Saturday, May 26, 2018

**REVIEW** Long Aid Curl Activator Gel with Aloe Vera Extra-Dry

People, I have solved my dry hair problems. In the past, I have tried so many products that I can't even remember half of them. Oddly enough, I was shopping for an old standby product that was cheap and had worked for me in the past. It's that IC Fantasia Hair Polish (I love that stuff), but happened to run across this:

That right there is my new fave hair product: Long Aid Curl Activator. I got the one for extra-dry hair. Just like the Fantasia, it's got a decent price. They looked so similar and I was in such dire need of something, so I snagged it. It was also nice and cheap - about 4 dollars for a 16-ounce jar.

The Fantasia is more of a styling/holding gel and it does work great for adding moisture to dry hair like mine. The Long Aid is a curl activator and it is super moisturizing but doesn't have the holding factor. That's fine because I use it for when I twist my hair and for finger-styling in some curl. (By the way, I cut my hair super short yesterday because of these 90-plus temps we're getting!)

Older photo but same hair as pre-cut

Much cooler in this heat!
But it's time for some dye..

What I also love about the Long Aid is that there is no strong smell. Just like with the Fantasia, a little bit goes a long way. That means that you get a lot for your less-than-5 dollar investment.

Here are the ingredients for the Long Aid and Fantasia side by side:

LONG AID                                                                  FANTASIA

Aqua/Water                                                                   Purified Water (Aqua)
Glycerin                                                                        Glycerin
Triethanolamine                                                            Carbomer
Carbopol                                                                       Triethanolamine
OLETH-20                                                                    Aloe Vera Gel
Fragrance (Parfum)                                                       Dimethicone Copolyol
DMDM Hydantoin                                                        Tocopheryl Acetate
Methylparaben                                                               Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein
Disodium EDTA                                                            Polysorbate-20
Hydrolyzed Collagen                                                     Benzophenone-4
DL-Panthenol                                                                 Methylchloroisothiazolinone
D and C Violet                                                                Disodium EDTA
Aloe Vera                                                                        Fragrance (Parfum)

Notice that the Aloe is last on the list for Long Aid and much higher up for the Fantasia. 

Anyway, like I was saying, the Long Aid will be my go-to for moisture. When my hair grows back out, the Fantasia will be for styling on the more humid days. Both are awesome. I do know that some folks - especially among my fellow Afro-Natural-Curly ladies - don't like the 'cones and the other chemicals. I have to work with what I can on a very limited budget. I've tried other products that may have had 'cleaner' ingredients but not-so-great results. For a short stroll down memory lane, I can point back to posts I did on these products:
And there were so many other (often pricey) products that I tried. Some worked but were too costly, and some were pricey and failed.

So for those of us on squeaking-tight budgets, this Long Aid might be the best thing. 


Thursday, May 17, 2018

Let's Take a Moment to Breath, Shall We?

Was it just a few weeks ago that I was complaining about the snow? Well, that's all done and over with for the season and, baby, it's been hot outside! It was a humid 83 degrees today (81 at 8pm just before I started this post...) But I asked for the sun and got what I wanted.

In celebration of feeling a little better today than I have for several days, let's get into Summer mode with the blog.

If any of you are houseplant enthusiasts, check out my plant blog that I so cleverly (I think) named The Plant It Earth. For you FreeBeing readers, I'm giving you (and myself) a break from product reviews and sharing some of my plant photos and stories today.

I started out just trying to dress up my barely furnished apartment. It's just a 1-bedroom and I'm not a social person so my living room was not a huge priority. I have a great bed and that was the thing. I'm thrift-shopping for a chair and some more shelves but plants are cheaper than furniture so...

This is what the place looked like not too long ago:

I had the Cordyline/Ti plant & Echo for sound effects

And this is what it looks like now:

The apartment belongs to the plants

Plants are amazing, right?

Not only do plants beautify spaces, but they also make great air-cleaners. Some are better than others - like the Spider plant and the Snake plant. I used to use wax warmers and citrus air spritzes whenever the air got stale, but I haven't had to use any of that stuff for the past few months.

Lately, I started collecting kitchen herb plants. I've been clipping the mints for my green tea and I cooked with some of the fresh Basil the other night. Now I know what my sister-in-law means when she says she will only get plants that she can use for eating and/or medicinal purposes.

Before now, I had all the little 4- and 5-inch pots lined up on the bar counter to the kitchen. It was a little haphazard looking. Today, I noticed that someone had put a whole mess of artificial flowers and a couple of wicker baskets out on our community table. That's where we all put stuff we don't want so that someone else can maybe put it to use. This is what I did with the one basket:

lined the bottom with a trash bag, old cotton tee, and some rocks from outside

And this is what I did with the flowers and a vase, shells, and stones I already had to dress up the bathroom a bit. The blue around the Peace Lily is very calming and I spray the flowers with some Geranium and Grapefruit essential oils to combat summer insects and bathroom odors.

Those artificial flowers...

The other basket is sitting aside until I can collect some more flowers or stones or something to display.

I think my favorite of all the plants is the Monstera. She's beautiful and so easy to take care of.

Here is what I always say about plants and why I collect them now. They are not just pretty, but they really help relieve my depression and anxiety. When I get really down in the dumps, I go sit in the living room among the flowers. I will sometimes use Echo to play nature sounds to add to the sense of being in a garden. I swear that there was an awful day last week when that little setup saved my sanity. Now it's up to me not to kill the Geranium plant I was warned could be finicky!

This one is a little heffa-ish!

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the pictures and I hope that you check out The Plant It Earth sometime.


Sunday, May 13, 2018

**REVIEW** Whal Myung Skin Elixir

UPDATE: If you sign up for Birchbox because of this post, do a gal a solid and let me get the referral points by using this link: TRUDY SENT ME!

When I reviewed the May 2018 Birchbox, I listed one of the samples as my 4th favorite out of 4 products. The reason I didn't rank it as Number 1 is that the price of a full-size bottle would be about half of my monthly grocery budget. Seriously, folks, I am not exaggerating for effect. This Whal Myung Skin Elixir right here is what runs about $60.

See what I mean about not kidding?

The first time I tried my sample bottle, I liked this and liked it a lot. But that price. I kept using my sample, patting on a little bit every morning, and on about the third day, I was doing what I do almost every single night (inspecting my skin and tweezing out blackheads and such in the magnifying mirror...

You know that mirror I mean, right? One of those mirrors that show every skin imperfection in the world? 

Yeah, that mirror.

...and I noticed something wonderful: there were no blackheads or whatever those tiny spots are that appear around my nose and on my chin. Not one. Trust me. I use the mirror and a spotlight looking for them.

I also noticed that my skin looked more even and sort of balanced as far as the moisture. Usually, I have a t-zone issue that fluctuates between oily and dry. This is probably how I end up with those spots that I always thought were blackheads but recently heard may just be little dirt hairs from dust and other air pollutants.

Anyway, I see that this elixir is really working to give my face a nice look whether or not I'm wearing makeup - even when I'm standing in the full-on sun. I remember my skin being like this about 20 years ago. I'm actually blessed with good skin but I still try to take care of it to counteract all my other bad habits (especially my sometimes-horrible diet) and I love what this elixir is doing for it.

Once again, though, I have to come back to the price. I mean, if only they sold this is smaller jars so that I could buy about 20 drops at a time! The best way for me to get more now is to order another of the curated May Birchbox for $10 (plus $5 s/h).

Right now, I'm telling everyone I know about this serum. I have friends who can afford it and, because we are all in about the same age group, they will be looking for something to keep their skin looking good.

A little goes a looong way

Before I forget, I want to tell you that, even a small bottle with last a long time because a little goes a long way. I've been using every day since I got the sample and I haven't really put a dent in the amount as you can see from the above photo.


Saturday, May 12, 2018

**REVIEW** Ipsy Subscription Box

Walmart has a good box, Birchbox is awesome, FitFabFun is great for those who can afford it, and Ipsy is...

Well, I got the first Ipsy box and I did like almost everything in it. It's priced right in there with Birchbox, that's a big Plus. Also, it comes with a little cosmetics bag, another Plus. So, if there are 2 great subscription boxes, both at the same low $10-price, how to narrow down which one to keep?

If this Ipsy box had included better profile-matched samples, I would have had a harder time choosing between it and Birchbox (which I loved for May). Let's take a look at what was in the Ipsy box and what I thought of each item.

The delivery came in a cute little hot purple (pink?) puffy envelope.

I removed the label so that I can repurpose the mailer for sending my little nephew a gift next month. He will love that color.

This photo reps the color better than the
above photo
There were 5 items in a cute little cosmetics bag that I will be able to use.

Patterned side of the bag

I will start with the one thing that I liked most and that is the Trestique Mini Matte Blur Stick.

It works great - easily tamping down shine and absorbing excess oils on the face. It was nice to see something like this in a stick instead of in a squeeze tube or bottle. There is a mild, powdery feel that is pleasant on the skin and I thought that this would be something I would actually use Ipsy points to purchase at some point. That's what I thought. I will come back to that in a moment.

Lord & Berry's Maximatte Crayon Lipstick is my 2nd favorite from this box even though I hated the color sent to me.

The shade choices for the bag were to be either "Spicy" or "Intimacy". Despite my profile indicating my dark complexion and preference for darker hues in lip products, Ipsy sent me the lighter shade of "Intimacy". Just looking at it, the shade wasn't so bad, but when I tried it on... Ugh. So why do I name this as a favorite from the box? Because although on my lips, the color makes me look like I'm in need of a water infusion, it works beautifully as a color for just under my brows. The soft, peachy shade is similar to colors I've chosen in the past to highlight my eyes. Still, Ipsy loses points for ignoring my profile preferences.

My 3rd favorite: Air Repair Skincare's Complexion Quenching Facial Mist. 

This almost tied for 2nd place because it did do a nice job of hydrating my face. The reason it came in third is that I wouldn't be able to use it "on the go" as is touted. When I sprayed it on, it left a slight residue and shine that would require me to blot my face. That's fine if going bare-faced but so much an on-the-go deal if wearing makeup. I do think this is excellent for having on hand during hot days when you want to cool and hydrate your face.

Next in the bag is this Slmissglam Eyeshadow Brush. It's cute and if I were younger maybe, I'd like it a lot for the playful colors of the bristles. If I used such brushes.

"Tools" was not a marked preference on my profile and neither was eyeshadow. 

The one item that I absolutely hate is the Jivi Lavender Moisturizer.

First off, there was nothing in my profile to warrant a product to "counteract redness". Second, this is so heavily scented that there is no way I would put on my face. I did a very small patch test near my jawline and my skin automatically began to react by feeling itchy and warm. Yeah, whatever Jive Jivi. (EDIT: Hated this so much I forgot to include a photo first time around!)

So, not only did Ipsy seem to care very little about my beauty preferences, I also found the samples to be skimpy and somehow not as high in overall quality as those in Birchbox. That's Reason #1 for not being impressed.

Reason #2 was that even for the products I liked, ordering them was inconvenient because of the odd shipping calculations Ipsy uses. Since I had earned some "points" to use toward a purchase, I wanted to see what the ordering process would be. Apparently, every product/brand has their own shipping prices. Um... what?

Now, remember when I mentioned maybe being able to use my points to ease the cost of future purchases - like if I wanted to order that Mini Matte Blur Stick? Well, whatever points I earned were eaten up in double when shipping was calculated.  I wouldn't mind losing just the points, but shipping went way over the points I earned.

Now, you know how you are going to cancel something (like one of these subscriptions) and you get roped back in because you are offered all kinds of incentives? Well, there is nothing Ipsy could offer to get me to stay with them after the hassle of canceling my account. It was tricky to find the cancellation page, then  I had to be sure to respond to a verifying type of email by a certain time and without closing the Ipsy page - or else my cancellation would be invalid. What the happy hell kind of runaround is that???

Whatever. I jumped through all the hoops and got the subscription canceled and now I have to add Ipsy to my SPAM folder to make sure I don't get any more of their "are you sure" emails. Why would I stay with them if I can't afford to buy any of the products because of the stupid shipping policy? And why would I want to stay with them when they don't care a flip about that pretty detailed "beauty profile" I filled out?

Between Ipsy and Birchbox, I can only keep one monthly subscription  - especially since Walmart has such an excellent quarterly box - and Ipsy didn't try that hard to win me over. At least with FabFitFun, it was just the price that scared me off. Also, I'll admit that shipping would eat up any "rewards" I would use after 1 month of Birchbox, but at least the shipping charges are consistent and set.

Of course, I know the whole "to each his own" rule of life so I'm not knocking anyone who prefers Ipsy over Birchbox. The whole idea of these types of services, I think, is to do a little something for ourselves. Birchbox just fits me better.

Oh, and I didn't do the price lists for the Ipsy box items because once I canceled, I couldn't access the Shop pages... Yeah, Ipsy, I see you being petty.


Friday, May 11, 2018

**REVIEW** Flight Olive Oil Sprayer (not just for oil...)

Let me start by clarifying something: the product I'm going to tell you about is (technically) for kitchen use. Technically. But we all know that you can't always stay in the box. First, though, this is the item I'm talking about:

That is the Flight Olive Oil Sprayer.

If it were just used as an olive oil sprayer, that would be cool because it really does spray the oil. Once you pump air into the system, it creates enough pressure that you can then spray a literal mist of oil onto your food. Awesome. There's no dripping or spilling, just spritzing the oil onto your food.

The oil sprays like water!
Do you see how fine the mist is? It was actually hard to capture on film.

Now, I was so excited when I used this the first time to finish seasoning some chicken because I realized another use for the sprayer.

Since this will spray something as thick as olive oil without clogging, I thought it might be good for spraying carrier oils. I love the sprayer that I currently use for my hair and cosmetic purposes, but I'm afraid to use anything heavier than essential oils and water. The Flight sprayer can be used for mixing my heavier hair and skin concoctions. It would be amazing to use this for blending together some Pumpkin Seed and Geranium oils to moisturize my hair and face.

I was only given one sprayer for the review so I have to wait until I can purchase a second one before I start testing hair and skin mixtures. For now, I'm using this one strictly for cooking. Since I was doing a quick review anyway I thought I might as well tell you guys about my thoughts for other uses.


DISCLOSURE: I received one or more products mentioned in this post for free/at discount. I was not asked to do a review.

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

**RANT** Is It Just Me...?

It's time for a not-so-serious post. After a couple of rough days, I'm feeling better and just wanted to post something silly and fun. After watching a couple of videos to check out a particular cosmetic I'm interested in, I had the perfect topic. That topic is: When Did Makeup Become So Complicated?

What happened to the days of blending in a little bit of foundation and maybe some highlighting color, lipstick, eyeliner, and mascara?  I mean, I am the woman who almost put out an eye the first time I tried applying eyeliner so...

Like I was saying, I was wanting to check out a new (to me) product. It's a "glow" or illuminating lotion and I wanted to see how one of the shades looked on a complexion as dark as my own. I went over to YouTube and basically clicked the first thumbnail with a photo of a woman of about my skin shade. All I wanted was to see if the lotion was too light or dark or heavy, etc. What I got was a full education on applying about 10 coats of makeup.

First, there was the lotion I was interested in. Okay, but I kept watching because I thought the vlogger was going to add more of the lotion or use it on her eyes or something. No, no. This woman - who is quite attractive barefaced by the way - proceeds to do things with various creams and colors and brushes until I was wondering if her skin could even breathe.

I kid you not, I stopped counting after the foundation, concealer, 3 contouring creams, and some kind of setting powder. The finished product was gorgeous but no very natural-looking at all. When I do brush on some foundation and maybe a little powder, I end up hating the mess when I am cleaning my face later on. I can't even imagine the sludge that must come off someone's face after adding all those different products.

When I do wear foundation or powder, I'm always very conscious of transferring any of the shade to paperwork, clothing, etc. And that is with a very light application of makeup.

Here's what I wonder: Do most people find heavy makeup attractive? I mean, even if you do all that contouring and shading or whatever to achieve a "natural" look, it's not accentuating your features, it's changing them. Right? So what happens when someone catches you in a baldfaced lie barefaced?

Everyone has an opinion and mine is just that makeup should be used to enhance - not distort or totally alter the appearance. Unless you have a serious issue that needs to be concealed so that you can function more comfortably in society - and that is a real thing for some of us - I think you should leave the theatrical makeup to, well, the theater or drag queens or the circus.

Like I said, this is just my opinion, but... Stop it, people!


Tuesday, May 08, 2018

**REVIEW** Birchbox May 2018

UPDATE: If you sign up for Birchbox because of this post, please do a gal a solid and let me get the referral points by using this link: TRUDY SENT ME!

As I told you in my last post, this month's Birchbox arrived at the same time as the Walmart Beauty Box. I was really wiped out from a treatment so to come home and have two goodie boxes waiting... Nice.

I'm pretty happy with this month's box. There were 3 favorite items and 2 so-so products. Here we go. I will start with my favorites and work down to the least liked.

This Glowtion (love the name) from Wander Beauty was the top fave in this box.

I tried bronzer years ago and I looked like an electric clown. This illuminator is more subtle and really does add a glow that looks natural. I don't wear a full face of makeup on a daily basis and I love that, sans foundation, this gave me a fresh and pretty look.

Yeah, that's a soap spot on the mirror! LOL

The Georgette Klinger Coconut Cleansing Milk came in at Number 2 because of the ingredients and the price.

This is the key** ingredients list: coconut oil, coconut extract, grape extract, and cucumber extract. I found the full ingredients online and you can see them at bottom of this post. This is a really gentle cleanser and I love the way it smells - but there is added fragrance. Affordable is what topped it for me.

Next was the Ouai Volume Spray (and I had to Google it to know that you pronounce Ouai as "way").

One thing I have not used before getting the Walmart box is any kind of hairspray. This Ouai item is not a hairspray but it's not something I would have picked up to try before now. It is light and has a great smell. My hair wasn't sticky or crunchy after using this and it did give my curls the lift I like and added some shine. I am wearing some in the previous photo. The price isn't too bad so this is something I might purchase in a full size.

This next item would have been my top fave if not for the high price. It's the Whal Myung Skin Elixir.

It's great stuff but, dang, almost sixty bucks??? Nah for me, mon. LOL

I used this with a little bit of foundation and it made the color go on smooth and even while giving my face a lighter and less made-up feel. If I could afford it, this would be in my beauty bag all the time.

My least fave item ranks that way because it's just not something I'm at all interested in. If I ever get around to trying it, I will give a review. For now, let's just say, it's a skip for me.

All in all, I would say that this was a really good box. Everything except the lip mask was a hit. I'm happy to have discovered the illuminator and the volume spray.


** Full list of ingredients for the Coconut Cleansing Milk:
Deionized Water, Glycerin, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Extract, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Propylene Glycol, Peg-8 Laurate, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Extract, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Extract, Polyacrylamide, C13-14 Isoparaffin & Laureth-7, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Caprylyl Glycol, Phenoxyethanol, Hexylene Glycol, Triethanolamine, Fragrance

**REVIEW** Walmart Beauty Box (Classic Spring 2018)

Wow! Walmart really surprised me with this box. It's my first one and I was not expecting to be this happy with it.

I happened to have received my Birchbox for May today at the same time the Walmart box arrived. I thought for sure that, next to Birchbox, the Walmart box wouldn't hold up. I was so wrong. Not only did the Walmart box hold some real goodies, but it was right up there with Birchbox. Consider this: the Walmart box is $5 and comes on a quarterly basis. Birchbox was good this time, but Walmart definitely held its own.

These are the photos, because you know I always take some. And first off, the box was presented as nicely as, say, Birchbox.

Simple and kind of elegant

 Then, it got nicer as I opened the simple and elegant outer box to see more care in presentation.

 When I undid the tissue, I was really kind of wowed. This was a really packed box.

I was thinking, "Look at you, Walmart..." Like I said, there wasn't a disappointing item in the box. Let's see them one by one:

The Dove Exfoliating Body Polish is priced at $5.93 for a 10.5oz jar on and comes in 3 formulations: the Crushed Macadamia & Rice Milk that was in my box; Kiwi Seeds & Cool Aloe; and Pomegranate Seeds & Shea Butter. The box sample was a 1oz (30g) size. I'm not a huge fan of using anything exfoliating on my skin, but I might try this on my awful feet.

Dove Exfoliating Body Polish
 Next up, from a brand I hadn't heard of or noticed before is this Hello toothpaste. I got the Sensitivity Relief formula of Soothing Mint & Coconut Oil. Sounds interesting, right? Well, so does the Mojito Mint flavor I saw online... Looks like the full-sized tubes come in a few different sizes, including a toddler version. My sample was a .85oz (24.1g) tube and the 4oz tube online is currently priced at $4.82.

One of the most interesting items was this Advanced Therapy Ointment Body Spray by Aquaphor. I am always on the lookout for good moisturizers and I gave this a try right away. Love it. I got a .86oz (24.5g) sample and it doesn't take a lot to cover a large area of skin. The 3.7oz is priced at $9.97 and there are options for purchasing multi-packs of the 3.72oz size.

Some of you all know that I love me some Aussie Moist products, but I have never tried the hairsprays. When I saw this 24-hour Hold Mega Hairspray, I was leery and mentioned it to my niece. She mentioned that she will set her Bantu styling knots with a light spray so that her curls hold through the day. I gave it a try tonight when I did my twists for tomorrow. I will have to wait to see how this spray worked, but I can tell you that it smells good. I mean, it is an aerosol spray but it has a nicer scent than most. My sample was a 1.5oz (42g) Level 1 Flexible Hold. The 14oz size is priced at $3.43. I can work with that.

Another beauty product that I'm not fond of in general is facial masks - of almost any kind. I tend to use oils and serums on my face for cleansing and toning. This is an Acai Berry Revitalizing Sleeping Mask. I really will be leery of leaving something on my face overnight, but I will give this a patch-test try and get back to you. I can't even correctly pronounce the word "Acai" to tell the truth. The sample is a .35oz (10g size) and that's the same size sold online for $2.50.

I've tried shower lotions before so I was kind of familiar with the idea of this Jergens Natural Glow Wet Skin Moisturizer. It's the "natural glow" part that makes this interesting. I got the 2oz (59mL) size for "fair to medium" skin tones. I have to say that this will be fun to try. The 7.5oz (221mL) size is $8.64 and there seem to be different sizes (and prices) that you can look at when you check for your shade.

 Another product I can't wait to try is the  Foam Conditioner by Pantene. I got a 1.4oz (4.g) sample of the "Sheer Volume" formula. There are formulas for several hair types and desired results with a price of  $5.97 each for 6oz containers.

I thought it was pretty cool that there was a 3-day Rembrandt (teeth) Whitening Boost Kit included since 3 days is what's suggested to see some results. In addition to the 3-day sample, Walmart included a $2 coupon towards the purchase of a 1-week kit. Seeing as how those kits run just over $22, that coupon is going to be great for someone who was thinking of trying the full week. I have a crown that is sensitive so the 3 days is a good enough trial for me.

Last up is another coupon and one that I will most definitely be using. It's for a free (FREE) box of Nice 'n Easy Hair Color. And they aren't playing about the "free" part. The coupon will cover a purchase up to $8.99 and the online price (always higher than in-store prices) is running at $7.99. Oh yeah! That one coupon paid me back and some for the subscription box cost.

Here's the thing: when I first heard of the Walmart box, a lot of the reviews gave the impression that it was just full of cheap items from the Travel-sized item section of the store. In reality, the sample sizes are generous and I had not even heard of two of the products (the Aquaphor and the Hello brand toothpaste), so there.

Maybe this was just a really good box, but the items more than paid for the subscription and I can use every single item in it (okay, except for the overnight mask). And even with the mask that I will only patch test, there was not one moment of disappointment like there was with the Sephora box.

Another good thing is that this box is $20 for the year and I can afford it. I sure hope Walmart doesn't start trying to compete with the pricier boxes if it means raising the subscription. Oh, and I don't want to forget that subscribers get to enter to win a $500 Walmart gift card by filling out a questionnaire type survey of the box. Done and done.


Note 1: I was not compensated for this review, nor was I requested to do the review.
Note 2: The prices shown are current for the date this post was written and taken from the online store.

Monday, May 07, 2018

May Giveaway for Followers

FreeBeingFree currently has 12 blog followers. Yes, they are few but they are loyal. I am now opening up the May Giveaway.

This is the item I had intended to give out to the winner...

... but I thought it would be nicer (and easier) to offer a $10 Amazon Gift Card. If the winner wants to buy the sprayer, fine, but the gift card lets them choose something they want. The sprayer can be found here.

So, here is the deal for the giveaway:

  1. You can only win if you were a follower as of last month when I announced the giveaway (and, yes, I have that list of people);
  2. You cannot be an "unknown" or "anonymous" follower. If I didn't have some kind of located profile for you as of April, you are excluded from the giveaway;
  3. You have to send me an email at by 7 a.m. Central Time on May 31st, 2018; and
  4. The email subject line must be "FreeBeing's May 2018 Giveaway"; and
  5. In the body of the email, you must tell me 4 things:
    1. How I sign off my blog posts,
    2. Where did I live before moving to Iowa, and
    3. What type of product reviews (on this blog) have you most enjoyed and would like to see more of, and
    4. What type of product reviews (on this blog) have you least enjoyed and wish I would never do again.
  6. You have to provide an email address (only for sending the gift card). I promise not to spam you or share that email address.
  7. I will announce the winner on June 1st, 2018 and I will forward the gift card to the winner between June 3-9 of 2018.
That's it. I wish I could do a larger giveaway, but I had to budget to do this one! LOL

Thanks for being a reader and follower of this blog. 


P.S.: You may notice that I am not doing a Google share of this post. If you read the blog, you read it; if you don't, you don't.

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

**REVIEW** Tonka Bean Oil from Piping Rock

I am SO disappointed in the Tonka Bean Oil that I just got. It has none of the vanilla scent that it's famous for and it wasn't even very moisturizing.

pay attention, please, to that label

Of course, I contacted Piping Rock immediately because, based on their product details, either I got something different than what was described or I got a bad bottle. This is the site's description of their Tonka Bean fragrance oil:

The rich, creamy aroma of our Tonka Bean Fragrance Oil brings together the warmth of amber, the subtle sweetness of vanilla and sophisticated notes of bergamot and lily.  (my bold/italics)
Uh, no, sir. Not my bottle they are talking about there. And, because I wanted to be sure that it wasn't just my nose being funny from this latest cold, I had a neighbor give the bottle a sniff. Nothing. She then tapped out some oil on the back of her hand and took another deep sniff. Her response? "I think I smell a little something, but not anything like vanilla or amber. Maye a hint of Bergamot." And she didn't sound too sure about that.

Now, I can't be super upset about the oil. For one thing, it's the first time that I have tried Tonka Bean oil, so maybe this is how it's supposed to smell (or not smell) like. I dunno. For another thing, Piping Rock has never disappointed me with the quality of the other products I've received from them. But I sure am upset at the response I received when I contacted them via the site's Chat function.

This is a copy of how I started the Chat:
"I recently ordered the Tonka Bean oil. I've never used any before now, but this one has almost none of the "sweetness of vanilla and sophisticated notes of bergamot and lily". There is actually almost no fragrance. Is that normal? I used perfumes that have Tonka Bean as a base or main note, but I don't know if the oil is so mild. I love everything else I have ordered and plan to be a repeat customer, but since I don't know Tonka Bean oil, was just wondering about this bottle."
His initial response was to parrot the site's description:
The fragrance contains - Rich, sweet, warm fragrance, with notes of vanilla and amber (my underline)


Notice that he uses that word "fragrance" the same as the product description and the bottle's label. Not just an oil but a fragrance oil...

 He then went on to assure me of the guarantee that's in place for one year from date of purchase (nice) so that I could return the unused portion (huh?)  with a short explanation (wait, what?) for a refund or "recreation" of the product.

Uh, here's the thing. I paid $4.99 for the little bottle. It would probably cost me that much plus a few pennies to ship this back. Also, why should I have to write any kind of an explanation? Maybe that's would be okay because maybe they want to make improvements, but why should I bother doing any of that for a $4.99 refund?

What I wanted was not a refund, but an explanation (short or otherwise) of why I wasn't getting any of the described fragrance from the bottle I purchased. Or maybe for the agent to tell me that the oil is not as strong as I expected.

At any rate, I am not happy with this oil and I'm trying not to let this bottle ruin all Tonka Bean oils for me. Or maybe all Tonka Bean oils smell exactly like this one. I don't know. All I know is that most of my favorite perfumes include Tonka as the base or main note and this is not what I expected. I mean, "fragrance" is all over the description and labeling so ... ~sigh~

I have to tell you all, if I weren't so happy with everything else I've gotten from Piping Rock, I'd be done with them at this point. As a matter of fact, if this had been the first thing I'd ordered, I'd have never ordered from them again.

Right now, I'm hoping to find another brand of Tonka Bean oil to compare with this one. You all know that I'm fair when it comes to writing reviews. I will tell the good, bad, and ugly when it comes to a product or brand. I'm in love with Piping Rock for the prices, the packaging, and (except for this oil) the quality of the products I've ordered.

I would love to hear from anyone who has tried Tonka Bean oil and can tell me if I'm expecting too much or not.