When the Muses Sing of Spring: April Boxwalla Beauty Review | MONASTERY

I’m playing catch-up on some overdue blog posts and this week I’m belated-ly bringing you my thoughts on Boxwalla’s April beauty box. I regret to inform you that one-time boxes aren’t available for this one, but if you’re interested in Monastery’s products anyway, this review may be of help in your purchasing conquests!

Themed “When the Muses Sing of Spring“, the April Beauty Box* showcases two full-size products from Monastery that deeply soothe and hydrate, gently renew, and brighten the skin. In it we received: Aloe Hyaluronic Moisture Boost ($79) a lightweight hydrating gel serum and XX Rose Glycolic Gel ($74) a 10% glycolic AHA exfoliating serum.

ABOUT MONASTERY: Founded by esthetician Athena Hewitt, it was in Greece where she first experienced the power of aromatherapy and natural skincare with thanks to her grandmother. Her grandmother pressed oil from her own grove and mixed herbs into tonics to create her own personal skincare. Athena spent a decade studying and practicing skincare and esthetics and in 2011 she opened a skincare studio in San Francisco. Alongside her esthetician practice, she has created her own tightly curated collection of natural skincare products which are made in small batches in Monastery’s San Francisco studio.

What is Boxwalla all about? To put it simply, they like to fill boxes with things that MUST be experienced. Boxwalla is a bi-monthly subscription box service that showcases artists and artisans from around the world giving the subscriber a choice of four different interests to choose from: The Beauty Box, The Food Box, The Film Box, and The Book Box. Each box is curated with context in mind and with a story to be told, each one delivering a beautiful sensory experience. Green beauty lovers will appreciate that they have high standards when it comes to ingredients and that they actually use, love, and enjoy the products they feature. Boxwalla typically features between 1-4 products including both full and generous deluxe travel-sizes. Their beauty box rings in at just $49.95 every other month, with each box valuing well over the price tag. If supply is available, they will offer one-time boxes after subscriptions close and they also offer non-renewing gift cycles.


This gel serum feels ultra-light but gives skin a serious boost in hydration thanks to two molecular weights of hyaluronic acid (famed for holding 1000x its weight in water). Even better, the hyaluronic acid is suspended in a base of soothing, moisturizing aloe. Lavender soothes skin and instantly relaxes the senses for an aromatherapeutic experience. This isn’t your standard hyaluronic acid serum. While it contains low and medium weights of the hero hydrator, they’re suspended in aloe to give skin a second source of calming moisture.”

Monastery’s Aloe Hyaluronic Moisture Boost is a lightweight hydrating serum based in aloe juice and contains hyaluronic acid with two molecular weights. In it you’ll also find clary sage and lavender for soothing benefits. Aloe is cloudy in appearance with the consistency of a thin and runny gel, and is herbal-scented in clary sage, lavender, and white camphor.

I appreciate a good hydrating serum and find them wholly necessary in my skincare routines, thus I have standards for them. This one does in fact meet those standards for me: it adequately hydrates my dehydrated skin type, it’s never sticky, it doesn’t pill, and it plays nice with my other products in a routine! Aloe does a great job at filling in those skin cells with hydration for a skin-plumping effect which in turns helps the absorption of other products to follow it and it makes for a nice damp base to apply oils on top of. I can’t stand a sticky serum – sometimes I put up with it but most of the time I just can’t because of the shine it induces and how residue-y my skin feels. Aloe doesn’t do this – but rather it leaves skin soft to the touch and doesn’t add shine or additional skincare residue. With this serum you can use a face mist, an oil, an additional treatment serum, a face cream – you name it and it works great with no pilling or interference! I go super minimal in my daytime skincare these days, so I’ve been relegating Aloe to my PM skincare. I apply one pump on top of misted skin and I like to follow it with some moisturizer – I’ll go in with an oil or balm too if I feel the need.

$79 retail value; 60ml


Glycolic acid is a hero for its ability to gently resurface skin, leaving it smooth, clear, and bright. In XX, 10% glycolic acid is in a soothing rose water base so skin stays hydrated and soothed while you exfoliate.”

Monastery’s XX Rose Glycolic Gel is a chemically exfoliating AHA gel made with 10% glycolic acid in a base of a rose petal infusion. Glycolic acid resurfaces the skin by loosening the bonds that hold dead skin cells together, reducing unsightly skin texture as well as smoothing and brightening the complexion for younger looking skin. Removal of excess dead skin cells also reduces the chance of clogged pores in addition to helping skincare products absorb better.

My skin doesn’t get along with AHA’s, at least in terms of frequent and consistent use. I have rather thin skin and frequent chemical exfoliation with AHA’s has a tendency to make my skin appear blotchy in the under layers and many shades darker. Even with SPF for protection, AHA’s will turn my skin an almost orange tone within weeks of beginning use and as soon as I phase it out of my skincare routine, my skin turns back to its natural shade. It’s bizarre and I have no explanation for it! With that said, I still wanted to give this exfoliator a fair shake. Lavanya at Boxwalla always kindly includes tips and tricks for the sensitive skin types and she suggested that XX could be used as a “flash mask” of sorts. Knowing that frequent or consistent use with this gel would result disastrous, I made a plan to use it as a 5 minute flash mask about 2-3 times a month.

At night after cleansing and patting skin dry, I apply a pump and a half of XX and wait 5 minutes before rinsing off. I make sure to follow up with a hydrating mist, a hydrating serum (Monastery’s Aloe, of course), a creamy moisturizing balm, and a small amount of moisturizer – all in effort to care for freshly exfoliated skin. I might be applying XX too soon after cleansing, but I find it stings badly and my skin looks red for good bit of time after I’m done applying skincare. I hear that “stinging” is alright and sometimes to be expected, but what you don’t want is “burning”, ha.

The morning after I use XX, I would say that my skin feels smoother. It’s not life changingly smooth, but sadly this is to be expected when you can’t chemically exfoliate as often as you need to. When beginning a chemical exfoliator it’s usually recommended to use it every day or every other day for your first week of use, and to taper off after that. Knowing that my skin won’t fair well in the long term, I want to avoid that by sticking to using it on a “treatment” basis.

With all of that said, my experience pertains to me and my specific skin type, so if you get on well with AHA’s and glycolic acid in particular, I think you will really like this formula. If it can make my skin even a little bit smoother after just one use, I imagine this would be excellent for daily or semi-daily exfoliation.

$74 retail value; 60ml.

All in all, I thought the Aloe hydrating serum was a wonderful product and my curiosity is piqued with Monastery — I’d definitely like to try more things from their collection. What have you guys tried and liked from Monastery? Let me know below!

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