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, 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 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.
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! 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, 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.