegan pancakes and lit up because I had all the ingredients listed, but I didn't have any organic syrup in the house. Frustrated, I didn't know what to do - then I decided, why not make my own? Turns out strawberry syrup is super easy to make! If you'd like to get this recipe, check it out here, on Tajinny.com, or click the recipe title link below. Enjoy, and happy eating!

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Review: EWG's First Ever Beauty Box

Monday, August 8, 2016

By: Ariana Palmieri
Environmental Working Group (EWG) is one of my favorite green resources: When I want to know what's really in my products, I go to them. That's why I couldn't be happier when they announced their first ever beauty box. Each item in this box has the EWG verified symbol, meaning the product has no unsafe, unnatural ingredients in them. If you haven't watched my unboxing video of it yet, check it out here. These products didn't disappoint, as you'll see for yourself.

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The Basics



About the company:
EWG isn't a beauty brand or a business - it's a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment. They're widely known for their Skin Deep database which allows consumers to look up a product, a company, an ingredient, or find healthy alternatives to their beauty current products. The database offers over 62,000 searchable beauty products, each with their own EWG score. The lower the health hazard, the lower the score. For example: Lets say you searched your favorite beauty product and saw it was given a score of 1-2. That's a great score: It means it has minimal or no ingredients of concern in it. However, if you see it has a score of 3-6, that means there are some questionable ingredients used in it, and it's up to you if you're okay with that. But if you see 6-9, that's an incredibly bad sign and means you better stop using that product ASAP because it's loaded with ingredients of concern. This isn't even the beginning of why EWG is great - they offer many other free services, such as the annual dirty dozen list, food scores, healthy cleaning, and more. They're an all-around green digital resource everyone should be supporting and utilizing to create a better home and world. This particular beauty box was a first for them, and the money went straight to funding their incredible organization since it was a donation. Just recently they launched the EWG Verified symbol for cosmetics - this symbol can be found on products that pass the same regulations in EWG's Skin Deep database, guaranteeing their safety for human use. It's similar to the USDA organic symbol, in the sense both are strictly regulated (unlike the FDA) and designed to help you make a better, more informed consumer decision. The products in this box all deserved the EWG Verified symbol of approval for being free of EWG's ingredients of concern, fully disclosing all ingredients, and following good manufacturing processes.  To get your own box, go here. You'll not only receive amazing beauty products, but also be supporting a company dedicated to making the world a better place.

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Biossance


Why you want it: This super light weight moisturizer barely feels like its there when you plop a drop onto your skin.

Its value: $22

My review: Cakey moisturizers? No thank you. This oil-based revitalizer will wipe out any dry patches you have without clogging your pores. I don't know about you, but one of the most disgusting feelings in the world is super thick moisturizers that just sit on your skin no matter how much you try to rub it in. Don't expect that from this one - made with only one ingredient (100% plant-derived squalane), it's so light weight you won't even feel it. Not to mention it's fragrance-free, paraben-free, phthalate-free, and mineral oil-free. I plopped two drops of the oil onto my hand and it nearly soaked into my fingers (that's how quickly and effectively it absorbs). I rubbed some onto the drier areas of my skin (mainly near my nose) and was amazed to see how quickly my skin accepted it. It didn't feel greasy at all, and it certainly helped minimize the flaky, dry skin around my nostrils. I also used it in my hair to tame frizz (just ran one drop through my hair with my fingers), and it did a pretty decent job at controlling it. It's also good for any dry patches on your body (such as legs, feet, hands). While I can't say I have rough, or dry skin, I tested some of this oil out on the soles of my feet and was pretty impressed with the results. I noticed almost an immediate (but not drastic) difference in skin texture. The soles of my feet became even more soft, and I can only imagine how they would feel after extended and frequent application. So for people suffering from dry skin - give this a shot! It's pretty impressive.

Ingredients
Squalane (that's right - only one ingredient! Pretty simple huh? To find out what this ingredient is and does, go here.)
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Cocoon Apothecary


Why you want it: If you like moisturizers that make your face smell like roses and as soft as a baby's bottom, give this one a try.

Its value: $45

My review: Funny story: I thought this was a blush at first. After all, it is called rosey cheeks (guess my eyes didn't quite catch the 'facial cream' part). That said, it's called rosey cheeks for a reason: It smells like you're putting a bushel of roses on your face (which made me a happy camper since I'm rose obsessed). To add to that, the cream hydrated and kept my skin super smooth all day long. I applied it morning and night and didn't need much at all. In fact, once I opened it, I used whatever cream was stuck to the top of the cap by dabbing it with my finger and rubbing it all over my face and neck. I usually used this at the end of my morning and night routine, finishing off with it for an extra boost of hydration. Due to the prominent use of shea butter and avocado oil, this cream is extra nourishing, but also a little on the heavier side. My suggestion? Use it lightly, not generously. Designed to soothe inflammation, moisturize, and fight against aging, this cream is very versatile. Unfortunately, I didn't notice too much of an improvement when it came to its anti-aging properties (but then again I'm 21). I also didn't notice any reduction of inflammation/redness in my skin (at times I even noticed more). The packaging also said it was good for rosacea prone skin, but I didn't find that to be the case. I have some rosacea, but I didn't necessarily notice an improvement in it. In fact, I wouldn't recommend this cream to anyone who has severe acne or oily skin because it would probably be too heavy for them. However, if you have dry, or combination skin (like me), you should be okay (and love the hydrating effects). All in all, not a bad cream at all, and if you think your skin can handle it, it's well worth the investment.

Ingredients
Purified water, certified organic rosehip oil, certified organic avocado oil, certified organic camellia (green tea) oil, certified organic shea butter, cetearyl alcohol (wax from coconut), stearic acid (plant-based), vegetable glycerin, sodium anisate (derived from basil), sodium levulinate (derived from corn), rose absolute, sodium cetearyl sulfate (from coconut), rosemary leaf extract.
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Isoi Bulgarian


Why you want it: Another product that smells like roses, this one moisturizes without leaving your skin feeling heavy.

Its value: $49.98

My review: While I can't say this serum was as moisturizing and nourishing as the rosey cheeks facial cream, I can say it was lighter. It practically glided onto my skin and had a silky consistency my skin absorbed almost right away, which I loved. It definitely hydrated my skin well, so I applied it to the driest areas of my face. I squeezed a dime sized amount onto my finger and rarely needed more (but if my skin felt extra dry that night, I didn't mind putting more on because of how light it was). I usually applied it to my forehead, cheeks, and chin, but it depends on where I felt I needed that extra boost of moisture. After each use my skin felt so smooth and cooperative. I used this directly after I had cleansed with the Refining Sugar Cleanser (review of that product directly below). I really loved how all the ingredients in this product were as natural and non-irritating as could be (my skin absolutely adored this stuff). I would recommend this to anyone who has dry, combination, or even slightly oily skin because of how lightweight but luxurious it is. After all, everyone needs a good, reliable moisturizer (preferably one that smells like roses).

Ingredients
Water, Glycerin, Alcohol, Arbutin, Betaine, Trehalose, Salix Nigra (Willow) Bark Extract, Rosa Damascena Flower Oil, Houttuynia Cordata Extract, Xanthan Gum, Castanea Crenata (Chestnut) Shell Extract, Salix Alba (Willow) Bark Extract, Centella Asiatica Extract, Allantoin, Panthenol, Rhus Semialata Gall Extract, Olea Europaea (Olive) Leaf Extract, Chrysanthemum Indicum Flower Extract, Sophora Japonica Bud Extract, Prunella Vulgaris Leaf Extract, Scutellaria Baicalensis Root Extract, Paeonia Suffruticosa Root Extract, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract.
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MyChelle


Why you want it: This cleanser is not only super efficient at taking off makeup (yes, even eye makeup), but also doubles as an amazing (but gentle) exfoliator.

Its value: $25

My review: By far, this was my absolute favorite product in this box. I'm not exaggerating when I say this. There are so many things that impressed me about it. I have never tried a sugar cleanser before, so I wasn't too sure what to expect. When I squeezed some onto my hands, it looked like a sugar scrub of some sort with a soothing vanilla scent. I wet my hands and began messaging it into my face, making sure to tie my hair back before doing so. At first it went on my skin and stuck to it in awkward, sugary clumps (which were exfoliating my skin, mind you), but then it transformed right before my eyes. When I added a little more water and massaged my face again, the cleanser started to lather and turn a milky white color. I was able to move it around all over my face, even to my eyes, and it went from bumpy, sugary lumps to smooth, lathery goodness. It didn't feel like foam, but some sort of light cream mixed with water. It was a very luxurious experience and as soon as I washed it off, my skin instantly felt smooth and refreshed. I couldn't believe how good it was at taking off my makeup either. Even in the mornings (when I obviously had no makeup to remove) it still felt absolutely amazing and woke up my skin right away. I actually looked forward to this cleanser every time I used it. Just writing about it makes me want to use it. In a way, it even beats my other favorite cleanser (the carrot butter one I've reviewed on my blog before) because it's not oily at all. The carrot butter cleanser is great, but it leaves behind oily residue that's hard to get off (it is an oil based cleanser, after all). But this stuff leaves nothing behind other than water (which I wipe off once using a towel, and then I'm done). So, do I recommend this product? Yes, yes, yes! Get it if you need an amazing cleanser in your life that gets the job done (and smells like sugary vanilla in the process).

Ingredients
Sucrose, Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate, Canola Oil, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Silica, Zea Mays (Corn) Starch, Vanillin, Zeolite, Palmitoyl Tripeptide-38, Crocus Chrysanthus Bulb Extract, Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate (L), Sodium Polyglutamate, Aqua (Water), Glycerin, Acacia Senegal Gum, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Water, Alcohol, Hydroxypropyl Cyclodextrin, Citric Acid, Potassium Sorbate, Lonicera Caprifolium (Honeysuckle) Flower Extract, Lonicera Japonica (Honeysuckle) Flower Extract.
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Silk Therapeutics


Why you want it: If you're looking for a silky, easy to apply anti-aging serum, this might be for you.

Its value: $122

My review: The price of this item might scare you away, but hear me out. While I don't have any wrinkles to date (thank god), I've talked about how important it is to start using anti-aging serums while you're young before. This is because it's a great way to reduce likelihood of premature wrinkles and keep your skin looking youthful and glowing. Even if you don't have wrinkles, chances are your skin doesn't look as clear and bright as it used to. Sure, when I was in high school I had more pimples, but the overall brightness, elasticity, and radiance of my skin were amplified. That's why serums like this are so important (even in your 20s). While I won't say this serum preformed miracles, I enjoyed applying it. It smelled kind of lemony and I only needed 1 drop of it. I dabbed it all over my face after massaging it between my fingers. It worked well with all the other products from this box. It gave my skin a little boost that I felt it needed, especially with one of the ingredients being Vitamin C. The coolest thing about this product is that it's made with only 7 pure, simple ingredients, which is great for all those green minimalists out there. If you're thinking about getting it, just remember that it's also good for balancing out skin tone, reducing dark spots, and lifting/firming skin (so a lot more than just reducing wrinkles). I did notice a reduction in dark spots (I have some from acne scars), so this serum isn't just smoke and water. I recommend it for any skin type, since it was super lightweight and non greasy. Overall, it was a good product (not my favorite, but still impressive).

Ingredients
Water, Vitamin C (Ascorbyl Glucoside), Sodium Hyaluronate, Silk, 
Sodium Anisate
, Aspen Bark Extract
, Rosehip Oil.
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Silk Therapeutics


Why you want it: If you prefer moisturizers with barely any scent and silky application, this is for you. 

Its value: $45- $95 (depending on size you choose)

My review: I kept trying to identify the scent I was smelling while applying this and just couldn't. It's very mild (good for someone with a sensitive nose, like me), but mysterious. Other than that, the actual application of it went on super smooth. There were a lot of moisturizers in this box, but I'd have to say this and the Isoi serums were the best in terms of smoothness. The Isoi came out clear, while this one was a creamy white. Perfect for pairing up with the C Advance anti-aging serum (reviewed above), this moisturizer packs a powerful punch of Vitamin E and antioxidants. Made with only 8 ingredients (just one more ingredient than the C Advance serum) it's guaranteed to keep your skincare routine simple, but effective. My skin felt super soft after applying 2 little drops all over my face morning and night. In combination with the rest of the EWG box's products, this moisturizer was a winner. If you have the money to invest in it, I'd definitely recommend doing it because this is good for all skin types and won't leave you feeling greasy.

Ingredients
Water, Shea Butter, Coconut Oil, Sodium Hyaluronate, Silk, Vitamin E, Sodium Anisate, Aspen Bark Extract.
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W3LL PEOPLE


Why you want it: A great brightener that'll illuminate your skin without making it look overtly sweaty.

Its value: $24

My review: I've only tried one other brightener (it was in my July Petit Vour box), so I can't say I've had much experience with them. However, I've certainly used W3ll People products before (currently in love with their Expressionist Mascara), and I know they're a great brand. With that in mind, I was thoroughly impressed with this brightener. I applied it using my fingertips on my cheekbones, cupid's bow, bridge of my nose, and sometimes on my brow bone. It gave a subtle, shimmery highlight to those areas (in my opinion, it did a better job than the one in the July Petit Vour box) and glided on effortlessly. I only needed a little bit to make it work (and it didn't make me break out). It didn't make my skin look like I was sweating either, and I only needed a scrape of it for all the areas I applied it to. This sample was a little hard to use since it wasn't really a stick, but a balm (every time I tried to get some I wound up scraping it with my fingernails - hence the claw marks in the photo above). I'm sure using the full sized version would be a lot easier, considering you could just apply it anywhere you needed it directly, then blend with your fingers (or a brush). That just gives me further incentive to want to purchase a full sized version of it, honestly. I'd definitely recommend this product to anyone looking for an all-natural, cruelty free brightener to add to their collection. And if you've never tried brighteners before either, no worries - they're super easy to use and will add an instant glow to your face. Great for anyone who feels their complexion lacks luster!

Ingredients
Vitis vinifera (grape) seed oil, cera alba (bees- wax), silica, mica (ci 77019), olea europaea (olive oil)*, castor isostearate beeswax succinate **, camellia oleifera (camellia) seed oil, ricinus communis (castor) seed oil*, mica (ci 77019), carthamus tinctorius (safflower) seed oil (and) aloe barbadenis (aloe) extract, essential oil blend, tocopherol (natural vitamin e), lysine, camellia sinensis (green tea)*, roman an- themis nobilis (chamomile)* [+/-: titanium dioxide (ci 77891), iron oxides (ci 77491, 77492, 77499), carmine (ci 75470), manganese violet (ci 77742).
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W3LL PEOPLE


Why you want it: If you like contouring, or just giving your skin a summery look, give this a shot.

Its value: $24

My review: Up until now, I've never used a bronzer. Similar to brighteners, I didn't see the need to, so I never bothered. Plus I'm not very interested in contouring (but that's not necessarily the purpose of a bronzer). Bronzers help to warm the complexion and reduce the appearance of redness, and I must admit this did exactly that. When I paired this with the brightener, my face really lit up and looked a little more defined. In my opinion, it made me look more European (it really brought out the Italian in me) because it gave my skin a glowing, more tan complexion which I liked. You can see what I mean here. Adds a nice touch right? Similar to the brightener, it was a little hard to get the bronzer onto my finger without scraping it (as you might be able to tell from the picture above). However, the actual full-sized product is a stick (just like the brightener), so it would make for a lot smoother application (and less scraping). When I did manage to get the product on my fingers, I applied it below my cheekbones and rounded it up towards my temples in a "C" shape using my fingers. I applied some to my forehead, nose, and chin, but it kind of just made those areas look dirty so the following times I used it I stuck to applying it under my cheekbones. I really recommend this product to anyone who wants their face to look a little warmer, more sculpted, and a little tanner. It's perfect for people who don't care much for contouring either, and great when paired with the bio brightener (reviewed above).

Ingredients
Tri-isostearyl citrate, caprylic/ capric triglyceride, c12-c15 alkyl benzoate, beeswax, macadamia oil, caster seed oil, silica silylate, acacia decurrens/jojoba/sunflower seed wax/ plyglyceryl-3 esters, mica and titanium dioxide, hydrogenated jojoba oil, aloe leaf extract, polyglyceryl-6 distearate, vitamin E, olive oil, green tea, safflower oil. [+/-: mica, iron oxides (ci 77491, 77492, 77891), iron oxides black (ci 77499)].


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The (quick) rundown


The pros: Thankfully, the pros outweighed the cons.
  1. I really admire EWG's standards and felt safe putting all of these products on my face.
  2. I love skincare products, so this box was a win for me (though I would've enjoyed more makeup too).
  3. I really adored the Refining Sugar Cleanser and the Rose MoisturiZIP out of all the skincare products.
  4. I loved trying the brightener and bronzer from W3ll People (I knew it was a great brand, but I'm still fairly new to the brightener/bronzer world).
  5. The donation went straight to EWG, which will only further their research on safe, green cosmetics, skincare, and hair care brands (which is something I wholeheartedly support!).
  6. All of these products really made my skin the softest its ever been - no joke!
  7. I loved how they included a Freeset Global makeup bag that's made from 100% organic cotton, and also supports women who were otherwise trapped in India's vicious sex trade. Go here to find out more information on this company's beautiful impact.
  8. For each sample in this box, there was a coupon for the full-sized version of it (sweet!).

The cons: Not many cons at all, honestly.
  1. These products were mainly skincare (which I don't mind), but I would've liked to try some more makeup samples too.
  2. There were a lot of moisturizers in this box, which is nice but not ideal for someone with combination, acne-prone skin (constant usage of each moisturizer made me break out a little, to be honest).
  3. A lot of the full sized products are kind of pricey (but coupons came with the box, so not too much of a problem).
Conclusion: I loved this box! EWG has never let me down before, and it hasn't this time either. I'm so happy I was able to try some of the products from these brands (some I had heard of, most were new to me though, which was exciting). These products all deserved the EWG Verified symbol of approval for being free of EWG's ingredients of concern, fully disclosing all ingredients, and following good manufacturing processes. Overall, I'm very happy with the performance of the products and would recommend everyone to get this box (or purchase the products individually, if that floats your boat). Just a note: If you have sensitive, oily skin, I would avoid most of the moisturizers in this box. Aside from that, happy shopping!
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