Toadstool Soaps Review

I’ve gone through name brand hair care phases, and drug store hair care phases. My hair is visibly different when I use Herbal Essences shampoo versus Paul Mitchell, Rusk, Bumble & Bumble hair products.

My hair type is:

  • Texture: Fine
  • Volume: Medium to Thin
  • Normal scalp, no dandruff
  • Colored-I’ve dyed my hair regularly for the past 10 years or so. It’s never been fully bleached and for the most part is just re-toned (versus fully dying it)
  • Medium to Long Length

There’s a few well recommended Indie brands, Cocoa Pink, LuvMilk, and Toadstool Shampoos stood out most to me! After checking out each store, I decided to go with Toadstool Soaps, that is their primary product and the reviews were really promising. FullSizeRender

I ordered it on Wednesday, April 26th and it came on Tuesday, May 2nd, great turn around time, less than a week! They’re based out of Michigan, so it had to travel quite far!  I got:

  • 10.5 oz Shampoo in Amazement $9.75 (Truly graceful and amazing smelling ! A sparklingly fresh floral-white musk blend fragrance that simply cannot be resisted)
  • 10.5 oz Leave-In Conditioner in Milk & Honey $9.75 (There is a bit of almond in this blend of creamy milk & honey tones. A Wonderful Light Fresh scent !!)

Shipping came out to $6.88, they used small, flat-rate priority boxes, so the cost made sense. Overall, it’s still a little on the pricey end compared to drug store hair care but in their directions, they emphasis that it only takes a little!

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Amazement’s description nails it on the dot-it’s a strong floral with a slight musk. It’s fairly perfumey and smells like salon-grade hair products. Note: They have unscented options for all their products. It’s pretty low viscosity and is quite liquid/fluid in texture. I don’t need a ton of product for my hair, but I am still going through it fairly quickly. I’ve been using it for a week, and I’ve definitely gone through about 5% of it. Many shampoos weigh down my hair, but this leaves it light and clarified without over drying it.

Leave-In Conditioner

FullSizeRender_2I got this in milk & honey, there’s a wide range of types of honey that I’ve purchased. This is a really light, almond milk honey. It smells pleasant enough to almost drink. I was actually really surprised, I thought this was a regular conditioner but was wrong! It’s more opaque than the shampoo, but is still pretty light, and is more of a gel texture. Again, my hair typically gets weighed down easily but with this I have to use a fairly generous amount to get the impact of the conditioning. I’ll use a generous quarter size dollop and run it through my hair. I use a comb after that to make sure it’s evenly distributed. It handles blow drying well, and left my hair soft and bouncy.

Conclusion

I am really happy with how both of these turned out, I think my hair likes it too. In terms of scent longevity, it doesn’t really stick around much (which could be a good thing or bad thing, depending on what you’re looking for). Both of these products are really light weight, and may not be moisturizing enough if you have colored or extremely dry/damaged hair. They offer a deep conditioning mask, that I may explorFullSizeRender_1e with my next order.

Two slight comments regarding the packaging of the shampoo/leave-in conditioner. It’s only been a week, and already the shampoo label is coming off. I don’t handle the bottle much, so I may just take the label off all together. The cap is a screw top cap, which is not the most convenient! In her listing, she offers a flip cap option, so I may reach out to her to see if I could get that.

 

Adventure into Arcana

One of the huge names in Indie perfume is ARCANA! I’ve heard great things about it, especially the quality of the oils and the depth of the smells. When I saw on r/imam that her shop was up and running on eBay, I snagged myself three bottles-Love, Snug and Unearthly Lovely (I got Two Fingers Ballet from a swap)!

I ordered it on January 31st, and it shipped on February 4th and arrived two days after that! In the indie world, that’s as fast of a turn around time as I can really expect!

  • Love: Splendid, dazzling devotion. A breathtaking vanilla accord is accompanied by fresh cream, sugarcane, soft musk, and a pinch of tea leaves. Out of the bottle, this smells SOUR to me, so so sour. Almost like curdled yogurt/milk, or super tart lemon yogurt. Either way, we’re not off to a great start. I let it rest for about a week and give it another go. I decide to just apply to my skin instead of doing a bottle sniff. On the skin, it’s still quite sour, it’s died down a bit but still prominent. Two hours later, the sour is actually almost completely gone! I’m left with this soft, sugary musk. It’s so awesome at this stage!! I’m not sure if I can make it through the first phase to get to this point. Super sad that the cream note doesn’t work with my skin. I can’t speak to the throw, as I ended up scrubbing this one off.
  • Snug: The scent of staying in to watch the snow fall: dark honey amber, marshmallow, and the glow of beeswax candles. Out of the bottle, it’s strongly beeswax!! It veers between plasticky and ambery. On the skin, I definitely get that honey amber now. About an hour in, the plasticky wax melts (ha ha) away and I have a light mallow, amber honey scent. This to me is very unisex, and is an ideal sleeping scent. I’m actually wrapped in a fuzzy robe, and this scent fits in perfectly. Throw is fairly high on this one, I went to sleep with it and had whiffs of it on my clothing in the morning. 
  • Unearthly Lovely: Dusty honey, bee pollen, and vanilla bean. Vanilla, I can  definitely smell the vanilla, and right behind it a strong honey scent, almost like hay and honey put together. I wouldn’t describe it as green, but definitely is not just straight golden honey either. Almost a darker honey if that makes sense. On the skin, vanilla is still the first note, then the bee pollen then the honey. This is a winner for me, I find it extremely similar to Snug, but a bit more feminine with the prominence of the vanilla bean. If I had to chose between the two, I’d go with Unearthly Lovely, but they’re both great! Throw is on par with snug. 
  • Two Fingers BalletA delicate blend of French vanilla creme, white amber, sugared vanilla beans, caramel, and the smallest dab of opium. OMG OUT OF THE BOTTLE, IT SMELLS LIKE ALMONDS, where am I getting the almonds?! It’s not even in the notes-it must be the white amber, or caramel? On the skin, it smells like Taiwanese almond milk tea. I can’t get enough of it. THIS IS WHAT I’VE BEEN LOOKING FOR.  This smell is delicious, it’s foody without being overwhelming and just so absolutely beautiful. I love this so much and may have gotten two back ups. I get vanilla bean, and caramel goodness at the end. The throw is decent, on my skin I’d say about 5 hours but I can still get whiffs of it on my clothing throughout the day.

My first venture into Arcana and I’m really pleased! The scents are nothing like I’ve ever smelled before and being able to capture “dusty honey” and “dab(s) of opium” are signs of a gifted perfumer. I don’t think my skin can do that “fresh cream” note, so I’m probably staying away from those. She uses the standard glass 5 ml bottles, and are priced on the higher end ($19-$20) through her eBay shop.

Her Valentine’s Day release just came out too, so may have to pick up a few of those! Can’t wait to try more.

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Rose Lovers Galore

I’ve been on a bit of a rose kick as of late-and decided to try out a few different ones.

A majority of them are from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab, as their rose note is widely popular, but I opted for Rose City from Haus of Gloi as well along with some gourmand roses from Solstice Scents. If you’ve never ordered from them, Solstice Scents definitely wins in the shipping category, with Haus of Gloi as a close second.

Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab 

  • Rose Red 2016: The perfected winter rose, dew covered and freshly cut from BPAL’s Yule Release. There is nothing more like a fresh bouquet of roses that was just delivered to your desk (or your body hehe). When I wear this, I feel like I’ve been gifted flowers and the scent is just amazingly green and fresh. Even my mom said I smelled like the roses out in our front yard. It’s reminiscent of  smelling the roses first thing in the morning-slightly wet and very fresh. Definitely a keeper. I also tried The First Rose –  pale pink rosebud, wet with the dew of the dawn of creationThese two are very very similar, the rose red is slightly more green and in your face, with the first rose being it’s slightly quieter counterpart. Both excellent true rose scents.
  • Allegory of ChastityBlushing rose hips, pink rose petals, and vanilla cream with white jasmine and a drop of bergamot. Oh man, from the bottle it was fairly powdery which was really worrisome but once on the skin, the powder really rounds out and the rose total kicks in. It’s definitely a pinker rose scent but there is a hint of green that comes out later on. I don’t get much of the vanilla or jasmine but perhaps that is where I get the powder from. This is extremely lovely and throw is longer than Rose Red. This can last me all day easily.
  • Peacock Queen 2016: In dramatic contrast to the soft innocence of Snow White and the dew-kissed freshness of her sister, Rose Red, this is a blood red, voluptuous rose, velvet-petaled, at the height of bloom. Haughty and imperious, vain, yet incomparably lovely to the eye, but thick with thorns of jealousy, pride and hatred. I’m not sure how BPAL does it, but it does feel haughty-it has a bite at the end of the rose scent. Although I could appreciate the scent, this was not for me. The rose is definitely there at the beginning but evolves into this sharper, pointed scent.  
  • The Unicorn, Rushing Against the Tree, Fixed its Horn so Fast in the Trunk that it Could Not Draw it OutEthereal white orris, pale early lilacs, mallow flower, Queen of the Night, white moss, and dusk-lit mist. I’m not going to lie-I got this partially because of the name! In the bottle, I can smell the moss which makes it a bit dry and woody. But on dry down, wow, it’s really quite pretty! I would say it’s a light white floral with a slight sweetness (from the mallow flower?). It’s very wearable and dries into a quieter aquatic floral.

Haus of Gloi 

  • Rose CityRed roses and the earthy wet scent of aged patchouli.  THE PATCHOULI, is so so strong in this. I definitely can appreciate the depth of this, but patchouli just does not work on my skin. It’s definitely the most prominent note for me. I think if I could mellow this out with maybe a strong vanilla note this could be a keeper.

Solstice Scents

  • Rose Mallow CreamMoroccan Rose absolute, Bulgarian Rose absolute, Marshmallow Fluff, Strawberry Nectar, White Chocolate, Vanilla, White Musk. I really didn’t get that much rose from this, but definitely got the strawberry mallow! This is a very sweet scent that to me is more on the gourmand side than floral.
  • Cardamom Rose SugarBrown Sugar, Cardamom EO, Moroccan Rose and Bulgarian Rose. SPICY! So so spicy, if you have any  doubts about this, I would recommend going to a store and smelling cardamom first before making a purchase. It’s very warm, I think it would be perfect for colder weather (as it warms up the skin too). The sugar and cardamom are most prominent for me, with the rose coming out slightly on the dry down.

My winners are Rose Red/The First Rose and Allegory of Chastity! Between the two, I definitely feel like my rose niche has been fulfilled.

IOPE Air Cushion N23 vs Laneige BB Cushion in Medium Review

When BB creams first hit the Western markets in 2012, I was obsessed!! A tinted moisturizer, primer, skin firmer all in one, how could it do so much?!  Then I saw BB air cushions, which meant I did not have to use foundation brushes or even worse my fingers!

*Skin Type & Climate: Dry, desert climate with non-sensitive, dry skin. 

I got my IOPE Air Cushion from RoseRoseShop for US $30 which comes with the compact (cushion inside already) and 1 replacement cushion. The cushion case itself was thicker than what I anticipated but still very slick and aesthetically pleasing. The compact has a mirror included, then the blender, then the cushion liquid beneath it. The color was a bit lighter than what I anticipated with N23 being the darker of the shades offered from IOPE. The blender is AMAZING, in that it uses very little product but distributes it evenly across your face. I was really timid with the product initially but even if you get too much product out you can always blot it in and it still looks great.

Pros:

-Blender is great, easy to use, pretty much dummy proof

-lasts for a long time, you use very little product each time

-doesn’t look cakey-I generally use 1 layer alone, but have experimented with layering. My need for coverage is only for evening my skin tone rather than any concealment.

-resusable- you can buy replacement puffs, along with cushions and not have to buy a whole new compact

Cons:

-limited in range of colors, I quickly out-tanned my shade

-puff gets dirty pretty easily

-hygienic concerns-you use the blender on your face, then dip it back in the cushion.


I started using this product back in February and fortunately/unfortunately, living in California means I get tan, quickly! IOPE’s range of shades was just not cutting it for me anymore, which led me to buy the Laneige BB Cushion sold at Target in medium. I purchased my Laneige BB cushion for $34 at Target which is comparable to what I got my IOPE for (they have the same mother company).

Differences 

*it is pricier than IOPE by $4, but for me to have it accessible at Target is amazingly convenient!

*larger range of shades, most likely because it is sold in the USA – from the picture below, IOPE’s darkest shade N23, is still much much lighter than the medium for Laneige. Which is great for me!

*they DO NOT sell just the cushion replacement (yet?!) meaning, even though you can replace it, they don’t sell the refills for it! Frustrating!!

*Scent: there is a slight difference in smell, I find the Laneige to be a tad stronger and more floral. The IOPE scent is a little lighter and less noticeable for those who are sensitive to smell.

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If they start selling the refills for my shade, this is a no brainer, re-buy for me. Otherwise, I may use the cushion and make my own DIY with bb cream. At ~$30, this is an expensive form of bb cream and I do believe you are paying for convenience. I would not want to spend that much money for more cushions that have the compact included because it’s just so wasteful! Once the initial investment is taken care of, replacement puffs can be bought for about $2-$3.

Banila Co – Clean it Zero (original) Review

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Product Description:This award-winning hypoallergenic cleanser goes on as a solid balm and transforms into a silky oil on the skin. Its sorbet-soft, lightweight formula effortlessly dissolves stubborn makeup and casts out impurities without stripping the skin of beneficial oils. Papaya extract works to naturally exfoliate the skin and acerola extact is rich in vitamin C which helps to brighten.

Directions: Use spatula to scoop a small amount and massage balm over dry skin. Rinse skin with lukewarm water and pat dry.

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My take on it: I currently use Clinique Take the Day Off Balm-very similar concept. It’s a solid balm that melts into a cleansing oil consistency on your face. But at $28.50 for 3.8 oz (112 ml) I wasn’t looking forward to replacing. I will preface this with a little goes a long way, but with daily use on your whole face, you can definitely work through that jar. When I saw Banila Co Clean it Zero and the raving reviews on it, I had to give it a try. When looking into it, it is a Korean product so it’s not readily carried in stores in America but from RoseRoseShop, the 100ml is priced at $17.32 and for 180ml it’s $25.20, comparing prices it’s $0.14 per ml vs $0.25 per ml for Clinique. Definitely the clear winner in cost. It’s handy that it comes with a small spatula, I never thought I needed it until I started using it and man keeps your fingers cleaner, probably makes the product last longer b/c your germy hands aren’t touching it! The smell is pleasant, somewhat sweet and it definitely melts away my makeup. And it’s decently travel friendly because of it’s solid state!

*Clinique Balm is on the left, and Banila is on the right*

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Comparison: Overall, I felt they both performed pretty equally. Usually after rubbing it in, I immediately wash with water but I used a tissue initially and then in the last picture on the bottom right I used water and they both came completely off. Texture wise, the Banila is less solid and more sorbet-texture, whereas the balm is much thicker, because of that when washing off the Clinique it always leaves some residue (and then I used another cleanser to remove that feeling) whereas the Banila seems to wash off cleaner/melts more completely. The texture of the Banila is oddly satisfying to scoop out too. However, the Clinique is completely scent free which is probably ideal for those with sensitive skin, but I personally prefer to have scents in my products.

Ingredients:

Clinque-Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Sorbeth-30 Tetraoleate, Polyethylene, PEG-5 Glyceryl Triisostearate, Water, Tocopherol, Phenoxyethanol

Banila– Mineral Oil, Cetyl Ethylhexanoate, PEG-20 Glyceryl Triisostearate, PEG-10 isostearate, Polyethylene, Butylene Glycol, Water, Raspberry, Viscum album, Angelica Polymorpha Sinensis Root Extract, Papaya Fruit Extract, Epilobium Angustifolium Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract, BHT, Butylparaben, Acid Red 18, CI 15985

It looks like the Banila Clean it Zero has more ingredients overall, but I would guess that some of those would be for the fragrance–such as raspberry.

Where I bought it- I bought the GIAAANT one at 180ml for $25.20 from RoseRoseShop. This particular item qualifies for free shipping due to its light weight but RRS shipping is very reasonable ranging from 3-6$ depending on how much you’re getting. Shipping is lengthier, I ordered on 2/5/2015 and received it on 2/24/2015. Their service is GREAT, very responsive and fast to concerns, I had actually forgot to order this product with my RRS haul, and it was the initial reason I even went to RRS!! I emailed them the next day and they charged me on PayPal and added it in.

I have to thank Reddit and /r/asianbeauty for helping fuel my addicting :pp