Spellbound by the October 2021 BoxyCharm Premium Box

Good morning my darlings and welcome to a bright and crisp Monday morning. Today it actually felt like October when I woke up. Early October , but still the dew was frosting the tips of the grass so I think we can safely say summer is behind us.

This weekend my October BoxyCharm Premium box arrived and there is a lot to talk about. There are changes with Boxycharm as well as the box. The major change is that this is the last month that this box will cost $35. Starting November 1st the cost will increase to $39.99 per month. I know they are just trying to get around saying $40, but really that’s what it is.

Part of the increase is due to shipping charges being raised. And I get that. They have also promised new changes. At the moment the only official change is the changing of the name Add ons and Pop up to Drop Shop. But I am willing to give them a few months to see what other changes they might come up with. The price increase is not an automatic end for me. Officially I usually make my do I keep or do I let go decisions about subscriptions after I receive Decembers boxes and before I am charged for January. So that gives me two months of receiving Boxycharm at the higher price to see if I still want to keep the subscription.

I’m okay with that. Two months is a decent time to see about possible changes and to listen for some upcoming ones. So I feel I will be better able to make a decision then. While Boxycharm has had its ups and downs, over all it is a subscription I enjoy. If it continues to be one I enjoy, I’ll keep it. It is really a very simple equation in the end.

But what was in this month’s box? Let’s see shall we?

Let’s start with the two items I chose. First off though I would like to mention a change to the premium choice this month. With premium you are allowed to choose two items. Usually the categories are a mix of items, but this month the first category was all skincare and the second was all makeup. Which I kind of liked. I don’t like mentally debating with myself between the skin care item and a makeup item. I like that the choice was separated out.

The first item I chose was a skincare item and it was the 111Skin Antioxidant Energising Essence (retail $100). In general I like 111Skin. Sometimes they are a bit over priced and sometimes I find the price justified. It really depends on the product. For me their worst products still work well with my skin so I never really mind getting something from the brand. And this is somewhat timely as well. I have been using the Missha Time Revolution Artemisia Essence. I love it not only as an essence but as a general skin soother. The bottle I am using actually emptied this morning. Partially because I am now no longer the only person using it. My Babydoll likes it as well. Which is why I went ahead and ordered a second bottle. It will go in the medicine cabinet, mostly because he will uses something to sooth his skin if he can think of it as medicine rather than skin care, but that is a battle I have been fighting for years with him. Now I just put the skin care for him in the medicine cabinet and he’ll use it.

Regardless, I am ready to try out a new essence and am happy to have this one on hand. It will be rotated into the line up soon. Probably this evening, actually.

The second Item I chose was the Lys No Limits Matte Bronzer (retail $18). I really like the sleek triangular packaging and can not wait to give it a go. It just looks so nice in the package. It is also a pretty large pan so it should last a while even if I decide I love it and want to use it every day. And I haven’t tried anything from the brand before. It is always fun to try out new brands. As it seems like it is really well priced, I am hoping I like it and possibly like other items form the brand.

The next item I pulled out of the box was also a makeup item. This was the Benefit Cosmetics Georgia Golden Peach Blush. (retail $30). I have the Benefit Gold Rush Blush and I absolutely love the formula. So for me this was spectacular to see and I am really hoping the color works well for my skin. I will be trying it out soon. I am also happy to see makeup items in this month’s box. While I have a deep love affair with skincare, I have so much of it right now that I really just wanted something new in the makeup category.

Continuing with the makeup, I aloo received the Tarte Maneater Plumping Gloss (retail $19). I love a good pluming gloss and while I have never tried a tarte lip product I do like other products from them And to be honest one of my favorite mascaras from them is from the Maneater line. And if my recent lip declutter wasn’t enough of a clue, I really like lip products. So over all, not a bad choice for my box.

Dipping back into skincare we have the Perricone MD Vitamin C Ester Citrus Brightening Cleanser (retail $35). I can always use a good cleanser. It is the one category I am always guaranteed to plow through as I use cleansers at least twice a day. I also like Vitamin C and I am a fan of the brand Perricone. Their eye cream is fantastic and I really like their no makeup makeup lip gloss line. I’ve never tried their cleanser, but am happy to give it a go.

And finally we come to the Dew of the Gods Filla Collagen Under eye pads (retail $20). I’ve never heard of Dew of the Gods, but they seem to have a lot of products in the Boxy add ons or rather the Drop Shop, this month. I am a fan of under eye masks as they are lifesavers during allergy season. The ones I tend to use are depuffing and a fall and spring staple for me. I’ve not used collagen ones, but i am willing to give them a go. i like that there are ten in the container and that it is a metal tin so that I can keep them together more easily. Also i just like little metal tins.

So over all this was my BoxyCharm Premium this month. I was rather pleased with it. My $35 brought me $222 worth of products if you are looking at a strictly monetary exchange. More importantly to me, the items are ones that I will use and that I am actually looking forward to using. While I do want there to be value for my money the use is the better value for me. I like to see trusted brands and I like to be surprised by new ones. I like to see products that interest or excite me and I like to find things that I might not have found or picked up on my own. All of these are the reasons I buy subscription boxes and this month, Boxycharm ticked all of these boxes for me. It will be interesting to see how things proceed as we move into November, but for now I am willing to keep my subscription and see what Boxycharm has planned.

Face Mask Friday: Let’s talk Thanaka

This is a sponsored post, however the thoughts and opinions are all my own.

Usually I try out a different face mask each week, some because they are new to me and I want to try them out and others because they address a certain skin care issue I have at that moment. October is a little different. This month I am trying out the Healing Bark Golden Tree Bark Mask. I am using it daily for thirty days.

One of the reasons that I can do this is that the mask can be used daily rather than just one or two times a week. To be honest I really like taking an entire month with a mask and may do this again as I am finding that i am learning more about the mask when focusing on one rather than rotating through several. Also like every other item of skincare, a mask takes time to work. Results are very rarely immediate.

In addition to getting to know the mask on a daily basis, I am finding that I really like the scheduled masking time in each day. On Fridays I usually take a little time out to apply a face mask and relax a bit. I light a candle and listen to music while I let my thoughts drift. During the week, I tend to use this mask in the evening. Because of it, I have been taking off my makeup earlier and letting my skin breathe more, which I’m sure has helped. This is the end of the second solid week of using the Golden Tree Bark Mask and while last week I talked about playing around with the application process, this week I wanted to talk ingredients.

Bare skin makeup newly removed

Technically that word didn’t need to be plural. there is one ingredient in the Golden Tree Bark Mask and that is the dried and ground bark of the Thanaka Tree. That’s right, there is only one ingredient. This powder is turned into a paste by adding water to the mask in your house. I suggest using a deeper bowl to mix your mask as it takes quite a bit of stirring.

But why is the Thanaka Tree Bark a good thing to put on your face?

The ground bark has been used for centuries in places like Myanmar. When I went to look into it I came across this fantastic National geographic article that covers the history far better than I could and is a very good read besides. The wood is believed to be antibacterial. It soften skin and helps clear up rashes and blemishes. It also works as sunscreen.

There are three active ingredients contained in Thanaka bark; Coumarin, Arbutin and Marmesin.

Mask on and dried down

Lets look at Coumarin first. Coumarin is a colorless crystalline solid with a sweet odor resembling the scent of vanilla and a bitter taste. It is found in many plants, where it may serve as a chemical defense against predators. While I found many arguments against eating it in large quantities, it is a vegan ingredient that is used in heaps of cosmetics. It can cause some sensitivity. I have been using this mask every day for two weeks straight and have had no sensitivity issues. Basically this is the antioxidant part of the Thanaka bark.

I should also mention here that while many of the websites had cautions against overuse of Coumarin it was always as a specific ingredient, usually ingested, and most of the time seemed to be on it’s own. No one mentioned it as having issues inside the Thanaka bark or applied topically. I don’t know if that is a concentration issue or if it just isn’t a problem in the naturally occurring compound in the bark or simply that it is used topically. The only reason I mention it is that for those with sensitive skin you should definitely do a test patch before use as it may cause sensitivity. Oddly enough, this mask has helped with some of my sun sensitivity issues rather than causing me sensitivity, so it might not be an issue. But do a test patch just in case.

And maybe don’t eat your face masks, which is sort of a good general rule…

Arbutin is used to even skin tone and is actually used in a host of products all designed to lighten skin pigmentation and fight hyperpigmentation. There are both natural and synthetic versions and I counted at least fifty separate products that contained Arbutin in some form or another from brands like Paula’s Choice Radiance Skin Renewal Mask to GenOptics Aura Essence Skin Brightener from SK II and Skincuticals Discoloration Defense. It is simply a compound that helps to even skin tone and helps with hyperpigmentation.

mask freshly removed

Marmesin works as a sunscreen actually protecting the skin from UV rays. It also helps fight signs of aging. It also is a rich source of Vitamin E, I know that vitamin E is really good at softening scar tissue and helping the skin to heal, so I suspect that is probably helpful with the anti-aging elements of the product.

A lot of what i found out about the Thanaka tree I found HERE on a website dedicated to the tree and its properties. It isn’t associated with the brand in any way and is a very interesting read. Essentially the bark has been used a really long time to really good effect. That seems to be the general break down of the Thanaka bark.

Essentially this bark, dried, ground to a paste and applied to the skin has been used as a cosmetic, blemish treatment and sunscreen for about 2000 years, from what the various sources I looked at claimed. I’ve listed several in this article should you want to look up some more information. I actually went down a rabbit hole of research as I found a strain of Cancer research documentation.

As that seemed like a bit much for a face mask post, I left that off. It was a fascinating exploration though. While this is a one ingredient product, the three naturally occurring compounds in the wood make it an interesting blend that is much more complex than it first appears. While I have only been using this mask for two weeks at this point, I have noticed that the texture of my skin has improved quite a bit and when the nice days tempt me out to spend a little more time outside than i planned, I haven’t suffered as much irritation to the skin. Typically I will get a little sun sensitive at the end of the summer as though even with sunblock my skin is just done with the sun. While there have been many days whether weather kept me in the house, on the days it didn’t I extended my time outside. And my skin hasn’t been suffering for it.

At two weeks into my month Long trial I am about half way through the container of The Golden Tree Bark Mask sent to me by Healing Bark. So I’m guessing the mask will last just until the end of the month. Each jar retails for $14.99. In general $14.99 is a really good price for a facemask. Considering that it is all product and you just add your own water to mix up the amount you need, I think that is a great deal. while i have seen some improvement in my skin texture and am really beginning to snjoy the ritual of the evening face mask, I have not done a side by side comparison of photos yet. All of the photos are from today’s making. I am not looking at the first day’s masking photos until the end because I want ti to be a surprise. I am really rooting for visible improvement though. Right now i am happy with the improved texture, fewer blemishes and lessened sun sensitivity. But I still can’t wait to see the final pictures.

For now I am happy with this mask and more than happy to continue wearing it for another two weeks to see how thirty days with a face mask turns out.

The Skincare Line up: October 15th, 2021

And so another week of skincare comes to an end. This week the line up looks a bit different than last week. I had several products reach the end of their lives and I had some others roll into the line up. I was able to stagger them so not all products started on the same day. I generally find that having at least a day between adding products into the line up really helps keep my skin from freaking out. So let’s see what changed this week.

The Daytime Line Up

Deodorant: Native Blackberry and Green Tea Deodorant

Cleanser: Ren Clean Skincare Perfect Canvas Clean Jelly Oil Cleanser

Toner: Murad Hydrating Toner

Essence: Time Revolution Artemisia Treatment Essence from Missha

Serum: Vitabrid C12 Dual Drop Serum

Moisturizer: Seed Phytonutrients Light Weight Facial Lotion

Eye cream: Verso Super eye Serum with retinol 8

Sunscreen: Shiseido Ultimate Sun protector Lotion SPF 50

Toothpaste: Crest Gum Detoxify Toothpaste

While I was sad to finish up the Annmarie Cleanser and Serum, both of which will be coming back to me at some point, I was happy to try out two new items. I have seen Ren products around and I’ve heard of them for quite a while but this was my first experience with a Ren product. This cleanser comes out as a clear gel and has a quite lovely scent actually. The scent is slightly almond-y and reminds me a bit of marzipan. It doesn’t smell as sweet so I still felt like i was getting a good fresh clean. I liked how it performed this week and am happy to keep using it. It was a bit harder to squeeze out of the tube than I thought it would be. The formula was nice though so the first week was a success.

Actually most of the new products had a good first week.

The Vitabrid C12 Serum is nice. I really like having vitamin C in my line up so i am very happy with a vitamin c forward serum. My skin absorbed the serum well and I really liked the thick consistency of it. I’m not a fan of watery serums. This one had some body to it and while a week won’t show you much difference, I think my skin might just be a little bit brighter. Even if that is my imagination,. I am happy to continue using it.

This week also saw the arrival of a new eye cream. This is the Verso Super Eye serum with Retinol 8. I know I am a big believer in letting skincare settle in and work over time and not looking for immediate results, but i have to say I was very pleased with my eyes this week. In the daily posts when i take close up pictures of my eyes, I actually did notice an improvement in the fine lines around my eyes. So I am cautiously pleased with this eye cream. Time will tell if there is actual lasting benefits, but at the moment I am very pleased with this in my line up.

And then we come to the sunscreen. And I am sad to say there is a minor hiccup. I love the formula. I love the way it applies and I love how easily it blends into the skin. I love that I had no clogged pores. Do you know what i don’t love? Can you guess? That’s right, the scent. This sunscreen is so perfume-y that I didn’t really want to wear it. It isn’t just perfume-y, but it is a scent that lasts. It doesn’t dissipate after the sunscreen is applied, the scent lingers. The bottle was completely full and after a week of use the sample bottle is about half empty so I will use this a second week, but because of the scent i won’t be buying a full size. Which is a real shame. It is a great product and if it came in an unscented variety I would snap it up. I may look for an unscented variety, but this one is far too scented for me. This one I will use and let go. But it was good enough that I will fight though the second week to continue using it and I will comb through the Shishido sight to see if an unscented version is available.

The Night time line Up

Makeup Remover: Makeup Eraser Cloth

Cleanser: Ren Clean Skincare Perfect Canvas Clean Jelly Oil Cleanser

Toner: Neutralyze exfoliation Toner Pads

Essence: Time Revolution Artemisia Treatment Essence from Missha (Gifted by brand)

Serum: Vitabrid C 12 Dual Drop Serum

Eye Cream: Verso Super Eye Serum

Lips: Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask in Berry

Night Mask: Elemis Peptide 4 Plumping Pillow Facial

Toothpaste: Crest Gum Detoxify Deep Clean

This week many of the products that I used in the morning I also went with at night. At the moment few of the products I am using are sample size so I thought it better to just focus on the full sized items. I might add an extra serum next week, but for the moment I am good with the Vitabrid C12 serum. I think I’ll wait until I really know how it performs before seeing about additions.

That leaves the one new item in the night as the Neutralyze toner pads. I was very impressed with them this week. I think I actually like these more than I like the serum (and I liked the serum quite a bit.) The toner pads have a serum on them as well and I think it is very similar to the serum, however because they are exfoliating toner pads, the serum isn’t quite as sticky. It is still a little sticky, which is why I used them at night. However I do have fewer clogged pores and this is the time of month where I generally get hormonal breakouts. Yet, no current break outs and fewer clogged pores. So I am very pleased to be using this right now. It is it’s first week of use but thus far it is holding its own. My skin has no dried out spots and my problem areas aren’t much of a problem at the moment. which is always a nice thing to say.

Again it is a new to the line up product, so I’ll have to see how it performs over time but week one was pretty smooth. Hopefully it will continue the good work. I love when i can say nice things about products.

Admittedly I still have to give this week’s MVP status to the Verso Super Eye Serum. I really like the way the fine lines around my eyes look. Or rather don’t look since several of them aren’t visible. That is a result I am quite happy with.

And that was this week’s line up. It was shorter than usual as I am now using most of the same products in both the morning and the evening. And of course the newer products are still in the first stages of trial. As all the existing products in the line up are really doing well there isn’t much to say about them.

Snacktime: Candy Club Grapefruit Slices

That’s right my darlings, you read that right, I said candy. I know what you are thinking, ‘Mimsy, weren’t you working on losing some weight? How exactly does the candy play a roll here?’

So glad you asked.

Here is the thing, yes I am trying to lose weight and yes, Candy isn’t something I indulge in often. In fact even though I am slowly eating most of the crunchy and savory items from my Tokyo Treats Box, most of the candy in it was passed on to someone else. Mostly because I am more of a savory sort of person.

See here is the deal. Yes I try to limit things like sugar and I tend to avoid empty calories, part of my “dieting” is building a healthy and sustainable life. For me that means that I do not really demonize anything. I try for moderation instead. There are a few candy’s that I like to eat, but I only have them once in a while and I portion them out.

Snacks for me are a little varied. while I do prefer something that feels substantial like a Chomps Stick (the Cranberry habanero is my favorite) or even an energy bar (kind of groovin’ on the Orange Cranberry Energy Cubes from E 3 Foods at the moment – I love that you can easily break one bar into three squares and control how much you eat.) I do occasionally have a treat.

I still stick to the basic guidelines though. A snack is no less than 50 calories and no more than 120. Generally if it is less than 50 calories then I don’t feel like it is enough and either tend to eat more than I should for a snack or go looking for something else. the something else usually ends up blowing my calorie count.

I know not all calories are the same. A snack like a Chomps stick will leave me feeling full and satisfied while candy is a momentary pleasure that doesn’t really stick with me. So when I substitute something like candy for my afternoon snack I make certain that dinner is a simple well contained unit that I can’t over eat. Sometimes I make meals designed to have left overs so that they can be frozen and on nights where things get busy we can have an easy meal relatively quickly.

if I make candy a snack, then I don’t do that. Tonight is actually a salad night. Everything is measured and counted and once assembled, I will have one salad, no leftovers. So there will be no over eating on seconds. Mostly because there are no seconds. Its a simple system.

This week I have been using green grapes as my afternoon snack. One cup is about 105 calories if you were curious. And yes, I do measure them into a measuring cup. Today I decided it was time to break out the Candy Club. You can order the individual containers or you can subscribe to their subscription service. It is a really great subscription and it lets you choose sweet or sour as your main focus for your box. I chose sour, and most of it was, but there were also some sweet in there as well. You can also order the individual treats you like, I just like trying new things that I might not have picked out for myself. Which is why I like most subscription boxes and variety packs when it comes down to it. I like a little surprise in my treats. Candy Club always surprises me.

I love the subscription, but it is one I dip into and then back out of a lot, which is why I don’t review it on a consistent basis (although there are a few subscription posts for it). The box is good and I like the variety. The Grapefruit slices were in my last box. Each of the candies are contained in screw top containers which keep the candy fresh until you open them and If my baby doll doesn’t find my secret stash and eat the candy collection then they last a while without going stale.

The best part (besides eating the candy) is that the jars have clearly labeled calorie counters and it tells you how many pieces are in a serving. Since five pieces is 100 calories, five pieces is my treat. The grapefruit slices are great. they are fruit, a little sour and a little sweet. It isn’t mout puckeringly sour, but it is a tang. I think they are moving up the ranks to be one of my favorite candies. But only one day a week for candy and today was that day. Tomorrow, it’s back to the grapes.

But the treat was a nice break.

Candy Club - Hello Fall

Let’s talk Birchbox, October 2021 Unboxing

Oh my darlings, the October Birchbox has arrived. And with it, decision time. Last year I signed up for a full year’s commitment to the Birchbox Subscription. The agreement to keep it for an entire year meant that I paid $13 ($14.27 with tax) instead of the regular $15. I was still able to pay month to month, which was something I really liked. I just had to agree to continue paying for twelve months. And the October 2021 box is box number 12 of the subscription. So in addition to looking at this month’s post, I will be looking back over all of the boxes for the past year to decide if I want to keep this subscription for another full year or if I want to go month to month or if I just want to let it go completely.

Before we look at the big decision, let’s start with this month’s box. As always there is a selection that is made on the 27th of the month. At this point in time the selection process is choosing one item from four options and letting Birchbox build your box around it, choosing their curated box or paying your subscription fee and letting that fee go towards the purchase of something from their on-line store instead of getting that month’s box.

I chose the curated box because I didn’t know if I was staying so I didn’t want to go with credit and I didn’t really like any of the four options given to me. Thee were also two items in the curated box that I was curious about.

The first item in the box that interested me was the Strawberry and Poppy Seed Natural Cleansing Bar from Dr. Botanicals. In general I don’t go for cleansing bars when looking for facial cleansers. The one exception is the black soap from Erno Laszlo. I absolutely love that cleansing bar. It is the only one that has won me over. However, I have been receiving more Dr. Botanicals products in subscription boxes lately and they have been killing it. I have been very impressed by the brand. I also like that they are not an expensive brand. While I like many expensive products and with skin, hair and body products I don’t mind spending the extra money to get what i want, it is always nice to have a good reliable moderately priced brand that you can turn to. And honestly for me that brand is rapidly turning into Dr. Botanicals.

This cleansing bar was the first thing I smelled as well as the first item I took out of the box. A waft of strawberry and poppy seed greeted me as I opened the box. It was kind of nice.

The second item that I really wanted to try was the Sunday Riley Light Hearted SPF 30 Daily Sunscreen. I am always looking for a few good sunscreens. I love my Volition Prismatic Luminizer, but it is nice to have options. and I really like the brand Sunday Riley. My skin tends to do well with most of the products I have tried. I actually have several that I will repeatedly repurchase. Good Genes actually tops the list. Fantastic AHA. I think the sunscreen might be a new release. I haven’t heard of it before, so I am glad to try it out.

The third item in my box is the Comfort Zone Hydramemory cream. It is a moisturizer with hyaluronic acid in it. And we all know I love my hyaluronic acid. Or more accurately speaking the fine lines around my eyes and the stress crack across my forehead really like hyaluronic acid. I have tried many Comfort Zone Products in the past but honestly can’t remember if this is one of them.

Comfort Zone for me is one of those brands that works well enough that I can’t complain about them but not great enough for me to really remember them. They tend to fall into my category of ‘I’ll use them if they are here but i won’t go looking for them.’

It isn’t a great category, but it isn’t a bad one. I will put this in my samples drawer and at some point I will use it. I’m sure it will be fine. Not spectacular, but fine. Because of my designation I tend to fid Comfort Zone Products priced a bit high. On the card the full sized version of this is listed for $68. I find that a little high for something not bad, but easily outpaced by many drug store products.

In this month’s box there was a Gel-ous Cool Down Wash off mask from Fila. Now perhaps this is a well known skincare brand I have never heard of, but when I hear Fila I think Sportswear, most specifically shoes. This skincare has the same logo on it so I’m guessing the sportswear company branched out. I’ll have to do a bit more research, but I do like masks so this could be interesting to try.

And finally we have the Balance Me Radiance Face Oil. I have a bit of a past with Balance me. I have received many samples of various products and they always work really well. My skin loves them and is happy. My nose hates them and is miserable. I am a very scent oriented person and with every balance me product there is always a point where my nose just can’t take it. I love their samples because it is good skincare so I want to use it but I can only take the scent for the duration of the sample not in he full size. But I haven’t tried their oils. Usually I wait until I am ready to use a product before opening it and trying it out, but I am getting ready to need an oil so I thought I might as well just go with this one. Plus I was too curious not to open it.

The product is a roller ball which I really like in an oil. I would love if more facial oils came with roller ball applicators. I rolled out a little on my hand and it does have a slightly herbal scent with possibly a hemp note to it. At least i think that was hemp. I’ll double check once I start using it. But whatever it is, the scent is lighter than most of their products and I actually like it. If it works as well as the other products Balance Me produces then we might have a winner. I am happy I get to try this out.

October was a pretty good box. In general this year, Birchbox has been pretty good. I have received several samples that I have enjoyed trying, some were brands or products I’d never heard of and would never have found on my own. There were however a lot of repeats. Part of that may be this year as many subscription boxes have struggled. However I had a Birchbox subscription before and well before the current issues started repeats were an issue with Birchbox.

I’m fairly certain the whittled down choice options are also due to current circumstances. When I opened my subscription there were between two and three box options as well as the four samples to choose from. There was also a product swap where a full sized item instead of your box was an option. As this year has gone on more and more of the options have dropped off. while it is understandable, it does affect my perception of the choices. That is as much a reality as shipping issues.

The biggest issue however is the cost I pay. I know the difference between $13 and $15 isn’t that great. But at $15 I start comparing it to other $15 boxes, like Macy’s Beauty Box. That is a $15 box and in a side by side comparison, Macy’s usually comes out on top and Birchbox feels like it is lacking something. With the $13 price my brain things, ‘well yeah, but it costs less.’ I have no problem paying $13 for this box. I feel that it is worth that price. I do feel that if I were to pay $15 each month I would constantly be making the comparison and i would become dissatisfied.

So for me a month to month option isn’t an option. For me to keep this box I would have to sign up for another full year. With so many other subscriptions that I want to try, I don’t think I will be signing up for another annual subscription to Birchbox. I think it is time to let this subscription go. At some point I may come back to it, as it is a good little box. But for me October will be my last Birchbox for a while. It is time to try something new.

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Perfume Review: Zents

Oh my darlings, you know the weather has changed. Well, actually it has been yo-yoing, but the intense heat of summer has been broken. And you know what that means? I can go back to wearing perfume.

There is just something about the hot, humid and intense heat of our summer this year that just made me avoid all scents. I think I even leased towards les scented body washes. (Incidentally the Andalou Naturals body wash, very low scent and fantastic for the summer). But last week I actually found myself reaching for some perfume. Okay technically an Eau de Toilette, but it is still applied scent.

For me, that is the surest sign that Autumn has arrived.

Before the summer’s heat steered me away from scent, I was working my way through the Samples collection of Zent’s Scents. So I decided to finish up the bag before moving on to other perfume trials. There are only a couple of samples left to try. I know I’ve said it a million times, but I love sample collections of perfume.

Scent is such a personal thing that I almost never buy a full sized bottle without having worn a sample of the scent for at least a week. In general if I can wear a perfume every day for a week and still like it as much at the end of the week as I did at the beginning, then it is a product i can consider buying. Some scents I have tried I liked the first day but couldn’t take any more of by the third say. Others, I wasn’t so fond of at the beginning of the week, but fell in love with by the end of the trial.

With Zent’s Eau de Toilettes, there is the added perk of learning the scents that tie into the bath and body products. Zents does scent lines. So if you like the Mandarin scent for example then you can get it in a bath truffle, a hand lotion and even a shampoo. (I highly recommend the shampoo actually, it was fabulous. But so are the bath truffles actually). The scents vary from product to product. In general I have found that the Eau de toilettes are more complex in scent than the bath products.

I’m sure it is simply a much more concentrated product, but you get more nuances with scent from them. This past week I wore the scent called Ore. According to the product page…

Euphoric & Sexy
bay laurel, orris, ylang ylang, clove, black pepper

Sparked by the fusion of healing and art, ZENTS ORE Eau de Toilette becomes a potent potion as it reacts with your body’s natural chemistry. You are the artist, crafting a unique essence that invokes what is in your heart, inviting love, beauty, and joy, and drawing all of life’s most cherished gifts into the present moment. Apply ORE Eau de Toilette on pulse points and heart area. Your radiance and warmth will bring the scent to life and make it uniquely yours.

ZENTS ORE Eau de Toilette is pure perfection on its own. It is also fully compatible with other scents and products in the collection.

Create your signature blend by spraying each scent in the same spot on your wrist. Then, rub wrists together to blend.

I’ll be honest, at first, I didn’t think I was going to like this scent. I sprayed it on my wrist and thought, Okay that’s not really me. As the week passed, I ended up liking it more and more. It is a more masculine scent than I am used to wearing. I didn’t think I would like it because me and black pepper are not exactly the best of friends. However it isn’t the dominant scent. I get much more bay laurel and clove out of the scent.

While I started off thinking it was a bit on the masculine side, as the week wore on I just started to think of it as a warm and comforting scent. It started to make me think of hearty soups and stews made on cold days and of spice cookies. It doesn’t actually smell like cooking, but those scents just brought me back to that warm and comforting space that those kinds of winter hardy foods tend to produce. I will admit that a lot of my winter themed foods do use bay laurel and clove so it isn’t much of a surprise.

While it is a scent that I could easily see giving to my babydoll to wear, it is also one that I can wear as well. It is more of a unisex scent that leans slightly more masculine.

So I started off not really sure about the scent but at the end I liked it. I am not sure if I would buy this for myself or my babydoll, but it is a scent that I wouldn’t mind having around. It is one I could very quickly grow accustomed to.

As with all of the Zent’s Eau de toilettes that I tried, it sprays out fairly strong as though announcing it’s presence in a dramatic fashion. It then seems to be embarrassed by its own attempt to draw attention and fades back to a skin hugging scent. All of the Zent’s products are more personal in design. As I tend to wear perfumes for myself rather than anyone else, I like this. It is a scent you can get away with in an office as well as on a date. It won’t travel to the next cubicle and annoy those you work with (especially if you are social distancing) but this particular scent does skew to a little more after hours wear. While I don’t think it would be a problem to wear in the office, I would personally go with a date night use as it is a slightly sexier scent than I feel my work desk deserves.

Although maybe if I wore the sexier scent for the computer it wouldn’t cause me so many issues. But that is another story all together. For now, I rather liked this scent. It is on the slightly more masculine side of unisex but not too heavy for me to wear. I think that while I am still on the fence about the Eau de Toilette, I suspect that the Bath truffles in this Ore Scent from Zents are ones that my babydoll will adore. As I am stocking up on the bath truffles as we head into bath weather, I will be adding a couple to my list of products to order. The Eau de Toilette my be a later purchase.

The October 2021 Look Fantastic Beauty Box unboxing

That’s right, the subscription boxes are starting to come in. Can the middle of the month be too far behind? Look Fantastic is a UK based subscription box that costs $19 per month if you are on a month to month subscription. I have an annual subscription so my box is $16. I always find the box worth it actually. As it comes from the UK often times it has brands that I’ve either never heard of or don’t see all that often. Look Fantastic also has a shop that is always running specials and deals on various products. So even if you don’t subscribe, it is well worth popping over to the site to see what’s on sale.

This month’s theme is Treat yourself: Time for your Monthly R&R. The first item I gravitated towards was the Rituals product. what can I say, the golden color called to me. I have received a lot of bath products from Rituals in subscription boxes, in fact one is still in my shower as we speak. They always smell luxurious and leave my skin feeling pampered. This isn’t a bath product though. This month Look Fantastic sent a body cream. The scent is orange and cedar which I think sounds interesting. Normally i am not a fan of getting body creams since I have so many of them, but as I have never tried a Rituals body Cream i have to say i am curious. I have high hopes for this one. It is the Ritual of Mehr. As I just finished a body lotion, this one is going straight to the shower to use post bath. I’ll let you know how it works out.

The second item I was even happier to see. Ecooking is one of those brands I don’t think we hear enough about. It is really good skincare that tends to fly under the radar. If you ever see their foot cream, snap it up. You won’t be sorry. It’s scent is a bit strong but it can take down the toughest of calluses. This month there is a gentle cleansing gel in the box. it is a really good sized pump. The pamphlet doesn’t say if this is a full size or not but it is 125 ml which is much larger than a sample size. If it isn’t a full size then it is at least a deluxe or travel size. I am very much looking forward to giving it a go.

The third item this month is the Filorga Oxygen glow Creme. It is a sample size of their moisturizer. I am always happy to try out a new moisturizer. I have an eye cream from Filorga waiting for trial, but I haven’t actually tried it yet. So even though i have seen the brand (and actually have products from them) I haven’t tried them out yet.

Dr. Botanicals had been making appearances in subscription boxes lately and quite honestly I am not upset about seeing another product from them. The ones I’ve tried have performed really well and over all it is a pretty affordable brand. I am always happy to discover affordable brands that work really well. This month we have the Turmeric Mask. I think I’ve used a moisturizer and a hand cream but not a mask. Both the Pomegranate moisturizer and the Lemon hand cream made it onto my list of repeat purchases so we will see if the Turmeric makes the cut as well.

There were two hair products in this months box, rounding out the products. One is the Philip Kingsley Bond Builder. It is a split end remedy. Philip Kingsley is one of those brands that is kind of pricy, but always sort of leaves me ambivalent. The Leave in conditioner works well enough to use if it is around, but not well enough to actually purchase over other products. Perhaps this Bond Builder will be one of their better products and lean me towards them a bit more. I haven’t tried it and I am always looking for ways to improve the health of my hair.

I will certainly get a lot of use out of the Vintage Cosmetics scrunchies. The yellow is a bit bright for me, but the material is soft and not likely to pull and the elastic underneath feels strong enough to hold my hair in place. Plus this summer I had issues with the elastic bands tangling in my hair so I tended to wear the scrunchies I had more than the bands. Many of the scrunchies did not survive the summer. So it is nice to have some replacements.

So that was my October Look Fantastic Box. Was it worth the price? Absolutely. Look fantastic has always tended to be skincare heavy and the theme is kind of skincare based anyway so i can’t be upset about the lack of makeup. Makeup isn’t really Look Fantastic’s strong suit. Some times they do hit it out of the park with the makeup though. Just not this month and not very often. To be honest, Look Fantastic is where I have found some super fabulous hair care products and brands that I didn’t know existed. Hair and skincare are where this box shines. And this month, I think they did pretty good. I definitely got my $16 worth.

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Ipsy Glam Bag Plus October 2021 Unboxing

Oh my darlings, my IPSY bag arrived in the mail. Can you believe it? I can’t remember the last time my IPSY subscription arrived this early in the month. It is a Halloween miracle.

So shall we see what’s in the pretty pink mailer?

First off we have the bag for the month. I like the print. i think it is very appropriate for the month. I also wish it was on an actual makeup bag. I’ve mentioned my disappointment in the drawstring bags already. i think it feels more objectionable this month since I not only like the print but IPSY’s price went up. This Glam Bag Plus is now $28 per month ($30.73 with Tax). I know it is because postage and product prices have gone up, and I do understand that, but it does make the bag feel extra cheap.

But let’s face it, I am never really going to like the draw string bags.

And it really isn’t about the bag anyway. So lets get into the products.

The first item out of my bag I really can not complain about. The Dermelect Self Esteem Beauty Sleep serum is always going to be welcome at my house. I know it can be used all over my face, but quite frankly when I get this serum, I mostly use it on my neck. It has made it into my skin care line up many times in the past and will continue circling through the line up. I finished my most recent bottle a few months ago and have it on my to be repurchased list. Now it is here again and i don’t have to repurchase it. So we are off to a good start this month.

The second item in my bag this month is also welcome. It is the Wander Beauty Staycation Hydrating Mask. I had a sample size of this not too terribly long ago and really enjoyed it. It is very hydrating though so for me this is actually quite timely. It is the kind of mask I can use in the winter but can’t really use in the summertime. As it is October and the weather is sort of on the turn, soon I will be leaning into my hydrating masks. Since I enjoyed the sample i used, i am happy to try the full size out.

The third item that was chosen for my by IPSY this month was also the one makeup item in my bag. It is the Roen Cake Lash mascara. Oddly enough I have managed to blaze through a large number of my stockpiled mascaras. For a while it felt as though I was drowning in them. I even had a separate mascara stash. Now the few mascaras I have that are unopened have been mixed in with my other unopened products and no longer need their own drawer. To be honest i was hoping to whittle them down enough so that I can try out the My Little Mascara Club. I’ll probably still try the subscription out soon, but until then I have another mascara to try and as my stockpile is down, I’m not mad about receiving this. The lip gloss from Roen is the only item I’ve tried from the brand so i am happy to see what their other products are like. I won’t open it though until I am ready to use it. The wand on the website looks pretty good though.

I’m also happy there was at least one makeup item this month.

The next two items are items that I chose. The choose selection was pretty poor this month, but I was actually pleased to see these two items. The fist is the Murad Skin Smoothing Polish. You know I love a good exfoliator and Murad is a skin care brand that I trust. I am currently using the Annmarie Skincare Kaolin Clay Exfoliator but it will soon be used up and I am happy to have another exfoliator on standby.

Finally we get to the Tokyomilk French Kiss Perfume. I was very happy to see this as I am a fan of the Brand. one of my favorite winter perfumes is #85 Novacaine from Tokyomilk Dark. That one is both a winter scent and a night time scent. From the first sniff this seems like it would be more of a day time scent. I am actually looking forward to trying it out. (Also on the add ons I ordered another perfume from the Tokyomilk brand and I’ll be trying that one out as well).

There is one thing that concerns me a bit with the perfume though. It is a bit on the small side. I have it next to the regular sized bottle that i ordered from the brand. It is significantly larger than the bottle that came from IPSY. While I am happy with the size for a perfume the comparison does bother me a little since IPSY PLUS is supposed to be full sized items. It is possible that the bottle sizes for the brand have changed as I have had my bottle for a little while.

Size issues aside I am very happy with my bag for this month. It is heavy on the skincare which is slightly disappointing, but all of the items are ones that I will use. So I am actually quite happy. I do hope that next month leans a little more towards the makeup side of things, but really this is one of the better plus bags that they have sent in a while. It makes me very happy. It also makes my decision on what subscriptions to keep in the new year and which to let go a bit more difficult.

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Happy Hour: Calpis Soda

Good evening my darlings and welcome to another Friday Night Happy hour. I know for many happy hour conjures visions of a crowded bar and laughter with groups of friends. And to be honest, while my babydoll and I do indulge in those sorts of happy hours, typically we go out on Saturday nights instead of Fridays.

The truth is that by the time the end of the week rolls around, putting on a set of comfy clothes, settling in with a delicious beverage and tasty treat often seems like heaven. Saturday night we both feel more social. But Friday has become our night to recharge so that the Saturday social is more fun. Sometimes it involves a cocktail, other times a non alcoholic beverage.

At the moment my babydoll is trying to whittle down his homebrewed beer supply. This year since we weren’t expecting a lot of company, he decided to test several different brew kits to see what he liked the best. while always fun to find the product you like the best, we now have a bit of a storage issue. So he is having beer tonight and I am using this as a change to test the Calpis Soda that came in my Tokyo Treat Box.

As you can see in the photo it is a lavender kind of color. which I find a bit unusual in a beverage. According to the description …

Calpis soda is a soda drink which uses the classic calpis, a condensed yogurt flavor beverage. Here’s a luxurious Kyoho grape flavor, which is one of the most expensive fruit in Japan.

In general I don’t drink a lot of soda, mostly because I am trying to reduce my sugar intake so a soda is just a much of a treat for me as an alcoholic cocktail. Add in a luxurious and expensive fruit and it certainly feels like a treat.

The taste is interesting. It tastes a bit like a Grape Nehi but a lot less sweet. I can’t taste any yogurt flavor in the mix, but it does feel as though there is something fermented in the drink. The yogurt I believe is what is tamping down the sweetness, but it doesn’t taste yoghurt-y.

The drink causes a little bit of a tingling on the tongue. I think part of that is just the carbonation, but I suspect that some of it might be the fermentation in the yoghurt.

All in all I have to say I kind of like it. It isn’t something I would have picked up from the shelf if I saw it in the store, but quite honestly that is one of the fun things about a subscription box like Tokyo Treat (or any subscription box really). You get to try things that you never would have picked up on your own.

I find the pink color a little off putting as it sort of reminds me of Pepto-Bismol, but it is a delicious treat that i would not mind having again. Actually i think it would be really good over crushed ice on a hot summer’s day. As it is, I am having the drink sitting on the couch with my baby. we have a big bowl of popcorn and we will be watching Gretel and Hansel on Paramount+ as part of October fright fest marathon. All month long we will be watching all sorts of spooky shows and movies.

So at our house it is shoes off, fuzzy socks on and feet up on the foot rest. Tonight even the weather has decided to join in as we have a thunderstorm rolling in to provide some extra atmosphere. Tomorrow, we might go out and be social. Tonight, it is good to just stay home.

Face Mask Friday: End of Week 1 for Healing Bark Golden Tree Bark Mask

This is a sponsored post, however as always my thoughts an opinions are my own.

I know some of you are looking at the title and thinking, wait, didn’t Mimsy talk about the Golden Tree bark Mask last week? Yes I did. And I will also be talking about it for the next few weeks. I am doing a month long trial of this mask from Healing Bark.

As with most skincare it takes about thirty days to see real results. There are a few exceptions, but really it takes about thirty days. This mask is designed to calm and cleanse your pores for a refreshed look to your skin. It is designed for all skin types and can actually be used daily. One container of this Golden Tree Bark Mask from Healing bark costs $14.99. I have been using it every day for a week and am certain at the end of the month i will still have some masking product left over. So if it does keep my skin clear, it is a really cost effective product.

So I decided to put it through a month long trial where I use the mask each day for the month of October. I think one of the things that really interests me is that this mask has one ingredient. That’s right one. It is the shortest ingredient label I’ve ever seen. It contains the dried and powdered bark of the Thanka Tree (Hesperethusa crenulata).

That’s it.

the mask

And while I am still doing research on the Thanka tree and the properties of it’s bark, this week has been more about mixing and working the daily mask into my schedule. While today I am masking mid afternoon for the Friday Face Mask in general I have been masking in the evenings. After dinner I take off my makeup, wash my face and then apply the mask. The mask can sit for anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes on the skin. I tried it for fifteen the first few days and then went to the full thirty after realizing there were no adverse affects.

three teaspoons absorbed

Before I started my trial I tried it on my arm to make certain it wasn’t going to cause any skin irritations for me. This is generally a good idea with any mask or any skin care product really.

Working it into my schedule proved surprisingly easy and quite honestly, I really have liked the addition of a daily half hour to sit and just sort of relax for a bit. While I can move around the house with the mask on, it isn’t something I am going to wear outside and quite honestly I like having the half hour of quiet time. It has given me the space to plan and think for a bit and has actually helped me clear my mind and focus on what needs to be done.

a little more water to make it easier to apply

Clearly the mask itself didn’t mentally help me, but incorporating that half hour each night really has helped me out a lot.

This week, as the first week of using the mask, I spent a lot of time learning to mix the mask. I know that sounds strange. This mask comes in powdered form and you spoon a little into the bowl and stir in the water. In my initial first impressions post mixing was a bit awkward. I thought I had too much water, I thought it got a bit drippy.

Turns out it was user error as well as measurement miscalculation. So here are a few things I learned this week as far as mixing goes. First off, I measured the powder into the bowl. I am using the masking kit that Healing Bark sent with the masks. while I have a bowl I usually like mixing masks in, it is a bit shallow and I find that this plastic bowl from the kit is actually a better depth for mixing.

easy to apply and looks like peanutbutter

Now I mentioned last week that I thought the three teaspoons of water mixed with the two teaspoons of mask was a bit much. It turns out I was wrong. This week, I started using slightly warmed water so that it absorbed faster. I added the three teaspoons of water to the masking powder and stirred. And stirred.

At first it didn’t want to incorporate. The powder sat on the water and I felt like I was just swishing it around. The reason is that the powder is really dry. It makes it very shelf stable so the mask will last a while, but it takes the powder a little bit to realize it needs to wake up and absorb the water. Once it does, it all seems to absorb at once.

bare skin, pre masking (after a week of prior masking)

It really is like flicking a switch. Water not absorbed, water all in. And it turns out, once the water was absorbed, the paste was really thick. A little too thick for me as I had trouble spreading it on my skin. It turns out, the three teaspoons weren’t enough water. So I drizzled a little bit more in.

wet mask

My goal was to make it into a spreadable paste. To me it looks like slightly wet peanut butter. which actually spreads really well with the silicon masking brush. The trick with the mask is to keep stirring until the water is absorbed and not to rush it. The process really doesn’t take that long, only about a minute, but just don’t get impatient.

I especially liked using the warmer water as it did incorporate faster, plus I feel like warm water helps to convince my pores to open up a bit more. I warmed up the water before taking off my makeup my Makeup Eraser used the hot water on my skin and then I used the hot water with my cleanser before adding the water into the mask. I’m hoping the heat helped open the pores as well as made the mask mix easer.

dried after half an hour

I was initially nervous about leaving the mask on for thirty minutes. But this seems to work really well for this mask. I had no adverse reactions on my skin. In fact my skin feels smooth and clean once the mask is removed. There is no tingling of any sort really. There is a slight cooling sensation that occurs as the water evaporates out and the mask dries down on the skin. It is a little more noticeable with the use of warmer water but it isn’t an actual tingling.

I have to say this Golden tree bark mask is one of the easiest masks to remove. As you sit for half an hour, the moisture evaporates. And since the mask is only water and powder, when you take a damp cloth to your skin, the mask just crumbles away. There is no real rubbing or stubborn spots. It was very easy to remove.

clean skin after half an hour of masking

While I will compare photos of my skin at the beginning of the month and my skin at the end of the month to determine if there has been any kind of change. I have to say, my skin feels nice. It feels extra clean without being stripped and my skin does feel refreshed. Hopefully that will translate to clearer skin at the end of the month, because I am actually really enjoying using this mask on a daily basis.

While I will have to wait for those results, thus far I like the fresh feeling I like the ease of mask removal and I am mental benefitting from taking the half hour out of my evening each night. And to be honest, i also enjoy the mixing. It makes me feel a bit like a mad scientist. And I kind of like feeling like a mad scientist. I do sort of wish I had an Igor though. I probably wouldn’t call him Igor as that is so last century. Maybe Jellybean. I can just hear it now.

“Jellybean, throw the switch!”

So much better than Igor.

But I digress. Thus far, the mask is working out well. Currently soft, clean and refreshed skin with possible long term results on the horizon. And now I have learned to properly mix the mask application is going much more smoothly. I am looking forward to seeing what next week will bring.

This week was all about getting the application right. Next week, we will take a deeper look at the Thanka tree. After all it is the only ingredient in the mask, clearly it feels it deserves it’s own spotlight. Next Friday, we’ll see if it’s true or not. Let week two of the Healing Bark Golden Tree Bark Mask begin!