vegetarian

Product review: Steamcream

Disclosure: I was sent a product in exchange for a review. However I was not compensated for writing a positive review and as always all opinions are my own.

Hey beauties! Are you enjoying your winter? We got several inches of snow here yesterday and I’m loving it. If there’s one thing I don’t enjoy about winter, though, it’s the fact that colder temps and drier air turn my skin super-dry and sensitive, and my regular body and face lotions just don’t cut it anymore.

Hence, I was pretty excited when Katie from Steamcream contacted me to ask if I’d like to try a tin of their all-in-one moisturizer, suitable for use on face, body, hands and feet ($20/75ml). After a couple of weeks of testing, I’m finally ready to share my thoughts with you! Steamcream is vegan and natural and contains ingredients like almond oil to soothe and moisturize without piling on heavy synthetics that can actually do more harm than good. You can learn more about Steamcream’s ingredients and sourcing here

The Steamcream formula comes packaged in your choice of a variety of different beautiful tins. I opted for Thalia, with a pretty orange and white floral design, but if you browse their design gallery you’ll see they have nearly two hundred tins to choose from, meaning there’s something there for everyone! The metal tin is very sturdy but small enough to fit in your hand.

Steamcream has what I would describe as an earthy fragrance, due to the combination of almond oil, lavender, chamomile and neroli. It’s not terribly strong and doesn’t linger long, but if you prefer preppy or uber-fresh scents to what I like to call “hippie” scents, you might be disappointed with the fragrance. Just an FYI. Personally I love natural scents, but I’ve also gotten the side eye for saying I like patchouli, so to each their own. I like that the scent fades away quickly so you can add your own perfume or body spray without creating a competing mix of fragrances.

Surprisingly, the formula is very thin–I expected it to have the consistency of a body butter, but it’s thinner than even a facial lotion. Obviously if you’re used to piling on heavy moisturizers in the winter, such a thin consistency seems odd; it’s hard to imagine how Steamcream can moisturize so heavily when it feels like there’s nothing on your skin. However, when I tested out the cream on one side of my face and body versus a thicker face cream and body butter, I found that there was no noticeable difference in moisturization even after several hours. At the twelve-hour mark, the side with Steamcream actually felt like it was retaining moisture better without reapplication–no dry or itchy patches!

The really lovely thing about Steamcream is that it’s truly an all-in-one product: it moisturizes my dry legs and hands like a much thicker product, but it’s still lightweight enough to use on my face without triggering a breakout. Also, since it’s so light and non-greasy, it’s very good for layering under makeup. I think it would be great for someone who didn’t like using very thick products, or for someone who wanted to layer products without feeling that they were slathering a layer of buttercream frosting over their limbs.

If you’re looking for a new cream to add to your winter skincare routine I highly recommend heading over to the Steamcream website and browsing their tins–it’s a great way to treat yourself this holiday season!

Full ingredients: Oatmeal infusion, orange flower water, almond oil, cocoa butter, glycerine, stearic acid, triethanolamine, organic jojoba oil, lavender oil, chamomile blue oil, orange flower absolute, rose absolute, neroli oil, cetearyl alcohol, coumarin*, geraniol*, citronellol*, limonene*, linalool*, perfume, methylparaben, propylparaben. (*Occurs naturally in essential oils)

Disclosure: I was sent a product in exchange for a review. However I was not compensated for writing a positive review and as always all opinions are my own.
 

Product review: Immortal Herbs Immortal Sleep

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial.

Happy Saturday everyone! I hope you’re all having a great December, enjoying the holidays and the snow. (I love it.) Today I have another short product review for you–the Immortal Sleep deep sleep formula from Immortal Herbs. Vegan, gluten-free and GMO-free, this blend of Chinese herbs works to decrease anxiety and stress, help you relax, and promote a deeper, more restful sleep.

Like a lot of people, I’ve tried plenty of different “deep sleep” over the counter medicines over the years and I’ve never found one I really liked. Too much melatonin seems to make me have nightmares (not an uncommon side effect, I’m told) while the regular Tylenol PM type of sleeping pill just doesn’t do enough to help me fall asleep and stay asleep. When I do find something that lets me sleep through a full eight hours, I inevitably wake up groggy and feeling drugged.

Immortal Sleep is different. It worked well to help me relax and fall asleep, and I was able to stay asleep through the day. I’m a very light sleeper and once I’m awake, I have a lot of trouble falling back asleep, so being able to sleep through the day is kind of a big deal for me. And happily, once my alarm went off for work, I was able to get up and get going without any of the usual draggy incoherent after-effects of a sleeping pill.

Overall I really liked this, and while I still try to avoid taking supplements no an everyday basis, I would definitely take this if I was having trouble sleeping and needed something to ensure a good night’s rest!

Immortal Sleep can be purchased through the company website for $54.95 (90 capsule bottle), but it’s currently on sale for $34.95. You can find Immortal Sleep here.


I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Product review: Immortal Energy

I received one or more of the products mentioned below for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Happy Friday everyone! Today I have a review of an herbal energy supplement from Immortal Herbs. You might remember that I reviewed their Total Nutrition smoothie supplement mix this summer; they were kind enough to send me a sample of their Immortal Energy supplement and I thought the crazy week of Thanksgiving and Black Friday would be the perfect time to test it out!

Immortal Energy ($39.95/90 capsules) is an all-natural vegetarian formula that uses Chinese herbs to give you sustained energy and a boost to your muscles and immune system, without the addition of caffeine or other fillers that can leave you crashing later in the day. The directions say to take 3-4 capsules as needed, so I opted to take three capsules with breakfast so I could kick my day off with an energy boost.

The surprising thing about this product is that it doesn’t give you an energy rush like a traditional energy drink or shot (like Redbull, 5 Hour Energy, etc.). Instead it’s more of an overall boost to your alertness and stamina, helping you to get through your day without feeling so sluggish and drained, both mentally and physically.

I really appreciated that this didn’t leave me jittery, nor did it make it hard for me to sleep later in the day. Some energy supplements really seem to “sit” in your system and can make it hard to relax and unwind at the end of the day, but I didn’t experience any of those negative side effects with Immortal Energy.

I really like this product and feel like it would be great for anyone who works long hours, is in school, or otherwise has a demanding schedule and needs a boost without resorting to tons of sugar and caffeine. If you want to learn more about this product or to purchase it, you can visit the company website here. For Black Friday savings, enter the code “HOLIDAY” at checkout to get 25% off your order plus free shipping!

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Unboxing/review: Conscious Box November 2013

Today I’m unboxing the November 2013 Vegan Conscious Box. Conscious Box is a monthly subscription box that costs $19.95 (includes shipping); there are no preview or skip windows in this subscription. Subscribers choose from a classic, gluten-free or vegan subscription and receive a box each month filled with ten to fifteen samples of natural beauty products, food, health items, and lifestyle extras. If you want to learn more about the box you can visit their website. I also recommend checking out the company’s Facebook page, as they often post offers for free or discounted first boxes (which was what prompted me to finally order one for myself!).

When you get your box, you can rate the products and share on social media to earn points; those points are then redeemable on the website toward full-size products, with the points working just like coins. A single review earns you ten points and in turn knocks ten cents off a purchase. Keep building up those points (they tally more quickly than you might think), and you can save on products like food, beauty essentials, household products and more. It’s a nice perk and I think the system of using points to knock down the purchase price is a better way to encourage reviews and feedback than a system where you have to have lots and lots of points to cover the full price of an item, since it will take a long time before you can redeem anything worthwhile.

Okay, on to the contents of the box!

First up we have two food items: a bag of YogaVive Chocolate Apple Chips ($4.49 per bag) and a three-pack sampler of Mighty Leaf teas ($7-$10 for a 15-bag box). The apple chips were just okay–nice and crispy, but it was hard to detect the chocolate flavor. These were a nice snack, but they aren’t something I’d run out to buy, especially for the price. I’m always happy to see tea samples as I do drink a lot of it, and while these are a little pricey for my usual drinking habits I would definitely consider buying them on sale.

The Rebootizer packet ($15 and up for a three-packet box) is supposed to be used as part of an allover week-long detox system, drinking one packet per day, so it’s kind of hard to say how well it works based on one packet/one day of use. I will say that the flavor was strange–like bitter apple cider, but “off” somehow–and while the pouch design is ingenious, it’s not very easy to pop open and shake up per the directions. That said it’s literally a shot glass of a drink so if you needed to detox and wanted to do it in the smallest portion possible, I could see this being a good way to do it.

The MRM Relax-All ($25 for 60 capsules) is a sample of a sleep aid. I’m not big on getting dietary supplements in subscription boxes because I just don’t use that many of them. I’m not big on unnecessary medication and in my long sad pursuit of something to give me a better night’s rest, I’ve found very little that helps. These didn’t necessarily do anything to help me sleep for a longer period of time, but I do feel like these helped me to relax and enjoy a more restful period of sleep, and I didn’t wake up feeling groggy or drugged like I have in the past when taking things like Tylenol PM.

Two travel-size soap samples: one of African Black Soap from Coastal Scents ($12.95 per 15-oz. bar) and one of Lemongrass Summer bar soap from Harmony Acres ($6.95 per 5.5-oz. bar). I could smell the lemongrass, one of my favorite scents, before I opened the box!

The natural perfume sample from Pour Le Monde is intriguing, especially since sales from this perfume benefit the charity Guiding Eyes For The Blind. A full size 1.7 ounce perfume costs $95, so this is a pretty high-end sample to include in the box. The Blood Orange & Juniper lip balm from Ivre de Fleurs is full size (retails for $7.50) and contains ingredients like mango butter to nourish dry chapped lips.

The Sunology Natural Sunscreen sample is a nice idea, but…foil packets! Argh! You just can’t adequately judge a product from a tiny packet, in my not-so-humble opinion. I do like that it has a high SPF (50) and doesn’t contain ingredients that sting my eyes, but it’s just really hard to say how well I like it based on such a tiny application.

The Better Botanicals Apricot Eye Therapy packet ($18.99 for 15 ml) is a lot better, since eye cream goes so far that a 1.5 ml packet will last a good while provided it’s kept in an airtight baggie. I’ve been using this under makeup and before bed all week and it really does help with tired, puffy eyes, making me look much more bright-eyed and bushy-tailed even on my worst days, so I will definitely consider purchasing this in the future.

This box also included a few coupons, but I didn’t count them into the box’s value. Overall, my estimate of the box’s value is as follows:

YogaVive apple chips (full size): $4.49
Mighty Leaf tea (3 bags): $1.50
Rebootizer: $5.00
MRM Rest-All: $0.83
African Black Soap: $0.79
Lemongrass soap: $1.84
Pour le Monde perfume: $6.00
Blood Orange lip balm (full size): $7.50
Sunology sunscreen: N/A
Better Botanicals eye cream: $1.89

Total value: $29.84

Overall, I would say that I was pretty happy with this box. There was a decent mix of items, two full size items and two high-value cosmetics samples (the perfume and the eye cream). I wouldn’t say it was the best value overall but it did exceed the purchase price and I liked enough of the items to give it a thumbs-up.

I’ve seen some really great boxes and some sort of blah boxes come out over the past year, but overall I think I like it enough to stick around and see what the December box will hold. If you’re subscribed to Conscious Box, or to any other vegan-friendly boxes, tell me about it–I’d love to hear your recommendations/rants/general thoughts about these boxes!

Unboxing/review: Graze Box November 2013

Today I’ve got another foodie box to review for you. Graze gives you a sample of natural and tasty snacks for $6 per box; users can choose to receive boxes every two weeks or every four weeks. Shipping is free but currently Graze only ships within the lower 48 U.S. states. Users can rate the items in their boxes as “try”, “like” or “love” to affect future boxes; they can also “trash” a snack to ensure they never receive it again. For those of us who are vegan or following a gluten-free diet, Graze offers the option to “trash” all snack options that don’t fit into our dietary requirements, making this one of the first cheapie food boxes to my knowledge to so sweepingly accommodate these two dietary restrictions! Keep in mind, though, that Graze does not filter for nut allergies.

If you’re interested in signing up for Graze, keep in mind that you’ll need an invite code, so you can sign up for the waiting list or get an invite code from an existing Grazer. You can also try your luck with an internet search for sign-up or free codes, which surface from time to time on sites like RetailMeNot–but they go fast, so pounce while you can! I snagged a sign-up code from Cosmo that hit its limit almost within 24 hours, so when I say fast, I do mean fast.

Each Graze box is a slim, no-frills cardboard package that’s fully recyclable and offers minimal waste, which I love. Inside are four individual snack containers, each with a perfectly portioned snack that’s about the same size as a vending machine delivery, only much tastier and healthier! The snacks include a mix of sweet and savory. I opted for a vegan box and was happy to see that my four snacks covered a good range of snacking “moods”.

Dark Rocky Road: Belgian dark chocolate buttons, cranberries and pecans. This was a very sweet dessert snack. Yay for vegan chocolate!

Tropical Daiquiri: Green mango, lime raisins and pineapple. I like dried fruit and the lime raisins gave this a little twist. This wasn’t as cloyingly sweet as the dried fruit you might find in a typical grocery store, which made me very happy.

The Herb Garden: Oregano rice crackers, crispy peanuts and baked herb bites. This was a very savory snack and I could have done with more! I was glad that it wasn’t too salty. The husband really liked this also.

Seedsational: Roasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds with soy sauce. Honestly, I’m not a big “seeds” person, but if you like seeds then this is a good one–the soy sauce flavor is mild enough that you get a little taste without feeling overwhelmed.

Overall I thought this was a pretty good box, especially considering that everything was vegan and yet didn’t taste “healthy” in the least. Have you guys tried Graze, or would you be interested in trying it? What do you think of foodie boxes overall? Obviously with my dietary restrictions foodie boxes are kind of hit and miss for me, so this little gem was a real delight in my mailbox this week. :)

Product review: Immortal Herbs Total Nutrition


I received one or more of the products mentioned below for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Because I don’t always have the time or the energy to fix a proper meal for myself, I’m a big fan of smoothie powders that work as a total meal replacement. Total Nutrition from Immortal Herbs ($69.95/9.5 ounces or 30 day supply; available through immortalherbs.com) promises to deliver a full day’s worth of nutrition in one small scoop, plus it’s low in calories and fat and doesn’t contain cheap filler ingredients or tons of sugar like smoothies from traditional shops. Total Nutrition is 100% natural, organic, raw, GMO-free, gluten-free, and vegan. You can read more about the ingredients and the philosophy behind Total Nutrition on the product page at the company website (here).

The ingredients in this product are simple but all pack a huge dose of nutrition: barley grass, wheat grass, spirulina, spinach, alfalfa leaf, kelp, dulse leaf, barley grass juice, orange peel, beet root, dandelion leaf, lemon peel, gingko leaf, wheat grass juice, maca root, cacao, ashwagandha, sacha inchi, manuka honey, bee pollen, reishi mushroom, blueberry, black currant, wild bilberry, wild lingonberry, aronia, pomegranate, concord grape, red raspberry, sour cherry, wild elderberry, wild cranberry, black raspberry, goji berries, and schizandra berries. No fillers, no sugar or added fluff!

Like any smoothie mix, you just combine a scoop of powder in the blender with fruit juice, almond milk, frozen fruit, or whatever else you fancy. The powder is green but it has a very neutral taste, so you can pretty much add whatever fruit you want to your smoothie without worrying about a strong, grassy taste.

I liked that this powder made for a smoothie that was filling without leaving me overfull or feeling like I’d had a sugary dessert drink. I made this up in the afternoon because I’d had a bad headache all day and didn’t have the energy or appetite for a full dinner; I felt like this helped blunt the headache and also gave me a small energy boost to get through the rest of the day.

The one downside that people like to point out about premium smoothie powders is that they’re expensive. However, when you look at the bulk price for a one-month supply of a smoothie powder–whether it be this product, a protein supplement, or any other smoothie powder–I think you have to do the math per serving and compare it to what you’d pay at a smoothie shop in order to get a good picture of how this would fit into your monthly food budget. For this package, the cost per smoothie works out to about $2.30. For comparison purposes, I just stopped into Jamba Juice this week to grab a smoothie as a treat for my husband, and a medium antioxidant and protein-boosted smoothie costs almost six bucks. And because it’s from the chain smoothie shop, I know it has plenty of sugar and nowhere near the nutritional levels of a homemade smoothie. (Honestly, looking at the nutritional info on the JJ website makes me cringe. And I love their smoothies! But seriously, some of them pack almost 70 grams of sugar–that’s nearly three days’ worth!)

So yes, for the casual smoothie drinker, this might seem really pricey. But if you stop at the smoothie shop three times a week for one of those $6 smoothies–as a meal while running errands, driving home from the gym, or just because you’re too tired to cook dinner–you’re already spending about the same amount as you would to buy the powder and make your smoothies at home. And again, depending on where you go for your smoothies, you’re essentially drinking a fruit-flavored candy bar in a cup, not a true “meal replacement”.

I think this would be an excellent meal replacement or dietary supplement for anyone who has strict nutritional/dietary needs and struggles to find the time to prepare proper meals to follow suit–maybe because of a busy lifestyle, frequent traveling, or a heavy athletic routine. I also think that for someone who’s recently recovered from a major illness and needs to pack a maximum amount of nutrition into their diet, it would be hard to find a better supplement than this one; it’s not just incredibly healthy, it’s tasty and easy to digest, so if you don’t have much of an appetite you can still get plenty of the good stuff without forcing yourself to eat a big meal. You could even divide the smoothie into two smaller servings and just put the second in the fridge for later in the day.

It’s a lot healthier (and depending on your habits, possibly cheaper) than constantly hitting the smoothie shop for your fix, and if you’re constantly on the go in areas where it’s hard to find healthy, natural, vegan meals or on-the-go substitutes, it’s pretty awesome. Plus, if you’re hardcore into health food and healthy living, you know that there are lots of pricey nutritional supplements in capsule or powder form that promise to boost your energy or overall health, but it’s hard to find good ones without unnecessary ingredients. Total Nutrition gives you just the ingredients you need, and it’s in a form that’s easy to digest so you get the full nutritional benefit of the product (unlike some capsules or tablets, which can be hard for the body to properly digest, leaving you with only a partial measure of the promised benefits).

Thank you to Immortal Herbs for being kind enough to send me this product for review! It made for a delicious and nutritious smoothie, and it’s one of the best powders I’ve tried yet.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Product review: ELF Studio Concealer Pencil & Brush

Happy hump day everyone! For me, this is actually day two of a much-needed vacation. This is my last break for a few months, since the madness of the holidays has already begun, so I’m trying to build up my reserve of scheduled posts once again! Today I wanted to share a review of a concealer that I bought this summer. What makes this concealer different is that it’s a) a pencil, like an eyeliner and b) it’s specifically formulated for covering breakouts! Best of all, it’s vegan-friendly and bargain-priced…so read on to see what I thought of it!

The product: ELF Studio Concealer Pencil & Brush; in three shades; $3 at eyeslipsface.com

The claims: Salicylic acid and tea tree oil treat blemishes; the brush helps blend the concealer on the skin to create a flawless finish.

Ingredients: Salicylic Acid 2%, Synthetic Beeswax, Microcrystalline Wax, Euphorbia Cerifera (Candelilla) Wax, Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Paraffinium Liquidum (Mineral Oil), Bis-Diglyceryl Polyacyladipate-2, Isopropyl Myristate,, Petrolatum, Mica, Melaleuca Altenifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil BHT, Benzyl Alcohol, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone, Iron Oxides (CI 77491 CI 77492 CI 77499), Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891).

I tried it: This is a unique way to deliver concealer: it’s in a chubby pencil that can be sharpened like an eyeliner crayon (there’s a sharpener on the lid); on one end of the pencil is a super-soft synthetic brush that blends the concealer once it’s on the skin. I’ve tried acne concealers before and have either disliked the liquid formula or found that they lacked staying power, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from this.

Surprisingly, this has a nice opaque coverage and the brush feels much nicer than what you would expect on a bargain makeup product. It blends well and can be built up for more coverage. The wear time is impressive too: I can get several hours without fading or budging.

I do feel that the combo of salicylic acid and tea tree oil helps to diminish the severity of breakouts. It’s nice to have these ingredients in the concealer rather than trying to layer a regular concealer over a spot treatment, since this typically results in the concealer sliding away.

My final thoughts: This is such a steal! Lately I’ve been dealing with those awful stress-related breakouts around the mouth and chin, and this has been a lifesaver–it covers everything up so I don’t feel so self-conscious, but doesn’t further irritate my skin or cause any dryness in the surrounding area. If you struggle with occasional breakouts and want a quick and lightweight way to hide them, I would definitely recommend buying this pencil!

Vegan pumpkin cranberry chocolate chip cookies! (recipe)

It’s not autumn without a healthy dose of pumpkin recipes! The other day Alyssa (who blogs over here) posted on Facebook that she was whipping up a batch of pumpkin cookies, and of course we all clamored for the recipe! It got me browsing around looking at different pumpkin cookie recipes, pumpkin drink recipes, and all other manner of pumpkin-flavored things in between.

Well, going back to the cookies: after looking at a few different recipes and tinkering with some vegan substitutions, here’s what I baked up today! These cookies are not only vegan, they’re easy to make and super-delicious.

You’ll need:

  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 cup oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (or break up a vegan chocolate bar into small chunks)
  • 1 cup dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix the pumpkin and oil together in a mixing bowl. In a separate small bowl, mix together the flour, sugar and other dry ingredients, except for the chocolate chips and cranberries. Add to the larger bowl and blend well. Add in the chocolate chips and cranberries, using more or less to taste. (I like tons and tons in my cookies, but you might use less or even omit one or the other.)

Drop in even spoonfuls onto cookie sheets and bake for 12-15 minutes. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Makes two dozen cookies.