Birchbox: July 2016 Review & New LE Box

So today is the end of an era, where I’m reviewing my very last Birchbox.  Now, I may decide to one day give it another try, but for now I just found that the value wasn’t there for me.  That doesn’t mean I won’t try out their Limited Edition boxes, so don’t be surprised if you see Birchbox pop back up here again.  Speaking of which, Birchbox introduced a new Limited Edition box:
Limited Edition: Cheers to You!
le-cheers-to-you
Cost: $50.00
Description: “Birthday? Engagement? Got the job, aced that exam, or conquered a 5K? Whatever the “woohoo!” moment, this box is filled with products and keepsakes to help you—or someone special—celebrate. Think: a gem-inspired palette, a soothing gel mask, a gold-accented tray, and much more. Planning on gifting the box to a rockstar in your life? There’s a matching, festive card (ready to be filled in by you).”
This box looks like it’s got some great items (I’m loving the little tray) but for me it’s a bit pricey.  (I expect a higher end brand than Pixi for a $50 box).  I’m opting out of this one, but hoping that we see some other great Fall inspired LE box.

Now let’ see what my last Birchbox included:
box open-box
I think I’ll miss the cute boxes most of all!

face-mask
Balance Me Radiance Face Mask
(Full Size $34.00)
Description: “Suitable for all skin types, the clay-based formula cleanses, exfoliates, and brightens skin.
Verdict: Like
I enjoy trying out different types of masks and this is a new brand for me.

benefit
Benefit They’re Real! Lengthening Mascara
(Full Size: $24.00)
Description: Formula with all-day wear for lashes so long and thick, you may be accused of fakery.”
Verdict: Like
This was the sample I chose from the mascaras that were up for grabs.  This is one of my favorite mascaras (right after It Cosmetic’s “Hello Lashes”), so I figured I’d just stock up.

cartier
Cartier Baiser Volé Lys Rose Eau de Toilette Spray
(1.7 oz: $90.00)
Description: ”This sweet, subtle scent comes from a captivating cocktail of crystallized pink lily petals and hints of raspberry.”
Verdict: Who wants to pay $90 for a headache?  Any takers?
So we get to one of the most compelling reasons I canceled this box.  The damn perfume samples.  I cannot use 99% of perfume samples and yet I can’t opt out of them. They are also free everywhere – magazines, makeup counters. They should not be included as one of the main items in the box.  An extra item? Sure, why not.  But as one of 5 samples.  Nope.  This year, I chose the curated box twice.  That leaves 5 remaining boxes with unknown samples, out of which 3 included fragrance.  I chose the option for the “least” amount of perfumes in my box and I still got them over half the time.  Unless Birchbox changes the perfume situation, I doubt I will re-subscribe.

clinique
Clinique City Block™ Purifying Charcoal Cleansing Gel
(5 oz: $20.00)
Description: ”A detoxifying cleansing gel with charcoal to zap pores of dirt, oil and makeup.
Verdict: Hit!
I’m not particularly into Clinique skincare but I’m intrigued by a Charcoal Cleansing gel so this one will be fun to try out.

loc loc-close loc-swatch
LOC Ultra-Gloss Lip Pencil
in Punch Line
(Full Size: $12.00)
Description: “From the Birchbox brand: A hydrating, lasting, and glossy lip pencial in a sheer watermelon pink that flatters everyone.”
Verdict:  Like
First, after getting some super small samples in past boxes, I’m really liking this full size.  This felt nice going on and the color is a nice cheerful hue. I like the sheer consistency which makes it a lot more wearable than more opaque lip products.

OVERALL
birchbox-7-2016
Verdict:
Like
This box came while Birchbox’s old review policy was in place so I paid $10.70 for this box and received $5.00 in Birchbox points with my reviews.  If it weren’t for the perfume sample, I would have given this one a “hit”.  I will use all the items in the box, and the size of the samples was definitely an improvement over previous boxes.  I’m interested to see if Birchbox works on improving their sample curation now that they’ve lost a significant number of subscribers.

How do you feel about perfume samples in your beauty box?
Do you love them?  Hate them?
Think they should only be bonus items?
Dish!

THE BACKSTORY
Birchbox subscriptions cost $10 per month or $110 per year (Women’s Sub)
$20 per month or $195 per year (Men’s Sub)

Points System:
Whenever you buy something at Birchbox they give you Birchbox points. $1.00 = 1 Birchbox Point.
You can redeem reward points for money toward your Birchbox purchases.
You can also earn points by referring/subscribing friends.

Birchbox: June 2016 Review

Today I’m back from my brief hiatus to review one of my last Birchboxes.  Because of the very controversial changes to the Birchbox subscription that I discussed in my last BB review, I opted to cancel my subscription after July.
Box
So let’ see what June brought inside my very cute box.
Gimme BrowGimme Brow Swatch
Benefit Gimme Brow Volumizing Fiber Gel
(Full Size $24.00)
Description: “This innovative, water-resistant fiber gel has a precision tip for shaping and buildable formula for thick, lush brows.
Verdict: Like
This was the sample I chose and I got the medium shade.  The product seems to work decently but I actually really prefer Julep’s eyebrow product.  I think it’s easier to apply.  I also hate that redheads never get our own shade.  Yes, I know eyebrows are typically darker than the hair on your head, but I’d love to see an option that gives a more reddish tone.

Coola Sun
COOLA® Environmental Repair Plus® Radical Recovery™ After-Sun Lotion
(Full Size: $32.00)
Description: This soothing lotion uses agave to moisturize protect and calm any post-sun woes.”
Verdict: Déjà vu all over again
Is it a Birchbox if we don’t get anything from Coola?  Since the sun and I are mortal enemies, I do not need “after sun” recovery, because I load myself up enough sunblock and protective clothing/products.  I really hate these “recovery” products.  Just use enough damn sunblock the first time and save yourself $32 extra dollars and those wrinkles.

Evologie
Evologie® Intensive Blemish Serum
(Full Size: $35.00)
Description: ”Aside from obliterating blemishes (as if that weren’t enough), the serum also tackles scars and hyperpigmentation.”
Verdict: Not the best fit
I don’t really have much of a problem with acne and I’ve indicated that on my profile. This says it tackles scars and hyperpigmentation too, but those aren’t problems for me either.  I do get the occasional pimple so I’ll set this aside, but it really wasn’t a good choice for me.

Oribe
Oribe Côte d’Azur Eau de Parfum
(Full Size: $95.00)
Description: ”Enjoy the scent you love form Oribe, now in a perfume that lasts all day.
Verdict: You know they give these away for free at makeup counters?
Oribe makes fabulous hair products, the only problem with them is they have a very strong perfume scent.  I don’t use a lot of the Oribe products I own just because the scent gets to me.  Now, this product right here is a perfect example of why I canceled Birchbox.  Fragrances should not be included in the 5 products.  Every makeup counter will give these to you for free, plus so many people cannot handle strong scents.  Birchbox lets you select a “least” option for getting perfumes.  Out of 6 months of boxes, I chose a curated boxes twice.  Out of the remaining 4 months, I received a perfume sample 3 times.  Is it really worth me paying $10.70 a month to consistently receive a product I can’t use or opt out of?  When I got points for reviews it offset the cost, but now?  No way.  You can keep your tiny little vials of headaches, Birchbox.

Parlor Shampoo
PARLOR® by Jeff Chastain Moisturizing & Repairing Shampoo

(Full Size: $22.00)
Description: “A lightweight, sulfate-free cleanser infused with softening and strengthening ingredients.”
Verdict:  Again?
I don’t know how many products are in the Parlor line but I feel like I’ve gotten them all 10 times already.  For the love of god, try a new brand.

OVERALL
Birchbox June 2016
Verdict:
I’m a Sad Panda
This box came while Birchbox’s old review policy was in place so I paid $10.70 for this box and received $5.00 in Birchbox points with my reviews.  Even with the discount, this one was a stinker.  The only item I really liked was the Benefit product I chose and that product is super tiny.  The products don’t match my profile and it’s the same brands over and over again.  Where are the cool fun finds?  Hello, Birchbox if we haven’t bought Coola or Parlor by now, WE ARE NEVER GOING TO DO IT.  Birchbox is never going to last if they want folks to pay full price for such badly curated boxes.  They have a lot of great brands and unique products, they can do better.  At this point the only thing I’ll really miss about this sub are the cute cardboard boxes.

How do you feel about fragrances in beauty subs?  Are they appropriate as key items or should they only be used as “extras”?

THE BACKSTORY
Birchbox subscriptions cost $10 per month or $110 per year (Women’s Sub)
$20 per month or $195 per year (Men’s Sub)

Points System:
Whenever you buy something at Birchbox they give you Birchbox points. $1.00 = 1 Birchbox Point.
You can redeem reward points for money toward your Birchbox purchases.
You can also earn points by referring/subscribing friends.

Birchbox: May 2016 Review & the Birchbox Controversy

So along with my May Birchbox review, I’ve got some news about the latest controversy from Birchbox.

The main thing that set Birchbox apart from other sub boxes, was its awesome rewards points system. Birchbox offered subscribers the opportunity to review the items they received in exchange for points that you could spend on purchases at Birchbox.com.  Each item in your box could be reviewed for 10 points, and every 100 points earned you $10 in the Birchbox store.

In an extremely confusing email, Birchbox let current subscribers know that starting in July they’d only get five more reviews that would be eligible for points.  New subscribers would simply get rewarded for their first five reviews of products they received.  That’s it.  No more points for reviews.  The only ways to earn points would be to refer other subscribers or just buy items on the Birchbox site.  The only positive change to the policy was that subscribers no longer had to spend their points in $10.00 increments, (for example, if you had $5.00 in points, you were free to use that on their site).

As you can imagine, the backlash was epic.  Many subscribers (myself included) didn’t think that the value of the box was worth $10 without the added bonus of store credit.  Adding fuel to the fire, one of the founders, Katia Beauchamp, gave an interview where she was quoted as saying, “We are not in the business of selling people samples.  That would be a really boring business.”  Many subscribers felt that Birchbox was abandoning its core market in some unattainable quest to compete with brick and mortar retailers like Sephora.

Birchbox was the pioneer in the beauty box world and while I understand the need for cost-saving measures, cutting the review promotion entirely was not a smart move.  Simply lowering the value of the reviews, or offering something like a 15% coupon off any full size purchase for reviewing all your products would have gone a long way in retaining subscribers.  Birchbox also sent a purposefully confusing email and then kept stating on social media that it was giving subscribers what they wanted, which caused countless angry social media posts.  Couple that with Beauchamp’s tone deaf interview and you end up with a recipe for disaster.  With Play by Sephora competing in the $10 beauty box slot, and offering much better quality and size of product, I don’t think Birchbox is long for the subscription world.  Birchbox is going to need to make some huge changes to stay competitive.  We’ll have to wait and see if they are up for the challenge.

Apologies on the dissertation, now let’s get to the fun stuff and take a look in my May 2016.
Box
Open Box 1 Open Box 2
The samples for may were all sunblock oriented, and since I am a pale redhead and particular about my sunscreen, I opted to choose none of them and be surprised instead.
Beauty Protector
Beauty Protector Protect & Detangle
(Full Size $23.50)
Description: “This best-selling elixir locks in color, protects from heat damage, and adds silkiness.
Verdict: How about some new brands?
I know tons of people swear by the Beauty Protector brand, but it’s never done much for me and it’s shown up in a ton of my boxes.  I really wish we could opt out of certain brands – there are a handful that we just keep getting over and over again.  Basing it solely on the product – I don’t color my hair and I almost never heat style – both of which are indicated on my Birchbox profile, so there’s really no reason for this to be in my box.

Cool Mango
COOLA® SPF 50 Sport – Mango
(Full Size: $32.00)
Description: Sweat-proof, water-resistant sunscreen made with organic botanicals (and a fun, fruity scent).”
Verdict: Why do we need scented sunblock?
On the brightside, this is an SPF 50 and sweat proof–on the other side it smells like mango. Ordinarily I love fruity scents, but I don’t want them in a sunblock. I actually didn’t want a sunblock at all which is why I opted not to choose a sunblock sample.

Cotz
CoTZ® Face Natural Skin Tone SPF 40
(Full Size: $20.00)
Description: ”Silky-smooth to the touch, this formula blends in quickly and leaves behind a sheer matte finish.”
Verdict: Because when you don’t want a sunblock sample, they send you TWO
So my reward for not choosing a sunblock sample is…to get TWO sunblock samples.  Again, why include two of the same type of product?  Yes, summer = SPF, but this product is too similar to the Coola.  Try something else.

JouerJouer Swatch
Jouer Long-Wear Lip Crème Liquid Lipstick in Lychee
(Full Size: $18.00)
Description: ”This weightless liquid lipstick glides on smooth and dries to a soft touch finish that will last all day.
Verdict: Hit!
Finally a product I like.  The Lychee shade is really pretty and liquid crème lipsticks are something I actually don’t have a ton of, so I’m quite happy with this.  This sample is itty bitty, but at least it’s something I’ll use.

Well People
W3LL PEOPLE Bio Correct Multi-Action Concealer in Light
(Full Size: $22.99)
Description: “This ultralight, full-coverage concealer blends easily while hiding imperfections and providing a bright look.”
Verdict:  So close, but no
I’m actually always on the lookout for concealers that work with my skin and last all day so I was excited about this product…but it’s in “light”.  Being a pale redhead, I am almost always the palest shade, so I think “fair” would be the right choice for me.  Again, I have this info on my beauty profile.

OVERALL
Birchbox May 2016
Verdict:
Disappointing
This box came while Birchbox’s old review policy was in place so I paid $10.70 for this box and received $5.00 in Birchbox points with my reviews.  Even with the discount, I’m disappointed. There was repetition of brands and types of products, multiple items that didn’t fit my beauty profile and the one item I liked was quite small.  If Birchbox wants me to pay $10.70 a month for their sub, they are going to have to do better.

For the Birchbox subscribers – How do you feel about Birchbox’s new review policy?  Are you going to cancel or stick with them?

THE BACKSTORY
Birchbox subscriptions cost $10 per month or $110 per year (Women’s Sub)
$20 per month or $195 per year (Men’s Sub)

Points System:
Whenever you buy something at Birchbox they give you Birchbox points. $1.00 = 1 Birchbox Point.
You can redeem reward points for money toward your Birchbox purchases.
You can also earn points by referring/subscribing friends.

Birchbox Limited Edition: Beauty in Bloom

I had a bunch of Birchbox points I was saving up, so when a coupon code popped up and Birchbox’s Limited Edition Beauty in Bloom box was available, I decided to treat myself.

This box costs $64 and is described as follows:
Fresh-cut flowers are typically reserved for special occasions, but we’re firm believers that every day should feel special and important. Consider this box the beauty equivalent of a blooming bouquet. The thoughtful collection is filled with luxe treats and indulgences—like a refreshing rose mist, a cult-classic lavender hand cream, a prettily packaged perfume, and a chic vanity tray—to make even the most humdrum days feel a little bit fancier. The best part? These beauties are 100 percent wilt-proof.”

The packing on this one was lovely and perfectly suited for gift giving.
A beautiful box with floral detailing:
Box DetailBox
Open Box
Toner
Darphi Intral Toner
– Travel Size
(Full Size $54.00)
Description: “Ultragentle, complexion-soothing formula that leave skin calm, refreshed, and nourished.
Verdict: Hit!
I love soothing toners as a follow up to an oil cleanser.  The combo is perfect for getting my skin clean but still moisturized.  Because of the size I think I might reserve this one for travel.

Oil
Davines Oil – Absolute Beautifying Potion
– Sample Size
(Full Size: $42.00)
Description: This lightweight, antioxidant-rich serum tames frizz, boosts shine and prevents breakage.”
Verdict: Like
I really love the Davines brand so even though I’m practically swimming in hair oil, I’m still happy to try this out.  This is a sample size, but it’s still pretty generous.

Balancing Mist
Jurlique Rosewater Balancing Mist
– Sample Size
(Full Size: $35.00)
Description: Loaded with flower extracts, this rose-scented mist balances pH levels and refreshes skin.”
Verdict: Hit!
I’ve used Jurlique before and really liked it. I’ve also just started getting into using Rosewater as a toner.  I think this will be a nice refreshing spray to perk up skin during summer travel.

Laura GellarOpen BlushLaura Geller Baked Color True Blush Swatch
Laura Geller New York Baked Color True Blush – Full Size
(Retail: $28.00)
Description: ”Perfect for an instant complexion perk-up, this baked blush gives a natural glow.
Verdict: On the Fence
I believe the shade I received was “Maui” and it’s a bit more glittery than I prefer in my blushes.  I recently got a different blush from Laura Geller in my regular Birchbox and absolutely love it.  I’m going to put this one aside for a bit and see if I’ll use it more as we head into the summer.

Lolla
Lollia by Margot Elena Shea Butter Handcreme
– Travel Size
(4 oz Size: $25.00)
Description: “A cult classic, this lush, hydrating hand cream has note of lavender, Indian amber and Tahitian vanilla.”
Verdict:  Love
I love Margot Elena products, although the scents can be a bit hit or miss for me.  The packaging on this is gorgeous and the size will be perfect to keep in my work bag.  Lavender is a scent that works for me, so this one is definitely a win.

MallyEyeshadow TipBlender TipMally Shadow Liner Swatch
Mally Beauty Eye-Amplifying Shadow Liner in Deep Taupe
– Full Size
(Retail: $20.00)
Description: “This creamy, versatile eye pencil glides on smoothly, blends easily and lasts all day long.”
Verdict:  Love, Love, Love
This works amazingly well as an eyeshadow.  It’s a fabulous neutral shade that will look great with every skintone.  It gives that candlelit glow look to the lids and works well on its own or paired with other shades.  It swipes on easily and I like it so much that I’ll probably end grabbing it in the “stone” shade as well.

Nest Candle
NEST Fragrances Grapefruit Votive Candle
(Retail: $16.00)
Description: “This citrus-scented candle blends watery green nuances, lily of the valley and coriander blossom.”
Verdict:  Hit!
Nest makes amazing candles and citrus oriented fragrances are my absolute favorite.  This will be nice to light in the bathroom during a spa day.

Perfume
NEST Fragrances Indigo Eau de Parfum – Travel Size
(8mL: $25.00)
Description: “Infused with Moroccan tea and wild fig, this captivating scent easily transitions from work to play.”
Verdict:  Love!
Surprisingly, this was one of the products I was most excited about. I had caught a whiff of this at Sephora and really liked it. Perfumes that don’t give me headaches are like unicorns so this was a great find for me.  The scent isn’t too heavy, but has depth to it. It’s not super floral or overly fruity and leans on the sophisticated side.  I have no idea by what miracle I can wear this, but I’m happy to have a new scent to use.

Smith & CultSmith & Cult ApplicatorSmith & Cult Hi-Speed Sonnet Swatch
Smith & Cult The Shining Lip Lacquer in High Speed Sonnet – Full Size

(Retail: $22.00)
Description: “Get an extremely smooth finish (and a plumper look) with this moisturizing lip gloss.”
Verdict:  Love!
This was another product that really pushed me to grab this box.  I’m infatuated with Smith & Cult polishes and have been wanting to try one of their lip products for quite some time. The color is saturated, fun and perfect for summer.  Plus it has absolutely gorgeous packaging.

Mascara
stila HUGE™ extreme lash mascara – Travel Size (
Full Size: $23.00)
Description: “One coat of this jet-black mascara gives you a major boost of volume, curl, and length.”
Verdict:  Gift
I’ve tried this mascara before and it’s not my favorite so I’m going to use it as part of a gift.

Tray
Umbra Prisma Tray
(Retail: $15.00)
Description: “This modern, chic tray features a linen lining to help jewelry (and other odds and ends) stay organized.”
Verdict:  Like
This is a funky little tray, but I’m not quite sure what I’m going to do with it yet.  It seems suited to top a dresser or desk, but currently all those places are occupied. It may need to wait until I finally move somewhere with a bit more space.  It would make a perfect little dish to keep by the entryway and leave your keys in.

OVERALL
Birchbox Beauty in Bloom LE Box
Verdict:
Love!
I used my Birchbox points so I nabbed this for free, but I think it’s a great value for $64.  Except for the mascara, I really liked all the products included.  The curation was spot on for a Spring floral theme and had a nice balance of skincare, makeup, hair and home products.   I also thought it was great that with the mascara, blush, lip lacquer and eyeshadow stick, this one box could give you a full makeup look.  The packaging felt luxe and special, making this a really great gift option for the woman in your life who loves beauty products.

Have you ever tried been tempted by one of the Birchbox Limited Edition boxes?

SUBSCRIPTION THERAPY NEWS!
We’ve still got a great giveaway for a free Orglamix May box.  Enter between now and June 13th!  Check here for all the details.

THE BACKSTORY
Birchbox subscriptions cost $10 per month or $110 per year (Women’s Sub)
$20 per month or $195 per year (Men’s Sub)

Points System:
Whenever you buy something at Birchbox they give you Birchbox points. $1.00 = 1 Birchbox Point.
Each 100 Birchbox reward points can be redeemed for $10.00.
You can also earn points by reviewing the samples they send you (10 points per sample) and referring/subscribing friends.

Birchbox: April 2016

For April, I couldn’t resist grabbing Birchbox’s curated offering that was packed in the most adorable box from the Rifle Paper Co.  I swear if the Rifle Paper Co made more home décor products they’d be all over my house.

Our Adorable Box:
Box
Open Box 1Open Box 2

Marcelle
Marcelle 3-in-1 Micellar Solution
(Full Size $21)
Description: “Removes makeup, cleanses skin, and soothers irritation with natural ingredients like aloe and cucumber.
Verdict: Hit!
I tried out one of these types of cleansing waters from another brand and really liked it.  This is perfectly sized for travel so I think I’m going to reserve this for my next weekend getaway.

Liftra
Dr. Jart+ Liftra™ Contour Cream
(Full Size: $60.00)
Description: This high-tech, first-of-its-kind, collagen producing crema visibly firms, lifts and plumps skin.”
Verdict: Hit!
Dr Jart+ is a fabulous brand and this product doesn’t sound like anything I’ve tried before.  It’s also a bit spendy, so I really love getting a sample before committing to such a huge investment.

BlushOpen BlushBlush Swatch
Laura Geller New York Baked Blush-n-Brighten
(Full Size: $28.00)
Description: ”Baked from liquid pigments, this blush-highligher combo delivers a natural-looking flush.”
Verdict: Love!
This product was the one in the box I was most looking forward to trying out.  I was worried it would be too warm for my complexion and make me look like an Oompa Loompa (or Michael Kors).  Even though the swatch seems a bit warm, this worked beautifully on my skin.  It really does look natural and applies easily.  A little bit gives you a sun-kissed glow.  I’ve never tried Laura Geller’s blushes before, but I was suitably impressed.

Parlor
PARLOR® by Jeff Chastain Volumizing Lifting Spray
(Full Size: $24.00)
Description: ”This innovative body-enhancing spray uses marshmallow root to give locks instant volume and lift.
Verdict: A bit burnt out
I’ve got so many hair styling products that are specifically for volume and so many from this particular brand.  I’d really love it if I got a break from the Parlor products for the rest of the year.  I think I’ve tried enough of them to know if I want to buy the full size or not.

Hand Cream
TOCCA Crema da Mano – Giulietta
(2 oz Size: $10.00)
Description: “Loaded with natural botanicals, this green apple and pink tulip lotion absorbs in a flash.”
Verdict:  Hit!
This is a really elegant little hand cream and it will be perfect to keep tucked in my commuter bag.  It has a lovely spring time vibe.

OVERALL
April 2016 Birchbox
Verdict:
Love!
I paid $10.70 for this box and after reviewing the products received $5.00 in Birchbox points.  I chose this box and (except for being burnt out on Parlor hair products), am really thrilled with it.  I like the variety in types of products, the interesting brands, and the generous product sizes.  This was a well curated box and I hope Birchbox can start making the non-curated options as compelling.

For the Birchbox subscribers – Do you find that the curated boxes have a better overall balance than the regular boxes?

THE BACKSTORY
Birchbox subscriptions cost $10 per month or $110 per year (Women’s Sub)
$20 per month or $195 per year (Men’s Sub)

Points System:
Whenever you buy something at Birchbox they give you Birchbox points. $1.00 = 1 Birchbox Point.
Each 100 Birchbox reward points can be redeemed for $10.00.
You can also earn points by reviewing the samples they send you (10 points per sample) and referring/subscribing friends.

Birchbox: March 2016

With so much hubub, I have a couple leftover from March, so today we’ve got my review of the March Birchbox. For March, I opted for the curated “Ready for Anything” Featured Box

Let’s Dive in!
Box Open Box Oopen Box 2
Our usual cute packaging.

Blowout
PARLOR® by Jeff Chastain Smoothing Blowout Spray
(Full Size $24)
Description: “This celeb stylist’s lightweight spritz adds instant volume and luster while protecting hair from heat damage.
I don’t blow dry my hair that frequently, and I feel like Jeff Chastain products are all over the sample boxes, so I’m pretty ambivalent about this one. I’ll probably just use it for special occasions.

Packaged Lipstick Lipstick LIpstick Swatch
Milk Makeup Lip Color in C.R.E.A.M.
(Full Size: $22.00)
Description: This superhydrating formula adjusts to your pH, enhancing each wearer’s natural lip color to create the perfect hue.”
Verdict: Like
This lipstick is so teeny tiny that it came in its own bag so you wouldn’t lose it right off the bat. I really like the natural color on this but it’s not quite the right shade for my skin tone. I do think it will work well as a base for lip gloss, so I’ll probably use it in concert with some sparkly Stila lip gloss I own. I do wish this was a touch bigger.

ShadowEyeshadow CloseEyeshadow Swatch
Smashbox Photo Op Eyeshadow Trio in Filter
(Full Size: $28.00)
Description: ”These coordinated shadows, shade, contour and highlight, for a variety of easy eye looks.”
Verdict: Not quite right
This eyeshadow trio is one of the reasons I chose this box. I really wish they’d sent me the purple or the pastel shades as I think they’d work better with my skin. As you can see from the swatches, one disappears completely and the middle tone leans a just a touch too warm for my taste (it’s hard to tell in this picture, but it ends up a bit orange). I’d really love to get shades that aren’t neutrals. They are almost always too warm for my skin tone and most of us makeup junkies have a ton of them. Let’ see something a bit more unusual in our boxes.

Kiehls
Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream
(1.7 oz: $27.50)
Description: ”This is the ultimate soother: it’s rich without being greasy, and sinks in without any residue.
Verdict: Like
I haven’t tried this yet because I have moisturizers that are already opened, but Kiehls is a great brand and I’m excited to try this out.

Eye Pads
Wilma Schumann Skincare Hydrating Collagen Eye Pads
(5 Pairs: $18.00)
Description: “These 100% collagen pads plump, hydrate and restore, enhancing eye contour gently and naturally.”
Verdict: Hit!
I love all kinds of face masks, and eye pads just feel very spa like. I’m going to save these for a home pampering day.

OVERALL
Birchbox 3.2016
Verdict:
Like
I paid $10.70 for this box and after reviewing the products received $5.00 in Birchbox points. I chose this box so the products weren’t a surprise, but sadly the two products I was most interested in (the lipstick and the eyeshadow) just weren’t quite right for my coloring. I wish Birchbox would add on a cool/warm toned option for the makeup. It would go a long way in helping us get items that work. I’ll use the Jeff Chastain spray (albeit sparingly) and I like the Face cream and eye pads so overall, this box was still a good value.

How often does the makeup you receive in Sub Boxes work for your skintone?
If not, do you find it too warm, or cool or just not to your taste?

BIRCHBOX NEWS!
Birchbox released two Limited Edition boxes, just in time for Mother’s Day.
BB Beauty LE Box
Limited Edition: Beauty in Bloom (Retail: $64.00)
Description: The thoughtful collection is filled with luxe treats and indulgences—like a refreshing rose mist, a cult-classic lavender hand cream, a prettily packaged perfume, and a chic vanity tray—to make even the most humdrum days feel a little bit fancier.”
I’d been hoarding Birchbox points for a while, so when a coupon code popped up, I used my points to snag this. Be sure to come back for a full review on this one.

BB Naturals LE Box
Limited Edition: New Naturals
(Retail: $59.00)
Description: Each of these innovative products is free of parabens, sulfates, petrochemicals, and phthalates—and instead, packed with good-enough-to-eat ingredients like coconut oil, pomegranate enzymes, and vitamin E.”
I already own quite a few of these products, but if you love natural beauty, consider picking this box up.

THE BACKSTORY
Birchbox subscriptions cost $10 per month or $110 per year (Women’s Sub)
$20 per month or $195 per year (Men’s Sub)

Points System:
Whenever you buy something at Birchbox they give you Birchbox points. $1.00 = 1 Birchbox Point.
Each 100 Birchbox reward points can be redeemed for $10.00.
You can also earn points by reviewing the samples they send you (10 points per sample) and referring/subscribing friends.

Birchbox: February 2016

Kicking off my “catch up with February boxes” spree is my monthly Birchbox.

Let’s see what Birchbox thinks I need in my life.
Box Open Box

Argan Mask
Corioliss Argan Conditioning Mask
(Full Size $40)
Description: “This nourishing mask is packed with argan oil, fatty acids, vitamin, and tea tree oil to add softness and shine.
Verdict: Meh
Birchbox really REALLY thinks my hair needs help since I just got an Amika mask in last month’s box. I know “Argan oil” is an ingredient beauty folks everywhere buzz about but I feel like it’s in everything. Maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised but even if I love this I doubt I’d be willing to fork over $40 for it.

Arrow
ARROW BOOST Color Enhancing Lip Balm
(Full Size: $14.00)
Description: This superhydrating formula adjusts to your pH, enhancing each wearer’s natural lip color to create the perfect hue.”
Verdict: Disappointing
The reason why you won’t see a swatch of this is because it pretty much came off clear. I’m not sure about this “adjusts to your pH” nonsense because apparently my pH level is invisible (on the bright side, maybe I’ll end up with my own superhero movie). I chose this sample and I’m disappointed that it’s pretty much just a slightly fancier Chapstick (although I’m thrilled I didn’t shell out $14 for it). This is Birchbox’s new brand and honestly it’s not worth close to that price point. I’d say maximum you could charge for this would be $8. For $14, there are much better lip treatments with more luxe packaging and better pay off.

Clay Cleanser
BORGHESE Fango Purificante Clay Cleanser
(Retail Value: $30.00)
Description: ”This gentle, foaming formula deep-cleans like a mask as it soothes skin.”
Verdict: Like
I don’t know why but “Fango Purificante” sounds so pretentious to me. Like something some super fancy spa tells you is in the seaweed they are saran wrapping around you. In any case, this at least is interesting since I can’t say that I’ve used a clay cleanser before and I’m happy to try this one out.

Color ClubThat's My Jam Swatch
Color Club® That’s My Jam
(Retail Value: $8.50)
Description: ”You’ll love the lush lacquer color in this vegan, 100% cruelty-free nail polish. Plus it’s made in the USA!
Verdict: You had me at hello, (sniffle) You had me at hello
Red polish totally is my jam and I thought this shade was really lovely. The mini polishes are also a great size and this little bottle will actually last for quite a few manis and pedis. This is hands down the best item in the box.

Perfume
Catherine Malandrino Romance de Provence Eau de Parfum
(1.7 oz: $80.00)
Description: “An ode to Provence, this timeless scent mixes fruity and floral nuances with vanilla and patchouli.”
Verdict: For $80 you too can piss off strangers in elevators
So based solely on the scent of this perfume, I assumed that Catherine Malandrino was the old lady hanging out in subways, buses and elevators overwhelming the rest of us with the stench of dying flowers. Color me surprised when I googled to find out that she was a French fashion designer. Why? Why did she do this? This perfume is unbearable. It was like an assault. This perfume is probably single-handedly responsible for half the asthma attacks in France. Floral + patchouli + vanilla + fruit? Is there some random thing this perfume doesn’t have in it? Dear Birchbox, STOP SENDING ME !*$UY!*)$& perfumes that smell like death. Please.

OVERALL
Birchbox 2.2016

Verdict: Disappointing
I paid $10.70 for this box and after reviewing the products received $5.00 in Birchbox points. While I liked the polish, it’s really the only standout in this box and for $8.50 I could have gotten a full size. The clay cleanser is okay but not something I would have necessarily sought out. This box just doesn’t suit me and I’m super tired of the perfumes. I’ve decided to start keeping track of when I get them. December was perfume, January thankfully perfume free and for March I chose the curated box, so I am off the hook. My guess is that April is going to deliver some other godforsaken scent that’s going to require me to take an aspirin.

How do you feel about perfumes in subscription boxes? Love them? Hate them?
Do you think they are a necessary evil or an allergen that needs to be left out of most boxes?

THE BACKSTORY
Birchbox subscriptions cost $10 per month or $110 per year (Women’s Sub)
$20 per month or $195 per year (Men’s Sub)

Points System:
Whenever you buy something at Birchbox they give you Birchbox points. $1.00 = 1 Birchbox Point.
Each 100 Birchbox reward points can be redeemed for $10.00.
You can also earn points by reviewing the samples they send you (10 points per sample) and referring/subscribing friends.

Birchbox: January 2016 & a new Limited Edition Box!

So the first Birchbox of the year came in this adorable fill in the blank style box.
Box
Inside were a bunch of stickers you could use to customize it. Since I want a year full of all.the.things I opted not to choose one.
Open Box Box & Stickers

Open Box 2

Amika
amika Nourishing Mask
(Full Size $28)
Description: Paraben-free treatment that conditions and repairs with superfruit sea buckthorn berry.”
Verdict: Miss
I’ve liked amika products in the past so I expected this would be great but it left my hair pretty dry. If you’re looking for an amazing hair mask, the best I’ve ever tried is by Sabon, it’s only a dollar more than the amika and so much better.

Acne Pad
Cane + Austin 2%/5% Acne Retexture Pads
(Full Size: $60.00)
Description: These treatment pads contain 5% glycolic acid to fight the effects of aging, plus 2% salicylic acid to help clear acne.”
Verdict: Why?
I don’t understand why I received this. Outside of an occasional pimple around that time of the month, I don’t have any acne issues and I indicated that on my profile. And even if I did have an acne situation, would *one* “retexture” pad really give me an idea of this product’s effectiveness? This was a big miss.

EyekoEyeko TipEyeko Swatch
Eyeko Fat Liquid Liner
(Retail Value: $16.00)
Description: ”This eyeliner delivers the same smudgeproof, rich color in a thicker, bolder line than the original skinny liner.”
Verdict: Like
This was my sample choice and I regularly wear winged liner and am always on the hunt for awesome liquid liners that won’t smudge on my oily, hooded lids. This one is certainly a very saturated black, but I think I’m going to need to get used to the thickness of it. It isn’t quite smudgeproof on me, but it does a decent job. I still however, prefer my Kat Von D Tattoo liner in ink black.

Klorane
Klorane Gentle Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk
(Retail Value: $20.00)
Description: ”Award-winning fan fave that absorbs grease and puts the bounce back into second-day hair.
Verdict: Like
I’ve received this product before and I really like it. It does exactly what it says it will and I highly recommend it. I’m putting this one aside for my next trip.

Whish
Whish Three Whishes Body Butter
(Full Size: $24.00)
Description: “Lucsious, anti0xidant-rich formula that firms, softens and soothes.”
Verdict: I “wish” they’d stop it with this brand already
Forgive my pun, but am I the only one sick of getting Whish products? I don’t really care for them and I’ve gotten them over and over again. Birchbox, if I haven’t bought full sizes by now, I’m not going to do it so just send me something new to try.

OVERALL
January 2016 Birchbox
Verdict:
Okay
I paid $10.70 for this box and after reviewing the products received $5.00 in Birchbox points. Thankfully the sample I chose (the eyeliner) is more than worth the cost of this box and the Klorane is just a nice extra. I am really disappointed in some of the other choices and I’m just not quite feeling like Birchbox is really looking at my profile or the items I like and purchase.

How have your Birchboxes been measuring up?

BIRCHBOX NEWS!
LE Box

Birchbox released a new Limited Edition box called
Limited Edition: Why Not…Stay In
It’s priced at $45 and features some great items for a home spa day including masks, nail polish and even cozy socks. I am sorely tempted to grab one for myself, so we’ll see if my heart or my budget win out.

THE BACKSTORY
Birchbox subscriptions cost $10 per month or $110 per year (Women’s Sub)
$20 per month or $195 per year (Men’s Sub)

Points System:
Whenever you buy something at Birchbox they give you Birchbox points. $1.00 = 1 Birchbox Point.
Each 100 Birchbox reward points can be redeemed for $10.00.
You can also earn points by reviewing the samples they send you (10 points per sample) and referring/subscribing friends.

Top 15 Sub Box Items of 2015

So it’s time for me to pick my favorite 15 items from all of my 2015 Sub boxes. This was epically hard and I swear I started with twice as many awesome items that I had to painfully work through. There were so many great things that just couldn’t make the cut. I’ve broken down the list for you by month.

JANUARY
BorealisBorealis Swatch
Orbital Eyeshadow – Borealis:
(Retail $18.00/Maven Price: $14.40)
from Julep Maven: January 2015 – The Chrysalis Collection – Modern Beauty
Possibly my most favorite eyeshadow ever. It’s a smoky eye for dummies and the peacock shimmer on it is amazing.

Cream
First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream
(Suggested Retail: $30.00)
from the Popsugar: January 2015
This product does exactly what it says it will and is unscented. It’s great for both men and women as well as folks with sensitive skin. Since I tried this I’ve recommended it to tons of my friends.

FEBRUARY
Cutting Board
ACME Party Box Company
Bamboo Heart Cutting Board & Cheese Knife
(Suggested Retail: $32.00)
from Popsugar: February 2015
This set was so adorable and I regularly pull out this cutting board to slice fruit.

MARCH
Rings Necklace
Three Gold Rings Necklace
from Amanda Deer Jewelry
(Retail: $32.00)
from Fair Ivy: March 2015
I found myself reaching for this necklace all the time. It’s so simple, lovely and great for layering. I got lots of compliments on it.

APRIL
Brush
Multipurpose Pro Tools Oval Brush by Harry Josh
:
(Estimated Retail: $40.00)
from the Nina Garcia Quarterly (#NGQ05): April 2015
The saving grace of my last Nina Garcia box. This is a great brush and I love the mint shade. It sits out on my bedroom dresser.

CupSpoon Close
Handmade Mug & Spoon from White Peach Pottery (Retail: $32.00+)
from Fair Ivy: April 2015
I adore handmade ceramics and this mug and spoon set is so lovely. It sits out on display on my kitchen shelves.

Bracelet Bracelet on Wrist
Miansai Modern Screw Cuff:
(Estimated Retail: $200.00)
from the Rachel Zoe Box of Style: April 2015
This is my favorite item of all for 2015. It’s classic and somehow edgy and conservative at the same time. It’s great quality and I really want the exact same one in a rose gold finish.

MAY
Bracelet On Wrist
Silver Chalcedony Bracelet from Simply Lovely Handmade
(Retail: $???)
from Fair Ivy: May 2015
I love the delicateness of this bracelet and how well it layers with other pieces I have. The pink stone is also right on trend for 2016.

JULY
Oribe
Oribe Aprés Beach Wave and Shine Spray (Full Size: $39.00)
from Birchbox: July 2015
Oribe products are always amazing and since I wear my hair wavy, this was a great product for me.

Mineral Peel
O.R.G. Skincare Mineral Face Peel
(Retail: $44.00)
From Rachel Zoe Box of Style: Summer 2015
I was concerned about spraying a peel directly into my face, but this didn’t irritate my skin at all and (I know this sounds gross) it really peeled off all the dead skin. I tried this with my best friend and she was amazed. Seriously, my favorite peel ever.

SEPTEMBER
Watch Case Watch Watch Close
Cluse La Bohéme Rose Gold Watch with dual straps:
(Estimated Retail: $132.00)
from the Rachel Zoe Box of Style: Fall 2015
I don’t own many watches and this one is so lovely and classic. The rose gold on this is epic and the changeable straps make it so versatile. I know I’ll have and use this piece forever.

Gummy Bears
Albanese 12 Flavor Gummy Bears 7.5 oz
(Estimated Retail: $2.19)
from the Treat Chest Candy Club: August 2015 Box
Yes, gummy bears are on this list. Because they are the best damn gummy bears in the world. They were so good I ordered my boyfriend and I a giant 1 lb bag of them.

OCTOBER
Pillowcase
Savvy Sleepers Luxury Satin Pillowcase
(Suggested Retail: $36.00)
from Popsugar: October 2015 & a New Limited Edition Holiday Box!
This pillowcase was so soft and comfy, that I used the coupon code in the box to buy some more for my bed.

DECEMBER

Jewelry Box 2 Jewelry Box Open
Swing Design Nova Blue Mist Jewelry Box (Suggested Retail: $36.00)
from the Popsugar: December 2015 & A Promotion Fail
I am a sucker for Mint and this box was perfectly sized to hold all kinds of goodies. I have two of them and they live on each end table on the sides of my bed.

Hairpin 1Hairpin Close
Lelet NY Swarovski Crystal Hair Pin
(Retail: $98.00)
from the Rachel Zoe Box of Style: Winter 2015
This is gorgeous and has an heirloom feel to it. So beautiful.

It was fun to look back and see which items I ended up falling in love with and which ones I adored from the start. Overall, my favorite subscription box for the year was the Rachel Zoe Box of Style. I received so many amazing things from that subscription and if I could only choose one to keep, it would be Rachel’s, hands down.

So that’s what we got in 2015, but what do I want to see in 2016?

FOR BEAUTY
Watercolor Eyeshadows: Enough with the neutral palettes, we have a ton of them. How about some pastels? I’d love to see some fun watercolor shades in blues, greens and pinks. Give us something that we might not already have in our makeup bag.

Practical Luxury: Full sizes of Fancy Shampoo, Conditioner, Bodywash—even deodorant. We get tons of masks and styling items, but I’d love to try out the pricier every day products. If I fall in love with one, I’d probably splurge on it regularly.

Unique Polish Finishes: We get a lot of cremé, glitter and shimmer polishes but there are a lot of other finishes out there. How about more holographics, jellies and duochromes this year?

Tools: I want to see more styling tools. I’d fall over to get a Mason Pearson brush or comb, a fabulous curling wand, or a great Blush brush.

FOR ACCESSORIES
Rose Gold:
We saw rose gold jewelry pop up in a lot of 2015 boxes, but it’s still on trend and most women don’t have a ton of it in their jewelry collection. Send us more please.

Moonstone: I love moonstone and it shines with both Pantone colors of the year (baby pink and blue). It’s gorgeous and mystical and I’d love to see it pop up in some jewelry.

FOR FOOD
Seasonings:
I’d love to see more seasoning and spice blends (particularly salt free ones). Oils are great too—basically less snacks and more cooking items.

FOR LIFESTYLE
Bagged Lunches: Those of us who bring our lunch to work or school are always on the lookout for new boxes, bags or other gadgets that make it easier and more fun to pack a lunch. Cool Bento boxes, insulated containers and thermos are all welcome.

High End Cleaners: Cleaning isn’t glamourous but it’s a fact of life and I’d love to see high end cleaners in boxes. Eco-friendly countertop cleaners, fancy scrub brushes or specialty laundry detergents would all be some great practical additions.

So what’s your wish list for sub box items in 2016?

Birchbox: December 2015 & a new Limited Edition Box Spoiler!

For the last Birchbox of 2015, the theme was “All Wrapped Up” and I opted once again to splurge on a Birchbox plus item, cue the giant box with lots of wrapped goodies inside.
Big Box Open Big Box
Birchbox Plus Wrapped Birchbox

BIRCHBOX PLUS
Tool Box Toolbox 2
Umbra® Toto Storage Box
(Retail Cost: $30.00)
Description: “Just because you’ve decided to take a grown-up approach to storage doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your vibrant, contemporary style. Enter this cute, convenient catchall by Umbra. Featuring a slide-out tray, it easily organizes odds and ends in any room (from Q-tips to lipstick, earrings, or art supplies).”
I’m a sucker for the color mint and organizing so I snatched this one up right away. Unfortunately it’s a bit smaller than I had anticipated – it’s more like desk organizer size rather than say, toolbox size. I think I’m going to use it to organize some crafting items. I paid $26.75 for this so I got a bit of a discount. Plus the mint shade is not available on the Birchbox site anymore, but you can still get it in Eggplant.

FREEBIE!
Baggu
BAGGU® Big BAGGU
(Retail Cost: $12.00)
Description: “There are certain shopping events—back-to-school, holiday gift binges, Whole Foods trips for your inevitably epic housewarming—that demand serious attention. For those times, we turn to this trusty BAGGU Big Tote, which is not only incredibly durable and eco-friendly, but ultrachic too.”
I don’t know why but I got this awesome Freebie with my order. (I think there was some promotion going on that apparently I was totally unaware of).  I actually own two Baggu items in this print, but I just have so many reusable totes like this so I ended up adding to someone’s Christmas gift.

Another pretty box & a coupon:
White Birchbox Open Birchbox Open Birchbox 2 Coupon


Style Eyes 1ShadowssocialEYES swatches
Coastal Scents® styleEYES Palette in socialEYES
(Full Size $12)
Description: A bold, beautiful eye shadow palette in alluring smoky tones.”
Verdict: Love!
I chose this item so it’s no surprise that I love it, but I didn’t anticipate how pretty and pigmented these colors would be. The whole palette only costs $12 so if you’re in the market for one and like these shades you may want to give it a shot.

Coola
COOLA® Classic SPF 30 Cucumber Moisturizer for Face
(Full Size: $32.00)
Description: Hydrator that blocks UV rays, protects against future signs of aging, and has a fresh cucumber scent.”
Verdict: Not for gingers
I wish there was an option to request no products with anything below SPF 45. Seriously it’s just useless for me. I’d need to reapply this thing every 5 minutes. I’ll pass this along to a friend who could use it.

Juara
JUARA Coconut Illipe Hand & Nail Balm
(Retail Value: $20.00)
Description: ”This fast-absorbing, long-lasting moisturizing balm hydrates, firms and plumps hands and improves nails and cuticles.”
Verdict: Miss
I’ve received Juara products in Birchboxes before and I just don’t care for the brand. I’m also a bit particular about the hand and nail products I like, so this one is a miss.

Perfume
Oscar De La Renta Signature Eau de Toilette
(Retail Value: $26.00)
Description: ”Inspired by scents from lush gardens in the Dominican Republic, this perfume is feminine and floral, with woodsy notes.
Verdict: and to Grandma’s House we go.
STOP WITH THE PERFUME. Seriously. Please do us all a favor and let us just opt out of perfumes entirely. I chose the least possible amount of perfumes and still I get these fuckers like every month. This is another heavy old lady floral. How about you try some fresher cleaner scents? Or even a fruit one? Why do they all have to smell like your Grandma’s canasta game?

Balm 2Balm 1Balm Swatch
theBalm® cosmetics Frat Boy® Blush/Shadow
(Full Size: $21.00)
Description: “This talc-free, finely ground blush and shadow formula gives skin a fresh radiance that makes you look, and feel, young.”
Verdict: Like
theBalm is a fun brand and this blush has a very natural look on me. I keep hoping I’ll get one of their cream blushes to try out but so far no luck. Besides the eyeshadow this is the only other item I actually like in this box.

OVERALL
Birchbox 12.2015
Verdict:
Cue Sad Trombone
Outside of the sample I picked for myself, I can only really use one item. And not only do I keep getting perfumes, they continue to smell awful. I paid $10.70 for this box and after reviewing the products received $5.00 in Birchbox points. Because the eyeshadow and blush are so small, I don’t really think I got my money’s worth this month. I’m hoping 2016 will bring more makeup samples, less perfumes and some Korean skincare.

What do you hope to see in your 2016 Birchboxes?

BIRCHBOX NEWS!
A new limited Edition, box called Strong Start box is soon to be released!
Here’s a spoiler:
birchbox-strong-start-spoilers-400x600
If you’re interested just keep checking back to the Birchbox LE Box page to see when it drops.

THE BACKSTORY
Birchbox subscriptions cost $10 per month or $110 per year (Women’s Sub)
$20 per month or $195 per year (Men’s Sub)

Points System:
Whenever you buy something at Birchbox they give you Birchbox points. $1.00 = 1 Birchbox Point.
Each 100 Birchbox reward points can be redeemed for $10.00.
You can also earn points by reviewing the samples they send you (10 points per sample) and referring/subscribing friends.