Birchbox January 2021 Unboxing

This month Birchbox had quite the delay in shipping.  In addition to the current delays I believe one of their warehouses flooded. At least according to the e-mail I was sent.  I was also sent an e-mail saying that next month they will be shipping out between the 1st and the 10th which is their usual schedule, so hopefully their troubles are behind them. 

For those that don’t know Birchbox is a beauty subscription that has five sample sized beauty products in the box per month. If you order month to month the cost is $15.  If you order for 6 months, then the price drops to $14 and if sign up for a full year then you can get the subscription for $13. I am currently signed up for a yearly subscription. 

This was my first beauty subscription when I started with beauty boxes and I sort of have a soft spot for it.  I kept the subscription for a long time and then decided to take a break and move on to other subscriptions.  In November, they were offering a free Advent Calendar with an annual subscription so I decided to come back for a year to see if some of the issues that cause my dropping the subscription were addressed.

I know you are probably expecting me to complain about the small sizes of some of their samples, and I will admit that their samples can sometimes be laughably tiny.  Those are usually the more expensive products.  But truthfully that didn’t bother me as much as the moment of choice.

Each month on the 27th you can log in and make a choice for your box.  They do have a variety of options.  They have two curated boxes, one that features clean beauty options. There is the option to exchange your box for a preselected full sized item. You can choose one sample from a selection of options and know that that item will be in your box or you can decide that nothing in that month’s box interests you and thus instead of getting a box you can put your subscription price towards a purchase in their store.

One of the things that irked me about Birchbox was that no matter how early I logged in the full sized item was almost always sold out (I think I managed to catch it once and that was by accident), and usually at least one of the box selections was no longer an option. I found it very frustrating to expect a wide variety of choice options and end up with very limited ones.  Technically they send you e-mails letting you know choice is open, but if you wait to receive the e-mails then you will most likely find your options limited.  My e-mail always comes in around noon, but I found I can log in at nine. The system won’t let me in earlier than nine am.  On December 27th I made a deliberate effort to get in as soon as possible.

Which I did. I logged in at 9:02 am on choice day. And found that one of the boxes was already sold out as was the full sized item. The remaining box didn’t appeal to me so I chose an item from their list of selected. I chose the Verb Ghost Shampoo and Conditioner.  This apparently counted as two items out of my five.  While I really do want to try the Verb shampoo and conditioner, I find it a little off putting that the set counts as two items. 

The tubes are 25 ml and I’m pretty sure I’ll get one hair wash with the set. I’m happy to get the chance to try the shampoo and conditioner and as they are used together I would be a little upset if I got one and not the other, but I think if the pair is going to count as two items, they should have at least had enough product for two washes.  But, regardless, I am looking forward to trying another product by Verb.

the spoolie end

My next item was from the brand Marcelle.  It is the Nano Eyebrow liner.  It is in a shade that I will use and I love that the pencil has a spoolie on it so that I don’t have to go looking for one when I use it.  Marcelle products are sometimes hit or miss for me, but the ones that hit I end up falling in love with while the misses are just kind of so so.  Their mascara is one of my favorite formulas actually. So I am happy to have this to try.

The next item in the box was the Dr. Botanicals Pomegranate Superfood Regenerating sleeping mask. I love pomegranate and I love sleeping masks so this hits right into my zone of products.  I have never tried anything from Dr. Botanicals and am happy to give them a try.  I am also pleased that it is a large enough sample that I can get at least a full week-long trial out of it before making a call on whether or not I like it enough to purchase a full size. I’m hoping I like it as the full size is only $12 which is really reasonable for a sleeping mask. Fingers crossed that it’s a good one.

And this brings us to out last item and it is the KNDR Luxury Hand Sanitizer.  A little over a year ago I would have been upset to see this in my beauty box but these days I go through so much of it that having an extra is not a bad idea.  I will say that I did open it and use it.  It is an aggressively floral scent.  A chokingly aggressive floral scent.  If you are going to use this hand sanitizer, use it in an open space.  I opened it in my office and initially thought that as the hand sanitizer did its job that the scent would fade. 

It did not. 

It lingered.

And made my eyes water. 

The scent is very much like my grandmother’s linen closet sachet (the one stored for too long next to the mothballs so that the floral scent was a little off) was dipped in the sanitizer alcohol gel.  It is not pleasant and I had to air out my office.  I am putting this tube of hand sanitizer in the carport and will use it when I go get the mail, or move the trashcan around, but the carport is an indoor/outdoor space where the fresh air will blow the scent away. Do not use this in enclosed areas.  Even if you happen to like the scent, know that it is strong and it takes a long time to fade.  Anything this potent needs a lot of space to run around in.

with the rainbow prismatic paper inside

Now while those were all of the items in my box this month, this month Birchbox did a keepsake box and so instead of their usual cardboard boxes they had a clear plastic box.  Instead of their normal tissue paper they used a rainbow sheen plastic which gave the box some depth and shimmer. It is a simple plastic box.  It is fairly sturdy. I left the rainbow sheen plastic in and it looks nice. I’ll reuse it just as I will reuse all the other boxes, but from the massive hype they were giving the box I was expecting something more.  They really talked up their keepsake box. I know it isn’t a terribly expensive subscription but I would have thought maybe hinges on the lid. It is just a plastic version of their cardboard boxes. And while useful, not quite worth the hype they gave it.

I know I did a lot of complaining in this post, but at the end I received several products that I will use and that I wanted to try. The only real clunker for me was the scent of that hand sanitizer and while I don’t care for the scent I will still use it, just not in enclosed spaces.  To be honest the scent was so overpowering I didn’t have any thoughts about the moisturizing aspect of it, so I’ll have to try it in the garden and report back.  Other than that scent it was a good box.  I was annoyed by the items being sold out before I was allowed to choose and by the shampoo and conditioner counting as two items when there is only enough product for a one time paired usage. But otherwise I am actually pretty happy with January’s selection ad looking forward to February. I have signed up for a full year of Birchboxes and I believe my last one is in November so I will be getting this box through then. I plan to keep track of both my delights and frustrations to see if I will keep the box past November or finally let it go.




Birchbox December 2020 Unboxing

Birchbox was the first subscription box I ever signed up for way back when.  After a while I let my subscription lapse. At the time I was receiving many of the same products repeatedly and I wanted to try out other subscription boxes. Apparently they have made changes and so now I have returned to give it another go.  I signed up for a yearly subscription which means my price is $13 per month (if you sign up for 6 months it is $14, if you go monthly then it is $15). It will be interesting to see how I feel about it at the end of twelve months.  This is the second box in the yearly subscription. 

There were six items in my Birchbox this month.  The prices listed on the card that came with the box are all for the full sized items rather than the items in the box.  There is the possibility that the nail polish is full size, but nothing else was.I do like the information on the card though. it was helpful to know a little about each product.

The first item was a Beautaniq Beauty Velvet Rose Bud Soothing hand Cream. It has shea butter in it so I imagine it will be quite soothing.  It is a good size to drop into a handbag.  I know people are washing their hands more, at least I am, and as a consequence hand cream is becoming more necessary, but at the moment I am well stocked on hand creams. In fact I am overloaded with hand creams.

Rose is also not my favorite scent for hand cream.  Sometimes it can be overwhelming.  I’ve never heard of this brand or tried anything from them (obviously as I have never heard of them) so I don’t know what the scent is like.  I will keep it and try it though to see how I feel about the brand. At the moment I have several hand creams open and once I use up at least one more I will give this a go.  While I’m sure it is nice, I’m just never all that excited about hand creams.

I was excited about the second item in my Birchbox this month.  It is the Lise Watier Magnifix Make up Fixative with white tea. It is essentially a setting spray with antioxidants.  I am beginning to lean into setting sprays with skin care benefits more and more so it is always nice to try out a new one.  The Birchbox came in early enough last week that I was able to add this to my makeup bag this week to try it out.

I was also able to add the Marcelle CC Cream Golden Glow with SPF 35 to my makeup bag this week as my foundation product.  I’ve tried Marcelle products before and always really liked them.  I think I’ve used both a mascara and a moisturizer that I have really liked before in the past and I am happy to have another  product from the brand to try out.  I will give it a trial this week and let you know how it performs.

The Nails inc Nail polish may be a full size or it may not.  It is one of the round bottles.  I’ve gotten the bigger rectangular bottles before and I believe those are full size while this is maybe a deluxe. I’m not entirely certain.  I would expect Birchbox to make a note of a full sized product in their box as it is unusual. I didn’t see anything, so I am guessing it is not full size. 

It is however perfect for the holidays.  The color is listed as FOMO and it is a lovely glossy red. I really like the formula of the Nails Inc polishes so I am happy to have it, regardless of the actual official size. They are really long wearing and don’t tend to chip for a while. I will be wearing it for Christmas this year as it is perfectly suited. So excellent timing.

I was also very happy to see the Verb Ghost hair mask in my box this month.  I tried a Verb hair mask before (not this one though) and I really liked it.  It left my hair soft and nourished.  I’m hoping this will do the same.  As we have entered the wet and drizzly part of winter where I live, anti-frizz products are in high demand in my bathroom.  It’s kind of fun, the wet air outside causes frizz and random curl and then the drier air inside causes all sorts of fly aways.  Where my hair is concerned, this is a very frustrating time of year. So I am happy to try out another product from the brand in the hopes it will help.

The final item in my box is the Arrow Radiant Skin moisturizer.  I believe that Arrow is one of Birchboxes brands.  One of the reasons that I dropped Birchbox last time was that I kept getting the same color changing lip balm from the Arrow brand.  My last year with them I think I ended up with eight of them. The formula was excellent, but the color turned my lips an odd pink that I didn’t care for so I kept one to use at my desk for the formula and passed them out to anyone who wanted them.  Oddly, everyone liked the formula, but no one liked the color so I’m not sure which skin tone the universally flattering tint actually flattered.  With moisturizer at least, color isn’t an issue.  And formula is everything.  So I am okay with the Arrow Moisturizer.  I just hope I won’t end up inundated with tubes of them this year. Variation is kind of key with this sort of subscription box.

Overall I have to say I am pretty happy with this month’s box.  For $13 I received a variety of products, some from brands I know and love and others from brands I want to try more from and one that I’ve never heard of. It was in a pretty good mix of categories as well.  Makeup, skincare and hair care were all represented. In general it makes me glad that I decided to give Birchbox another try. I have to say I am kind of excited about next months box. Apparently the box is a clear Keepsake Box. I can’t wait to see how that turns out, as well as what’s in it. After all the box may be interesting, but it is what’s inside that counts. Let’s hope they keep up the good product mix in the new year.


Birchbox November 2020 Unboxing

Birchbox was the first beauty box I ever subscribed to.  I’m sure there are many others who can say the same.  I don’t know if they were the first beauty box out there, but they were the first I heard of.  As I love the concept of trying a sample of a product before I buy the full one, I was all in.  In fact I kept my subscription for several years and had it in three separate states.

As my subscription universe expanded , It seemed like the Birchbox samples kept getting smaller and less attuned to my profile.  I also felt I was getting the same samples over and over.  And then they increased the price of the box. So I let the subscription go. 

I never really expected to go back.

Recently I heard there were some changes and so I poked around on the site. I saw some familiar favorites and thought it might be interesting, but then I left the site.

So Birchbox tracked me down.  I received an e-mail offering a free Birchbox Advent Calendar should I sign up for a year.  Since the price of the box with a yearly subscription was $13 ($15 if monthly order, $14 for a six month plan), I thought the subscription might be worth trying, even if only for a year.

Plus, I planned to pick up an advent calendar and the subscription came with one.  (I’m not sure if the code is still active but the code I used was ADVENT to get the deal.) So I signed up. (I will be reviewing the Birchbox advent calendar later this week)

Now as this was the first box, I made no choices regarding the contents, but on November 27th I was allowed to choose for my December box.  They had a choice of two curated boxes I could pick (neither of which really appealed to me), I could choose credit instead of my box (meaning I would be charged as usual, but wouldn’t receive a box, the money I paid going towards a purchase in their store), I could choose the one full sized item they offered in place of the box or I could choose one item and let them choose the other items in the box based on my profile.

It sounds like quite a lot of options.  However, I didn’t really like either of the two curated boxes and the one full sized item I could possibly choose was already sold out when I got to the site. I think I am going to have to see if earlier in the day of choice works better to have the item still available in the coming months.  They have tiers for their members (based on how much you purchase from their store, not the subscription box) and as I have clearly not been purchasing from them, I am in the lowest tier.  I ended up choosing a setting spray and letting them choose items based on my profile.

So it will be interesting to see if the full sized item is even a real  possibility for me. But that is for the future, after all I have an entire year of Birchboxes to sample before I make a judgment call on the subscription.

This is a post about my first box, November 2020.

It came in a nice sturdy box and had tissue paper over the items, which I appreciate.  It makes it feel like I am unwrapping a present.  The card is on top and while each item is listed with a little bit about each product, which I appreciate, all of the prices are for the full sized items. 

So to the items!

First up was a product from Oribe.  It is the Oribe Dry Texturing Spray.  It is essentially a dry shampoo that provides texture.  The Oribe mousse is one of my favorite styling products so I am happy to have a sample of their dry shampoo. 

Currently I am out of dry shampoo and waiting for my Klorane order to arrive (I’m trying a different dry shampoo from them than my go to standard so I’m kind of excited.) However the sample size is actually quite timely as it fills in the time between ordering and arriving.  So that was well timed and appreciated.

My second item was the Benefit Cosmetics They’re Real! Lengthening Mascara. I really like Benefit’s mascaras and I haven’t actually tried this one (that I recall).

The Bad Gal Bang is one of my top mascaras, but I am always down to try a new one. So I’ll add this to my makeup bag and probably use it for two to three weeks until it is empty and then I’ll know if I have a new favorite to order or if Bad Gal still reins supreme in the Benefit universe.

Next out of the box was a little tube of the Sunday Riley A+ High Dose Retinoid Serum.  It is a small tube but fully packed and should actually give me a week or two of use (especially since Retinoid are generally only worn at night).  Oddly enough this is one of the few Sunday Riley products I have never tried. In general, my skin is a fan of Sunday Riley, so I am always happy to try a something new.  And I am pleased to see it is actually a decent sized sample.

The next item I took out of the box was another box.  It contained a small Jade roller, which I believe everyone received in the November box.  I’m okay with that.  It seems like good quality and very nice.  I really like using my stone rollers. 

I do have several which is why this one is staying in the packaging and getting added to someone’s stocking this year. This year was apparently the year of the rollers for subscription boxes.  I have a rose gold quartz one, a metal one and this is my third jade roller of the year.  All are quality pieces and I will be parceling all but the one I’m using to new homes where I am sure they will be appreciated.

Finally the last item was from Kiss and Smink.  It was The Everything which is a multipurpose cream stick for use on cheeks, lips or lips. While I am liking cream blushes more, sometimes the sticks tend to blend away into nothing.  I look forward to giving this product a good try. I’ve seen Kiss and Smink around in various subscription boxes but never actually had it in one of my boxes, so I am eager to try out the brand.

So this was my November Birchbox, the first of twelve I have signed up for.  Since this was the first, and I signed up kind of late in the month, I know that this was probably not based on my beauty quiz. For next month I chose the one item from their selection with the rest of the box being built based on my quiz so I’ll have a better feel for the regular box after that.  All in all though this wasn’t a bad mix of items.  I received two makeup items, one hair care item and two skin care items.  This is actually not a bad mix of items for me.  It is well balanced.  All in all I am pleased with the mix and the size of the items I received in my $13 per month box. 

swatch from Kiss and Smink

Would I be less pleased if I paid the full $15 price? Possibly.

The thing is that Birchbox is sort balanced between categories.  At $13 the tax makes it $14.27.  Which clearly makes it less than a $15 box.  Allure was a $15 box and Macy’s (which I signed up to try out on a month by month basis and will start getting in December) is still $15 ($15.75 with Tax). So next month I will be comparing it to Macy’s and maybe cutting it a little slack because it is less than the Macy’s box. However at the full month to month price Birchbox becomes $15 ($16.27 with tax). Macy’s will still be its closest comparison, but no longer less expensive, so we will see how that works out.

For now I will say that I feel okay with receiving this box for $13. I feel like I got a pretty decent box for the price I paid. The issues I had with them before were the constantly repeating products, the ignoring of the beauty profile and the samples that were so small they were rather pointless. None of that applies to this box, so we are starting off our year long trial on a good foot. Let’s hope it keeps up.


A few Cyber Monday Deals for you:

Kerastase: 25% off $85, Plus Free Shipping! Use code CYBM20 at checkout. Offer valid 11/30-12/2.

Medterra CBD: 48 hours only: Get 50% off your entire cart!

NYX Professional Makeup: 40% Off Sitewide plus free blotting papers with every purchase. Additional free Ultimate Shadow Palette with $50 purchase! No code required. Offer valid 11/30.

And if you don’t quite make it in time today then…

Surprise Extension! 30% Off Sitewide plus free blotting papers with every purchase. Additional free strobing cream with $50 purchase! No code required. Offer valid 12/1-12/2.

Happy Shopping!

Birchbox/Benefit Review November 2019

This month I traded in the box of samples for a full sized product.

Birchbox is a monthly beauty subscription with a base cost of $15 per box. With a subscription of six months or a year the cost goes down.  Regardless of what subscription you choose, you are billed monthly. I was on a six month subscription and November was the last month of this plan.  I haven’t decided whether or not to renew yet.  It is a subscription box that features samples with the occasional full sized item, like lip balm. Some of the samples are deluxe sized and some are ridiculously tiny. I’ve actually gotten a few things that looked as though they belonged in a doll house. While I understand that some of the smaller items were for really expensive products, the tiny size means that I am not able to accurately gauge my opinion on the product before it runs out. Since the point of the subscription is to more or less try before you invest in the purchase of a full sized product, I am not entirely convinced that those samples are worth it. 

I will of course decide for certain before December.

One thing I do like about the subscription is that they offer different boxes.  You can generally choose between three or four different options of boxes , or choose a full sized product offered in exchange for one of your boxes or (a new option) if nothing appeals to you, then you can change your box to points and use the points to purchase something on the site. I am a little on the fence about points actually.  While their on-line store does have a pretty good selection, unless it is a sale, there doesn’t seem to be much of a discount for members.  That makes the points for boxes seem more like a very limited savings plan. 

“Oh I like that $38 product, I’ll skip this month’s box, but give them fifteen dollars to keep and save it towards the full price purchase later.”

It’s not a bad thing and it may work for many people, but since there aren’t a lot of discounts or many exclusive products only for sale on Birchbox, I’d rather keep the fifteen dollars in my bank and then shop around when I am ready to buy.

The mirror and brush included with the product

In the past few months by the time I was able to pick my selection, many of the options were sold out.  This month when I checked in all of the options were still available to choose from. I don’t know if they increased the number of available boxes or if a lot of people opted out of the boxes and went for the credit option.  I do know that none of the boxes really appealed to me so I chose to swap my box with the one offered full sized item.

I was surprised to find that the item was not shipped in regular packaging but shipped in a regular box. I’m guessing because it fit in the regular box. Some of the products that were offered in previous months (and sold out) were hair care items and the full size looked bigger than the box. I don’t know if that means they skipped the box with those or if the product was actually scaled down to fit the box instead of being regular full sized (or my estimation of the size could be off, I am not trying to cast aspersions, I just really don’t know.) No one I’ve talked to picked up the full sized items, so if anyone knows, please add a comment below, because I really am curious.

The blush itself. The texture makes it look creepily like wrinkled skin but I’m hoping it wears away quickly.

So my full sized item this month was the Benefit Gold Rush Warm Golden-Nectar Blush.  It was full sized and the full size normally retails for $30 so I feel better about my $15 box than I have in a while. The product description for this blush is:

A rush of this golden blush will instantly awaken the look of your complexion with its versatile peachy shade featuring gold flecks. Not just pretty on your cheekbones but also in its compact—which includes a brush and handy mirror—it has a pretty overspray design that gradually lifts away to reveal the golden nectar color underneath. It’s even infused with a lovely scent containing notes of citrus, vanilla, and sandalwood, so every time you dust it on, it livens up more than just your makeup. Besides imparting color, it also leaves a subtle sheen for a multidimensional look.

I have to say, I like the blush.  It is light and buildable, so you don’t start off looking like you applied clown make-up. Sometimes I go a little crazy with the blush and have to try and back track. Its only blush I do this with actually.  Maybe because of the darker tones of the bronzers I am more wary, but me and blush have a history of abuse that stretches back to middle school. I am trying to break the cycle, but light and buildable is my friend.  It is a nice peachy shade that blends well into the skin.

unblended blush swatch on the skin. You can see some of the gold flakes but it isn’t overkill. It blends into the skin giving you a light peachy glow

I was a little worried about the gold flecks, but they are not as glitterific as I feared.  It is a blush that can be worn to work without looking like you are planning a lunch time dance party. It is pretty and it does smell nice.  I have to admit I can’t pick out the individual tones they name but it smells generically nice.

The brush is cute and I was excited to have an included brush.  And it is a nice brush, but because of the packaging, it is easier to use a brush with a longer handle.  The box is nice and pretty but the sides are high and with the small brush the box is a bit annoying. The mirror is small and relatively pointless.  It is good for checking your lipstick, but not much else. I know it’s supposed to be good for on the go applications, but the package is kind of bulky and not really something I’d drop in my purse to use when out and I’m not really sure I’d travel with it to be honest. The square box just takes up too much space.

I will use the product though because I like it, but I will be using it at home, where there is a large mirror. So product gets a nine out of ten, while the packaging gets a five out of ten and let’s face it most of those five points are for looks. Because it is pretty, it just has some flaws in the design. The big question is though, would I buy this product again?

At the moment I would have to say yes.  The Benefit Gold Rush Warm Golden-Nectar Blush is a good blush and I would consider purchasing it again.  I will just be using it at home.

Over all I am really pleased with my product this month.  Which sort of puts me in a quandary.  I was pretty sure I would automatically cancel when my subscription was up. One of my biggest issues was that things were sold out before I went to make my selection, often leaving me with only one available option. This month that was corrected and I managed to get a good product for a great value.  I was hoping writing this review would help me decide and I find I am still on the fence.  Luckily it is only mid-month so I still have time to decide. It was my first beauty subscription box so thee is some sentimentality to it, however at the moment, I feel I may have outgrown it. Does anyone else out there have any thoughts on Birchbox they’d like to share? I’d love to hear them.

Birchbox October Review

The October 2019 Birchbox

As usual I have mixed feelings about this month’s Birchbox.  For those interested it is a $15/month subscription.  If you sign up for more than just month to month then the price lowers even though you still pay month to month. You can find out more about their subscription by clicking HERE.

As usual, there were several boxes offered in the curated boxes this month.  If none of the boxes appeal you can swap the cost of your box for points or you can choose a full sized product.  This month they offered their Curly Hair Kit in place of a full sized product.  It looked interesting, but alas, sold out before it was my turn to choose the box I wanted.

Some months several of the boxes look good and I have difficulty choosing which one I like best.  This was not one of these months. This was one of those months where you were well aware it was October and there was the likelihood that after selecting an autumnal theme for the box, items were quickly selected so that whoever is in charge can get back to planning for the upcoming holiday season.

In all fairness that may not be the case.  Someone could have worked really hard on the selections.  It didn’t feel like it though. There were a lot of repetitions, and since it is a subscription box featuring sample sizes, I tend to treat it more as a discovery venue than anything else, so with a few notable exceptions, repeats aren’t my favorite.

This month I chose the Curated box: After Dark as my option. The first item in this box was the Kiehl’s Rare Earth Deep Pore Daily Cleanser. It is described as:

This foaming face wash gives pores the deepest clean possible (without any dry out) using a clay-based formula, which clings to bacteria and dirt before gently washing them away.

Both samples I’ve tried and liked and both went directly into my travel case for Thanksgiving

I’ve used this before and have to say it is a really good cleanser. It smells a little like damp earth, but in a good way. The scent dissipates quickly.  It rinses off without leaving a residue on the skin and you do not need much product. This makes the deluxe sized sample actually quite useful.  I am not currently using it though, but adding it to my Thanksgiving travel bag so that I don’t have to pack my big bottle of cleanser with the pump.  Somehow the pumps always get bungled when I travel with them so I am happy to leave it behind.

Next up is the amika Supernova Moisture and Shine Cream.  It too I have used before.  It is a leave in conditioner that works really well and doesn’t leave the hair feeling heavy.  It is not as good as my Mistress leave in conditioner, but it is a close second.  And it is travel sized so it went directly into the travel bag.

The Love of Color Liquid Shimmer Shadow was the only makeup product in the box this month.  In all fairness they did have one box that was entirely makeup but I didn’t choose it because the products offered did not appeal to me. I’ve used LOC shadow sticks before but I have not tried the liquid version.  I actually really liked this one. It has a doe foot applicator and I can see using this on the inside of my eye on top of darker shadow to finish out a look.  It dried down relatively fast and stayed put. Here I have put it all over my lid to show the shadow in situ as it were as well as to show the applicator.

Hand swatch of color
The light champagne color on the eye. Definitely use for a shimmery pop rather than as an all over color.

Next we come to the shampoo and conditioner samples included in my box.  Here is where I am uncertain how I feel about it.  On one hand the products provided were both deluxe samples useful for multiple washes so a better feel for how the product works can be attained. In addition, the conditioner is not in a foil packet.  Like the shampoo it is in a bottle which makes it much easier in the shower. On the other hand instead of the shampoo and conditioner being one sample they are two.  The shampoo is one sample and the conditioner counts as a second.  Usually shampoo and conditioner count as one of the five samples not two (and yes I know this is because they made the conditioner a bottle and not just a foil packet.  I am allowed to be both pleased and grumpy about the same thing).  Personally I don’t think it should count as two.

shampoo and conditioner, no foil packets this time at least.

Having said that, the shampoo and conditioner included in this month’s box were the Love Beauty and Planet Volume and Bounty Coconut Water & Mimosa Flower Shampoo and Conditioner.  (the conditioner’s name is exactly the same as the shampoo but with the last word changed. I just didn’t feel the need to type it twice in a row.)

I have seen this product on racks in my local Target and thought it looked interesting. The shampoo created a rich lather and smelled lovely. The conditioner had the same nice scent and didn’t weigh down my hair.  My hair came out soft and bouncy.  It is over all a good product. I really liked it and will more than likely be purchasing it in the future.

It is however a product I would expect to see in a Target beauty box, not a Birchbox. In fact a few months back, I think it was offered in a Target beauty box. I know a $9 shampoo (the full sized retail for this product) is on the more expensive side for the drug store, but typically when Birchbox sends samples for shampoo and conditioner they tend to be for products that are between $18-$25 per bottle. For example last month’s box had an Amika shampoo sample with a retail price of $23.

Target not only sells the Love Beauty and Planet line, but they sell samples of this size in case you want to try it out before you spend $9 on a shampoo. In fact I almost picked it up this weekend when I went to target and decided not to because I remembered I had a sample coming in Birchbox. I think my feelings are mostly due to the fact that I use this as a discovery platform.  I want to see products that I don’t see when I run to Target on my weekend supply run. You know, things I wouldn’t have simply come across in my daily life.

I know it is a small complaint in the grand scheme of things, but it is leaning me towards cancelling when my subscription is up.  I am signed up through November so once I receive the November box I will be deciding whether or not to cancel this subscription. With two duplicate products, two products I can find at Target and one shadow I’ve not tried before, I admit, I am leaning more towards the cancellation side. While they are all good products, my need for sample sizes, especially ones I’ve tried before, isn’t all that great. But who knows, November’s box could knock my socks off.  We’ll see, and then I’ll decide.

Birchbox Review: September 2019

September 2019 including birthday gift of makeup bag and stickers

This month was an interesting box. For those who don’t know Birchbox is a monthly subscription box that sends you five samples a month.  The basic price is $15 but agreeing to a longer term of service can lower that cost. After your first moth they offer selection options.  Last month when I logged in to choose there was only one option left.  This month there was more of a choice. I was very pleased about that. I know it sounds strange but I either like having no choice or having a full choice, the in between of “we’re offering you a choice, but oh you just missed it,” kind of annoys me.

But that was last month. This month I had a choice.

Also it is their birthday month so there was a makeup bag in my box.  It is a good size and of decent quality.  I will actually get a lot of use out of it and appreciate them adding a little something extra for the celebratory month.

The first item in my box of choice was the Dr. Jart+ Ceramidin™ Cream.  This cream is supposed to:

boost your skin’s natural ability to retain moisture by strengthening its barrier. That means it stays hydrated, plump, and radiant for longer even in harsh climates.

I have to say it is a good cream from what I can tell from the small sample.  It has virtually no scent and once it sinks into the skin it is not greasy or heavy feeling. It does take a minute to sink in, or at least it did on me so you have to tweak your routine a little to adjust for the delay.  Also the suggestions call for a nickel sized amount to be used.  I would go with a dime instead.  You do not need much of this cream if you have normal skin. If you have really dry skin, lean towards the nickel, if oily shrink the dime a little. The full sized bottle is $48. While this is more or less in the standard moisturizer range, I didn’t have enough of the product to do a full test so I can’t say if I would actually purchase it or not.  It seemed fine, but you know me and skin care.

Moving on, I extracted a sample of Juliette Has a Gun Not a Perfume Eau de Parfum. I have to say this is the first time in a really long time that I have gotten a small perfume sample.  I’m so used to getting the month long supply from Scent box that the little sample came as a surprise. I’m also used to more complex details about the product.  The only description was…

The simple scent (based on a single note) is spicy, sophisticated, and doesn’t try too hard to impress whether you wear it to work or on the weekend.

Now most of the perfumes I’ve tried from the Juliette brand have had patchouli in their mix. Its one of the ways I found out that I didn’t like patchouli.  Their full descriptions are quite enticing. Just not the patchouli. So I was hesitant when spritzing, but I went forward. I have to say, I detected no trace of patchouli.  What I did smell was alcohol followed by a light but indistinct floral scent. The alcohol smell dissipated quickly but the scent itself remained sort of blah for me. It smells sort of like the perfume you would choose if you had to wear a perfume but didn’t really like perfume. It is not a strong scent and can easily be mistaken for a body product like lotion or soap. I would call it neither spicy nor sophisticated. So it is not for me.  Others may like it and if it is for you a full bottle retails for $100. Personally, it’s a pass for me.

Next up there was a Smashbox Cosmetics Always On Matte Liquid Lipstick in my box. My shade was called Stepping out.  It is also one of the smallest lipstick samples I have seen in a while. Seriously, it looks laughably small. The details though are…

Smashbox swatch and sample sized bottle

This lightweight and flexible liquid matte lipstick delivers bold color that stays fresh and locked in for eight hours. Filled with jojoba, apricot, and sunflower seed oils, the creamy formula is supercomfortable to wear and won’t dry or feather out.

I have to say it met every claim admirably.  Also I have been looking for a good neutral lipstick and I really like this one.  The color is fantastic.  When I put it on I hit the timer to see how long it took to dry down.  The answer (on me and in my climate) was 2 min 38 seconds. A bit long perhaps, but once it dried, it didn’t go anywhere.  I wore it for the entire day. I put it on and let it dry before coffee. It lasted through the gym, gardening and two meals.  When I went to take it off before my shower it was still in place.  A little faded, sure, but still in place. The fact that it is the perfect shade for me and was long lasting made me happy.  The fact that it is so small makes me sad. 

I will be adding it to my purchase list though.  The full size is $24 which is on the high side but given its positives, I think I can justify the purchase. I also have to say given its price point I probably wouldn’t buy it without being able to try it on first. Which is why I wish Birch box offered more lipstick samples. Since lipstick can be so much of a guess even though I laugh at the small sample size, I do appreciate knowing if a color works on me before I buy it.

Moving on we come to the EXO Supply Co. Pure Remover Wipes a full sized purchase of this product retails for $12 and has ten wipes in it.  My sample is a one pack.  The description…

Unopened packet with my manky nail polish

Polish chips are a fact of life, but with a few of these remover wipes packed in our bags, we don’t have to walk around with gnarly nails until the end of the day. The acetone-free remover is made of organic, plant-based ingredients and conditioning essential oils that don’t leave us feeling lightheaded like traditional removers. It’s safe on natural and acrylic nails, and even takes off most gel polishes. The best part? The gentle scent means no one has to know when you’re taking it off.

I have to agree there is no smell.  And even though my very chipped polish was a lighter color, I think it was a heavy duty one.  The cloth when it came out of the package felt quite dry and I thought it would do nothing.  As I moved it around it started to get oily and my nail polish pretty much melted off.  It took less than a minute and no really hard scrubbing and the polish was gone.  Unfortunately it left my hands so greasy I had to immediately go wash them and avoid tyouching anything and leaving cartoon style crime fingerprints on things. While I can see the benefit of having these at work as there is no smell and they are quick and efficient.  That oil is something else.  I tried it at my desk but had to avoid mu papers and move to the bathroom to rinse so my work wasn’t soiled.  I can see slipping a pack in your bag and using it in the ladies room.  Not so much at your desk.  That being said, it is a good product and not overly expensive.  I could certainly see myself picking up a pack, just not using them at the desk.

Opened packet showing cloth, clean nails and very greasy fingers.

And if we have polish remover, we need polish. Smith & Cult Nailed Lacquer in Glass Souls was in this box. I’ve mentioned it before, I love this brand.  It retails for $18 and after all of the small sample sizes in this box I was thrilled to get a full sized item.  While glitter polish isn’t really my usual thing, mostly because it is such a pain to remove, the holiday season approacheth. Despite being September, the seasonal stocking has begun.  While I would wear this polish over another nail polish, probably something dark so it could really stand out, I tried it on over bare nails to show it on its own.  Even though it looks like it would be rough to the touch, the silver is flatly in the polish so it lays smooth. I really like the silver spangles and will be wearing it at an upcoming party

Holidays here I come. Although I’m thinking over a deep berry shade rather than on bare nails.

Finally we get to the amika 3D Volume and Thickening Shampoo and Conditioner pack.  It is supposed to add…

…fullness and lift to your fine, limp, or flat strands. It also contains a patented blend of ingredients that promote hair growth and natural shine, so your hair will not only be thicker, it’ll look and feel healthy long term.

I was really excited to try this as I love the amika dry shampoo and hairspray.  The shampoo came in a small plastic tube and the conditioner in a foil package. There was enough of each for two washes.  I have a lot of rather thick hair. (I use this kind of shampoo for body and volume rather than thickening)I also forgot to cut the foil packet before entering the shower and having just washed my hair with the shampoo my hands were in no shape to tear the foil packet open.  It took forever to get it open and I was rather frustrated. Note to self (and others) cut foil packet before turning on the shower. Always. Otherwise you look like a chimpanzee trying to figure out a rubix cube that someone glued together in the 1980s. Not pretty.

Oddly enough I really liked the shampoo, but not the conditioner.  And no I wasn’t basing it on just the foil packet (although seriously, you know people are going to be using them in the shower do something other than a dotted line where they are meant to be torn. Okay nipping the rant in the bud.) I used it a second time when I didn’t have to fight the package and came up with the same conclusion.  While the shampoo and conditioner come in separate bottles, I’m not sure if they are sold as a set as the retail price is listed as $24.  I don’ know if that is for the set or individually. Either way, yes to the shampoo, no to the conditioner.  At least for me.

That is my September review of the September Birchbox. There was some good, some not so good and some that I just didn’t think through. It was an interesting mix and it reminded me why I started getting sample boxes in the first place. I got to test things I was interested in as well as things I never heard of and decide independently if they were for me or not. Personally, I’m very excited about the lipstick. But then, when am I not excited about the lipstick?

Birchbox August 2019 Review

Birchbox August 2019

For those who don’t know, Birchbox is a monthly beauty box subscription. Each Birchbox includes 5 selected sample products.  The cost varies depending on your subscription level.  If you have a month to month subscription it is $15, for six months it is $14 and for a 12 month commitment it is $13 per month.  All subscription levels charge monthly so you don’t need a large lump sum if you want to commit for a year. I was a subscriber when it was $10 per month, then I cancelled and was told things changed and now I am giving them a second try. I signed up for a six month commitment (June-November) figuring I could see if things had changed.

This month’s box was interesting.  There were three box options, along with a chance to choose one of your samples. Or if you didn’t want any of the boxes you could select the one full priced item they offered instead of your box.  This moth was a full sized hair detangling spray.  I’ve used it before and liked it so I was considering it as an option. Especially as this month’s theme was throwback themed.

The information sheet that came with the box this month gives the theme Old School Summertime.  And the page is not printed on heavy stock as it is made to be cut into one of those folding paper games so popular when I was in elementary and middle school.  It even has folding directions for those who have forgotten. Which was kind of neat.  The boxes also feature older designs, which I have no problem with. Truth be told, the box design has no real impact on me. I’m sure someone puts effort into it and there are people who get into the designs, I’m just not one of them.  I reuse the boxes for storing small items in my office closet.  So I can always find my extra paperclips if I need them, but other than that, the box is just a box.

Almost all of the products featured this month were offered before, with each of the three boxes containing one thing that was either new to Birchbox or something that missed me in earlier boxes. As I use this primarily as a discovery platform, I found that a little disappointing. I understand it goes with the theme and they are offering favorites, so I tried to think of which of the products offered I would like to try again and which of the few new products I most wanted to try. I even contemplated the one full sized product.

While an interesting mental challenge, it was ultimately futile.  By the time their system opened for those of my level of subscription commitment e to choose their oprion, there was only one box left available and the full sized product was sold out. So guess which one I got?

Yeah.

Probably not the best way to build customer excitement.

So on to the review.

The first product I received was the ARROW BOOST Color Enhancing Lip Balm – Berry Busy.  It retails for $15.00. I have gotten this many times before.  It was always super pink, too pink to wear in fact. Its color changing formula turns my lips a shade of pink that makes me look like I was caught in a pool drain while diving for pennies. ( a favorite game at our local swimming pool when I was a kid, the pennies, not the drain.) However according to the info with the product, the formula changed a bit so instead of automatically passing it on with the previous tubes, I tried this one. The Berry Busy formula is less bubblegum pink than the original, and I don’t think it is going to end up being one of my go to lipsticks, but the color is kind of growing on me. The formula is super moisturizing so I am pleased to be able to use it. So although I would really like to see some other product in my box, I wasn’t all that upset about receiving this one.

The second item in my box was the M·A·C Cosmetics In Extreme Dimension 3D Black Lash Mascara. The full size retails for $24.00. I like MAC Products.  I like MAC mascaras, they aren’t my absolute favorite, but they are good. I don’t go to the MAC counter much because last purchase I made the sales lady looked at me and said ‘you have amazing skin’ in a way that made me think she was planning to skin me and wear me as a suit Silence of the Lambs style.

But I do like their products.

Having visited the MAC counter before, I also know that this is the sample size that they tend to toss into your bag for free with your purchase. Sometimes, they chuck in more than one. Which is nice because they are small tubes and each one has only about two days’ worth of product in it at best. I’ve had a couple where it was an effort to get one day out of it. So it’s easy to go through a bunch of them. Especially if you are in a clear out the drawer mood.

Now I know Birchbox sends sample sizes with some occasional exemptions, like the full sized Arrow lip balm in this box. It does however annoy me a little to get what is essentially a counter give away in a box I paid for. If it were an extra item in a box of just samples, fine, but not when it is one of the five for the month. Especially when they have so recently increased their prices (costs went up in June and this is only August, which does not augur well).

Okay, you have survived my mini rant, if you are still reading this, thank you. It gets better, I promise. 

Next up we have the Air Repair Complexion-Boosting Moisturizer (Full size retails for $23).  The product info states:

This moisturizer instantly absorbs to repair dull, dehydrated skin. It’s great for anyone, but especially helpful while traveling when your complexion is stressed-out from climate changes.

I have tried this product before and I liked this moisturizer.  It smells like a clean cream if you stick your nose right up to it but otherwise has no real scent to it. If scents in creams bother you, then this will be right up your alley.  A little is all you need and it absorbs quickly with no greasy film on your skin. As for testing it over time, that was impossible with this sample.  Not only was the tube a small sample sized tube, but it was only filled about half way. This made it a two day sample which in my opinion is not long enough to test a skin care product. However, the sample was nice enough and the cost is low enough for a full sized bottle that I am thinking of purchasing a full sized bottle to do an actual test on it. Recently I’ve been testing skin care from the $45 -$65 range.  At $23 I think it is worth looking into, so I will mark this as ‘positive, but needs more information’ as my rating.

Now we move on to one of the products I was delighted to see make a return to Birchbox.  As far as I am concerned they can chuck a sample of this into every box they send me and I will not complain about the repeat.  The product is the Oribe Grandiose Hair Plumping Mousse.  The full sized bottle retails for $39.00 which is why I have not purchased a full sized bottle on my own and why I set the sample bottles aside for nights when I am actually going somewhere even though I would love to use it far more often. I like the other products offered by the Oribe brand, but this is the king of their product line in my opinion. I fingercomb a little dab through my hair when my hair is damp, let it dry naturally and then brush and style.  It adds volume, helps it hold curl and is still silky soft to the touch. It beats every other mousse I have tried. The price tag is just a little too steep for me to justify adding to my list of purchased beauty products, although at some point I may break down.  I keep trying to find a cheaper substitute and keep coming up empty. And with each failure, this mousse looks more and more attractive. At some point I will add up the cost of all the cheaper brands that failed me and possibly reconsider, but for now, excellent product, too high priced.

Finally we come to the last product in the August box and the only one that is new to me. It is the Vasanti® BrightenUp!® Enzymatic Face Rejuvenator, which retails for $34.00. For a long time I used the Vasanti moisturizer though, so I was excited to try something else in their product line. The claims are:

This post-cleanser treatment tackles dullness, uneven skin tone, dark spots, and wrinkles in one glow-inducing step. Plus, it helps the rest of your skincare products absorb 20% better. While skin is wet, massage a pea-sized amount in circular motions, focusing on problem areas. Rinse with warm water and pat dry. Use up to five times a week after your regular cleanser, then follow with a moisturizer and SPF.

I’m not entirely enthused about adding another step to my skin care routine, but making other products work better is something I can get behind. I can’t speak to the efficacy of combining it with other products.  It could make them 20% better or it could not, I have no real way of determining that. The product feels like very fine sand and you do not need a lot of it.  (The tube is also packed full to the brim, or at least mine was so I got a decent sized sample to work with). It is a good exfoliator.  It isn’t the best I’ve tried, but it isn’t the worst.  It didn’t really blow me away and I probably wouldn’t purchase it.  There are definitely other exfoliators that I like more. The product says you can use this three to five days a week.  Personally, it is the type of exfoliator I wouldn’t use more than twice a week.  I think any more than that could cause you to over exfoliate.  If I tried to use it five days a week, I would have some issues with over worked skin.

Despite having little choice in my selection process, which kind of annoys me (seriously if you are going to offer options make sure everyone gets options), this was a fairly decent box. My expectations started out low, which sort of helped. On a scale of one to ten though I think I would rate it a five. I’m really hoping that once their retro month is over, new products will be options instead of the same samples recurring month after month. I would be a lot happier with this subscription then. As it stands now, I am leaning towards cancelling when my six month commitment expires and looking into other discovery type subscription boxes.

Birchbox July 2019 Review

Birchbox July 2019

This is an interesting subscription for me. I had Birch Box for a long time and became rather disenchanted with it.  I received repeats of samples and after a time, the quality started to take a dip.  When I heard they were raising the price from a $10 per month subscription to a $15 per month one, I cancelled.  Then I talked to a friend of mine and was told they have gotten better so I decided to give them a try again.  I know their system changed in June so I’ll give them a few months and then decide if I want to cancel again or if the changes make them worth keeping.  Generally I re-evaluate things in January as part of my New year and cancel things then if I don’t like them.  This will give me enough months, I think, to decide.

So the details. For $15 per month (less if you agree to a longer subscription term, $14. 6 month agreement, $13 of a year). Regardless of what option you take, the subscription is billed monthly, which I kind of like as an option. You are just committed for the time you agree to maintain your subscription. There are five sample sized or deluxe sized items with the occasional full size thrown in. This month there were four options to choose from.  Because I tried so many of the samples in the other boxes, I chose the one that was haircare oriented this month since I was unfamiliar with them.

The products.

Number 4 Super Comb Prep & Protect was the first item in my box this month. This is a leave-in conditioner that is supposed to help detangle.  I like the fine mist of the spray and the scent.  It was lightweight on my hair and didn’t make it feel heavy.  As my hair spends the bulk of the Summer tied up, I think I would see more use for this once the weather is cool enough to wear it down more often.  It did make my hair feel soft and silky through which I liked. The full sized product is $32. While I will probably use up the sample I was sent, I probably wouldn’t buy this mostly because it doesn’t work better than other products I’ve tried and tangled hair isn’t one of my biggest concerns.

Bumble and bumble. Don’t Blow It (H)air Styler – Fine was the  next item I pulled out.  I was skeptical as my hair is anything but fine.  I have thick hair that if I swing around too much could suck up small children and house pets.  However, I really hate the hairdryer in the summer.  By the time my hair is actually dry, I am a sweaty mess.  So I crossed my fingers for this product.  I have to say I was not disappointed.  Fine hair oriented or not, this worked great for me.  While I can’t speak for the UV protection (which if it is there is a good thing, I just have no way to test that), the product made my air dried hair look just as good as when I used the dryer.  The full bottle is $31 and I can say this will be making its way to my dressing table once the sample is gone.

ARROW BOOST Color Enhancing Lip Balm – Blush Hour is the next item I pulled out of the box and truthfully it made me sigh and shake my head. The product included was a full sized version, which is nice. It has a $15 value which covers the cost of the box.  It is also a BirchBox staple and one of the items I already tried.  In fact I have several of these.  The product description is this:

This hydrating lip balm reacts to your body’s chemistry to transform into a unique pink shade that enhances your natural lip color.

Yeah, it always comes out far too pink for me but it is very hydrating.  The one I did test on my I keep for the winter when I need extra moisture on my lips but don’t plan to leave the house where other people can see me.  It is VERY pink on me.  I know others love it, but I kept this tube sealed and will pass it along to someone else who will like it.  If Arrow ever comes out with one of these that doesn’t change color, I would be all over it because the formula is great.  But that pink man, so pink.

Next we move on to the COOLA® Dawn Patrol™ Classic Primer SPF 30. While I like their sunscreen, this isn’t a terribly good primer. It does however mix well with my actual primer. It is light weight and not greasy so that is good.  I just think the 2 in one (primer and sunscreen in this case) doesn’t always work out.  This is one of those times. The full size is $42.  Personally I would stick with their regular sunscreen rather than this one. It has a nice clean scent though.

Clarins Wonder Perfect Mascara 4D was included in this box.  I have to say, during the time I maintained a description before I never had to buy mascara.  I still have a boatload of samples.  I know most subscription boxes put them in and truthfully even if I don’t do full eyeshadow and make up I tend to do a lip product and mascara before I leave the house. So I do use mascara, but this box is heavy on mascara samples. That said, this was a good mascara.  It worked like mascara. It was black. While it claims that it promotes thicker longer lashes even after you remove the formula, the sample size isn’t going to be large enough to actually tell.  It is a nice mascara. And should I ever manage to work my way to the bottom of my samples collection and actually buy a mascara for myself I would consider buying this one.  The full size is $28.

The final item in my box was the invisibobble® POWER hair tie and I have to say I was very excited about this.  In fact, it was one of the main reasons I chose this box. I know strange to be so excited about a hair tie, but like I said, I wear my hair up a lot in the summer time.  I am always on the lookout for a better hair tie.  These have gotten a lot of hype and somehow I just couldn’t bring myself to purchase them.  The product retails for $9 for a pack of three.  I expected to have only one in the box but got a pack of three so it was surprisingly full sized.  I have to say they don’t snag and they hold my hair in place without slipping.  So fat I am liking them.  This is one of those products that I will continually use and form a full opinion about after a month or so of use.  For now they work well and I’ll keep using them.

So far the new improved Birchbox is definitely improved so keeping them for the next few months won’t be a hardship. I tried a couples of new things I liked and  got two full sized items. Their tracking system still drives me bonkers though.  Because we have a metal mailbox and the sun is very warm I like to keep an eye out for tracking so that when I know a package is coming in I can get it out of the hot sun as fast as possible.  This is not possible with their system.  They send a shipping confirmation e-mail and after a time they will put a date range up, but it has very little to do with the actual date you receive the box. I know it isn’t accurate, yet I still feel the need to repeatedly check it so I’m actually driving myself crazy.  This month the shipping notice claimed the box would arrive between the 6th and the 8th.  It arrived on the 12th. Just something to be aware of if that is an issue for you. Otherwise, this was a fairly decent box this month.

Posted below is my referral code if you are interested in checking this subscription out.  I get referral points if you use it.  If that bothers you, just go to birchbox.com instead.

BB referral code: https://www.birchbox.com/invite/22q4s