Welcome to Perfume Polytechnic’s first foray into beauty products! Today I’m reviewing the December Beauty Box by new, multi-interest subscription box service Boxwalla, based in the USA.
What or who is Boxwalla, I hear you ask? And what does the word “boxwalla” mean?!
“In India, the word boxwalla means ‘Box-seller’, ‘box person’ or ‘traveling merchant’. ‘Walla Walla’ is the Native American name for a ‘place of many waters’. So we think of ourselves as traveling merchants, getting drunk on things of ‘many waters’ and sharing those things with you.”
Source: Boxwalla website
Great name! Boxwalla describe themselves thus:
“We are a boy, a girl and an imaginary cat, Patrick. We are aesthetes. We are nerdy. We feed on art and literature. We drink films as if they were bottles of coconut water. We love beauty in all its mutable forms. And we’d like to stuff some boxes with the best of what we love.
Curators? Editors? We just like to think of ourselves as drunken boxwallas. We like to fill boxes with things that MUST be experienced. This year we have put together four kinds of boxes that you can choose to receive every other month.”
Source: Boxwalla website
The subscription service that Bowalla offers is the result of the coming together of a number of strong personal interests for the dynamic duo that started the venture (who prefer, excitingly, to remain somewhat anonymous!). They have a shared love of books, film, art, music, food and fine beauty products and Boxwalla is an outcome or expression of that. The folks behind Boxwalla want to share with their subscribers some of the best and most interesting items they’ve come across in each of these categories, including products and cultural artefacts that might not be well-known yet, but should be. I can get behind that!
There are four categories to subscribe to at Boxwalla:
- Beauty – cruelty free, green beauty products made by US-based artisans
- Books – contemporary international writers
- Film – international art cinema from the fabulous Criterion Collection
- Food – small batch, gourmet, locally made in the US
The Boxwalla team favours artisanal and small businesses, and each of the boxes features quality and unusual items that you mightn’t have had the chance to experience yet. You can read more about some of the fabulous artisans they support here. Boxes sell for $49.95 USD each, so they are luxury subscription boxes, but in my opinion are very good value for money, given the high quality and size of the products and thoughtfully curated contents.
I can’t imagine buying equivalent items in Australia to those included in my Beauty Box for less than $85 AUD, so for those not living in the US, this is a wonderful chance to try some artisanal beauty products that you might not otherwise be able to get your hands on, for a good price. Shipping is free within the US, and all boxes (other than the food box) can be shipped internationally for a fee.
Subscriptions are posted every two months, and you can sign up for an extended period, or buy certain boxes one-off. If you subscribe longer-term, you can also change from one kind of box to another, so you can jump around from beauty to film or books, for example, and see what each kind of Boxwalla box has to offer. You can also cancel your subscription at any time, so there is no long term commitment if you’d prefer to just try the service out. What fun! Currently there are a few one-time purchase February Beauty Boxes up for sale; so if you missed out, here’s your chance to grab one.
What I love about subscription services is the element of surprise. It’s like receiving a gift, but for yourself, however you don’t know exactly what the gift is! There are themes for each box, and the contents are only hinted at prior to release to maintain this element of surprise (like in the image above), but kept secret.
December Beauty Box Review
I’ve been keeping track of Boxwalla since it was launched in late 2015. The first series of boxes was released in December, and I’ve avidly watched Boxwalla’s social media updates with hints and snippets of info being released about upcoming box releases, exciting authors that I’ve never heard of, wonderful films, beauty products and food too. Although the entire subscription service is right up my alley (it’s interesting, intellectual, sensual and high-quality), and I’m enticed by it all, as this is a fragrance and olfaction blog, it seemed most fitting that I review one of the Beauty Boxes, with its wonderfully scented, green and cruelty-free beauty products!
The December Beauty Box was kindly and generously sent to me by the lovely folks at Boxwalla for review. There was a winter-evening-beauty-ritual theme for the December Beauty Box, and while I reviewed the products during a very warm Australian summer, I found them all to be appropriate and useful, no matter the season. When the box arrived I was gobsmacked at the beautiful packaging, including a gorgeously sturdy and beautifully designed box that will be great for storage. Inside, all products were wrapped in tissue, sealed with a cute sticker, and well-cushioned with degradable cornstarch peanuts.
There were six wonderful products included in the box: a travel candle, exfoliant fash wash, two soaps, a lip balm and a hand cream. All products are full size, except for the hand cream, which, at 1oz/30g is a medium size and well-suited to handbags.
Aura Scented Travel Candle: Grounded
For their December Beauty Box the folks at Boxwalla chose candles by Aura with soy wax, lead-free wicks and phthalate-free scents. There were three different scents that went out to subscribers, and the one I received is called “Grounded”: a combination of green fig, cyclamen and teak. The candle smells fantastic and reminds me of my favourite fig-scented product of all time: a candle that L’Occitane made in the early 2000s but which I haven’t been able to find since. I haven’t found anything to match the green, yet earthy fig smell of L’Occitane’s candle until now, so I am very excited to try this one. The fig scent is green without being too sharp. It’s a very natural and believable fig, earthy yet sweet and fruity, with a hint of creaminess. The fig dominates the fragrance and I’m not sure I detect much in the way of cyclamen or teak, but no matter. It’s a strong candle without being overpowering, wafting through a couple of rooms at a time. This candle is quite large for a travel candle and the total burn time is listed as 35 hours. I love the tin as I can cover the candle to make sure it’s extinguished and easily take it with me.
The Soap & Paper Factory’s Snow Drop Winter Vanilla Hand Cream
This hand-made hand cream from The Soap & Paper Factory is divine. I have really dry hands and find that only the thickest salves soothe them. The fragrance is a buttery, salty, slightly boozy vanilla that would appeal to anyone. Luscious and rich, this hand cream contains shea butter, cocoa butter and coconut oil. No wonder my hands feel so good! You only need a tiny bit of this hand cream as it is quite thick and the tube is a great size to take anywhere without weighing your bag down.
Lilikoi Living Bamboo Buff Exfoliating Facial Wash
Lilikoi Living’s Bamboo Buff is a gentle exfoliating face wash. It has a slightly gel-like, lightly foaming texture containing ground bamboo to exfoliate, and is calming and soothing. It gives my sensitive/dry skin a deep clean without scratching it or leaving it parched like some other exfoliants can. It actually leaves a moisturising film on my face, which is wonderful when you have dry skin like I do. This is a good product for a gently daily clean (normal skin) or exfoliation a few times a week (more sensitive skin). It is fragranced, and while the fragrance ingredients aren’t named, it states that the face wash contains a blend of 100% essential oils. It’s a seamless and pleasant fragrance blend and I can’t really pull the smell apart, but suspect there is some palmarosa essential oil in there. The size of this product is great. You only need a tiny amount so the 4oz/120ml bottle will last a long time.
Aunt Nancy’s Handmade Soaps
Two lovely soaps from Aunt Nancy’s were included in the December box. They are rich and creamy and are palm-oil free, which is good news for our Orangutan friends! I’ve used the unscented goat’s milk soap regularly in the shower and it leaves my skin clean and moisturised. Although it is technically unperfumed, it has a lovely, very subtle scent from the goat’s milk. The Orange & Clove version of this soap is just as creamy and moisturising but with the rich smell of Christmas spices; perfect for warming winter use or for anyone who loves spice and citrus (as I do)!
Hurraw! Moon Balm in Blue Chamomile Vanilla
This luscious lip balm is made from raw, organic, vegan ingredients. You guessed it, I also have dry lips! Well, this balm is unusual in that it actually works for me, without any petrochemicals. Usually I need a blast of super-toxic petroleum jelly to get my lips to behave, but Hurraw’s Moon Balm does the job equally as well, as it contains super-moisturising almond oil, cocoa butter and argan oil too. It boasts a lovely, yet subtle scent of blue chamomile and vanilla, which isn’t overpowering. I dislike overpowering and/or flavours in lip balms, so this works well for me.
Boxwalla’s December Beauty Box contained a wonderful range of eco-friendly, animal-friendly and toxin-free beauty products made by American artisans, with gorgeous scents too. I enjoyed every single one of the products in the box, and I am a fussy one when it comes to beauty products, finding that so many commercial products irritate my skin, or don’t do what they claim to do. The products are all a great size, so you can try something out properly before you buy more from the same maker, and the packaging for all the products is innovative and attractive too.
Boxwalla’s subscription boxes are really good value and you support American artisans, small makers, international writers and film makers when you subscribe to their service. Boxwalla offers a high quality, unique subscription service and I certainly look forward to seeing what they do next!
You can find out all about Boxwalla and subscribe over at their gorgeously designed website. The next round of subscriptions will be posted in April and the cut-off date to subscribe is March 15.
Many thanks to the lovely folk at Boxwalla for providing my December Beauty Box in exchange for a review. As with all my reviews, I am not compensated financially or paid to review fragrances or any other products. You can read my review philosophy here.