Birchbox: September 2014

I hadn’t even had a chance to really open my August Birchbox when I received my September box because I got it early in September.  I am hoping that I will warm to the Birchboxes with the next couple of boxes, because so far I feel kind of ‘meh’ about it. Though I do like that they include some “lifestyle” items each month too because it’s nice to get the other little treats and to sample things over than beauty products.

The September Birchbox was all about reminiscing about happy times and memories in honour of back to school time.  It’s funny that even when it has been years and years since starting school in September was a thing I worried about, I still feel like it is the start of something new.  Since obviously, I’m not headed back to school (thankfully), Birchbox is looking more towards the “you’re never too old to learn” end of things.  The one thing that really got me excited in this month’s box is the Beauty Blender sponge.  I’ve been hearing about this makeup sponge for a while now but I’ve been too cheap to buy one to try.  The other items in the box were just okay, other than the sponge there was nothing that made me really thrilled.  Unfortunately, I’ve only had a chance to try a couple of these out so far, and neither of those was the Beauty Blender.

Beauty Blender & Solkid Cleanser
Beauty Blender & Solkid Cleanser

Beauty Blender and BlenderCleanser Solid, full size sponge and 0.558 ounce cleanser.  I guess I’ll start with the best item first.  Seriously, I think I did a little dance when I saw this in my box this month.  I have been hearing about this sponge and how wonderful it is for a long time now but the steep price put me off buying one.  I don’t use a makeup sponge to apply my foundation now, so I was reluctant to splash out more than £15.00 on trying something out that I didn’t even sort of know if I would like or not.  So I’m thrilled that now I get to try it out for no additional money out of my pocket.  I would have felt better paying that if I used sponges and loved them but wanted something that would last longer.  Apparently, the beauty of the Beauty Blender is that it has this cool elliptical shape (patent pending) which is supposed to make applying your foundation effortless and so easy that even I can do it with spectacular results.  To use this you just wet the sponge, then squeeze it out so it is damp but not soaking wet, dot on your foundation and then use the sponge to stipple your foundation across your face, then once you’re done rinse and clean the sponge.  For the full information on how to use this, you can check out the Beauty Blender website.  I’m not sure if this really works all that differently than a regular makeup sponge but I’m looking forward to giving it a try.  I normally use either my fingers or a brush to apply my foundation, and can get really good results that way.  But I’m always open to trying something new, especially if it could give my foundation a better finish.  The reviews for the Beauty Blender are fantastic, everyone seems to love it and think that it works miracles.  There are 98 reviews for it at Amazon UK and 76 of them are five star reviews and 10 are four star reviews.  Plus, it is always being mentioned as the miracle tool on makeup blogs and videos and in magazines.  This little sponge has a lot to live up to, so I’ll be interested to see the results for myself.

In the Birchbox you get not just the Beauty Blender but also a 0.558 ounce solid round of cleanser to use with your sponge.  The has a super clean, lavender scent and is about half the size of the full sized bar that you can buy for £11.50.  You can buy the same package with the sponge and cleanser for £26.00 at Beauty Blender’s website.  On the Beauty Blender website their kit includes a full sized solid cleanser, so it’s a bit better than the kit that I received from Birchbox.  Of course, for just a wee bit more, you can buy the two separately at Amazon UK; the sponge is £15.50 and the cleanser is £11.50, so £27.00 total.  I’m guessing the cleanser is not really worth that price, so I think I would be tempted to buy just the sponge and use any type of decent soap to clean it.  But you’ve definitely got to use something to clean it because there’s a lot of icky stuff that hangs around on stuff like this and you don’t want that to be transferred to your skin and give you a nasty breakout.

Korres Citrus Shower Gel
Korres Citrus Shower Gel

Korres Citrus Shower Gel, 50ml bottle.  This has a great deep citrusy lemon scent that will definitely give you a wake up during your morning shower.  I’ve tried a bunch of Korres bath and shower products not too long ago during a hotel stay and found the shower gel to be quite nice.  The hotel had the citrus shower gel, but when they replenished they gave us the basil lemon shower gel that I think I liked even better.  There are a bunch of different scents, so whatever kind of mood you are in, they probably have a scent for you.  Korres is a Greek brand that was developed by a homeopathic pharmacy with the goal of using their knowledge and research to create formulations using natural ingredients.  The Korres shower gels are good because they do a little more than just clean your skin because they leave it nicely moisturized throughout the day.  Here’s a bit about the ingredients that leave your skin feeling great:

Wheat proteins form a protective film on the skin, thus maintaining its natural moisture levels. Active aloe juice, rich in vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc and antioxidant enzymes, enhances the immune system of the skin. Furthermore, due to its ability to stimulate collagen and elastin synthesis, aloe vera gel retards skin ageing.

I’ll be honest, when I first tried these products at the hotel I didn’t know anything about the brand and figured it was just some hotel thing.  The soaps and gels were so lovely smelling though that I’m glad to find out that you can actually buy them and I don’t have to keep staying at hotels and collecting the little bottles.  The full sized 250ml shower gels can be found at Amazon UK for varying prices ranging from £6.00 to £8.00 depending on the scent.  The citrus shower gel is just £6.49 at Amazon, which seems a reasonable price since it isn’t just your average run of the mill shower gel or soap.  Alternatively, you can get any of the 250ml shower gels for £8.00 at FeelUnique.

Benefit It's Potent Eye Cream
Benefit It’s Potent Eye Cream

Benefit It’s Potent Eye Cream, 0.1 ounce pot.  This is part of Benefit’s Radiant Skincare collection.  I’ve tried a couple of the other products in the lineup before and wasn’t overwhelmed with the results.  The packaging is cute though, but there’s only so far that can get a product.  The It’s Potent Eye Cream is supposed to be good for fading dark circles, as well as smoothing fine lines because it contains a peptide complex known to help restore elasticity & firmness, as well as a blend of hydrating botanical extracts and loquat extract, known to help protect the skin from free radical damage.  I like a lot of Benefit products, but I’m not that impressed with their skin care and this isn’t an exception.  I’ve used this a couple of times and it hasn’t stunned me with fabulous results at this point.  Not to mention, the little sample jar is so small that I find it annoying to try to use it.  I’ve been using a cotton bud instead (more hygienic that way too) so that I can actually get some out reasonably easily now.  My eyes seem to find this a bit irritating but that might just be in comparison to the Vichy Liftactiv product that I use now that is completely eye friendly.  The Benefit eye cream takes a minute or so to absorb after you apply it, but once it does you’re not left with a sticky feeling or anything bad like that, you can’t really tell it’s there at all.  It has made my eyes feel a little stingy or irritated though, but they were at least well hydrated while being irritated.  It hydrates well but doesn’t seem to have much impact on dark circles or lines, at least not after a few days of use.  I might just need to use it for a bit longer though to get the full results.

You can buy the full 0.5 ounce pot at Benefit for £25.50 through their website, or at their stores or in department stores I’m guessing.  The price is probably about average for eye creams from a decent skin care brand.  I wouldn’t buy this because I don’t think it is as good or as effective as other eye creams that I’ve used though.

Agave Hair Oil Treatment
Agave Hair Oil Treatment

Agave Healing Oil Hair Treatment, 4ml vial.  I’m planning to try this sometime this week, but haven’t had a chance to do so yet.  I should have taken this with me on our holiday this weekend because the shampoo at the hotel was horrible.  As a result of using lousy shampoo for the last four days my hair is in need of some love, and I think this agave oil could be just the thing.  This is a very lightweight oil that is supposed to smooth and hydrate your hair while boosting colour and shine.  I think it is especially good for those with colour treated or processed hair resulting in dry, damaged hair, as well as those of us with a tendency towards frizzy hair (like me).  At this time of year when the amount of rain we’re having seems to be on the rise, I really need something that can keep my frizziness in check so that I don’t look like a human version of a chia pet.  I’ve used hair oils before to varying results.  My hair texture is very fine so it can get weighed down with things like this, but I’m hoping that from my very quick test on a little bit of hair that I won’t have that problem with this oil.  Here’s a bit about how the Agave oil does its thing:

Unlike heavy nut oils, Agave oil with it’s plant extract conditions hair without the weight, building strength and resiliency, while helping boost vibrancy and color. Amino sugars lock moisture inside of the hair, adding strength, resiliency and elasticity. Beneficial botanicals coconut, vanilla, sunflower, and safflower are blended with Madagascar baobab seed oil to nourish and transform hair’s outer layer. Ideal for all types of hair: fine, medium and course textures.  And it’s free of the stuff that’s not so good for your locks: parabens, sulfates, and phthalates.

I’m really looking forward to trying this out and seeing if it can tame my frizzy hair while still leaving it shiny.  The good thing is that you can use this on either damp or dry hair, so you don’t have to decide when your hair is still wet if you want to use it or not.  I like products that give me the opportunity to style my hair before I determine if I need a little help.  The only place I’ve found to purchase this in the UK is through Birchbox, but you can at least get this in two different sizes from them.  You can get a 120ml pump bottle for £27.00 or a 60ml pump for £16.00.  Since a little bit of this (or any oil) goes a long, long way, the 60 ml bottle is probably a size that can keep your hair soft and lovely for a very long time.

 

ModelCo Power Lash Mascara
ModelCo Power Lash Mascara

ModelCo Power Lash Mascara, 5ml tube. I believe this is a a sample size product, though I can’t verify that because they don’t list the product amounts on the ModelCo website, which is annoying and less than helpful.  I had heard of this brand before but I’ve never tried any of the products though.  I had actually thought it was a cheap, low end brand, if I’m honest.  With all of that negative stuff said, I will say that this mascara is really nice if you’re going for a long lashed but natural look.  The formula is nice and goes on without clumping or sticking together.  And that, combined with the brush that has rather a lot of thick, chunky looking bristles means that each lash gets a nice coating of mascara that separates the lashes but adds a lot of length.  You could easily put this on and not look like you were wearing mascara at all, just like you have enviably long lashes.  The brush also works well for the very small, delicate lower lashes too.  I’m impressed that they look so natural and long.  It is really like your lashes have just grown.  The only place I have found does get clumpy is the lip of the tube when you pull the brush out or push it back in.  For some reason when you do that it makes a huge mess and you end up having a build up of mascara around the lip of the tube which is wasteful.

And you are going to be worried about the waste because this isn’t a very big tube since it is just 5 grams, which is smaller than any other mascara that I have right now (from a variety of brands from L’Oreal to Lancome).  And at £24.00 for a tube of this, I want to not waste a smidgen of it!  I think the price is pretty steep considering that you’re not getting as much as you would from other mascaras that are about the same price.  Of course, that is all predicated on this 5ml tube being full sized.  If this is indeed a half size sample, then it is pretty much the same price as other quality mascaras and a fair value considering how nicely it goes on and how super it makes your lashes look.  The only place I could find this was at the ModelCo website where it sells for £24.00 for a tube of unknown size.

Urban Fruit Magnificent Mango
Urban Fruit Magnificent Mango

Urban Fruit Magnificent Mango Snack Pack, 35 gram bag.  I love mango anything.  I love mango nectar or ice cream or drinks or just the fruit or mango scented lotions.  Really, mango is my favourite fruit and I eat it all the time dried or fresh or as nectar or juice.  I’m a big fan, as you can probably tell.  What I’m not a big fan of was what the Urban Fruit people did to this mango.  They say it is “just fruit, gently baked”.  But I’m not sure about that gently part.  The fruit was really tough and had lost any semblance of moisture or juiciness and as a result, good flavour.  And I know that just because you dry fruit doesn’t mean it needs to turn into something resembling wood.  I eat dried mango all the time and it still has a lot of softness and moisture to it.  So, that made me very sad.  What is good though is that they don’t use preservatives or added sugars when they make this.  If they could just get down how to bake it without killing the flavour and goodness of it, I think they’d be on to something.

You can get a 100 gram bag of this at your favourite local supermarket like Tesco, Ocado, Waitrose, or ASDA for £1.97 regularly, though right now everyone but Waitrose has it on sale for two bags for £3.50 or £1.75 for a 100 gram bag.  If mango isn’t your obsession like me, then you’ll be glad to hear that Urban Fruit is made with a number of different fruit options, including strawberries and pineapple.

Birchbox Photo Clip
Birchbox Photo Clip

Birchbox Happy Days Photo Clip.  This is a cute little way to hold a photo, or even just notes or cards, on your desk, table or mantle.  And what’s nice is this means that you don’t have to worry about getting a frame that is the right size or anything like that.  I’ve been using this to hold notes to myself on my desk because otherwise I tend to not notice them.  I don’t usually print out pictures now because I have them all on my computer.  However, since getting this cute little photo clip I’ve thought I should get a nice picture of Dave and me to put on my desk.  Maybe I should make a note about that.

How does this Birchbox stack up on value:

  • Beauty Blender and BlenderCleanser Solid, full size sponge and 0.558 ounce cleanser: £26.00 value.
  • Benefit It’s Potent Eye Cream, 0.1 ounce pot:  £5.10 value.
  • Korres Citrus Shower Gel, 50ml bottle:  £1.30 value.
  • ModelCo Power Lash Mascara, 5ml tube: £12.00 value.
  • Agave Healing Oil Hair Treatment, 4ml vial: £0.90 value.
  • Urban Fruit Magnificent Mango Snack Pack, 35 gram bag: £0.61 value.
  • Birchbox Happy Days Photo Clip: £1.00 value.
  • Total Value: £46.91

Thanks to the value of the Beauty Blender, the value of the September Birchbox more than covered the subscription fee.  I am most surprised by the value of that little teeny tiny pot of Benefit It’s Potent Eye cream.  I look at that little tub and can’t imagine it is worth that amount because it just seems so so small.  I feel like the value of the box was good, but for some reason I’ve just not been that enthused overall by my Birchboxes.  Maybe it was just the craziness of moving and all of that leaving feeling not that energetic about anything in a box.  I’m hoping that by the time my October box gets here I’m able to get excited by unpacking a box full of little treats.

Birchbox: August 2014

I got my first Birchbox in August, right before we moved.  I have to say, I wasn’t overwhelmingly impressed with my first foray into Birchbox.  I was thinking they would have more full sized products but they seem all about the small sample sizes instead (that’s what was in my second box too).  So that is a bit disappointing and definitely makes me glad that I was able to get a good deal through LivingSocial now.  I’m thinking of it as a good way to get to try new things and brands.

The August 2014 Birchbox was themed “Away We Go” to celebrate summer getaways.  The box had five beauty items, I think one of them might have been full sized, plus there was a single chapter of a book.  And it came packaged in a clear plastic pouch that you could take with you on a plane without security going nuts.  The pouch is kind of handy but probably smaller than full airline security needs it to be, but it does have a handy zip top closure to keep all of your stuff secure without a big hassle.  I’ll probably use it for short weekend trips since I never take as much products then.  The products are all geared toward travel too, not just because of the small size, but because of what they do, so they worked with their theme well I would say.  There’s only one product that is a total “no” for me (the first review below), so that is really good.  I haven’t read the book and doubt I will and I’m not reviewing it here.  If I want to sample a book chapter, I can do that on my Kindle without wasting paper (hint, hint Birchbox).

Dead Sea Spa Magik Refreshing Bath Shower Gel
Dead Sea Spa Magik Refreshing Bath Shower Gel

Dead Sea Spa Magik Refreshing Bath Shower Gel, 25ml tube.  You can add this to a bath or apply it in the shower to get nicely moisturized skin.  The moisturizing part it does do well, but it’s got a bit of a scent issue, in my opinion.  In the tube it smells like old fashioned Oil of Olay or maybe makeup remover.  Whatever it is, it doesn’t smell good and definitely smells like my grandma’s bathroom.  So, I’m not a huge fan of the scent straight on the tube and unfortunately, you are left with a trace of that smell on your skin once you’ve used it.  It certainly isn’t as potent after I’ve washed with it, but definitely I can still smell it.  But hey, at least it is allergen-free fragrance.  Let’s talk about the good stuff.  The good thing is that it does make your skin feel soft and lovely after you’ve used it.  Here’s all the ways Finders Health (the maker) says it will help your skin:  Helps to prevent dryness, Helps maintain skin’s elasticity and texture, Makes you feel revitalised and relaxed, Leaves body refreshed and moisturised, Rejuvenates appearance of skin, Relaxes your body and mind.  I will point out that they are a bit repetitive with their list, but I won’t dwell on that.  They use something called harmonised water which they don’t really explain but has something to do with using Dead Sea water as the base.  But that doesn’t really say much about how it is going to be helpful or beneficial to my skin.  The shower gel is paraben free, so that’s a point in their favour.

Somehow it does make my skin feel soft but overall, it isn’t something I’d be likely to buy a full size of because of the scent which I just can’t get past.  You can buy it on the high street at places like Holland & Barrett, Debenhams and John Lewis.  The full size is 350ml bottle that you can pick up for £7.15, and judging from the reviews at John Lewis, I am the only person that doesn’t like the smell.  For something that does pretty much the same thing for my skin, I prefer La Roche-Posay Lipikar Surgras even if it is more expensive.

Wild About Beauty Eyeshadow
Wild About Beauty Eyeshadow

Wild About Beauty Powder Eyeshadow, 2.5 gram full size compact.  This isn’t that big but is a regular full size compact, and is actually a perfect size for popping in your bag or taking with you on a trip.  The colour I received was “Aine” which is a great neutral golden colour with a bit of an orange undertone.  The shadow looks really nice on and has great colour that lasts really well.  The shadow is highly pigmented and fortified with good things like aloe vera and vitamins E and C, all of which will keep your skin healthy and looking good.  There are five colours in this same formulation and they all look really wearable for a neutral eye look.  I love the deep purple that they have called “Heather” and might consider picking it up after I give this one a few more tries to see how it holds up to a really long day or night out.  The colour I received is great for taking with you on a trip if you want to pack super light and have just a single colour of eyeshadow because it is neutral and could work for either a day or night look, though you’d definitely want to jazz it up a bit for night with more eye liner and mascara.

You can apply this eyeshadow with a brush or your finger, though I prefer the control of a brush.  They also suggest you can apply it with a wet brush to create a more dramatic look; I’ve not tried that though.  You can pick this eyeshadow up at FeelUnique for £13.00.  Since it seems like a nice eyeshadow, plus it is free of nasty things like parabens and petrochemicals, I think the price is probably reasonable.

No 4 Super Comb Prep & Protect
No 4 Super Comb Prep & Protect

Number 4 Super Comb Prep & Protect, 30ml spray bottle.  This is a leave-in conditioner that is designed to protect your hair against heat and sun.  Naturally, that makes it perfect for a holiday.  I love stuff like this when I’m going to the beach because sun can be really hard on your hair, as can the salt water or pool water.  And if you colour your hair, you definitely need something to give you some help with the sun which can really zap your colour.  And if you’re not hanging at the beach or pool, you can always use it just to keep your hair tangle free and nice.  Of course, things like this are perfect for protecting your hair from heat styling tools like blowdryers or straighteners too.  I’ve only used this once but thought it worked pretty well even on my very fine hair.  I tried it on a day when it was humid and my hair usually gets a bit frizzy but it seemed to keep the frizz down to a minimum.  The smell is also really nice with a bit of a florally thing going on, but isn’t that overly fragranced.

Super Comb Prep and Protect is easy to use too.  All you need to do is spritz it onto your damp hair and comb through, then just style like normal.  It is that easy!  The results are good too, so you can’t really ask for more than that.  But if you could you might want it to be free of nasties, and this totally is: it is 100% vegan, as well as free of gluten, sulfate, parabens, and sodium chloride.  The full size 200ml spray bottle seems to only be available through Birchbox in the UK, which I find a bit annoying.  You can buy it at Birchbox for £20.00 though.  The price might seem a bit steep, but it is about the same as the Phyto leave-in conditioner and protectant product that I use (I don’t think I’ve done a review of this yet but I love it).  I’ll have to try the No. 4 product more before I can judge if it is better than the Phyto product for my hair.  I might take it on my upcoming holiday to give it a good try.

Vasanti Brighten Up!
Vasanti Brighten Up!

Vasanti Brighten Up! Enzymatic Face Rejuvenator, 20ml tube.  This is an exfoliating face wash that is designed to refine your skin texture while leading to a brighter appearance to your skin too.  Vasanti uses papaya extracts along with micro-crystals to help you get a better texture to your skin and rejuvenate your skin’s appearance.  They also have added in some other things to help your skin too:  aloe vera, coconut and panthenol.  The micro-crystals mean that unlike some exfoliation products for you face this one has a really fine texture so you don’t feel like you are scrubbing the top three layers of your skin off.  It does leave you with a soft feeling to your skin that doesn’t feel irritated and too scrubbed.  Here’s what they say about how this product works on the Vasanti website:

Triple Action Formula:
1. Powerful papaya enzymes break down dead skin cells to help progressively smooth your skin’s surface and uncover a healthy radiant glow.
2. Dermatologist-grade Microderm Crystals at 25%, work to stimulate and exfoliate your skin to help smooth and reduce the appearance of fine lines, scars and blemishes. Many dermatologists use these same crystals for their microdermabrasion treatments.
3. Aloe vera, coconut, panthenol along with a mild cleansing gel keeps your skin hydrated and refreshed and helps soothe the skin during the exfoliation process

I’ve only used this once so far, so I don’t feel like I have really tried it enough to know how it will work for my skin with regular use.  However, based on my initial try I think it is something I’m going to like.  Though, how well it will work to brighten up my skin’s appearance is still to be seen.  I have a couple of different facial exfoliants that I use, and generally I do think your skin looks best if you use a gentle exfoliator three times per week.

Along with being 100% vegan and 99% natural, Brighten Up! is free of gluten, parabens, mineral oil and petrolatum, sulfates, GMO’s, and Triclosan.  This is a North American brand, so it seems sort of hard to find in the UK.  You can get it through the Birchbox shop or through Amazon UK though.  Each place sells it for £26.00 for the full sized 120ml tube.  The reviews at both places, as well as the Vasanti website, are all really positive and everyone seems to rave about this product, so I’m looking forward to fully trying it out.

NUDE ProGenius Treatment Oil
NUDE ProGenius Treatment Oil

NUDE ProGenius Treatment Oil, 5ml pump bottle.  This is seemingly the perfect thing to keep your face hydrated either on the plane or when you are actually on holiday.  This oil has all kinds of good things for your skin, like omegas 3,6,7 and 9 to reduce the signs of aging, as well as 10 carefully selected plant oils that hydrate and smooth your skin.  I really like facial oils because they seems to deliver the good stuff right to your skin in a more efficient way than creams and they absorb quickly too.  I also think they are often lighten in texture so you can easily wear them under your foundation or regular products and get all the benefits without feeling like you have a bunch of heavy layers on your skin.   The ProGenius oil is really lightweight but very nourishing and on a regular day around the house, has managed to keep my skin feeling soft and well great all day long.  I’ve tried this a couple of times and think I will definitely use it for my next plane ride to keep my skin extra hydrated.

You just need a tiny, tiny amount of this for it to be useful to your skin, so two drops should be all you need.  After you’ve cleansed your skin, put a couple of drops onto your skin and rub it in.  I’ve sometimes found with facial oils that if my skin is feeling particularly dehydrated that an extra drop is needed.  This works so well under makeup or my regular moisturizer that I’m a fan.  But the price is pretty steep, so I’m not sure if I’ll splurge on getting the full sized version of this.  You can find the full sized 30ml bottle at Birchbox or SpaceNK for £58.00.

So, how does my first Birchbox stack up on value:

  • Dead Sea Spa Magik Refreshing Bath Shower Gel, 25ml tube:  £0.51 value.
  • Wild About Beauty Powder Eyeshadow, 2.5 gram full size compact: £13.00 value.
  • Number 4 Super Comb Prep & Protect, 30ml spray bottle: £3.00 value.
  • Vasanti Brighten Up! Enzymatic Face Rejuvenator, 20ml tube: £4.33 value.
  • NUDE ProGenius Treatment Oil, 5ml pump bottle: £9.67 value.
  • Total Value: £30.51

I’ll be honest, this box didn’t seem to have that much value in it, but it did pretty well when I actually tallied it up.  I paid £38.00 for a six month Birchbox subscription, including the shipping, which means £6.33 per month.  So, I think I came out surprisingly well overall with £24.18 worth of product value over the cost of the box.  Luckily there was just the one product, the shower gel, that I don’t like and probably won’t want to really use, and it was even the cheapest one in the box.  I must say, I am pleasantly surprised because I didn’t really think the Birchbox subscription was going to prove to be worth it when I first opened the little tiny box.

Great Birchbox Deal from LivingSocial UK

It looks like good things do come to those who wait.  I’ve been putting off signing up for Birchbox but finally I’ve found a deal that is so great, I just couldn’t help but be tempted into a six month Birchbox subscription.

Save 50% on a 6 month Birchbox subscription
Save 50% on a 6 month Birchbox subscription

Birchbox is a lot like Glossybox in that it is a beauty box where you can get a selection of five interesting beauty products every month to try out.  I love the whole concept because it can introduce you to some really great items and help you find your next favourite thing.  This is great for a beauty neophyte like myself.  I’ve discovered tons of great new products that I love and feel like I couldn’t live without from Glossybox.  So, I’m hoping Birchbox lives up to that, and maybe is even better.

Birchbox, also much like Glossybox, isn’t exactly cheap.  Though, of course, it is definitely less than it would be if you had to buy full sizes of all the great products you get to try out.  A subscription is £10.00 per month with a fee of £2.95 per month for shipping, so really you’ll pay £12.95 per month for your box.  It’s also the same for a six month subscription, or £77.70, they don’t actually give you a break on pricing until you get a full year subscription.

Normally a six month subscription would be £60.00 with another £17.70 for shipping for the six months, but thanks to LivingSocial you can save a bundle on that price.  For the next seven days, you can purchase a deal from LivingSocial where you get a six month Birchbox subscription for just £30.00!  Yeah, half price.  Plus, you’ll get a big savings of slightly more than half price on the shipping too which will cost £8.00 instead of the normal £17.70 for all six months; you pay the shipping price directly to Birchbox when you sign up.  That is a great deal since you are saving £39.70!  Woot!  You’ve got to like that kind of deal, huh?  The only catch at all is that you have to be a new Birchbox customer.

So, if you want to get a six month subscription to Birchbox, this is the perfect opportunity!  If you haven’t signed up with LivingSocial before, this is a good time to do that too.  It’s pretty quick and they have a ton of great deals on all kinds of services, products, and even holidays.  So, go check out the deal at LivingSocial.

Birchbox US: August 2013

Birchbox US: August 2013
Birchbox US: August 2013

After I signed up for Glossybox I encouraged my sister to sign up for either that or Birchbox in the US since she is all about the cosmetics.  I figured it would be something she would really like because she enjoys trying all kinds of new products and this is the perfect way to try out new brands, as well.  She decided to give both Glossybox and Birchbox a shot, to see which would be more in tune with her.  Sadly, her Glossybox subscription hasn’t gotten off to a great start because it got lost in the mail or something, so they had to send it out again at the very end of August.  I’m hoping they have some really great products in there to make up for the lateness.  Her first Birchbox though, showed up in a reasonable time, but that’s where the good stuff stopped.

For those of you that aren’t aware, Birchbox and Glossybox are both subscription beauty boxes.  Once per month you get a box full of lovely little samples, or even full sized products, delivered right to your door.  It’s a great way to try new brands, new products, and step out of your beauty rut.  In the US, Birchbox is $10.00 per month and Glossybox is $21.00 per month.

My sister has this knack for getting great samples from all of the cosmetics counters in any department store.  It’s her super power really.  So, she was really hoping that the things in her Birchbox would be better than what she could get from the department store, for free.  Not so much.  She was vastly disappointed in the contents of the box, not just what was in it, but the sizes too.  Seriously, it was so much worse than what I get from Glossybox, I thought she was kidding at first.  But you can see from the photo of the box where she’s holding one of the items up, they’re all beyond small.

Birchbox US: Tiny Samples
Birchbox US: Tiny Samples

So, here’s what was in the box, all of the full sized prices are from the Birchbox shop:

  • Jasmine Seven Fresh Feet Wipes, 2 individual wipes.  Full size is 3 packs of 10 wipes for $9.95.
  • uniqONE All In One Hair Treatment, less than 1 ounce I’d guess.  Full size is $17.99.
  • COOLA SPF 45 Sport – Mango, 0.169 fluid ounces.  Full size is 5 ounces for $32.00.
  • Dr. Jart+ Premium Beauty Balm SPF 45+, 0.17 fluid ounces.  Full size is 1.5 fluid ounces for $39.00.
  • Color Club Nail Laquer from the Wanderlust Collection, 0.25 fluid ounces.  Full size is 0.5 fluid ounces for $8.00.

Pretty much the only thing that my sister liked in the whole box was the nail polish. She said it was a nice color and had good coverage too.  However, the rest of the samples were not impressive.  And really, what in the heck is a foot wipe?  Apparently, it is like a Wet-One for your feet.  I guess this is for people that run around a lot without their shoes on, but that seems a limited group.  And it seems like a lame sample to include in a beauty box.  They might have been better off just including one for you to try and throwing in something better, and bigger.  The COOLA people had a teeny little sample in my first Glossybox too, it seemed silly small in comparison to the other samples.  I guess they always just give out these ridiculously small smaples.  You’d think someone that has such expensive products could provide something a bit bigger than a single use sample.

I’ve done some digging around on the Birchbox site to see what the selection of items was for the August box, and was amazed to see that there were some really great things, including whole makeup palettes.  But my sister didn’t get any of those.  And actually, I found out that the nail lacquer that she received was one of a four pack that was in the July box!  So that is very,very uncool and seems a little shady.  So, not only were the sizes ridiculously small, but she didn’t even get a nice selection.  And then to add insult to injury, got leftovers from the July boxes.  I’m sort of shocked that they didn’t stick her with the cheap bobby pins too.

You would think that since this was her first box they would have tried quite hard to make it seem like something she wanted to continue.  Luckily, she has only signed up for the month-to-month subscription so she can easily drop it if the boxes continue to be so lacklustre.  Personally, I think I would cancel after discovering that they sent me leftovers and that the samples were so miniscule.  Actually, I was using her Birchbox as a gauge to see if I would try it here in the UK, but after such an abysmal first showing, I think I’ll just stick to Glossybox.   I’m just really hoping that the Glossybox proves to be much, much better  for her and that they include a couple of full sized items like I usually get here (especially since it is quite a bit more in price).  At this point though, I have to say I think it would be hard for her Glossybox to end up being worse than the sad little Birchbox.