Birchbox Reveal – June 2015

birchbox_zpsz5crv0c3yesterday there was a package from Birchbox waiting for me in the mail area. I used to subscribe to Birchbox on and off in the past, but this is my first box in quite a while, so I’m excited to dive into the testing process!

oh, are you wondering just what a Birchbox is? it’s a monthly subscription service to try out new general beauty and lifestyle products. for about $10 per month, you get at least five samples, ranging in size from single-use to multiple-use. you can expect samples that include makeup, tools, skincare, hair care, body care (including perfume), edible goodies, home goods (like a candle). these are often sourced from new or expanding brands so members discover products they might not otherwise on their own. Birchbox also works with well-established vendors to bring members newly-launched products and cult favorites as well.

below, I’ve described the six products that came in my June 2015 box. stay tuned for my upcoming blog post, detailing my testing results.

1. Dermaclear™ Micro Water by Dr. Jart+ – $32 (8.4 oz.)
“Made with active hydrogen mineral water, this cleansing water removes makeup and brightens skin. Dispense onto a cotton pad and wipe over face to whisk away makeup and gently cleanse.”

2. Waterproof Eyeliner by Marcelle – $11 (0.04 oz./1.2 g)
“This blendable waterproof eyeliner goes on smoothly and stays put all day.” (I received “Blue Lagoon.”)

3. Good Hair Day Shampoo by Temple Spa – $14 (6.8 oz.)
“Botanical-infused formula that cleanses strands, repairs damage, adds volume, and boosts shine.”

4. In Good Condition Conditioner by Temple Spa – $14 (6.8 oz.)
“Made with refreshing peppermint, this creamy detangler hydrates, softens, and tames frizz.”

5. Bianca (Eau de Parfum) by TOCCA – $68 (1.7 fluid oz.)
“This clean, citrus scent has undertones of rose and sugar for long-wearing, intriguing layers.”

LIFESTYLE EXTRA
6. Lace Headband by Pura Vida – $18 (Pack of 8)
“Add polish to any style.”

the information listed here is copied directly from the Birchbox insert included in my box. according to my research through their website, not all subscribers will receive the same items nor the same colors, so I’ve also mentioned the colors I received, where applicable.

although monthly subscription boxes are becoming more and more popular, Birchbox seems to be one of the main beauty-based contenders. in my opinion, that’s because it happens to be the most economical option on the market. at only $10 per box, it seems easy to find a little space in your budget for this little monthly treat.

if you love something you’ve received in your box, there’s the convenient option to buy it full-sized, directly through Birchbox. as far as I’ve seen, the prices in their marketplace are right on par with brand stores and websites like Sephora and Ulta. so why shop through Birchbox if you can pick up the same product at your local mall? because of the rewards! for every $1 you spend, you get 1 point. annnnd for every 100 points, you earn $10 towards a future purchase.

but buying products from their store isn’t the only way to gain points. every time you get a Birchbox in the mail, you can sign in and review the products you’ve just tried. for each of those reviews, you receive 10 points. let’s do a little math here: with a minimum of 5 samples in each box (and quite often that number is actually 6), that’s 50-60 points per box. after 2 boxes, you’ve already gained 100-120 points! so, if you buy 2 months at the maximum price of $10 per month, you end up with $10 in rewards. I take this to mean that every other time you purchase a box, you get $10 back – it just happens to be in products instead of in cash. so great!

and I’ve never had a problem finding a product I’ve wanted from their store as Birchbox has offerings from a wide variety of brands (some of my favorites are Origins, Benefit, and Eyeko). points convert only in increments of $10, so once you reach 200 points, you will have $20 available and so on. points are currently valid for one full year from the time of receipt. I often let my points accumulate to $20 or $30 until I can take home a prestige-level item for free or for very little cost. I haven’t discovered a service with nearly this level of rewards to date!

do you subscribe?
– if so, what products were in your June 2015 box?
– if not, you can get your own monthly women’s Birchbox subscription here.

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REVIEW: FIRST AID BEAUTY ULTRA REPAIR CREAM INTENSE HYDRATION

name: Ultra Repair Cream Intense Hydration
brand: 
First Aid Beauty
category: 
facial moisturizer, body moisturizer
uses: 
hydrate, relieve itch

SPECIFICATIONS
size: 1oz – 2oz – 6 oz
price: 
$6.50 – $12 – $30
price category: 
mid-range
sellers: 
Sephora, UltaFirst Aid Beauty, etc.

DESCRIPTION
color: white
scent: 
unscented – very light natural scent
consistency: 
thick, easily-spreadable cream. thicker than lotion, thinner than butter. somewhat noticeable (waxy, not greasy/oily) on skin’s surface.
packaging: 
white squeezable packet with screw on cap (1oz), white squeezable tube with screw on cap (2oz), white plastic jar with screw on lid (6oz)

DIRECTIONS
from manufacturer: apply head-to-toe. meant for severely dry, scaly skin due to harsh winter weather, aggressive cosmetic treatments or any of the following conditions: psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, irritant eczema, allergic eczema, seborrheic dermatitis, keratosis pilaris.
my suggestions: 
I don’t disagree, but I only use it on my face since I don’t need it for my body.

INGREDIENTS
type: no parabens, sulfates, phthalates, harsh chemicals, or colorants. contains synthetic materials.
sensitivity: 
allergy-tested, dermatologist-recommended, safe for sensitive skin
list:
see manufacturer here.

OUTCOME
ease of application: very easy – requires no experience or tools
amount needed:
 dime-sized to scant nickel-sized, depending on dryness level (face)
lasting power: 
this cream creates a moisture barrier which lasts most of the day
during use: 
instantly relieves the feeling of dryness, skin appears more hydrated, reported to instantly relieve itch (due to the colloidal oatmeal ingredient)
after use: 
my skin feels more hydrated, I did not break out
ease of removal/cleaning: 
very easy – makeup remover or soap

CONSIDER MY SKIN
shade: light/medium
tone: 
olive
complexion: 
combination
problems: 
oily t-zone, large pores (nose), uneven tone

SUMMARY
pros: doesn’t feel greasy on skin, hydration quality is great
cons: 
doesn’t contain SPF, pricey for a full-body lotion in all seasons (without a skin condition)
notes: 
there is a line of Ultra Repair products, including lip therapy and options with SPF
overall: 
for being a heavier cream, this didn’t feel suffocating on my face. you can feel the lotion a little (moisture barrier), it is smooth/soft and not oily. makeup applied over it easily.
would I buy: 
yes! for my face, especially in the winter.

I did not pay for this product, nor was I paid to review it.

REVIEW: CLINIQUE TURNAROUND DAYTIME – GOLDEN GLOW

name: Turnaround Daytime Revitalizing Moisturizer
brand: CLINIQUE
color: Golden Glow
category: facial moisturizer
uses: hydrate, look awake

SPECIFICATIONS
size: 0.68oz – 1.7oz
price: $10 – $38
price category: prestige
sellers: SephoraUltaCLINIQUE, etc.

DESCRIPTION
color: clear gel with light golden shimmer
scent: unscented – very light powder scent
consistency: smooth, non-oily gel, cannot feel shimmer
packaging: light blue squeezable tube with screw on cap

DIRECTIONS
manufacturer directions: apply each morning to face and neck after regular skin care regimen
my suggestions: apply to cheeks where you would highlight

INGREDIENTS
type: contains synthetic materials
sensitivity: 100% allergy-tested, oil-free
list: contact manufacturer

OUTCOME
ease of application: very easy – requires no experience or tools
amount needed: scant dime-sized (whole face), half pea-sized (cheeks)
pigmentation: extremely sheer
lasting power: hydrated throughout the day, shimmer faded over time
during use: mild glow, very mild shimmer, smooth, light-weight
after use: did not break out
ease of removal: very easy – makeup remover or soap

CONSIDER MY SKIN
shade: light/medium
tone: olive
complexion: combination
problems: oily t-zone, large pores (nose), uneven tone

SUMMARY
pros: use with or without makeup, hydration without heavy “lotion” feel
cons: contains no SPF, a little expensive
notes: also available in “Rosy Glow” (pink-based)
overall: hydration quality is good, look awake, product size would last awhile
would I buy: likely

I did not pay for this product, nor was I paid to review it.

GLOSSYBOX Review – May 2015

GLOSSYBOX - May 2015

remember back when I was surprised by a GLOSSYBOX in the mail? I was super-excited to test out the five premium beauty products that came in the May 2015 box. trying new makeup products, hair products, and body care products is so much fun! it took me a bit to try out each product effectively, to give my best review, but now I’m done and, as promised, my take on the items I received is below.

1. Head Over Heels Nail Lacquer by Teeez Trend Cosmetics
color: “Vintage Taupe” is a warm, muted tan (colors varied by box)
scent: N/A
consistency: sheer, smooth
outcome: sans base and top coat, required 3 coats – with base coat, required 2
full size: 0.24 fluid oz.
full size value: $14.00
sample size: 0.24 fluid oz.
sample size (estimated) value: $14.00
overall: first of all, I absolutely abhorred the color I received. but ignoring that fact, for the price tag of this polish, I was surprised that the quality didn’t exceed that of a typical OPI or China Glaze type of polish (which cost almost half). like a standard polish, it didn’t chip for a day or two and required a normal amount of coats to be a satisfactory manicure. the quality was nice, but the price definitely dashes it off of my list.
buy: no

2. Mineral Matt Lipstick by doucce
color: “Cherry Blossom 907” is a cool mauve (colors varied by box)
scent: powdery, plasticy
consistency: dry, stiff, matte, tiny bit of shimmer
outcome: coverage was decent, stayed on for a few hours, not overly-drying
full size: 0.18 oz.
full size value: $20.00
sample size: 0.18 oz.
sample size (estimated) value: $20.00
overall: the dry texture is a bit surprising, but isn’t a flaw, as I suspected it might be initially. while doucce describes it as “moisturizing,” I wouldn’t go so far. my lips didn’t get badly dried out, as they do with some lipsticks, but I did require regular use of a chapstick product during my test run. this color didn’t look great on me either – I probably won’t wear it again. but even if the color had been better suited to me, at the end of the day, there are superior lipsticks at $20 or less.
buy: no

3. Retexturizing Gel by Clearista
color: N/A
scent: mild chocolatey, nutty
consistency: gel with a smooth granules added in, lightly foams
outcome: I noticed no difference in the look or feel of my skin
full size: 4 oz.
full size value: $79.99
sample size: 0.5 oz.
sample size (estimated) value: $9.99
overall: unfortunately, because this product didn’t make a difference for me, there isn’t a point in adding it to my skincare routine. even if it had provided results, the lofty price tag is a little scary (I estimate it would cost $40/month to use daily, based on my use of the sample).
buy: no

4. POWERMUD DualCleanse Treatment by GLAMGLOW
color: N/A
scent: subtle fruit, perfume
consistency: smooth cream with sparse, tiny grits
outcome: smoother, clean skin
full size: 1.7 oz.
full size value: $69.00
sample size: 0.5 oz.
sample size (estimated) value: $20.29
overall: to date, I’ve tried all of the GLAMGLOW mask products, but it had been some time since I’ve used this one in particular, so it was nice to see it in the May box. with semi-regular use (every few days), I do feel that it has an impact; my skin feels tighter and refreshed. it’s still not my favorite of the GLAMGLOW masks because it doesn’t feel as powerful as the others. that’s what makes its equally high price tag a little tougher to stomach. whereas I’d spring for their Supermud Clearing Treatment anyway,  I would wait for a sale for this.
buy: maybe

5. STYLBRID 9 by Sebastian Professional
color: N/A
scent: kind of like baby powder, light vanilla
consistency: no residue/build-up feeling on hair
outcome: tamed my little fly-aways with a light coating after finishing my look in the morning. it seemed to hold throughout the day each time, but didn’t hold up as well on humid days. when the weather was unfavorable, I had to use a heavier hand.
full size: 6.2 oz.
full size value: $19.96
sample size: 1.55 oz.
sample size (estimated) value: $4.99
overall: this was a nice spray to have on hand. it seems like a decent multi-tasker. the only thing that keeps me from buying salon hair sprays is my deep love for Aussie hair spray, which I can always find for $4.99 or less (the same price as this sample!). if we pretend for a minute that Aussie disappeared from the market, then I’d consider this product more seriously.
buy: maybe

OVERALL BOX REVIEW
items: 1 nail polish, 2 skincare, 1 haircare, 1 makeup
variety: very satisfactory
sizes: satisfactory
quality: satisfactory
brands: satisfactory
total (estimated) value: $69.27
box cost: $21.00
rating breakdown: minus 1 point for both color variety items failing, minus 1 point for the gel which didn’t do anything, minus 1 point for prices (didn’t feel like $70 worth of samples)
overall rating: 7/10

all in all, this was a fun box for me, despite not liking the colors of the lipstick or nail polish. these were both colors I never would have considered for these products, but you don’t know until you try something out. this time, I happened to be correct in my assumptions, but that isn’t always the case (WAIT, WHAT?). it was satisfying to see a variety of product types (hair vs. makeup, etc.), which meant I could dive right in and try multiple items at once. while it’s nice to recognize the brands, especially ones I like, being introduced to new brands is important too. prior to receiving this box, I’d never heard of doucce or Clearista and didn’t have a lot of experience with the Sebastian Professional line. my only disappointment is that almost all of these products seem very expensive for what they are. when it comes to most purchases, that’s generally what stops me in my tracks the quickest. however, this is also what makes services like GLOSSYBOX perfect! it is A LOT cheaper to buy a $21 box each month and try out 5 mini products than it is to gamble on 5 full-sized products you’re not familiar with.

this review is based solely upon my own opinions. if you had a different experience with the same box, I’d love to hear about it – just let me know in the comment section! according to GLOSSYBOX, not all subscribers received the same items or the same colors. what other items or colors did you receive?

does GLOSSYBOX sound like a good fit for you? you can get your own monthly subscription here. from now until the end of May, use promo code “COSMO” for 20% off of your first box in a subscription plan.