Sunday, August 3, 2014

Birchbox July Review

Well, it's 1pm on a Sunday and I'm just rolling my butt outta bed.  Eating a cold, leftover BBQ Pork sandwich from Subway and I figured, why not right about beauty products?  I can't tell you why I decided to subscribe to Birchbox.  I'm so not the girly-girl type and I totally suck at putting on make-up.  But I'm going to let you in on a little secret.  As a little girl, I was over the moon whenever my mother came home with a new Avon order.  She liked their jewelry as stocking stuffers.  I just wanted the samples.  Those miniature lipsticks were just the right size for me and I loved rubbing on perfume samples no matter how much they stank.  So when I started seeing Birchbox all over the internet. I think it sent me into flashback mode and I just had to try it.

The Breakdown
Subscription: Birchbox
Price: $10/month
Type of box: Semi-blind
Billing date: 1st of the month
Shipping date: "shipping confirmation by the 10th"
Shipping cost: Free to the US (Birchbox also has sites set up for France, Spain and the UK) 

What's the deal?
Birchbox appears to be one of the longest running subscription box services.  Each month they send out a box of five sample sized beauty products, individually customized based on a profile survey filled out by the subscriber.  I call Birchbox a semi-blind subscription because they've started offering their users the chance to choose one of the five items they will receive each month from a set selection.  Be advised: this appears to be a very new  concept for them and they haven't worked out all the bugs.  The website froze up and/or crashed on me several times when I tried to make my August selection and, by the time I was able to get through, I was told that the item I preferred was no longer available.  I'm hoping they get the kinks worked out on this because their subscribers definitely seem to enjoy it.

So, my first box arrived within a few days after shipping and I was a little shocked.  I've seen several images online of what the Birchbox looked like, but none of them quite represented the scale.  The box itself is roughly the size of a paperback book.  It comes in an easily opened outer box, which made it seem, for me, that much smaller.  But size isn't everything - at least in some situations.  Birchbox teamed up with Women's Health Magazine for July and they actually came up with a very cute box design.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I'm still a little new at this and, eager beaver that I was, I couldn't wait to open this package.  So you'll have to just trust me when I say the presentation was really lovely.  Everything was tucked neatly inside and covered up by blue tissue paper.  But that was a few days ago, and I had to play with everything before I did my review.  I promise to try taking my pictures as I open things with previous boxes but, hey, I can't make any guarantees.

The first product is this lotion that I was really happy to see because I'm a lotion addict.  Partly because I hate having dry skin, but mostly because lotion works way better than perfume in the fragrance department.  So I was incredibly disappointed to find that this stuff reeked.  Seriously.  It's supposedly made with olive oil, but it kind of reminds me more of the smell you get when you leave frier grease out too long.  Plus, they added some kind of citrus overtone - possibly to cover the oil smell - and the two just do not mix.  It's too bad really, because I've heard olive oil is great for your skin.  I just can't get past the stink.

This next product was another disappointment.  Not that there's anything wrong with it, as far as I know.  But just because I've never gotten the hang of eyeliner.  I just can't seem to avoid poking myself in the eye with it unless I make the line way too far away from my lashes, and then it just looks stupid.  So I'm not really sure what to do with this.

Here we have a perfume by Harvey Prince called Imperial Gardenia that you can see has already gotten some use.  Ha!  It was actually packaged really nicely, in a little folder with a goofy story on it, which was itself tucked away in a little red pouch.  Yeah, I'll definitely try taking pictures earlier next time!  The funny thing with this perfume was I hated it when I first smelled it.  It made me think of something an old lady in a nursing home might wear.  I accidentally got some on my shirt and had to smell like it all day.  Strangely enough, the more I smelled it, the more I liked it.  Now I may actually wind up buying the full size.  Damn.

This was probably my favorite item in the box.  You can't really make out the name here and I tossed the box - insert evil grin - but it's called a 3-minute peel.  Now I took that to mean a mask that you peeled off after it dried, kind of like the ones my mother used to love from Avon.  It's not.  It's actually this clear, scentless gel that you smear on your face and then rub until your cheeks are numb.  Okay, I'm being a little dramatic, but the fact is the stuff really seems to make your skin softer and smoother.  Of course, that's hard to tell from just one usage and the full size version is $48, but I'm really tempted to save up and buy it.  Damn, again.

The last sample in the box was this stuff and, in case you can't tell from the pictures, it was a REALLY small sample.  Turns out, that's okay.  A little goes a long way - and this is going straight in the garbage.  I had to look up what the hell CC cream is - "color correcting," for the other beauty oblivious out there.  This product claims to have a "self-adjusting shade" but when I tried it my best friend said I looked pale as death.  Um, is this mortuary makeup?  Supposedly it's a sunblock type of lotion for your face but seeing how I'm inside 23 1/2 hours a day, I don't really have a need for it.  Not to mention the fact that it slicked up after only a few hours and caused my naturally oily skin to go full oil slick.  Sorry folks, but this one's a bust.

In addition to the beauty samples, Birchbox included some other little goodies for July.  On the right is a motivational goal booklet that I'm hoping was the brainchild of Women's Health, because I'm not looking for inspiration amongst my beauty products.  In the center is a nice little card describing the products in the box and giving their full-size values.  I liked that.  Since I am admittedly a total makeup noob, I had never heard of most of these products so I appreciated a little cheat sheet letting me know what they were for.  And the last card on the left is a one-year subscription voucher to Women's Health Magazine, something I really couldn't give a crap about.  Then I saw the fine print.  At the bottom of the card it tells you how to get a $9.99 rebate instead if you don't want the magazine.  Score!

Final Judgement!
Well, this particular box wasn't really a win for me.  I have only two products that I actually intend to use and the rest will get tossed.  But, on the upside, the rebate from the magazine will cover the cost of the box, so I'm really not losing out.

Bottom line: Keep it or Trash it?
I'm going to stick with this one for now.  Even though I didn't care for much of this box, I'm not going to discount Birchbox just yet.  At $10 a box, they're one of the most affordable subscriptions out there.  They obviously put a lot of thought and creativity into their product and the products are all new to me.  Better yet, they have a great reward system that allows you to earn points for everything from signing up to reviewing their products.  And you can use those points in their store to buy the full-sizes of the sample items you liked.  So overall, this is a pretty cool service and I'm going to stick with it.

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