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Whole Foods Beauty “The New Essentials” Review

Whole Foods Beauty Bag
4.8 overall rating
17 Ratings | 5 Reviews

The Whole Foods "The New Essentials" Limited Edition Beauty Kit is a curated collection of clean beauty and self-care items selected from brands available within Whole Foods Market stores. These bags are limited-edition one-time purchases made available during Whole Foods' Beauty Week, which began this year on March 12th. While the bags were technically made "available" as of the 12th, they typically sell out within hours of the store's opening, and unlike other Whole Foods items, are not available to purchase through Amazon.

Please note, these bags are no longer available but hopefully, this review will give you an idea of what to expect with these bags – you may even find a beauty item you're dying to try!

My Subscription Addiction paid for this bag. (Check out the review process post to learn more about how we review boxes.)

About Whole Foods Limited Edition Beauty Kits

The Box: Whole Foods "The New Essentials" Limited Edition Beauty Kit

The Cost: $20.00

The Products: New and trending clean beauty and self-care products available in Whole Foods Markets stores

Good to know: These bags sell out FAST, usually within a few hours of store's opening, and are only available for purchase in person

Whole Foods "The New Essentials" Limited Edition Beauty Kit Review

The bag your items come in is always pretty and high-quality – this year, the bags are hand-printed and made in Ghana by Queen Alaffia, whose clutches fetch $18.99 at retail. I've used Alaffia products in the past and really enjoy them – especially the Whipped Shea Butter & Coconut Oil, it's great for eczema-prone skin – and the company does a lot to give back. From a purely aesthetic standpoint, I'm happy to have a sizeable bag to store my beauty products in... but since I now have two (you can read my review of the "Glow Up Beautiful" Whole Foods Bag here), I think I'll give this one to my mom (she wears makeup about once a year, but I know she'll like the pattern of this). Also included with the bag is a little booklet that lists out the products you'll find within, their size and general info, and ingredients.


Juice Beauty Cleansing Milk, 2 fl. oz – Estimated retail value $8.30 (buy full-size here for $25.00)

I mentioned in my review of the other Whole Foods bag that I'm already a big fan of Juice Beauty products, but this cleanser just didn't do it for me – but that's more personal preference, I'm just not a huge fan of cream cleansers. The hero ingredients are chamomile, calendula, and organic white grape juice, making this creamy cleanser ideal for those with sensitive skin. The other bag included a cleanser for blemish-prone skin, so I appreciate the variety offered between the two bags.


Mad Hippie Vitamin A Serum, .5 fl oz – Estimated retail value $15.55 (buy a full size here for $32.99)

This product is a nice complement to the vitamin C serum included in the "Glow Up Beautiful" bag – this exfoliating serum is best used at night, while the vitamin C can be used during the day. Key ingredients include HPR, which Mad Hippie describes as a "Revolutionary new form of vitamin A that is bioavailable in its current state without the need of any inefficient metabolic steps"; phytoceramide to aid in moisture retention; sodium hyaluronate, which "has been shown to have better skin penetrating capabilities than HA alone"; oat beta-glucan, which is purported to aid in the reduction of the appearance of wrinkles; and aloe vera. There were several retinol-like products included between these two bags, and since retinoids take a while to really show results, I especially appreciate the larger size of this serum so users can really see whether or not it will work for them. I mentioned in the previous review that I already have a retinol product that I love and my skin is doing really well, so I'm going to save this and pass it along to a friend.

Alaffia Everyday Coconut Vegan Lip Balm, Purely Coconut – Retail Value $2.99

This product was also included in the other Whole Foods bag, here's what I had to say about it:

A basic lip balm is always welcome here – I keep them in all my bags and usually find them in the pockets of my coats and in my backpacks, too. And in my car... and between the cushions of the couch... This one has a pleasant, but not overwhelming, coconut scent/flavor, and is vegan – so it's friendly for everyone. It's not the most incredible formula I've ever used, but it works well.


Dr. Haushka Quince Day Cream – Retail Value $45.00

Full size! I love the scent of this light day cream -- citrusy and fresh. I mentioned in the other Whole Foods review that I'm more of an oils girl, but I enjoyed how fresh and light this was, so maybe it will be perfect for summer when my skin tends to be a little more naturally oily. It's worth mentioning, though, that alcohol is fairly high up on the ingredients list, so if you're averse to that, it might be worth approaching with caution. Key ingredients include apricot kernel oil, carrot root extract, and shea butter.


Giovanni 2Chic Clarifying & Calming Deep Conditioning Hair Mask, 1.75 fl. oz. – Retail Value $3.99

I'm going to be completely honest with you – I've always been a little turned off from Giovanni products because of the aesthetics of the packaging. It feels deeply '90s and not in a fun, reimagined-by-gen Z way (it's worth mentioning that I work in marketing and brand design). ANYWAY, personal assumptions aside, this mask sounds really nice – ingredients include blue tansy, vegan squalane, wintergreen. and lavender. It also includes the fatty alcohol behenyl alcohol, which is a thickening agent -- something that I'll admit gives me pause because my hair is ridiculously thick already... I might pass this to my husband or send it to my brother (both have much longer hair than me and could use a little nourishing).


Derma E Vitamin C Gentle Daily Cleansing Paste, .70 oz. – Estimated Retail Value $2.44 (buy full size here for $13.99)

Derma E products have been hit-or-miss for me, and unfortunately, from previous use, I already know this one is a miss. It has great reviews, but for me, I just couldn't get down with the texture -- it's gritty, but not terribly exfoliating (the grit is too large), and in my opinion, it feels a bit like trying to wash your face with clay. I do appreciate the generous size of this sample, so users can use it over time to really see how the product works for them.


Pacifica Beauty Sea Foam Complete Face Wash, 1.4 fl oz. – Estimated Retail Value $2.80 (buy full-size here for $10.00)

This product was also included in the other Whole Foods bag, here's what I had to say about it:

I've enjoyed Pacifica Beauty's products in the past and this cleanser is nice, although if you avoid fragrance in your skincare this might not be for you – it smelled strongly of coconut. That said, it foamed up nicely and my face felt clean but not stripped after using it. But in the choice between this and the Juice Beauty cleanser, I'd choose the Juice Beauty.


RECALLED: Acure Ultra-Hydrating Sheet Mask – estimated retail value $4.99

HUGE thanks to MSA reader, Joy, who tipped me off that this mask was recalled after causing reactions for many users. You can read Acure's statement here, which frankly feels a little gaslight-y (it's worth reading the comments). I also couldn't find an official statement from the brand outside of Instagram and couldn't find anything from Whole Foods regarding the recall. This isn't the first time that an Acure mask has been recalled and as someone who has used their masks in the past, this definitely gives me pause.


Whole Foods Market Cupra Mask in Age-Defying Acai, 1 .77 fl oz. mask – Retail Value $2.99

I'm not a huge fan of how sheet masks feel on my face, but I have enjoyed using Whole Foods masks in the past. This one is meant to soothe and firm with acai and pomegranate extract. I'll either save this for summer to soothe my skin after being outdoors or gift it to a friend (sheet masks make such nice little self-care gifts).


Acure Vitamin C Jelly Mask, .25 fl oz – Estimated Retail Value $4.99 (buy full size here for $19.99)

Well, now I'm a little skittish when it comes to Acure products! I've used this jelly mask twice now, and... it's fine. It dries faster than the recommended use time of 10 minutes, and made my skin uncomfortably tight – so I washed it off earlier than intended. The two types of vitamin C featured within are ferulic acid and brightening banana flower extract – but knowing how unstable vitamin C can be, I'm a little skeptical of how effective this is since the container isn't light-blocking and the formula is exposed to air when you open the jar. (The little scoop is not included – that's mine from a different mask)


Avalon Organics Soothing Moisture Cannabis Sativa Oil Shampoo, 2 fl. oz. – Estimated Retail Value $2.12

This is a moisturizing shampoo that includes cannabis Sativa oil, aka hemp seed oil. I feel like this is all marketing, and not very good marketing – the use of the term cannabis Sativa oil might make someone believe that this is somehow more potent than hemp seed oil (it's the same thing and does not contain THC), and the copy in the booklet includes the phrase "Don't put it in the air, put it in your hair" – annoying (but to be fair, I believe this copy came from Whole Foods and not Avalon Organics). Am I being unfair? I don't think so. With the legalization of cannabis in many states and the rise of the use of hemp and CBD in beauty products, I believe it's important to use a critical eye when it comes to how these products are marketed.

This shampoo does smell nice and does what it says it will – cleans hair – but the bag didn't include a conditioner, so this feels incomplete considering the other shampoos included a conditioner pairing. I gave this to my husband for his work travel kit – he was out of shampoo so this came in handy at the right time.


Weleda Skin Food Lip Butter, .27 oz. – Retail Value $6.99

As I mentioned in the other WF review – I'm both a huge fan of Weleda and will never turn down a lip balm and this one is really nice. It's nourishing without being too glossy and doesn't make my lips flake. I've been keeping this by my computer to use throughout the day. It's also fragrance-free, so it's nice if you're not in the mood for a flavored lip balm.


evanhealy Blue Cactus Cooling Balm, .5 fl. oz. – Retail Value $19.95

The other WF bag also included an evanhealy balm, so I'm really happy to have two now. I mentioned that I enjoy using these balms for after sun and on my tattoos to make them appear more vibrant, and this balm is especially nourishing thanks to prickly pear seed oil. I used it on my cheeks at the end of a day when my sunscreen failed me, and it felt especially nourishing – not necessarily "cooling" but moisturizing. I think this will be really nice for summer. One note: These balms contain coconut oil, so if you're averse to using that on your face, this could work well as more of a body balm.


Purezero Clean Color Care Shampoo & Conditioner, 2 fl. oz. each – Estimated Retail Value $1.33 each (Full size listed for $7.99)

I've noticed Purezero products around – usually on the shelves at Target – but I've never tried them. My hair is highlighted – not colored – but I'll keep these around for travel and if my husband runs out of travel shampoo again (he will). These are formulated without sulfates, parabens, phosphates, phthalates, and dyes and are PETA-certified cruelty-free.


Mineral Fusion Acetone Free Nail Polish Remover, 3 fl. oz. – Retail Value $8.99 or purchase 6 fl. oz for $11.99

If you've ever used an acetone-free nail polish remover, you know how generally ineffective they are – this is not that. I actually very rarely paint my nails and usually opt for the worst-of-the-worst acetone remover to take the polish off when I do (I just hate how messy acetone-free removers tend to be), so I didn't expect this to work at all, let alone as well as it did. I painted my nails to see how well it would remove the polish and friends, it did its job and it did that job effectively. It does have a pretty perfumy scent, but that's my only complaint. I would absolutely buy this again.

MyChelle Dermaceuticals Remarkable Retinal Serum .17 fl. oz. – Estimated Retail Value $8.16 (buy full size here for $48.00)

If you're wondering what the difference is between retinal and retinol, retinal is purported to work faster – up to 11 times faster – than retinol. It's more potent, and therefore potentially more effective on mature skin (you can read more about it here). Even with its faster results time, retinal takes a while to really show results, so this teeny tiny sample feels a little unremarkable to me.


The Verdict: This is another great bag for $20.00 -- again, basically the cost of the evanhealy product alone, and less than half the cost of the $45 Dr. Haushka product. The estimated retail value for the bag as a whole is $142.91, extending tremendous value, even more than the previous bag. I'm most excited about the evanhealy product – I love these balms – and the nail polish remover simply because of how well it worked. That said, having now reviewed both bags I have some feedback! Between the two there were three retinol-adjacent products included. While the Mad Hippie product was a generous size that would lend itself to usage over time (an important factor in knowing whether a retinol-like product will work well for you), the MyChelle sample was tiny. Rather than multiple retinal/vitamin A products and/or shampoo/conditioners, I would have loved to see more complimentary product pairs (especially in a bag labeled "The New Essentials"). A nail polish to go with the remover would have been nice, or a sunscreen to protect skin while using the vitamin A/retinal products (an especially important factor when using retinal/retinol). I'm also disappointed in the Acure mask debacle – both in Whole Food's lack of messaging around the recall and Acure's weak statement on their IG. Safe to say, I'll be avoiding Acure products in the future (and a huge thanks to MSA readers for giving me the head's up. Love y'all.) All in all, it's tough to complain about a $20 bag, and I would absolutely consider purchasing this in the future if only to get my hands on another evanhealy stick with some nice accompaniments at a good price point.

What did you think about this bag? Do you think you'll purchase again in the future?

To Wrap Up:

Can you get this box if you sign up today? No, this is available in-store only once a year and they have since sold out.

Value Breakdown: This kit costs $20.00 and is filled with approximately $142.99 worth of products. It included 17 items, meaning that each item cost approximately $1.18 – a great value!

Check out all of our Whole Foods beauty Bag reviews!

What do you think of the Whole Foods "The New Essentials" Limited Edition Beauty Kit?

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Deluxe samples of natural and ingredient-conscious makeup, skincare, and haircare. In-store only purchase at US Whole Foods Market locations starting March 18. Available while supplies last.

Julie O’Boyle-Sharp
Julie O’Boyle-Sharp
Julie O’Boyle-Sharp is a content strategist, thrift shopping aficionado, cat-lover, and freelance brand photographer living in Portland, Maine. A self-described “outdoor cat”, Julie enjoys hiking, surfing, snowboarding, and trail running, and it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that she loves fitness, too. She enjoys subscription boxes because they remind her of the care packages she used to get at summer camp – and who doesn’t love receiving mail? Her current favorite subscriptions include Cairn, Thrive Market, The Detox Box, and Laurel & Reed. When she’s not outside, you can find her working on her blog and Instagram of the same name, ByJulieSharp.

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I tried the Giovanny hair mask yesterday and I liked it. I dont use conditioner but I do wear masks from time time… This one will last me for a while.

Although Im not a fan of sheet masks I loved the one from Whole Foods.

@Luna thanks for the info about the nail polish remover. I did not have high hopes for it and now Im excited to try.

This is my 1st year buying the Whole Foods bags and I enjoyed them. However, during then first 4 months of the year I’be managed to get on , what I consider, major product overload. and that is even having an AM,
PM and weekend routines. We shall see which are the winners for me. So far Im
enjoying the products from the bag but nothing stands out yet.

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That Mineral Fusion nail polish remover is the best! It actually works better than any other nail polish remover I’ve used. It’s amazing how quickly (I counted one time, and no more than 5 swipes per nail) & easily (no hand cramps!) it removes polish, and best of all (and what I look for most in a polish remover) is that it doesn’t leave my nails feeling stripped and dried out afterward. I was thrilled to see Whole Foods sold the polish remover (I’ve also seen it at Marshalls too!) because when I was done with my bottle (that I wasn’t sure where I had gotten it from) I was feeling a bit sad I didn’t know where to get it again so I snatched it up a few months ago during a WF beauty sale event. Then when I saw it in the WF bag, it was definitely the hero item for me, lol. My mom gave me the one from her bag since she knows how much I love it, so I’m set for a while. Yay!

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Tara W

Luckily I saw the mention on r beauty before trying that sheet mask. I already have sensitive skin so that could have gone very badly. It is especially disappointing since last year’s bag also had an Acure product that was recalled. I didn’t do anything about it last year. However, this year I contacted Acure and..they actually had good customer service! They offered me a product of my choice for free from their website. For me personally, good customer service goes far in keeping me as a customer. I will still use their products–but let others test them out first.

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Yeah I read about that mask. I skipped this bag because the other one seemed more in line with my needs. These are such fantastic deals. I still can’t believe all the wonderful products that are included for $20. The pouch has been useful as well.

That’s funny about the Giovanni packaging. I don’t know who exactly is Gen Z but if it’s the same people who say side parts don’t look good then they can take a hike! Lol. The biggest nineties hair thing I can remember is my mom “frosting” her hair (it’s a super frightening process.) That and the banana clip ha ha.

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Off to unlist that mask. I really liked the Derma scrub, I took it on vacation.

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Julie O’Boyle-Sharp

So glad you liked the scrub – I like Derma’s other vitamin C products, the C serum they make is really nice.

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Thank you for this review and thanks to Joy for catching the recall notice. I had no idea and haven’t used that mask yet. It’s going in the trash right now!

I don’t love coconut products so for me the coconut lip balm and the coconut scented cleanser are a bit of a miss, but I’m going to use them anyway. There’s always another bag that could use a lip balm tucked in it for a time when I’m desperate enough to not care what formula it is! Overall, I’m happy with this bag even if I didn’t love everything in it. Totally worth the price!

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Sadly I didn’t catch the recall, just happened to use the mask the day after I bought the bag. After a minute my face started tingling then burning, and I took add the mask and my face was swollen and I looked like I had a terrible sunburn. One Benadryl, a slathering of calming cream, and a few hours later I was ok. I looked up reviews and found others had experienced the same thing and that Acure was recalling them. Glad I could save someone else from going through the same experience. Love these bags and will continue to get them but might pass on any Acure masks moving forward.

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Joy, so sorry you had to go through that! But thank you so much for passing along the warning.

Julie O’Boyle-Sharp

I don’t mind the balm, because like you, I just appreciate having another to toss in a bag or something, but that cleanser smells so strongly! I’m going to keep it for travel or to keep at my mom’s or something. Thanks for reading!

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Holy {bleep} about the Acure sheet mask recall. I’m SO glad I saw that before I tried the mask. It’s now going straight into the garbage. Yikes, those comments were scary.

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Julie O’Boyle-Sharp

That’s what I thought, too, Sherri!

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The lip balm and lip butter alone are worth the price. They are truly perfect.

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Julie O’Boyle-Sharp

I totally agree – the lip butter is so nice! Thanks for reading!

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