Monday, November 19, 2012

Kara's Way November 2012

I first heard about Kara's Way around April of this year. I was able to get their last box before they went on hiatus. I don't have their email any longer, but I believe the reason was to take some time to regroup and redesign the offering.

Kara's Way is one of the more exciting boxes out there - at least for me. Why? Because it offers the consumer a chance to try eco-friendly products before buying. I know they're not the only subscription service out there doing this - but my research (i.e. reading bloggers reviews) showed that the sample sizes were generous and the products were varied.

One of the ways in which Kara's Way changed is that it's no longer a traditional subscription service. Basically, you can chose to buy the box or not - and that is terrific for commitment phobes. 

Another area of change for Kara's Way is the price. The box used to be $10 and now it's $15. I'm disappointed, but at the same time I realize that everything in this world just keeps going up... and that includes postage. So... it's a minor gripe and I'm sure not their fault that they had to start charging more moolah rouge for the pretties.

One thing they didn't change is the gift tag - and for that, I'm thankful. See, their little gift tag (or as they call it "hang tag) is infused with wildflower seeds. If you tear your tag up into 1 inch pieces, cover with soil, and keep moist - you should have sprouts after about 10 days. Cool, right?

The November 2012 box is their first since the hiatus. Here's what's inside:

1) Honeybee Gardens Eye Liner in Passion: This was one of the first products I saw, and was instantly disappointed. Why? Because it's MADE IN CHINA. Holy mother of all things natural, what was Kara's Way thinking when they included this product in this box? Aren't they aware that products made in China can be dangerous? Chinese manufacturers are already poisoning our pets and sticking lead in everything from dishware to children's toys - are we to trust them with our eyes?

I think not.

Now, Honeybee Gardens claims to "Create pure, all-natural bath and body care products made from only the finest organic ingredients, offer them at a reasonable price, and treat every customer like a friend." Honestly, would you give your friends products made in a country with questionable manufacturing practices? I, for one, certainly hope not.

I know... the product list looks great - but I do NOT trust products made in China. They've proven over and over again NOT to use the ingredients companies want in their products. I don't trust this product, and I don't trust that Honeybee Gardens has my best interests at heart. Including this product in the box is an epic fail in my book.

Moving on...

2)  All Natural LightUpGloss by Dle in Jess Barely: So, I went from feeling abject disappointment to heartfelt glee in a moment. This is a full size product - but guess what else is exciting about it? It has a unique surprise: Pull out the applicator wand, and what do you find? A LIGHT! There's a mirror on the side of the wand, so you can put your lip gloss on in the dark! How cool is that? Dle is putting an end to clown lips - it's about time somebody did!

I've been using this lip gloss ever since I opened up the box, and it's a complete success. I love it! I couldn't find any "made in..." information on the tube or on the site, so hopefully this product is made in the good old US of A, because I've already slapped it on my lips about 500 times since Saturday.
Retail price: $8.95

3) Indochine Natural Star Anise and Coffee Soap: This is my second sample of this soap - I received my first from Eco-Emi in October. This is one of those samples I'm happy to receive a duplicate of - this soap smells delicious. I can't decide if I'm going to keep this one or regift it to someone special... only time will tell.
Retail price: $7.00

4) Twice Shy Natural Eau De Toilette by MBEZE: Thank you, Kara's Way, for doing what Birchbox fails to do: you guys gave me a fragrance sample! I whine, I cry, I beg... and yet Birchbox refuses to give me any fragrance. With you, I didn't even have to ask... I am delighted!

This scent is wonderful, and if I get a coupon code for it, I will definitely purchase it. I put it on, and made everyone nearby smell me. It's a good thing you're on the other side of the computer, otherwise I would make you smell me, too.

The site says it smells like "pink grapefruit is topped off with just a touch of fresh raspberry." I did not smell raspberry, and I'm glad - because I don't tend to like berry scented perfumes. I thought I smelled some lime... with a hint of coconut and flowers. The scent is warm, enticing, and enchanting - without being overpowering or cloying. Alcohol free.
Retail price: $25 for 0.34 fl. oz.

5) Natural Repair Hydratant Extrême: I cannot find this product located on any US online stores. This product comes from a French brand, and seems to run about 15.90 Euros. I received a small foil packet - and you know how much homey hates those. Additionally, if this product isn't available in the United States, I'm not sure what it's doing in this box... but I'm willing to try it, nonetheless!

6) Everyday Minerals blush: Ack! Two more foil sample packets... NOT my favorite. Personally, blush does not excite me. I don't use it. That said, the holidays are coming up - so there might be a need to make myself look shiny and bright. I'm sure these small samples will help me do just that.
Retail price: approximately $6.99 for a mini (prices vary on site)

Nitpicks: I am flabbergasted that a cosmetic product made in China is included in this type of sample box. Maybe Kara's Way didn't know the product was made in China - however, shouldn't they have done their homework? Or maybe they simply don't care that the product was made in China - in that case, I'll have to seriously re-evaluate my continuing purchase of the Kara's Way sample box.

Additionally, the box did not contain any information on the companies or the products themselves, nor any discount codes. When I questioned Kara's Way about this, they stated that the information will be added later to their website - they didn't want to spoil the surprise by posting this info in advance.

While I get that, I would have liked a little more information upfront. Still, I'm willing to forgive this, as I know they're still ironing out the details.

Lasting Impression: There are two products in this box that simply blew me away: the lip gloss (full size!) and the MBEZE fragrance sample. I am so picky about fragrance - I have very particular likes and dislikes. This scent is absolutely enchanting. And the lip gloss with the light was a delightful surprise!

I also signed up for the December box - and after that, I'll make a decision as to whether or not I'm dropping Birchbox in favor of Kara's Way or keeping BB over Kara's Way. Or maybe I'll get rid of them both and sign up for Ipsy (again). After all, homey doesn't make a ton of money and can't subscribe to every sample box out there... even though she'd like to!

Want to try Kara's Way? Boxes are $15 and include shipping cost. They promise 5 to 10 samples a month. Sign up here for the December box!

To be fair, I wanted to include Kara's Way response to the China issue. I still disagree - I see no need to support products made in China, no matter how the company wants to justify it. Still... they did respond, and here it is:

Kara's Way Thanks for the review! By the way, Honeybee Gardens is very concerned about product safety. Here's what they have to say about the eyeliner being produced in China: The bulk of our products are manufactured right here in Pennsylvania. Three of our products - the lip gloss, lipstick and mascara - are manufactured in Toronto.

Our liner pencils are manufactured in China. This is because I could not find a facility here in the US that was as clean or state-of-the-art when it came to producing a pencil cosmetic. The facility that produces our liners has standards that surpass the FDA (by far) and the more stringent European Union standards. This company also produces pencils for many of the largest cosmetic companies in the world. We are responsible for the formula and have MSDS and COA sheets on all ingredients used. It is the only product we make overseas, and I have no plans on changing it. I could not get a more superior product. All of our products are tested for lead, mercury, etc. and we keep the results on file (no contamination).

We have agents in China who periodically monitor the facility to ensure fair labor practices.

Of course all of our products, regardless of where they are made, are tested for micro and stability. And we double test - test the batched product, fill and then test the filled product. It can hold up our production a bit, but we'd rather be safe than sorry!

As you know, Honeybee Gardens carefully scrutinizes all of our products. We encourage your questions, and will continue in our goal to make the cleanest, healthiest and safest cosmetics and personal care products on the market.