Monday, May 6, 2013

Influenster Review: Sugar 'n Spice VoxBox

It's time once again for a review of the products in my latest VoxBox from Influenster! I received all of these products absolutely free of charge in exchange only for my honest review of them. If you're jealous, keep reading and learn how you too can be a part of the program.

This VoxBox was called Sugar 'n Spice and it was filled with a collection of products designed to create a feeling of luxury. Let's dive right in.

l'll start with the few things that I didn't like, all of which were part of the same family of products. I received Colgate Optic White toothpaste and mouthwash and a Colgate 360° Optic White toothbrush. The toothbrush is fine, though my mouth honestly don't feel as clean after I've used it as it does with a regular toothbrush. I think it's because the shape and softness of the bristles makes me feel like it doesn't make good contact with my teeth. I'm not sure whether that's an accurate perception or an illusion so I'm willing to ignore it for now, but when it's time to replace it I'll definitely go back to a regular toothbrush.

The truly bad part, though, is the toothpaste and mouthwash. The mouthwash tastes so terrible that I can barely stand to have it in my mouth, but I could live with it if that were the only problem. The biggest problem is that both the toothpaste and the mouthwash burn my mouth so badly that it brings tears to my eyes and even if I only use the toothpaste it will burn for as much as 20 minutes afterward. The mouthwash is much worse and I can only stand to hold it in my mouth a few seconds, not nearly as long as is recommended. Clearly I haven't used the products well enough to see any whitening effect, so I can't comment on that.

IMPORTANT NOTE: I don't want to scare people off of these products entirely! I strongly suspect that this problem is just a sensitivity to some ingredient that wouldn't affect others, so if you're interested I'd suggest getting a sample size and giving it a try. My husband used the products too so I would have at least some information for my review and, while he can stand to use it, he says that both products definitely have a significant burn and an unpleasant taste. He hasn't seen any whitening effect either, but he had his teeth professionally whitened several months ago so his teeth are already pretty white. I regret that I can't review the product better but I can only tell you what we experienced.

And now on to happier things! The next two products were related to skin care, a topic near and dear to my heart. The first was VaselineSpray and Go lotion. It's an amazing new product that basically is exactly what the name says: a lotion that sprays onto your skin as a slightly foamy mist. Because it's so light, it takes mere seconds to rub in, and then you're done, but you get the same moisturizing level as with regular lotion that takes forever to rub in. It leaves no more residue than regular lotion, and I really think it probably leaves less.

I. LOVE. This product. There are three formulations, containing oat extract, aloe, or cocoa butter, and I received the oat extract version. That made me happy because I'm a big fan of oat-based moisturizers. I have very dry skin so I'm always looking for a great lotion, and I think I've definitely found it here. It's honestly not any better quality than any really good oat-based lotion, but for people who moisturize large portions of their bodies on a regular basis, the savings in time and effort are well worth switching, in my opinion. Definitely check this one out if you struggle with dry skin.

The other skin care product was Dickinson's Original WitchHazel wipes, and this was another big win for me. If you're not familiar with witch hazel, it's sort of an old-school astringent, which is a type of skin care product sort of like Sea Breeze or Clean & Clear. It has a beautiful, clean scent that's simultaneously calming and refreshing. It's also great for treating other skin issues, such as reducing oiliness or sweating; to reduce the itching of conditions like insect bites, poison oak/poison ivy, psoriasis, or eczema; and even to reduce inflammation such as hemorrhoids or bags under the eyes, but none of these are the intended uses of these wipes, as far as I can tell. In any case, it's a fantastic substance that's too often ignored in modern products.

Dickinson's has become a wonderful exception to that rule. The wipes and their packaging have a pleasant, modern appearance and the individual wrapping makes them easy to keep handy even with a super busy schedule. The wipes themselves are thick and well moistened (though they could be somewhat softer in my opinion) and the witch hazel is just as healing and soothing as always. As a person with multiple skin issues, I deeply appreciate having this gentle yet versatile product at my disposal. I will absolutely continue buying it, and I recommend others to give it a look. I think you'll love it just as much as I do.

The last two products in the box were foods. One was (sadly) one single serving of delicious BelVita Breakfast Biscuits. I'd never even heard of this company before, much less this specific product, but I became a fan with the first bite. Each packet contains four biscuits and I wasn't sure whether that would be filling enough to get me through the morning, but it definitely was. (Full disclosure: I'm used to a fairly light breakfast, usually a cup of yogurt or, at most, a bowl of oatmeal, so it's possible that the BelVita biscuits wouldn't be enough for everyone. It would be simple enough to add a piece of fruit or some yogurt or something, though, and I think the biscuits would be a delicious addition to any breakfast.)

Five flavors are available -- Golden Oat, Blueberry, Apple Cinnamon, Cinnamon Brown Sugar, and Chocolate -- and I received the Golden Oat. To me it tasted a lot like a granola bar, but without the gum-punishing hard texture. Instead, the texture was very much like a crisp, light cookie, similar to a shortbread cookie. I enjoyed the oat flavor very much (though I suppose that was an easy sell since oatmeal cookies are my favorite and the flavor was somewhat similar to those) but I want very much to taste the Apple Cinnamon and the Cinnamon Brown Sugar flavors too. BelVita Breakfast Biscuits are almost certain to become an important part of my morning routine.

The final product that I received was Nectresse, a new artificial sweetener from the makers of Splenda. I'm a loooooong time user of artificial sweeteners, starting with saccharine tablets in the 1960s, so I'm kind of a connoisseur and Nectresse definitely makes the grade. It's delicious, better than any artificial sweetener I've ever used. I don't quite know how to describe the difference except to say that its flavor is rich and well rounded, not just sweet. It almost (but not quite) tastes like brown sugar or very slightly caramelized sugar. I used it only in coffee and once on some mixed fruit so that I could get a taste of it in a more pure state, and it literally made both things taste better than they do with other sweeteners. I haven't looked for Nectresse in stores so I'm not sure what the availability situation is, but if I can get my hands on it regularly I guarantee I have a new go-to sweetener. Amazing stuff.

So that's it for the Sugar 'n Spice VoxBox. It was an excellent one even considering my issues with a couple of the products. Thanks once again to Influenster for providing it.

If you'd like to receive products to review, contact me for more information.

Until next time: Best wishes! <3

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