Wednesday, March 11, 2015

6 Month Review of Birchbox

One of the things I like to do is step back and assess my every growing collection of beauty items and subscriptions and see what is working for me and what is not working anymore and needs to be adjusted. I've received 6 different Birchboxes so I think now would be a good time to do a review of them again and see how my thoughts have changed over the months. I did this for my Ipsy bag back when I still had an Ipsy subscription and it really helped me cement my decision to cancel. Now I have no intention of cancelling my Birchbox, I'm still enjoying it and really have no complaints at all.

My very first Birchbox was in September, which was also their anniversary month, so the actual box was in a fun print instead of the standard brown. I received 6 items in this box, one of which was a bonus item called a Birchbox Find (do they still do these?), and I ended up liking 4.5 out of the 6. So not a perfect box but I did enjoy it and I though it was a good starter box. The first item was the Birchbox exclusive scent of Whish shaving cream, Acai Grapefruit. This was a really good shaving cream, but at $20 a tube I won't be repurchasing it. But if someone wants to give me some I would use it for sure. Next was the Vasanti Enzyme face scrub, which I just finished last month actually. I really loved this and it ended up lasting me for quite a while. The Birchbox find was the dual ended Chapstick, and I only liked the blue side. The yellow side dried my lips out so bad, so I chucked it as soon as I finished the blue side. This might be the first chapstick I've ever finished. The first makeup item was the TEMPTU highlighter, which I do like but I find it to be harder to blend sometimes so I don't use it as often as I'd like. The color is gorgeous though so I'm glad I got it. I received my first high end face primer this box too, a Dr Brandt Pores No More one. I'm still not 100% on the face primer bandwagon, but this is a pretty good primer I think. Helped my foundation go on smoother and did fill in some of my pores, but not enough that I'd call it Pores No More. Not a bad primer but not up to what I expect of primers in general. The last item was a complete miss for me and I can't believe I actually forced myself to use the whole tube up. The Dr Jart+ Black Label Detox BB Cream was a gross, greasy mess on my face. I looked like I had slathered on Vaseline, it was nasty. The total value of this box was $17.78, so pretty low in retrospect.

My October Birchbox is my favorite box to date, even 6 months later. I bought two full sized versions of the items I received, so that's the sign of a good box right there. As you can see I received 5 items, one of which was a full size. Picking a favorite from this box is hard, but if you twisted my arm I would say the Beauty Protector spray is it. I've bought 2 full sized bottles of it and a set of some of the other things the company has made. I just did a whole post on them so I won't go into it now. My next favorite item is the Revealed 2 sample palette, which I also bought a full sized palette of (and reviewed here). This little quad is the perfect size and color combo and it currently lives in my makeup bag. Loved it. The full sized item I received was a ModelCo Lipstick in Kitty, and I wear this at least once a week. I like to call it "my lips but better", it is the perfect neutral/nude color. I will eventually pick up the rest of the lipsticks in this line, they all look like a shade I'd wear for sure. The blue tube is the Dr. Brandt Pores No More Vacuum Cleaner, which is to this day the best blackhead removing cleanser I've found. I just wish it was about $10 cheaper, Dr Brandt is an expensive brand unfortunately. The last item is actually one I've yet to use, I have so much eye cream that I just stuck this into my swap box and there it has stayed. This box had a really high value, totaling $41.72, and I loved every item that I actually used. I don't know if this box will ever be topped but I'm excited to see.

November's Birchbox imay be my least favorite box out of the six I've received so far. Almost everything was a complete miss for me minus one item I loved. I received 5 items and a bonus chocolate treat, which is still the only edible goodie I've received in a box. The only item I liked was the Jouer Tinted Moisturizer, which made my skin look like a glowing goddess. I seriously want to buy tubes of this and give it to everybody I know. To bad it is almost $40 a tube, which is about $30 more than I like to spend on foundation. The sad life of a broke beauty blogger. Now onto the total fail item, the Number 4 leave in conditioner. This is suppose to do all the same things the Beauty Protector does, but instead of leaving my hair looking like silk that also smells like cupcakes it left my hair smelling like a hamster cage. People have actually accused me of lying about this, which is seriously batshit you guys. I promise I have not lied about how awful this smells, I swear on my favorite lipstick. I also received an Eyeko eyeshadow crayon, which has just been one big disappointment. I did eventually get it to sort of last if I topped it with an eyeshadow, but it would not apply over primer at all. This was the only full sized item so I was pretty bummed. This box was the first with a perfume sample, which I knew I'd hate without even smelling it. I'm super picky about perfume, so I'm 99.9% sure Birchbox will never send me a perfume sample I like. The Harvey Prince sample wasn't awful but I didn't like it at all so I gifted it to a friend who adores perfume of every variety. The last item was an overpriced hand cream by Camille Beckman that did smell pretty good but wasn't worth the price tag. This box had a value of $16.77, so it was actually the lowest value box I've received from Birchbox. This box failed on several different layers then I guess.

December's Birchbox was another pretty patterned one, though I can't for the life of me remember why it was patterned. This box has items I was super excited to try, but in the end wasn't a total winner for me. I'd call it a good box but not a great box, though it was a huge box. I had seven items total in December, plus a $10 gift card to the GAP, which was a fun little bonus (minus the huge pain in the ass it was to actually get it). First up was a set of hair stuff from Davine. There was a foil packet of shampoo, one of conditioner, then a spray bottle of this plumping spray. The shampoo and conditioner were ok, I got two uses out of each. Crazy expensive though, so even if I did actually love then I wouldn't buy full sized. The hair plumper has a very strong chemical smell and I really haven't noticed any difference in the thickness/volume of my hair. What I have noticed though is this stuff dries the crap out of my hair. I'm fine using it on my roots once a week but if this gets sprayed below ear level my hair becomes straw. That was a huge let down, I really wanted to like this spray. The Coola BB Cream was such a miss, I'm actually still a bit cranky about it, I feel like the product was one big lie. The color was non-existent, and there was barely any in that giant tube. I think I got 3 or 4 full faces out of it. I ended up just using it as sunscreen and applying it under my foundation. The first product that I did like was the Essential Elements Rosemary Mint shower gel. Now that was a scent to wake you up in the morning, and it had a pretty good lather when used with my mesh loofah sponge. If this was about $10 a bottle cheaper I'd get a full sized one for sure. I liked the scent enough that I got the matching lotion a few boxes later. The item I started out not liking and ended up really liking was the Sum!ta eyeliner in that burnished gold. I love it for a neutral eye look, softer than black but with this really interesting pop of color. The formula is just the right level of firm and soft, I'm really happy with this. I use it at least once a week and am seriously considering buying a few full sized ones in different colors. And the last item was the Yu-Be moisturizing cream, which ended up getting Holy Grail status. It is the perfect face lotion/protector for my toddler's face during the cold and windy winter months. No wind burn at all this winter, and for where I live that's pretty impressive. I even use it on my hands to keep them from cracking during the cold months, so this was a great find. I've already bought a full sized tube and I know it will be a staple in my household. The value of this box was $36.32, and that's not including the $10 gift card. Not a bad value at all, though not the best box in the whole world.

Januray's Birchbox was the start of their new "every month is a patterned box" thing, which I think is neat. The actual box has been turned into a face painting kit for my box, in case anybody was curious. I do use all of my boxes in some fashion. In retrospect this box was kind of a let down. No real stand out items, no favorites, not even an item I hated. It was just kind of "meh". This was the first box that I picked a sample for, the matching lotion to last box's shower gel. And it smells great just like the Rosemary Mint soap did, but it's a really basic lotion. I use it more for the scent than the moisturizing aspect. I did receive a very expensive face mask, running at $125 for a full sized tub, so that was fun to use but honestly it was a really basic mask. My Freeman Beauty masks do more for my skin than this did. The fact that they want to charge you that much for it is obscene to be honest. The Klorane dry shampoo, this time tinted for brown hair, was a good item to get and I've been saving it for my next trip. But the fact that some dry shampoo is the most exciting thing says a lot about the box. This box gave Dr Jart+ another chance to redeem itself with another one of their BB Creams, and while this was better than the Black Label one this was still not a good BB Cream. If you have very dry skin this would be a great fix but for normal to oily skin it was to "dewy" looking. And last was the Manna Kadar liquid lipstick. I actually discovered this is an exact dupe for a Cailyn liquid lipstick I already owned and don't particularly like, so you can imagine how thrilled I am to have even more of this shade. I'm hoping come summer I'll like it better, otherwise this weird orange color is getting chucked into the garbage. The box had a decent value thanks to the mask, the total was $33.23. I actually don't feel like I got my $10's worth that month, which is actually a pretty big let down. So maybe this is the worst box I've received from Birchbox.

And now for my last box, the February Birchbox. I got 5 items again, with only one full sized item. The full sized items is an Eyeko product, which is a brand I was not thrilled with at all. But I love liquid eyeliner and have been searching for a good pen one, so I gave this a chance and ended up really loving it. So far it is still working great and does in fact apply well over eyeshadow. Will I buy another when this one runs out? Maybe, depending on how long this lasts. If I can get 3-4 months out of it I will for sure. Another perfume, making two perfumes in six months which is not making me happy. This smelled very high school to me so it went straight to my perfume loving friend. At least perfume samples are cheap and don't take up a ton of box value. I received another Caudalie product that month as well, a very fancy facial moisturizer that I really loved and want to get more of but the price is killing me. But I'm pretty sure Caudalie can do no wrong in my eyes ever and can't wait to receive more from them. The Evologie acne serum started out as a love and ended up being a "meh" item. It doesn't work super well and can leave my skin sticky if I put to much on. The last item was an Amika hair mask, that was pretty nice but I like my Organix hair mask better. This wasn't a bad box for me and I used, or am currently using, everything but the perfume. I think they did a good job picking items for me this month and it was much better than January's. The total value was $46, making this the highest value box I've received so far.

Overall I'm very happy with Birchbox, even with two boxes that really missed it for me. I just like to try different things out, so as long as I'm getting my $10 value out of each box I'm pretty happy. My March box should be here next week, and the preview looks really good so I'm hoping this box will blow me away. If you subscribe to Birchbox what is the one item you've received that you can't imagine life without?

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