November is one of those neutral months where nothing really exciting is happening besides Black Friday/Cyber Monday and some 'free days' off from work/University in observance of Thanksgiving. I like to think of it as a prep-month for December, aka when the real fun happens. It's also a month where you can start to actually feel the colder weather, at least here in Southern California. And when I mean 'colder weather,' I mean around lower 70s-60 degrees Fahrenheit (about 21-15 Celsius). Actually, these past few days it's been in the mid-60s and I've been freeeeezing! My skin has done a drastic 180° on me and has turned on the combination side.

I wasn't able to get my hands on MINTD Box's November box until recently, so I apologize for the lateness of this review! I was so glad to hear that MINTD Box's November theme revolved around Winter skincare needs! Themed Winter Skincare Hydration*, it focuses on protecting, brightening, hydrating, exfoliating, and repairing your skin with super moist heavy products. For those who have naturally dry skin or those who start to get drier/irritated skin during these colder months, stocking up on products like the ones included in this month's box will so very beneficial for you. Not only face products, but for the body, too. If you don't know who MINTD Box are, they are a UK luxury monthly/bi-monthly subscription box service that offers only the highest quality luxury brands at value price with full sized products in every box. The concept is that you are getting more than what you are putting into it money-wise, while also trying out products from a variety of luxury brands from trusted retailers and ones currently globally on trend. I have three posts about their boxes from October (here), September (here), August (here). MINTD Box ships to the UK, W. Europe, N. America, Australia, and New Zealand.

The premium products stocked in this month's box are high end favorites found at Harrods, Space NK, Net-A-Porter, and Selfridges. There are 4 full sized products and 1 travel sized product in this month's box:

The retail value of all added up together comes to £153/$191.14 but you will only be paying £65/$81.20 for them. Still, the price is not cheap. The concept of MINTD Box is that you get more out of the subscription than what you're financially putting in, therefore you'll be compensated of the price through one or two large priced items. It also should be understood that you're getting a curation of brands that are hand-picked by MINTD Box beauty experts who spend a lot of time perfecting their choosing process. After going through multiple upon multiple beauty subscription box subscriptions, MINTD has been a breath of fresh air. So far I have not been let down by the overall presentation of MINTD. They've introduced me to brands I've never known before and now truly love.

MINTD Box offers monthly/bi-monthly (£65), 3 month (£190.50), 6 month (£381), and 12 month (£762) subscription plans. All of them can easily be cancelled through a hassle-free process. If you're ever in doubt, customer service is there to help you with any and all questions. If you've not subscribed yet, subscribe here. Take 10% off your first box with this non-affiliated code 10OFF1STF.

Patchology Flash Masque Trio

Exfoliate/Hydrate/Illuminate | $20 | (Buy here) or (Buy here)

I'm a biiiiiiiiiig fan of sheet masks, as you know (if you've seen my sheet mask stash, that is!). I've heard of this brand before but never have tried. I know MINTD has featured them in one of their earlier boxes but I was hoping they would include them again as I've wanted to try them out. Patchology is a brand that understands not everybody makes skincare their top priority. We're all trying to live our lives and get through our days, and they recognize that. They focus on simplifying your beauty routine with their multi-beneficial products that are quick to use. I really appreciate a brand like this because it's true, not everybody has the time for even a 5-step routine! At age 20 I was barely doing a 3-step routine, I felt like I had no time and everything seemed so complicated. Patchology would have been great to have known back then.

The three sheet masks included in the FlashMasque Trio are their Exfoliate, Hydrate, and Illuminate sheet masks. They have been created to be worn for 5 minutes and deliver fast acting results in that time, working to revitalize skin and give it a youthful boost. Exfoliate "gently removes dead skin cells for more even tone and texture," Hydrate "delivers a mega-dose of moisture for soft silky skin," and Illuminate "reveals fresh-faced radiance to lackluster skin." For such a small amount of time being worn on your skin, this all sounds so very promising. I usually wear my sheet masks for a good 25-35 minutes, just to get all the essence goodness absorbed (some sheet masks don't last that long, but I prefer to wear them for a longer amount of time). 

I actually thought these Patchology sheet masks did a pretty good job for what they had been advertising! I definitely think I like the Hydrate and Illuminate the best, as Exfoliate I felt was really not all that great and I didn't feel like it evened tone or skin texture. Hydrate did a wonderful job at providing ample moisture to my skin and I felt thoroughly refreshed after using it. I felt the same thing about Illuminate and my skin did look like it had a bit more radiance to it (thank you Licorice!). I did not try to wear those more than 5 minutes as I wanted to test if these really could be used during that time and still get great benefits from it. I think for a Western brand these are pretty good sheet masks and as a 5 minute treatment they did not disappoint me (besides Exfoliate), so they get a thumbs up from me. 

Ingredients (Hydrate): Water (Aqua), Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, Inositol, Trehalose, Taurine, Phenoxyethanol, Betaine, Sodium Hyaluronate, Panthenol (Vitamine B5), Citrus Paradisi (Grapefruit) Seed Extract, Scutellaria Baicalensis Root Extract, Mangnesium Aspartate, Zinc Gluconate, Copper Gluconate, Arginine, Glyceryl Caprylate, Ethylhexylglycerin, Peg-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Xantham Gum, Disodium Edta, Fragrance (Parfum) 
Ingredients (Exfoliate): Water (Aqua), Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, Inositol, Trehalose, Taurine, Phenoxyethanol, Betaine, Lactic Acid, Citrus Paradisi (Grapefruit) Seed Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Panthenol (Vitamin B5), Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Scutellaria Baicalensis Root Extract, Algae Extract, Saccharomyces Polypeptides, Arginine, Mannitol, Papain, Bromelain, Glyceryl Caprylate, Xantham Gum, Peg-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Ethylhexylglycerin, Disodium Edta, Fragrance (Parfum)

Ingredients (Illuminate): Water (Aqua), Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, Inositol, Trehalose, Taurine, Phenoxyethanol, Betaine, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Citrus Paradisi (Grapefruit) Seed Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Scutellaria Baicalensis Root Extract, Hydrolyzed Pea Protein, Pseudoalteromonas Ferment Extract, Peucedanum Ostruthium Leaf Extract, Panthenol (Vitamin B5), Glyceryl Caprylate, Xanthan Gum, Arginine, Peg-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Ethylhexyglycerin, Disodium Edta, Fragrance (Parfum)

Magicstripes Magic Hand Repairing Gloves

3pcs | £28.00 | (Buy here)

Magicstripes is a brand that was featured in MINTD's September box (read the review here) and I really enjoyed their Wake Me Up Collagen Eye Patches. This is a product that "stimulates the skin's renewal process and helps firm, soften, and moisturize the skin." It helps with the aging of the skin by reducing the "appearance of lines and wrinkles, and provide protection against the elements." These gloves are enriched with natural extracts, active molecules, shea butter, and olive oil.

I'm actually no stranger to this kind of product as I've seen this in Japanese beauty too, and there are also feet masks as well! The end is limitless when it comes to masking!

It was so interesting having them be soaked in the essence for the 20-25 minutes. I mean, you essentially have your hand inside a glove the whole time (I don't remember the last time I wore gloves!) and I wasn't really sure what to do with myself. I felt very Glenn Close in 101 Dalmatians. I still am using the Seaweed & Geranium Hand Balm by Haeckels that was featured in the same September box as the last Magicstripes product, and that has been helping me a lot during these cold days. Which brings up my thoughts about this, I don't know if I personally need a product like this? It was nice to try but I was not wow'd by it. I think maybe for those who are in colder climates and have concerns that I've outlined above, this might be a good product. But for me personally, I didn't feel like I got any real substantial impression from using the product.

Aromatherapy Associates Moisturizing Lip Balm

0.23 oz | £16.00 | (Buy here)

Aromatherapy Associates was featured last month and I did not have a good experience, which was why I was happy to see it again this month. I wanted to give it another chance and see if other items would be better suited for me, and I was right! We have a winner! 

I think I've whined enough about how dry my lips constantly are, but it's true and I'm always on the hunt for a new balm to help with them. I had no idea that Aromatherapy Associates made lip balms, but I'm so glad they do as this one is a keeper. It is scented with ginger, vanilla, and cocoa butter, smells sooo good! I've been using my Trilogy Everything Balm and it's been really helping me lately but I needed something a lot thicker to use. This Aromatherapy Associates balm is reaaaaally thick and just what I've needed to help, the plant oils and butters really are so good at keeping my lips nourished and smooth. I will for sure be buying this myself when I run out.

At first it will be quite solid, you should take a small spatula and dip into it to break the first layer so that it becomes more emulsified. Now all I do is dip my finger in and apply it onto my lips, sometimes still using a spatula to get bigger chunks. Really easy! I do have to say, for some reason the packaging of this doesn't match the stock retail stock photo? I don't know why that is.

Ingredients: Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Euphorbia Cerifera (Candelilla) Wax, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Cera Alba (Beeswax), Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Germ Oil, Hellianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Rosa Damascena Flower Extract, Rosa Rubiginosa Seed Oil, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract , Zingiber Officinalis (Ginger) Root Extract, Vanilla Planifolia (Vanilla) Fruit Extract, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Tribehenin, Sorbitan Isostearate, Palmitoyl Oligopeptide, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Benzyl Alcohol, Citral*, Citronellol*, Limonene*, Linalool*, Geraniol*; *Natural Essential Oil Contents **Natural Plant Extracts

African Botanics Plantes d'Afrique Shower Cream

200 ml | £41/$50 | (Buy here)

African Botanics is one of my faaaaaavorite ecoluxury brands, their Buchu Botanical Enzyme Polish and Neroli Infused Marula Oil are two of my favorite products that I own. They are a family owned business located in Southern California (LA area) that promotes and preserves African culture and biodiversity, founded by owners Craig and Julia Noik's own South African roots. Each product is made in South Africa, giving it a unique and true authenticity. Their intention has always been to create a blend of true luxury and nature that can accommodate the needs of any modern individual, and I truly think they've done just that. Craig and Julia have all of my respect and appreciation, especially when it comes to not losing sight of their South African roots while living here in Southern California. As I've grown up in a multi-cultural household, I've also struggled with preserving my own cultures. Through African Botanics, they've been able to both exhibit their own rich South African roots while also paying homage to Africa's overall beauty and botanical abundances

Plantes d'Afrique Shower Cream was inspired by ancient African bathing rituals that utilize wild-harvested botanicals and unique plant elements. It has the most lush blend of ingredients: infused with crushed Baobab fruit and volcanic lava minerals for exfoliation, anti-oxidant rich Green Rooibos Tea and Honeybush extracts to smooth skin texture, and Cape Rose Geranium and Lemongrass to boost circulation, purify, and tone the skin. This works as a gentle creamy skin polish that revitalizes skin while protecting its moisture barrier. I first want to talk about the packaging, it itself is so lovely and I adore the white and floral design. It looks very luxurious and I love that it's recyclable. The creamy consistency is like a soft cloud, it's one of the nicest consistencies I've ever used. The granules are also a nice size, I felt like they exfoliated very well and were not at all abrasive. It has such a delightful scent too, I love just closing my eyes and enjoying its fragrance. 

I really think a product like this would aid so many, using a cream will be great for the skin as it will provide the moisture it so needs during this time. It adds the heavier moisture that's needed and your skin will feel so refreshed. African Botanics is having a 30% off sale (use code BLACKFRIDAY) and today (11/28/16) is the last day, I'd pick this up if you're unable to get this month's MINTD Box!

Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Glycerin, Sclerocarya Birrea (Marula) Seed Oil*, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter*, Trichila Emetica (Cape Mahogany Mafura) Seed Butter*, Citrillus Lanatus (Kalahari Melon) Seed Oil*, Adansonia Digitata (Baobab) Fruit Powder*, Adansonia Digitata (Baobab) Seed Oil*, Cetearyl Alcohol, Octyldodecanol, Pumice, Kigelia Africana Fruit Extract*, Aspalathus Linearis (Rooibos Tea) Extract, Cyclopia Genistoides (Honeybush) Leaf Extract, Pelargonium Graveolens Roseum (Cape Rose Geranium) Essential Oil, Cymbopogon Citratus (Lemongrass) Essential Oil, Ethylhexylglycerin. *Organic and Wild-Harvested Ingredients.

EviDenS de Beauté The Rich Cream

0.34oz/10ml | Travel size | Full Size: €240/£235/$291.78 | (Buy here)

EviDenS de Beauté is another brand that was featured last month. I got to try their Eye Recovery Serum and really enjoyed using it. I knew that I wanted to try another product of theirs and was very happy to see this included, especially as a face cream! EviDenS is a luxurious French skincare brand that takes its roots from Japanese beauty rituals, creating a fusion of East and West. They formulate and aim their products for even the most sensitive skin. I definitely would not be able to try any of their products if they were not included in MINTD's monthly boxes, as it's way over my budget (and also I don't see it anywhere here)! However, after trying both this face cream and eye serum, I truly can say that they are a high quality brand with effective products.

The Rich Cream is a thicker cream that is very apt for this season. It claims to provide deep nourishment, protect against pollution, and smooth wrinkles. It also claims to restore firmness, comfort, and radiance as a creamy but non-oily texture which makes the skin supple. For those with oily skin like mine, this is going to be a cream that you'll use when you're feeling extra dry. While it is a beautiful rich cream with a light perfume-y fragrance, you will most likely wake up a little more oilier the next morning. However, I still love to use this and I think it's a gorgeous product. I do feel like it firms my skin and provides hydration, but I'm unsure about any radiance. Of course, the packaging just gets me! But the consistency of the product is not wholly a cream per say, it feels like a mixture of a thick gel/cream. It blends translucent and becomes a semi-matte velvet texture. For the whole face you don't really need a lot of this, either. I am interested to see the long term affects of this product and am happy to have this in my skincare stash!

Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Cetyl Ethylhexanoate, Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, Glyceryl Stearate Se, Limnanthes Alba (Meadowfoam) Seed Oil, Dipentaerythrityl Hexahydroxystearate/hexastearate/hexarosinate, Stearic Acid, 1,2-hexanediol, Glyceryl Stearate, Hydrogenated Palm Oil, Cetyl Alcohol, Dimethicone, Aqua (Water)*, Tocopherol, Glycosyl Trehalose, Hydrogenated Starch Hydrolysate, Phytosteryl/octyldodecyl Lauroyl Glutamate, Cetyl Palmitate, Squalane, Parfum (Fragrance), Acrylates/c10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Alcohol, Hydrolyzed Collagen, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Pca, Sodium Lactate, Betaine, Ubiquinone, Soluble Collagen, Sodium Benzoate, Arginine, Aspartic Acid, Pca, Glycine, Alanine, Phenylalanine, Histidine, Isoleucine, Threonine, Proline, Serine, Valine, Morus Alba Root Extract, Saccharum Officinarum (Sugar Cane) Extract, Sodium Hydroxide, Citric Acid, Potassium Hydroxide, Sorbitol, Caramel, Glutamic Acid, Alpha-isomethylionone, Benzyl Benzoate, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Citronellol, Hexyl Cinnamal, Hydroxyisohexyl 3-cyclohexene Carboxaldehyde, Linalool. *eau De La Foux.

Overall, I think that this box was not the strongest but it had some great products. My favorites definitely have to be African Botanics and Aromatherapy Associates, as I've been using them the most.

As I have pointed out in this post, some brands have been repeated, some one box after the other. For some people, that can be discouraging, as subscription boxes often are used to find new brands/products, especially ones that are not so accessible (like for us Americans). One of my main gripes with my past subscription boxes was that I kept getting the same types of products and it wasn't worth it for me to spend the money when I wasn't financially getting the value out of it. I've kindly been sent every single MINTD Box to review and I've always been 100% honest with you, as I am even now. I want to bring this to your attention because otherwise I would not be honest with myself or with you. 2017 is going to be a great new year and I know that MINTD will be doing their utmost to bring more and better brands to you, and doing their best (as they always do!) to make everybody satisfied.

What did you think about this month's box? Have you tried any of the brands included?

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*This product has kindly been PR gifted. All opinions are my own. See my disclaimer for more information.


New Skincare Bits: Omorovicza, Clé de Peau Beauté, 100% Pure

As a born and raised Southern Californian, I have to just laugh when it's almost mid-November and we still have high 90s temperatures. While others are in the depths of snow or colder weather, Southern California is still enjoying sunny days and summer-like weather. I'm used to it, of course. I don't fully change my skincare routine until mid-December/early January, when I feel like we're finally starting to get some of the long lost Fall colder temperatures ('colder' for a Southern Californian, I mean!). While I'm waiting for that time, I still like to change up my routine as much as I'm able to.

I recently got some new skincare in these past two months that I've been really enjoying using and incorporating into my routine: Clé de Peau Beauté Cleansing Clay Scrub, Omorovicza Queen of Hungary Mist*, and 100% Pure Brightening Serum*.

Omorovicza Queen of Hungary Mist (Limited Edition)

1.7 oz | $50.00 | (Buy here) or (Buy here)

For those who follow me on instagram, you know that I'm no stranger to Omorvicza products. I'm an avid lover of their Deep Cleansing Mask, Ultramoor Mud Mask, and Cleansing Foam. I especially love the two masks, they work exceptionally well with my oily skin type and really get the grit and impurities out of my skin. If you are not familiar with Omorvicza, they are a Hungarian luxury skincare brand that sources from mineral-rich thermal hot spring baths. Hungary is located on the Carpathian Basin, which has a very thin lithosphere and is known as one of the hottest basins in Europe. The thin lithospheric thermal basin allows for an abundance of natural hot spring water to rise to the surface from deep in the Earth's core. As I explained in my most recent post about Amayori Rituals, hot springs have nourishing mineral properties and can help with treating numerous internal/external ailments. These Hungarian mineral-rich hot springs are special due to their rich history (from Roman and Ottoman Turks), geographic location, and importance in Hungarian spa culture.

After absorbing this information, you can easily see how unique of a brand Omorovicza is. One of their most popular and well-known products is their Queen of Hungary Mist*. They recently came out with a limited edition bottle to celebrate their 10 year anniversary, as they first opened their doors in Budapest in 2006. The bottle design is inspired by the peacock feather, which is a motif that's seen in Art Nouveau architecture in Budapest. The mist includes ingredients like cooling neroli and rose to refresh, purify, and hydrate your skin. This smaller size is great for travel and quick touch ups (their larger size is 3.4oz for $90). It's recommended for combination/normal skin but I really think all skin types can truly enjoy this beautiful mist. Their products are paraben and silicone free, and are fragranced with natural scents crafted in the perfume capital of the world, Grasse, France. You can see a list of what ingredients they do not use in their products here.

This product was one of the first things I ever tried from Omorovicza, the first being their Foaming Cleanser that I still love to this day. You might think that this is a lot of money for a mist but understanding the true properties and uniqueness of this product really helps to calm any worry I have. This mist includes fermented Saccharomyces and Chlorella Vulgaris/Lupinus Albus Protein Ferment (a liquid obtained from Lupinus Albus Protein fermented by Chlorella Vulgaris algae), both being wonderful hydrating agents. There are multiple upon multiple studies on using fermented ingredients for improving skin health, one being here that highlights its hydration benefits. You're not only getting the mineral rich Hugarian thermal water, but also the inclusion of other waters from Rose Damask, Sage Leaf, and Orange Blossom. It also includes Apple Pectin, which has been studied to have anti-aging affects (specifically its properties from enzymatic hydrolysis: Galacturonic Acid and Oligogalacturonides). Phospholipids are effective hydrating and anti-aging agents due to their non-occlusive, hydrophilic, and natural humectant benefits. It uses Hydro Mineral Transference, a patented mineral delivery system created by Omorovicza that addresses the extent to minerals being deeply absorbed into the skin. Through bio-fermentation, the molecular structure of the water is reconfigured, resulting in complex molecules being more bio-available (allowing easy absorption into the epidermis). This light, floral blend is calming and soothing to both your skin and senses. I love using it in the morning, it's the perfect scent and moisture that I need. If you take a look at the spritzer, it's really quite unique in itself! It distributes the perfect amount of water out that allows you to cover more skin surface very easily. I find that I don't need to apply this a bunch of times like I would with other mists, 3-4 spritz is really what I prefer to use (I do go heavy handed though since I love this so much, sometimes 5-6 spritz!). It's also so finely compressed that you don't feel like there are huge chunks of water being sprayed at your face. It's very light and airy, it's softly released and falls carefully onto where you spray it. Seeing as this is a smaller size, you might need a few extra spritz of it to encompass your whole face and specific concentrated areas. With a larger size you really can just douse yourself in it (I've done many times!). After it's been applied, I feel an instant pick-me-up and any skin irritation I feel starts to go away.

The reason why I like to use this in the mornings is that I don't feel the need to really pack on a lot of the product, compared to my night routine when I really like to use a lot of hydrating products and prefer to be heavy handed. As I've mentioned, this is a light mist so you're not going to be getting that kind of heavy application. If you have very dry skin then I think you will still like this but will need to spray more of it than others. I really adore this mist, it's a lovely size and is so unique. I really think it's in my top five face mists!

Ingredients: Aqua (Hungarian Thermal Water), Glycerin, Polysorbate 20, Phenoxyethanol, Pyrus Malus (Apple) Fruit Extract, Saccharomyces (Hungarian Thermal Water) Ferment Extract, Disodium EDTA, Ethylhexylglycerin, Mannitol, Malpighia Punicifolia (Acerola) Fruit Extract, Chlorella Vulgaris/Lupinus Albus Protein Ferment, Pectin, Rosa Damascena Flower Water, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Flower Water, Salvia Officinalis (Sage) Leaf Water, Phospholipids, Yeast Extract, Linalool, Geraniol, Citronellol

100% Pure Brightening Serum

1 oz | $45.00 | (Buy here) or (Buy here)

100% Pure is a brand that I've always wanted to try. They are a Northern California green beauty brand that is 100% natural, vegan, organic, and cruelty-free. All of their products are free of artificial colors, artificial fragrances, synthetic chemical preservatives, and possible harmful toxins. They are founded on the belief of providing healthy skincare products by using only the highest quality ingredients. They are very big on philanthropy and are Leaping Bunny cruelty-free certified. I've seen this brand all over social media and was so excited to be able to try this product out, complementary of Good Earth Beauty.

100% Pure's Brightening Serum* enlivens dull skin for a luminous complexion. It uses all natural, gentle ingredients like bearberry, kojic acid, sake, fruit acids, licorice, vitamin C, lemon juice and strawberries for its brightening effect. The product itself is a gel-based cream color that is on the thin side, it absorbs very well and it can easily be spread out without much product due to its consistency. The pump dispenses a small dollop of the product, so you can control how much you'd like to use (the swatch picture shows about 2-3 dispenses of the product). Since it is basically a gel-lotion type, I've been loving this at night when my skin feels a bit dehydrated and irritated from all the actives that I use. The product is housed in a white, heavy container that is very aesthetically pleasing to me personally. The main problem I have with its packaging, however, is that the plastic top can easily come off. I think they should invest in better packaging because I have to be careful with this and where I put it, especially if I'm traveling. It doesn't have any system that locks the pump in place, either. Regardless of packaging woes, I really enjoy using this product! It smells somewhat herbal (?) and is not strong at all. I don't know if I would say that it's given me any real substantial brightening benefits, but it definitely acts as a 'luminizer' of sorts. When I wake up the next day after using this, I can tell that my skin has a bit more luminosity. I have also used it both AM/PM routines but I love using this mostly at night. If you're looking for a drastic change in your skin, this product won't give it to you. I mostly enjoy this product because it moisturizes my skin and has a very cooling sensation.

The ingredients are impressive as a natural product. Organic Aloe is at the forefront by its leaf juice base, and Rose Hydrosol follows right after it. You have a multitude of botanical and plant sources, some of my favorites being Rice Ferment Filtrate and Kojic Acid (from sake), Licorice Root, Pomegranate Seed Oil, Cranberry Fruit, Japanese Honeysuckle, and Bearberry Extract. The Vegetable Cellulose creates its consistency and emulsification, which keeps the oils and waters together in the product. 

I like the inclusion of Ascorbyl Palmitate as a Vitamin C ingredient (rather, it's a Vitamin C ester), as it's a non-acidic molecule from Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) and Palmitic Acid (Fatty Acid). Due to the Palmitic Acid, it is lipid soluble, which means that it can "penetrate the skin and deliver antioxidants faster than water soluble forms of Vitamin C." The positive of this action is that it "helps prevent cellular aging by inhibiting the cross-linking of collagen, oxidation of proteins, and lipid peroxidation." As some may know, there are two base types of Ascorbic Acid: L-ascorbic acid and D-ascorbic acid. L-ascorbic acid is the chemically active form of Vitamin C and D-ascorbic acid is the inactive form. Using Vitamin C in cosmetics is a complicated business, as it can become unstable and oxidize quite quickly. Luckily 100% Pure uses ingredient protective packaging so that light cannot penetrate and lessen the ingredient's quality. Ascorbyl Palmitate is not the most stable Vitamin C ester compared to MAP (Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate), but it is more stable than L-ascorbic acid (has to be at a pH lower than 3.5 to be effective). Ascorbyl Palmitate as a derivative is also less irritating than L-ascorbic acid, making it a great ingredient for both sensitive and acne-prone skin.

You definitely can tell that a lot of thought when into formulating this product to make sure that it would be easy to use for a range of different skin types. In my opinion, this is less of a serum and more of an emulsion. The word 'serum' in green beauty can be varied, since there are numerous kinds of serums like oils and lotions. They drift away from the 'traditional serum' we're so used to, in my opinion. 

Ingredients: Aloe Barbadensis (Organic Aloe)* Leaf Juice, Rosa Centifolia Flower Water (Rose Hydrosol)*, Punica Granatum (Pomegranate) Seed Oil, Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon Juice) Extract, Loofah Cylindrica (Vegetable Cellulose), Rice Ferment Filtrate (Sake), Arctostaphylos Uva Ursi Leaf (Bearberry) Extract, Kojic Dipalmitate (Kojic Acid), Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root, Ascorbyl Palmitate (Vitamin C), Extracts of Punica Granatum (Pomegranate), Vaccinum Macrocarpon Fruit (Cranberry), Cetearyl Olivate & Sorbitan Olivate, Extracts of Citrus Paradisi Peel (Pink Grapefruit), Citrus Medica Limonum Peel (Lemon), Lonicera Caprifolium (Japanese Honeysuckle) *Certified Organic

Clé de Peau Beauté Cleansing Clay Scrub

2.8 oz/70 ml | $65.00 | (Buy here) or (Buy here)

Clé de Peau Beauté is one of my favorite Japanese beauty brands. I'm obsessed with their eyeshadows, blushers, and lip products (the new Radiant Liquid Rouge Lip Lacquers are beautiful!). I've always wanted to try their skincare products but have been put off by the prices. A few months ago they came out with a new line of cleansers (and few other products), so I thought that it's finally my chance to try them out! Luckily they were having a great GWP campaign and I managed to snag a deluxe size of their Cleansing Cream Oil. Today I'll just be talking about their Cleansing Clay Scrub because I've been using it a lot more than the Cleansing Cream Oil (review of this is coming soon, though!).

This is a kaolin clay based cleanser that delicately exfoliates while removing impurities from the skin. It is very creamy and has small granules to help exfoliate. It has quite a strong fragrance (natural rose and orchid), so those who are sensitive to fragrances might not like this. I really like this exfoliator, I find that because it's so creamy I can use it every other day if I want to without it irritating my skin. My skin feels super soft and nourished after using this. I only need about a quarter amount to use all of my face and it emulsifies really well with water. It uses an Illuminating Complex EX made with silk and pearl elements to help moisturize and retexturize the skin, along with a mixture of natural kaolin clay, minerals, and soft granules that distribute evenly during application. It doesn't strip the skin of any of its natural hydration, either. It uses silk protein derived L-Serine, an amino acid that helps develop Phospholipids, that works as a skin conditioning ingredient. Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate is a salt derived from the licorice plant, functioning as an anti-irritant with "anti-inflammatory and skin soothing capabilities." This product also includes Zinc Oxide, a natural ingredient you might be familiar with when it comes to sunscreen and UVA/UVB protection. I'm not sure how well this would work for skin protection considering this is a wash off product, but I do feel at ease knowing that this is included.

I think it's a good size for the price, considering that Kate Somerville Exfolikate sells for 2oz for $85. However, $65 is still pretty pricey for an exfoliator. You're not only paying that amount for the brand name but also for the luxurious packaging, too. Regardless of these facts I probably will buy this again. It's an effective product and I don't own anything like this that both nourishes and exfoliates my skin. I'm not irritated by the perfume fragrance at all and I can tell that my skin really enjoys using this!

Ingredients: Water(Aqua/eau), Glycerin, Dipropylene Glycol, Kaolin, Glyceryl Stearate Se, Zinc Oxide, Peg-60 Glyceryl Isostearate, Butylene Glycol, Talc, Bentonite, Alcohol Denat., Behenyl Alcohol, Stearyl Alcohol, Microcrystalline Cellulose, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate, Disodium Edta, Trehalose, Peg/ppg-14/7 Dimethyl Ether, Titanium Dioxide (Ci 77891), Isostearic Acid, Fragrance (Parfum), Lauryl Betaine, Barium Sulfate, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Aluminum Hydroxide, Paeonia Albiflora Root Extract, Serine, Tocopherol, Theanine, Sodium Acetylated Hyaluronate, Benzoic Acid, Sodium Benzoate, Polyquaternium-51, Hydrolyzed Silk, Hydrolyzed Conchiolin Protein

These are just a few skincare bits that I've been liking to use as of late! Do you own any products from these brands? Which one would you like to try the most?

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*This product has kindly been PR gifted. All opinions are my own. See my disclaimer for more information.


Japanese Bathing Rituals: Amayori Rituals Rotenburo Air

Have you ever had an experience that changed your life? If you have, then you know powerful that can be, whether through travel, meeting someone inspirational in your life, or any other kinds of instances. Or maybe it's more than one experience, rather a culmination of experiences that have totally made you turn your life in a different direction than what you had always thought. 

Francoise Decatrel had this kind experience when visiting Kyoto's famous geisha disctrict in Gion, Japan. While traveling there, she had the opportunity to bathe in an Onsen and experience traditional Japanese bathing rituals. Being introduced to Japanese bathing rituals changed Francoise's life and inspired her to create Amayori Rituals. These rituals rely on cleansing as an activity before entering the bath, afterwards allowing yourself a full relaxation immersion by soaking in the hot spring water. There is a concentration on taking the time for every aspect, not being influenced by the rush that society puts on us, allowing you to truly enjoy every moment from start to finish. Amayori Rituals as a name resurfaces Francoise's memory of a romantic evening stroll on a misty and quiet Sunday in Akasaka, Tokyo. Along with her long time passion of aromatherapy and Japanese skincare ingredients, Francoise sought out to establish a luxury bath, body care, and aromatherapy line inspired by Japanese bathing rituals. 

Amayori Rituals combines traditional Japanese bathing rituals with the comfort of being in your own home. With luxurious aromatic and beautiful botanicals and oils infused in their products, they create a deep relaxation and sensory experience. These products help to meditate and calm the mind, reaching a point of absolute serenity of your body and soul. Each aromatherapy fragrance blend is inspired by a specific treatment, ranging in concentration on stress relief, rejuvenation, relaxation, or even to help sleeping problems. They each set a scene to truly immerse yourself in. These natural, botanical aromatherapy fragrances not only provide a beautiful scent but directly affect the energies within us. Some of her favorite ingredients to use are camellia seed oil, rice bran, sea kelp, sake, yuzu, and hinoki. Francoise makes these products in small batches, assuring excellent quality and precision. 

I have been acquainted with Amayori Rituals before this as Francoise had kindly sent me some products from her summer limited edition Okinawa collection and permanent line. The Okinawa Aromatherapy Perfume Oil and Dreams of Gion Shower Mochi made me fall in love with her brand. I still even now use the perfume oil daily as it has one of the most beautiful fragrances. 

Onsen (温泉) are hot springs in Japan, offering the most beautiful outdoor scenery experience and relaxation. There are also indoor Onsens, but there's nothing like being surrounded by the natural beauty of Japan's outdoors. Onsen water has varying kinds of mineral content, each with their own health benefits.  It's able to stimulate the metabolism and provide relaxation from the water pressure and buoyancy, along with having many other benefits. Not only is it a relaxing and therapeutic experience but you also can get some great treatments from it, such as helping back pain, rheumatism, poor circulation, high blood pressure, etc. Hence why often times those who have been suffering from ailments will visit an Onsen for treatment and prevention. There has also been dermatologist studies on the positive outcomes of Onsen bathing, such as helping psoriasis and atopic dermatitis. The term 'Toji' (湯治) means 'hot spring cure,' relating to the culture of Onsen being used as treatment for restoring your health (known as balneotherapy in English). There are some specific ways that you can truly get the most out of your hot spring experience, some examples you can find here. The Onsen water also ranges in different coloring and opacity, depending on numerous factors such as dissolved minerals, temperature, and so on. Onsens will normally be connected with ryokans, traditional Japanese inns, or available to use at public bath houses (known as "sento"/銭湯); hotels may have them available as well. There were numerous bath houses and well-known Onsens near where I was in the Tottori Prefecture in Japan, especially as the volcanic Mt. Daisen was in my near vicinity. 

Bathing is such an important activity, not only for cleansing purposes, but also as an individual time for ourselves to nurture and nourish. As Amayori Rituals was created to live a calm, fulfilled, and balanced life, taking the time for activities such as bathing can help to be in complimentary to those values. I think we all would like to have more calm and balance in our lives, especially for those of us who are always on the go and so stressed. Amayori Rituals also caters to a busy lifestyle, as they have products available for showering, such as their Shower Mochi (simply set it about an inch away from direct water contact and you're good to go!). Even if you don't have the time available to soak in a bath for 15-30 minutes, allowing smaller amounts of time is so very helpful too. These rituals are not only addressing physical concerns but also inner and deeper ones within ourselves, essentially promoting tranquility as vital fragrant escapes from daily life. Fragrances provide that escape by their mood changing and stimulating physiological influence.

Francoise recently came out with a new line named Rotenburo Air, taking inspiration from open-air Onsens (aka Rotenburo/露天風呂) that provide a stunning view of Japan's outdoors. It is an aromatherapy fragrance that is light and airy, providing rejuvenation and relaxation with ingredients like yuzu citrus (to relax and positive uplifting), orange (to replenish and revive), organic white pine and organic balsam fir (to refresh and revitalize), monarda flower (to relieve stress and promote positivity), and Oman white frankincense (to reduce tension). This lush aromatherapy blend transports you to a whole new scenery. This is honestly one of my favorite fragrances that Francoise has ever made. This fragrance reminds me of the time I was in Arashiyama, a district in Kyoto, as it has the most beautiful Autumnal scenery. 

Today I'll be talking about her Rotenburo Air Hikaru Multi-Use Oil*, Rotenburo Air Shower Mochi*, and Rotenburo Air Luxury Bath Salts*.

Rotenburo Air Hikaru Multi-Use Oil

100ml/3.3 oz | $110 | (Buy here)

Amayori Rituals Hikaru Multi-Use Oil* adds a beautiful glow to the skin with ingredients like organic camellia oil and rice bran oil, both having anti-aging and skin clearing properties. Organic perilla seed oil and sea buckthorn oil provide a luxurious moisturizing benefit, as perilla oil has a very high content of omega-3 fatty acids and sea buckthron oil has one of the highest contents of beta-carotene and vitamins C and E. It also includes Rosemary O2 extract, a prized plant for its medicinal and therapeutic uses, which is high in antioxidant content and polyphenolic compounds (flavonoids). Along with the Rotenburo Air fragrance, which in itself is so gorgeous and full of such lush, tranquil ingredients. This product especially works to rejuvenate, revive, uplift, and replenish the mind, body, and soul.

There are numerous ways that you can use this oil. You can use it after a shower/bath by placing a small amount in your palms and massage it into your skin, starting at the collar bone and making your way downwards. This is one of the most beautiful ways to apply it, just as your skin has been soaked in some warm water from your bath/shower and is needing some vital hydration from all the heat. I really love using it this way, as I find that I don't waste as much product and I get so much nourishment from a straight skin application. You can also apply pumps of the oil into bath water and soak in it, another great calming activity. It makes your skin look so radiant afterwards. It also can be used on damp hair and applied onto your skin before you take a shower. No matter what way you use this, you will fall in love with the experience and fragrance.

I never used to use any body oils with my body care, I usually just hopped out of a shower/bath and that's that. I never thought that there could be more to cleansing the body, or rather that it could hold any real significance for me personally. This oil is not just beautiful in fragrance but also as a product that creates the perfect serene atmosphere. I wish I could explain in better terms but I honestly have no words for how beautiful this oil is. All I have to say is that I recommend you to try it, and a little goes a long way. Take a look at the ingredients yourself and I'm sure you'll fall in love with them as I have!

Ingredients: Organic Perilla Seed Oil, Organic Camellia Seed Oil, Rice Bran Oil, Coconut Oil, Sea Buckthorn CO2, Extract Citrus sinensis (Wild Orange) Essential Oil, Citrus junos (Yuzu) Essential Oil, Monarda fistulosa L. var. menthaefolial (Monarda) Essential Oil, Organic Pinus strobus (White Pine) Essential Oil, Boswellia sacra (White Frankincense) Essential Oil, Organic Tsuga canadensis (Hemlock Spruce) Essential Oil, Natural Essential Oil Fragrance, Rosemary CO2 Extract

Rotenburo Air Luxury Bath Salts

4oz/per one | $80 for five packets | (Buy here)

You have not experienced the beauty of bath salts if you have not tried Rotenburo Air Luxury Bath Salts* from Amayori Rituals. These are one of the most gorgeous smelling bath salts. This is a rich mineral bath treatment that is composed of 100% natural ingredients sourced from all around the globe. They comprise a base of multiple skin softening salts, including salts from the Israeli Dead Sea and pink salt from the foothills of the Tibetan Himalayan mountains. Some others included are organic Atlantic sea kelp (promotes detoxification), green tea (nourishment and anti-aging benefits), and a multitude of natural and organic essential oils.

These bath salts allow yourself to reach an ultimate serene, calming atmosphere. The fragrance is very light and airy, which is so wonderful after a long day. Aromatherapy has been something I've very much been into these past months as anxiety and stress have been heavily impacting my daily life. Mixing bathing and aromatherapy together gives me the best way to release the heaviness I feel by taking the time to distance myself from reality. I find that I don't need to pour a full packet as there is so much of the product in a single one. I'm really sensitive to heavier scents so this has been perfect for me.

I don't know if I have ever spoken about this before but I've been suffering from a lower back injury for now more than two years. It has really debilitated me and drastically turned my life upside down. Taking a bath or soaking in a hot tub has really helped to release the tension and extreme pain that I feel on a daily basis. Mixing this with aromatherapy has been so beneficial to both my physical and mental health. While soaking in a bath to help my physical injury, I've also been able to nurture both my mental and emotional health as well. I don't get to take baths very often but when I do, I really make sure I have enough time to use to get the most out of it.

Ingredients: Dead Sea Salt, Pink Himalayan Salt, Pacific Sea Salt, Green Tea, Organic Atlantic Kelp, Citrus sinensis (Wild Orange) Essential Oil, Citrus junos (Yuzu) Essential Oil, Monarda fistulosa L. var. menthaefolial (Monarda) Essential Oil, Organic Pinus strobus (White Pine) Essential Oil, Boswellia sacra (White Frankincense) Essential Oil, Organic Tsuga canadensis (Hemlock Spruce) Essential Oil

Rotenburo Air Shower Mochi

1.4 oz/per one | $21 for a pack of three | (Buy here)

If you don't know what mochi is, it is a Japanese glutinous rice treat that's traditionally eaten for New Year's, as well as eaten all year round and for other celebrations. It's also specifically used as traditional decoration (鏡餅; kagami mochi). On my first trip to Japan, I was able to see up close how mochi was made as part of helping at a local festival in the countryside (this traditional act of making mochi is called mochitsuki; 餅つき). Francoise's play on using mochi as a bath product really intrigued me and I find it to be such a unique product in her line! It even uses mochiko (もち米粉), which is derived from mochigome (もち米) that's used to make mochi; it's a rice flour used as a thickener.

This is an aromatherapy tablet that works with the steam of your shower. It's a great alternative for when you don't have time to enjoy a calming ritual in the bath. How you use this product is important, so be sure to not put it directly under running water as it will just waste it all. This is used with the steam of your shower, therefore it needs the steam to allow the fragrance to be fully released. You should place it about 1-1.5 inches away from direct water contact. It really works well with the steam and I often get to the point of not even wanting to come out of the shower because it smells so good! As this is a light scent, it is released through the steam as a subtle fragrance. I've gone through two shower mochi as of now and I find that I don't even need to fully use one up when I place it in the shower, I'll usually save the left over for next time. It is such a good size as well and easily can be accompanied with you if you happen to travel.

I really recommend this for those who are often too busy to enjoy a bath. This and the Multi-Use Oil will be your best friends.

Ingredients: Mochiko (sweet rice flour), Rice bran oil, and Rice Ferment Filtrate (Sake), Citrus sinensis (Wild Orange) Essential Oil, Citrus junos (Yuzu) Essential Oil, Monarda fistulosa L. var. menthaefolial (Monarda) Essential Oil, Organic Pinus strobus (White Pine) Essential Oil, Boswellia sacra (White Frankincense) Essential Oil, Organic Tsuga canadensis (Hemlock Spruce) Essential Oil, Natural Essential Oil Fragrance

Just this past week Francoise came out with a new line of products, called Kaori Sake Soak. Sake soaks in Japan are truly a unique experience, allowing you to bathe in rich amino acid acid content that deeply moisturizes and nourishes the skin. In Japan, there are places where you can bathe in all sorts of liquids, such as red wine, coffee, green tea, and so on. This sake soak includes aromatic hydrosols, organic camellia oil, green tea botanical extract, and multiple essential oils to give you the most heavenly experience. I've been using this whenever I can and it's now one of my most treasured products from the line. 

I hope that my review has helped you get a better sense of these beautiful products and Amayori Rituals as a whole. Be sure to follow them on instagram as they will alert you to specials that they offer, along with any giveaways. Plus, they post the most beautiful photos of their products and scenery pictures of Japan.

Let me know if you've ever tried Amayori Rituals before! If not, what would you like to try the most?

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*This product has kindly been PR gifted. All opinions are my own. See my disclaimer for more information.
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