I’ve been procrastinating on this review because the end of a love affair is always hard. Picture it: Fall 2013, and a fashion box with a glam grunge theme shows up at my door. It was like Nina knew *exactly* what I wanted. Friends, I fell hard and fast.
Then, a box of Nina’s favorite things shows up in March 2014. It’s not as tightly curated as the last one, and has a few odd items, but it was still a great and I was feeling secure in my decision to spend $100 every couple months for Nina.
Things took a turn in July 2014, when I got a box so strange, so odd, that I couldn’t believe it was Nina Garcia. It started with a baseball cap to commemorate the World Cup and ended with a tiny rubber shoe. Yes, a tiny rubber shoe. I didn’t think I could get past the betrayal, but I held on, hoping things would improve.
And they did, slightly, in November 2014, when we got a humdrum box that included yet another hat: This one featuring the word “Ballin” across the front. Where was the excitement? Where was the cutting edge style? Still, Nina had improved from our last disastrous encounter, so I was going to give her one more chance to see if there was still a spark left.
So that brings us to April 2015. The box that would decide if Nina and I still had a future together.
I received an email saying that the “theme is Luxe Hair Care – “Nina’s favorite products for sleek, gorgeous hair every day”. But this was a fashion box! That couldn’t mean it would be *all* hair products, right? I mean it must be that most of the items are hair related and or maybe just have a big ticket styling tool. It’s not like they’d charge me $100 and then just send me a billion hair products? Right? RIGHT?
Yeah, I know.
I should have seen it coming.
But when you once shared something beautiful with someone you always hold too tightly to the memory.
So yeah this is a box of hair stuff. And no, there’s not a curling iron or a blow dryer to be seen.
Shu Uemura’s The Volume Maker: (Estimated Retail: $48.00)
Nina’s Description: “When I know I’m going to be on camera, I use Shu Uemura’s the Volume Maker,so that I can achieve the perfect amount of volume. It not only keeps my hair looking totally glamorous, but it looks beautiful just sitting on the shelf.”
Shu Uemura is a super fancy pants brand and this product does give you great volume. It has a brush applicator and if you apply a bit to your roots it gives you some great lift. This is the type of product I expect in a box at this price point so this was a good choice.
Serge Normant’s Dream Big Instant Volumizing Spray (1.8 oz): (Estimated Retail: $15.00)
Nina’s Description: “Another product I use to maximize volume is Serge Normant’s Dream Big Instant Volumizing Spray because sometimes a girl just needs to have options in the volume department. This product will keep your style going strong without any sticky strands. Serge is a close friend and one of my favorite hairdressers. He has styled the hair of Sara Jessica Parker, Julia Roberts and is responsible for the hair gracing many of our covers at Marie Claire.”
Verdict: Like, but a bit redundant
Yes, yes you want “options” in the volume department, but this is a one time box. Maybe the curation should focus on more variety and less duplication. That being said, I actually really like this product and received it in Birchbox’s LE Vanity box which is still available for purchase. The Vanity box is fabulous and actually costs less than this one. It features hair products (including something from Shu Uemura) along with a plethora of beauty, skincare and lifestyle items. If you’ve got Birchbox points you’re saving up, that would be a great splurge.
Frederic Fekkai PRX Reparatives Intensive Fortifying Mask (1.69 oz): (Estimated Retail: $8.00)
Nina’s Description: “Frederic Fekkai is another one of my dear friends in the industry , and has been one of my salons of choice for many years. I trust him with my color, cut, and all around haircare. He has styled the locks of many famous women, including model Claudia Schiffer and powerhouse Hillary Clinton. Additionally, he produces a line of luxury hair products, one of which is his PRX Reparatives Intestive fortifying mask. I’ll use it if my hair is too exhausted, has been colored too many times, or I’m getting ready for summer (like I’m doing now)….”
Don’t get me wrong, Fekkai is a great brand, but you can find his products everywhere (including Target). I think there are more interesting brand for hair masks and that a Fekkai shampoo & conditioner set would have been a better choice from this brand.
Philip Kingsley’s Elasticizer (40 ml): (Estimated Retail: $15.00)
Nina’s Description: “Philip Kingsley, the guru of growing strong hair, produces a special product called the Elasticizer, which was originally formulated for Adurey Hepburn. It’s a miracle product that does it all. When I have a big event and need to get my hair in shape quickly, this is my go to..”
This saved Audrey Hepburn’s hair! Sign me up! This is the type of product I want in a $100 fashion box that decided to feature all hair products. This is also a treatment you use before shampooing which adds to the uniqueness of it. This one is definitely a win.
Sachajuan’s Hair Repair (100 ml): (Estimated Retail: $18.00)
Nina’s Description: “What I love about the next brand, Sachajuan, is that their products contain what they call ‘Ocean Silk Technology’. This is a combination of ocean algae used to add moisture and shine to hair. I appreciate their thoughtful and simplistic approach to haircare and I like knowing that every ingredient in the product as a role. I use Sachajuan’s Hair repair when I travel, or in season when my hair gets especially frizzy. This is my tried and true product.”
Verdict: Like, but getting overwhelmed
This is brand I’ve received in LE boxes from Popsugar and Birchbox and I really do like their products. My problem is that at this point I’m getting overwhelmed with the amount of treatments/masks. While I know they are different, it’s hard to know which one to start using. This is a subscription box, not the hair care aisle of Sephora. This is supposed to be a tight curation, not everything Nina’s ever used. Sometimes less is more.
RedKen’s Pillow Proof Blow Dry Express Primer (5.7 oz): (Estimated Retail: $22.00):
Nina’s Description: “Before I blow dry my hair, I’ll use Redken’s Pillow Proof Blow Dry Express primer. Redken is another industry staple and their area of expertise is hair proteins. They developed products composed of the same proteins as hair, so that each strand could be strengthened and repaired from inside out. This particular product does it all—it protects my hair form the heat of styling toosl, majorly cuts down on my drying time, and keeps my style for a full 24 hours. This is my protector of choice when I know I have a long day ahead of me.”
I don’t blow dry my hair too frequently, but I expected a blow dry product to be included. It’s not particularly exciting but it makes sense in the box. I haven’t tried much Redken but I don’t consider it to be too high end or luxurious. I just feel like if I can find the product at CVS it doesn’t belong in a $100 box strictly devoted to hair products.
Extreme Length Sealer by Redken (1.7 oz): (Estimated Retail: $24.00)
Nina’s Description: “ I’ll use the Extreme Length Sealer by Redken when I need long hair fast—like when I’m prepping for Project Runway or a major event.”
Verdict: More Redken and More Treatments!
This item is a problem because not all subscribers have or want long hair. In addition, this is part of a length system by Redken so it seems like to get the best effect you’d need the shampoo and “primer”. There’s already plenty of treatments and a Redken item in this box. This slot would have been much better filled with some type of styling tool.
L’Oreal’s Smooth Intense Ultimate Straight Perfecting Balm: (Estimated Retail: $5.97)
Nina’s Description: “ L’Oreal’s smooth intense ultimate straight perfecting balm goes on prior to any sort of heat usage to help keep my hair straight and frizz free all day long. It’s another perfect product for those particularly packed days and a brand that I’ve come to trust over the years.”
Verdict: In case you can’t go to CVS yourself
Yes Nina, thank you so much for introducing us to L’oreal. I’d never heard of it before. I have nothing against drugstore brands – I have and use plenty of them, including L’oreal. BUT THEY DO NOT BELONG IN A $100 BOX!
Multipurpose Pro Tools Oval Brush by Harry Josh: (Estimated Retail: $40.00)
Nina’s Description: “ I use my Multipurpose pro tools oval brush by Harry Josh on my hair every day, wet or dry. I knew Harry Josh before his career as a hairstylist, when he was a casting director for Mac Jacobs and Louis Vuitton. I was thrilled when he came out with his line of hair care. Given his background working with world-renowned brands, I knew I was going to get a quality tool that topped the list of both function and style.”
Our first (and only) tool in this box. This is what I expect from a $100 box featuring hair products: a well made, lovely looking hair brush. Most ladies can go out and splurge on a styling product or mask for $15, but most don’t have an arsenal of high end hair styling tools. This brush seems quite sturdy and I love the color. It’s the best thing in the box.
Night Cap Overnight Perfector by Living Proof (118 ml): (Estimated Retail: $28.00)
Nina’s Description: “Before bed, there is one final product I use: Nigh Cap overnight perfector by Living proof. The only thing you have to do is apply it to your hair before heading to bed, and one application will give you 5 days worth of benefits, through shampoos and all. I’ll use this right before fashion week or when I have a long stretch of filming ahead of me.”
Verdict: MOAR Treatments
Have you lost track of the number of hair treatments we have now? I know I have. Living Proof is another great brand but we’ve already been through like a million treatments. How about something more practical – styling tools, shampoos/conditioners – something to help offset the ridiculousness of $100 all on hair products, some of which come from the drugstore.
Carved Birchwood Hairpin by Masterpeace: (Estimated Retail: $???)
Nina’s Description: “To seal this box with a kiss, I have added the Carved Birch Wood Hairpin by Masterpeace. Each piece in the Russian luxury accessories line is handcrafted and you can turn to this on days when you want to put all your hair up, or in a half pony tail…it was handmade exclusively for my Quarterly box….”
Verdict: At least it’s not a hair treatment
I’m glad to see something in here that isn’t a hair treatment, unfortunately this isn’t my style and it doesn’t quite feel “sleek” to me. It also can’t be used by the folks with short hair. A headband would have been a better choice since everyone would be able to use it. Still it’s a nice change of pace and it’s an item exclusively made for this box.
Also included are a bunch inserts about the products and a 20% off card for GHD products that expired by the time we received the box (did I mention that Quarterly boxes are notorious for arriving late?). Quarterly sent subscribers an email saying they extended the date of the coupon. Sadly now that I’ve spent $100 on hair treatments I have no money to buy anything else hair related until the Fall.
Verdict: Technically has a great value, but a fail on practicality and logic
Individually most of these items are really great. Unfortunately this is a box, and the name of the game is curation. It’s also important to note that this is a $100 fashion and style box. This is a lot of money for only hair products – many of which are not even close to “luxury”. As a subscriber, I expected this box to either have a mix of fashion and hair items or be heavy on styling tools. It had neither. Technically the retail value is $223.97 (excluding the wooden hair tie) but this box has only one styling tool and is full of repetitive items. A better option would have been to have one really luxurious item (like a nice blow dryer), two treatments and the brush.
So my final letter to Nina:
I’m sorry to tell you but I’ve found someone else.
Rachel Zoe truly understands me.
She offers spoilers of the high end item in her box, always arrives on time and has a crazy tight curation.
She’s shown me everything that a $100 quarterly subscription should be, so I’m moving on.
Best of luck with your boxes and please, stay away from the hats.