Sunday, February 28, 2016

(Review) Guardian of the Forest: Eau Natural

As much as I hate driving in it, there's something so magical about snow.  That majestic white powder that falls from the sky in big, fluffy chunks and seemingly muffles the sound from outside.  It's also nice to watch it fall from the comfort of your home, curled up on the couch with your hot cocoa, smiling to yourself as you await the start of the holiday season!

Well guess what?  The holiday season has come and gone and that noise ain't cute anymore.  Neither is shutting down your shop early due to the mall closing for the safety of their customers & employees.  And while you wade your frozen ass over to your car to dig it out and mentally curse yourself for forgetting your snow gloves at home, you realize that a dream of spring isn't just a book you'll probably be reading when it comes out 60 years from now.  It's a dream of not digging your car out of the frozen tundra that is the midwestern U.S of A.

Guardian of the Forest is a newer, formerly Oxford Street exclusive bath bomb that just appeared on North American shelves a few months back.  Inspired by the Miyazaki classic "Princess Mononoke", Guardian of the Forest is packed with cypress & oakmoss oils with a touch of lime as to not be overly earthy.  Rosewood is also included in the mix as is a beautiful warm lustre.  The appearance of Guardian of the Forest is also different here than it is across the pond.  The entire bomb is a medium forest green dotted with chartreuse leaves & middle, while the U.K version has a dark base with light leaves on one side & a light base with dark leaves on the other.  I actually only noticed this when a coworker pointed it out to me, and neither of us had any idea why the two versions differ.

I've actually tried both versions of Guardian of the Forest (the U.K version that Bossman brought back for me & the N.A version purchased from my own shop) and was honestly wary of it at first.  I've made it no secret that I suffer from very bad outdoor allergies, and I often avoid most grassy smells for fear of clogged sinuses & lots of sneezing, but of course after a cautious whiff, I was pleasantly surprised & happy that there was no reaction, that I really enjoyed the scent!  

One thing about my baths is that I run them extremely hot.  If I'm not literally dripping sweat (gross I know), then my bath water isn't hot enough.  Dropping this guy into my steaming bath water not only amplified the scent, but the humidity of my bathroom made me feel like I was hiking during a misty morning in the Pacific Northwest.  And I've never even been to the Pacific Northwest!  It smelled absolutely beautiful, earthy & natural & the vibrant green water reminded me of my beloved Fizzbanger.  

Guardian of the Forest has quickly become a favorite of mine.  The natural, earthy aroma is extremely grounding, and bathing with this green beauty definitely helps to calm & relax me.  The scent lingered subtly on my skin & my tub wasn't layered with a ton of shimmer afterwards, which is always nice.  Guardian easily makes the list of my top 5 favorite bath bombs in both turnout, scent & how it makes me feel during & after my bath.  So if you haven't tried it out and are anxious for warmer weather, there's no time like the present!

Monday, February 22, 2016

(Review) Hand of Friendship: Ahlan wa Sahlan

Political campaigns at Lush always make me nervous.  While I admire Lush and the massive steel balls they have for voicing their support and opinions on high controversial issues, there's always some idiot out there ready to pick a fight over a situation they're sorely misinformed about.  Working at Lush for almost 2 years, you learn quickly that a campaign comes with controversy when you're handed a list of tips and questions on how to combat these customers should they ever give you a problem.  It wasn't too terribly long ago that I was sitting in a work meeting with a handful of my coworkers, brainstorming situations and solutions, all the while fidgeting nervously at the topic at hand: refugees.

We're in the midst of one of the biggest refugee crises in human history.  Over 250,000 Syrians have lost their lives in the midst of a 5 year civil war, and 12 million have been misplaced from their homes.  Nearly 5 million of those 12 million are now living as refugees.  The majority of those refugees are living in refugee camps mainly located in Jordan, with the largest camp housing 80,000 refugees.  These people have had everything they've known taken from them and are now living in overcrowded camps with little food, water, and clean conditions, as returning to their former homes would result in certain death.  Room in these camps is shrinking as well, and is leaving those affected to resort to rafting or traveling on foot to any type of sanctuary.  You wouldn't uproot your entire family unless the danger at home was significantly greater than the danger in this big bad world of ours.

Global response to the crisis has been slow, but those seeking asylum in European countries brought it front and center to the rest of the world.  North America has begun to respond as well, with Canada pledging to take in 25,000 refugees by the end of the month with aim to continue increasing those numbers, while the United States pledging to take in 10,000 refugees (despite protests and phobia of a terror attack on U.S soil).  With such an overwhelming global response, Lush was inspired to help as well, with a warm heart and a new bar of soap!

Hand of Friendship is a (for now) Lush North America exclusive product with all proceeds going to refugee charities like International Rescue Committee and Amnesty International Canada.  Made of almond oil, rosewood, cedarwood, and lemon oils, Hand of Friendship smells like a beautifully fragrant almond croissant with a very very subtle floral hint underneath.  Two multicolored hands entwine to create a heart which I find so beautifully symbolic for the situation at hand.

This soap does smell quite sweet, but not sickeningly so.  I found it lathered wonderfully and the heart shape made it surprisingly easier to hold.  Soap always slips out of my hands in the shower so I usually cut them into smaller chunks, but I found it unnecessary with this guy (which made me happy, as cutting it would've...broke my heart...get it?  Get it?!).  However, despite the copious amounts of coconut and almond oil, I found it a bit drying for my body, but terrific as a hand soap!  Now I just need to find a soap dish that'll do this beauty justice!

Overall, the response to our #refugeeswelcome campaign has been surprisingly positive.  Opening the store the first day of the campaign was a bit nervewracking I'll admit.  But when my customers came in with beaming smiles as I explained the campaign to them, readily filling out welcome cards and readily putting the soap in their baskets, it really warmed my heart.  Honestly every time I see someone grabbing a bar of Hands of Friendship, reading the campaign table with a smile, or readily filling out a welcome postcard for a refugee to read, it just makes me so happy inside!  And I'm very happy to say that not only has my store completely sold out of our Hands of Friendship soap, but not one single fight or naysayer has stepped foot in my store.  No fights or debates or "may I speak to your manager?" has been uttered concerning the campaign, and words honestly can't express how happy that makes me, and I feel silly for being so nervous in the first place!

Campaigns like this at Lush can do one of two things...they can either restore your faith in humanity, or destroy it temporarily.  I'm so glad that this campaign resulted in the former, and it just goes to show how much the media sensationalizes things.  It just goes to show how much people realize that at the end of the day, we're all human.  We all laugh, we all cry, we love and hate and get sick and get scared.  Nothing, not skin color, nor religion, nor war or walls can change that.  More people know this than we realize, and that's truly an amazing thing.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

(Review) Unicorn Horn: They DO Exist!

I'm not gonna lie...I have NO idea how to start this blog entry.  I've kind of just been staring at this page eating ravioli, pondering and chewing...pondering and chewing.  Because how do you explain to your readers the link between unicorns and Valentine's Day?  Is it because unicorns are mythical beings, much like my single, bitter heart wants me to believe true love is as well?  Is it because unicorns will protect hurt souls by stabbing the hearts of their cheating spouses with their majestic horns?!  What DO beautifully majestic, heart stabbing unicorns and Valentine's Day have in common?!

Well I have no idea and neither do you, because there's no link between the two (lol rhymes).  It baffled me last year when a bubble bar called Unicorn Horn was being released along with the pink, frilly, and sweet smelling products Valentine's Day usually dishes out.  Little did I know the effect it would have on Lushies everywhere...

Unicorn Horn first made it's pastel swirled appearance last year, wrapped in star shaped sprinkles and finely milled silver shimmer.  It sold like crazy in my the point where we only had it two days for the entire month-long campaign!  So when Unicorn Horn came back this year, brighter than ever with not a sprinkle to be seen, I warned every customer, every friend, every blog follower I had to pick it up while you can!  And thankfully this year Lush was a little more prepared for the demand of this ever popular bubble bar (last year's Valentine's Day also saw the upswing in sales from the "galaxy bomb" going absurdly viral).

Despite a brighter appearance and less sprinkles, Unicorn Horn still shared the same lavender, ylang ylang, and neroli scent that makes this bubble bar much more subdued than the bright hues would lead you to believe.  Unicorn Horn was also inspired by unicorn poop cookies (spoiler: they're not made from actual unicorn poop.  That's just silly) and is a permanent product in Lush Japan.

Seeing as I didn't get a chance to try out Unicorn Horn last year, I was excited to see what all the fuss was about!  I always save my more herbal bath goodies for rough days at the "office" or post-workout treats, so after a grueling day of work followed by an even more grueling workout, I decided there was no time like the present to bust this baby out.

Even though I didn't use Unicorn Horn last year, I demoed it plenty of times to know the turnout in both color and scent, and I was very surprised to see the water turn more of a fruit punch color rather than the icy silver/lavender color it was last year.  As I mentioned in other reviews, Lush has really amped up the saturation in their products, and this is something I don't mind at all.  I didn't mind the color last year, but this year's turnout was quite a refreshing change.  The fragrance smelled very light and relaxing, but there was some type of almost synthetic "after-scent" (is that even a thing?) that I sniffed shortly after all the herbs came into play.  I have a hunch it was the soapy scent of the bubbles, but it didn't make my night time bath any less relaxing!  The hot water running out halfway through did that!

Overall Unicorn Horn definitely lived up to its expectations.  Like all things majorly hyped up I did find it a bit overrated, but that's not a bad thing!  It was definitely an enjoyable bathing experience and really relaxed me after a day filled with tons of physical labor and oddly cranky customers.  Definitely stock up on this baby, as it won't be around for long!

**Unicorn Horn is certified Vegan

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

(Review) Prince Charming: Baby I've Changed!

It's always a little nerve wracking when a new Lush holiday is on the horizon.  I always anxiously bite my nails awaiting the eventual list of product that will be coming out.  Will my absolute favorite from last year be back, or was it a one time deal; a beautiful product I possessed for one fleeting moment never to be seen again and leaving me pining.  Since my heart had already been broken by the disappearance of my favorite Christmas Eve bubble bar a few months ago, I didn't know how much more my poor heart could take!  But then, in a flurry of hot pink suds, my Prince Charming came back to me...a changed product, but from what I was told, it was for the better!

I was first introduced to Prince Charming last year, my very first Valentine's Day campaign with Lush!  Like a lot of best selling products at Lush, my coworkers were split between loving and hating it.  I personally fell for it and fell for it hard.  Last year Prince Charming was a pale pink shower gel, thick and goopy in all the right ways, with a rich bubbly lather that wouldn't quit.  Packed with marshmallow root, pomegranate juice, and almond oil, Prince Charming to me smells a lot like shortbread cookies with a fine smattering of orange zest grated in.  While I'm not into food scents, this was just enough and natural enough to be something I found pleasing.  Prince Charming was bliss last year, and I was hoping the changes Lush has made to the formula would make it just as, if not more, luscious.

It's no secret that Lush has been experimenting with shower cream formulas, which are a thicker, richer, and more moisturizing formula than the shower gels available all year round.  Making its reappearance with a much more saturated pink, a sprinkling of shimmer and a formula just as thick as the gel, Prince Charming still carries that same scent of pomegranate and marshmallow, but instead of almond oil fair trade organic cocoa butter has arrived to take its place.  This I found was a very good move, as cocoa butter is much more moisturizing and those with nut allergies won't have to worry!

When I first used this in the shower, I found that the lather wasn't as thick and bubbly as it was in shower gel form, but was rather creamy.  Still bubbly, but a more creamy lather, and there was something I loved about washing with hot pink suds (you could say I was...tickled pink...).  But my nose did pick up a distinct difference in scent.  While the shower gel gave me the cozy, delicious scent of citrus infused shortbread, I picked up only an undertone of that with the dominate scent being the pomegranate juice!  That honestly surprised me, but not unpleasantly so as pomegranate is one of my favorite fruits.  It was just a shock to get such a different scent from a product that I had used before.  When I rinsed the pink lather off my body, I noticed my skin felt a bit squeaky clean, but wasn't tight, itchy or dried out feeling in the slightest.  As an avid user of bar soaps, I don't mine feeling squeaky clean, but it was just surprising to me that a moisture rich product could make my skin almost literally squeak.

Overall I'm stoked that Prince Charming is back this year.  As for the new formula I have mixed feelings about it.  I still feel the shower cream formula isn't quite perfected, and even though I still think the smell is delicious, I wish the scent would've stayed the same on my body as it did last year.  But the moisture was definitely there, and despite the differences, still remains an absolute favorite of mine!

**Prince Charming is certified Vegan   

Monday, February 1, 2016

(First Impressions) Lush Valentine's Day 2016!

Valentine's Day is back and once again, I'm single for it!  While I don't mind spending my Valentine's Day in bed with Netflix and pity chocolates sent from my dear mother, it just means I have more room in my heart for Lush's Valentine's Day collection!

Smaller than last year and with many returning favorites, the #lushcrush campaign is filled with colorful and sweet smelling goodies to keep you warm and cozy even though your bed is cold and empty!  Check out my first impressions of the collection below!

Prince Charming shower cream:  A returning (kind of) product, Prince Charming is back with the same pomegranate & marshmallow fragrance as last year, but with a creamier, more luxurious and moisturizing formula.  Prince Charming shower cream is thicker than a lot of the shower creams from this past Christmas, and much more sweeter smelling!  As an avid fan of the shower gel last year, I'm unbelievably stoked that this is back and hopefully better than ever!

The Kiss lip scrub:  Another favorite of mine!  The Kiss lip scrub is back with the same salty sweet flavor and colorful sprinkles it possessed last year!  Castor sugar and sea salt will polish your pout while almond oil and cocoa butter will give you a touch more hydration!  In my opinion, the scrub tastes a bit more salty than it did last year, but it still polishes and exfoliates my lips into pure bliss!

The Kiss lip gloss:  Back and with much better packaging!  The Kiss lip gloss still has fair trade shea butter and organic agave nectar to moisturize and give a ton of shine, with a slightly frosty, shimmery pink finish.  The formula feels much more thicker than it did last year, so I'm hoping that the staying power will be much longer lasting!

Unicorn Horn bubble bar:  Arguably our best seller last year and a product we could barely keep in stock (I think we had it for a grand total of 3 days before it was gone for good), Unicorn Horn is back and much less sprinkly than it was last year!  Lavender, ylang ylang, and neroli oil have returned to give this bubble bar its relaxing scent, and the colors have been evened out so the water turns a beautiful tangerine fruit punch color rather than the storm cloud gray it was last year.  Inspired by unicorn poop cookies, rainbows, and all things magical, this product is back, brighter and better than ever!

Roses All the Way soap:  A brand new innovation from Lush for Valentine's Day!  Roses All the Way contains Turkish rose oil, white rose petals, and enough kaolin clay to thoroughly cleanse and leave you smelling sweeter than a bouquet.  Inspired by the white roses painted red in Alice in Wonderland, each pre-formed bar of soap starts out white and is misted red by Lush's fantastic team of compounders!

Wash that Man Right out of my Hair shower gel:  A permanent product launching with the Valentine's Day collection (though some stores, my own included, received in as early as pre-Christmas) Wash that Man Right out of my Hair is Lush's herbal replacement for the now discontinued Flying Fox shower gel.  Containing jasmine, rose, fig, and guava extracts, Wash that Man smells both floral and fruity and is a rather peculiar mishmash of scents I've never quite smelled before.  Not overly fruity or floral, but very much a sophisticated scent (and the South Pacific-inspired name was a missed opportunity for a shampoo!).

Overall Valentine's Day this year is promising!  I will admit I'm disappointed at the lack of newer products, but if they had to bring back a bunch of oldies, I'm glad they're goodies!  What do you guys think of this year's #lushcrush collection, and what are you loving so far?  Let me know in the comments below!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

(Review) So White: Seven Dwarves Optional

As I mentioned in my review of Stardust, I'm a big fan of occasional simplicity.  Most of the time I enjoy the bells and whistles that come with bath bombs and bubble bars, but sometimes I just want something plan.  No muss, no fuss, no thrills, no frills.  Maximum satisfaction with minimal effect and effort.  Sometimes I don't want to wash down my tub from a turbo glittery bath bomb, and sometimes I don't want to bathe in brightly colored water.  Sometimes I just want something nice and simple.  But there's always a fine line.

I feel like there's a fine line between simplicity and boredom.  For me, there always has to be a little something special to keep me interested.  Like if I'm curled up on the couch reading a book.  For one thing, that couch better be really damn comfortable, as there's nothing worse than a rock hard couch or a busted spring poking your buttcheek.  And that book had better being entertaining as well.  Full of plot twists and romance, with just the right amount of action to keep me teetering on the edge of that oh so comfy couch.  Believe it or not, a lot of work goes into something being considered "simple."

With its simplistic, white as snow appearance, So White from what I'd heard in years past was a simple treasure.  Blindingly white and hard as a rock, So White hides within a petal pink core that supposedly melts down into a rose colored bath.  When demoing this at my shop, myself and my coworkers would eagerly gather around and take in a deep breath of the crisp apple fragrance.  Ironic that it would smell so much like the fruit, when not a trace of apple is in So White at all!  Bergamot, rose absolute, neroli, and orange flower absolute are the oils that make up this refreshing fragrance.

I have to say, I'm not one for apple fragrances.  After smelling the same synthetic, sickeningly sweet apple fragrances in everything from lotions to candles to potpourri, I had had enough of anything apple scented (however, apples...granny smiths to be exact, are one of my favorite fruits!).  So White was a breath of fresh air for my nostrils, and smelled just like the joy I feel when I take that first crunchy bite (okay...sounds a little cheesy, but I really like apples, okay?).

The night I chose to use So White was a night smack dab in the middle of the holiday season, where my eyes were so tired they burned and I could hear my body screaming for pillows and blankets.  But I desperately wanted a bath and So White was the closest within reach.

I've heard of people smashing this lovely bomb on the bathtub bottom, much like a snowball, but I chose to just drop it in and watch it fizz.  It didn't take long to get to the baking soda packed, pastel pink center, but my goodness did it take forever to fully dissolve.  I actually timed it and this bath bomb clocked in at a full 20 minutes before the last of it fizzled away!

After peering into my tub after it dissolved, I was surprised and a little disappointed to find that the promised rose colored bath was nothing than a slight rosy tint to my water.  In the bowls at work it was a vibrant pink, and while I knew it was more concentrated in bowls than in tubs, I didn't realize the color difference would be so drastic.  Nonetheless, my bath was nice and cozy warm, and the intoxicating apple scent filled my bathroom for hours afterward.

Overall, my feelings on So White are mixed.  While So White smells absolutely beautiful, the final turnout was something I found to be a bit underwhelming.  To me, So White toed and fell over the line between simplicity and boredom, into boredom.  Even last year I wish they kicked up the color in the middle a bit, and this year I was still disappointed to find it was still such a dull color.  Still, So White is a Christmas favorite and has been coming out every Christmas for the past few years.  While the bath bomb wasn't one of my absolute favorites, it could be that minimal amount of simplicity you've been craving for your bath!

***So White is certified Vegan