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sofitel_smh.jpgYou know you do it, but are the free hotel toiletries really worth sneaking into your bag? Thanks to an old cushy day job, I had the… luxury of staying at some nice hotels with even nicer amenities. In this column, I explore the brands different hotels have chosen to partner up with and where the products place on my ‘stuff it in your carry on?’ meter. 

Sofitel in Los Angeles provides generous portions of L’Occitane products, I just didn’t want them. The bottles and caps felt cheap and flimsy and the products themselves did not leave a lasting impression. They did the job, but I didn’t take them with me.

Steal-o’-meter rating: 2 out of 5. Check out their full product line at loccitane.com
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I rely 100% on moisturizer to soothe my skin. When it comes to soap bars, I’m just looking for a fresh scent which is why I was immediately intrigued by Dr. Bronner’s line of organic hemp soaps. I’d love to try the citrus orange and baby mild scents, but my local grocery store only carries peppermint and lavender. If I had two soap holders, I’d use peppermint for morning showers and lavender for evening baths. I settled on lavender and so far so good. 

What do you look for first in a soap? Moisturizing or smell?

Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, $4.49 at drbronner.com
Burtsbeeslipbalm2.jpgWhile cruising the beauty section of Target the other day, I stumbled upon Burt’s Bees new line of tinted lip balms. With colors like pink blossom, honeysuckle, hibiscus and red dahlia, I had a hard time picking just one. The lip balms come in an eye-catching cardboard tube that turns out to be a total waste of paper, but the product itself is really quite perfect. Unlike their lip shimmers, they don’t have that too-powerful minty smell and they give your lips just the right amount of color. The only negative is that they taste bitter when you smack your lips.

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Burt’s Bees Tinted Lip Balm, $6.99 at target.com
benefitsampler_smh.jpgImagine my surprise at Sephora recently when I was offered a product I actually use as a reward for my Insider Beauty points. I quickly said yes to Benefit’s ‘Feelin’ Cheeky! Minis’ which included tiny travel size versions of Benetint, Posietint, and High Beam.

I use High Beam and I love it — on my eyelids, cheekbones and even under my eyes if I have really dark circles. Unfortunately, the mini size is not that much smaller than the regular size High Beam and doesn’t have a wand to help rub the product in. I don’t really see the benefit (sorry, couldn’t resist) of buying this three-pack, unless you like Posietint and Benetint.

I don’t.

Benetint does an okay job of adding a bit of color to your cheeks and lips, but it’s definitely not a product I would deem “must-have” and therefore, am not really in need of a travel size. Also, it tastes horrible and the experience is a bit like dribbling Kool-Aid on your lips and hoping they stay a little red. And Posietint is just useless. 

Bottom line: Apply the $15 towards a full-size High Beam.

Feelin’ Cheeky! Minis, $15 at sephora.com
stellatravel_smh.jpgThere it is staring up at you while you wait in line at Sephora. The Stella Eau de Parfum Roll-On ($20 at sephora.com) is one of a few dozen small items tempting you at the check out. Do you indulge? The answer is yes, unless you already have a travel size perfume (or you go to Sephora and ask for a sample of your fave scent in one of those free little atomizers every time you go out of town). If you don’t, Stella is not only TSA-friendly, but a really nice floral scent that can work as an everyday fragrance and also an alluring date night scent.

P.S., make sure you screw the cap on tightly after each use. My last bottle leaked all over my car. On the bright side, my car smelled lovely for weeks.

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