(Again, I must apologise profusely for the photo quality - I think I'm going to have to actually lash out when I have some cash to splash and buy a camera. Ben loaned
I have checked out skin care products on this site eleventy billion times, but aside from the cult brands like Queen Helene, a lot of the brands seem fairly obscure and it's hard to find reviews of them. Eventually I figured I'd just try some Beauty Without Cruelty cleansers and toner, since they were cheap as chips anyway and they'd get used up eventually even if I didn't love them. the Queen Helene Mud Pack Masque and Oatmeal and Honey scrub were just thrown in to make shipping worthwhile (this is before they brought in free international shipping for orders over $40) and are more for Noodles than me.
I bought the BWC 3% AHA Complex cleanser, the Vitamin C with CoQ10 cleanser, and the Balancing Facial Toner. I meant to buy one foaming cleanser for the shower in the morning and one cream one for double cleansing at night, but accidentally got two foaming ones. Slightly annoying, but on the plus side neither of them are drying, as foaming cleansers can be. Still leaves me short a cream one though. I quite like the toner - it's nothing fancy but it does what toners are supposed to do, and it's a nice big bottle so you get your money's worth.
I found this shop while I was trawling Etsy for natural skin care products. I decided to check it out since they had sample sets, and at the time there was a sale with 20% off everything (which appears to still be going). Shipping took a while on this one, but my mail generally has been really slow so I suspect a lot of stuff is getting held up in customs. I decided to try one of each sample set available - the Youth Collection and Antioxidant Collection for me, and the Clarity Collection for Noodles. Each of these comes with four samples of skin care products. The only one I've tried so far is the Youth Collection, which I've been using for a week or so, and really enjoying. That one comes with a cream cleanser, cream exfoliant, toner and serum. It's a bit annoying that they are all in little jars - even the toner - but let's face it, who among us doesn't have little empty cosmetic bottles around? I just decanted it into an old serum bottle that I cleaned out first.
Since I've been using them my skin has felt really soft, and you get a good amount to try out properly. The full price for each set was about $10AUD (and I got the 20% off - score!), and shipping all up for the 3 was $8.50. They come packaged beautifully in little boxes wrapped with string, and I also received a free sample jar of Hemp Lotion, but I haven't quite worked out what to do with that yet.
I was sucked in by the description of The Cake Is A Lie, and that turned out to be one of my least favourite of these perfumes. They're a bit hit and miss as far as longevity and scent. A couple of them smell quite generic - the Vanilla Cupcake smells like every other Vanilla Cupcake scent on Etsy, the Caramel Latte has that caramel note that veers way too close to vomit, Pink Frosting is pretty but very sweet and sugary (and to be fair, that's exactly how it's described) and much more suited to a teenager than an old codger like myself - but a couple of them are really lovely. I liked True Rose a lot, and I really loved Gypsy Woods, a woody, musky, unisex fragrance that would be perfect for cold weather, or slathering all over Ryan Gosling. I'll be getting a full size of that one some time in the near future. The order came with a little sample of soap and that was really lovely - and I'm not generally a fan of bar soap. It smelled divine too.
Overall, if you're into smelly things that tend toward the foodie side and a few florals, I think this shop is worth checking out. You can get perfume samples in sets of 3 or 6 (your choice of scents), and soap samples in sets of 6 or 12 for pretty reasonable prices. I paid about $12AUD for the samples and $4.60 for shipping.
The Garden Bath
I mentioned this shop recently on my Etsy Lerve post, and I was in like a shot buying as soon as the owner reopened. Although I know I will definitely be getting a full size bottle of Chocolate Passion and Fresh Roses, which are two of my old favourites, I wanted to get some samples first and check out what else I might like to get my mitts on. I haven't tried all of these out yet, though from what I have played with, I definitely want a bottle or two of Vanilla Nutmeg, a limited edition on sale until the end of the year. It's one of those gorgeous warm, wintery vanillas with a delicious spice note. I cannot stop smelling myself when I am wearing it. So good! Caramel Apple didn't work on me at all - it was very sharp and sickly and I had to scrub it off after about 20 minutes.
The longevity varies - Fresh Oranges disappeared on me fairly quickly, but I put Vanilla Nutmeg on at about 4 in the afternoon (let's be real - the moment I ripped that package open), and I could still smell traces of it on my wrists the next morning. You can get sets of 6 samples for about $9AUD, either a particular collection or choose your own, and postage to Australia for samples is about $4.