Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Birchbox: A Subscription in Review

Like Ipsy, Birchbox is a monthly beauty subscription box that costs $10 per box and sends out samples. They are less makeup-focused than Ipsy, and are more likely to send out things like lotions or other miscellaneous gunk. They also send out "lifestyle products" which are things like Luna bars and other space-filler. They send out higher quality brands but much smaller samples than Ipsy.

That being said, there are some things that they definitely do better than their Michelle Phan-founded counterpart. They have a store, which includes free shipping on everything that they sent out that month, and you get points for purchases in the store that go towards future purchases (the points system is so generous that I always check the birchbox before I buy any makeup or skincare product). You also get points for reviewing the products you sample in your box, which is super easy to do and basically gives you free money, or for referring people (if you are feeling generous when you sign up for birchbox, use my link). Birchbox also has great customer service.

If you are deciding between Ipsy and Birchbox, it is important to decide what it is you are trying to get out of your sample box subscription. Ipsy is better if you really just want someone to hand you fun makeup products to use. Birchbox, on the other hand, is better if you want to be introduced to new brand and products that work well but that you might not have picked out on your own. I have found products via Birchbox that are AMAZING and work really well for me. For Ipsy, I use it more to have fun. If I were to pick one subscription service to use, I would choose Ipsy. However, I am a big fan of both subscription services and do not plan to cancel either one.

My first Birchbox was in September. I received:

Birchbox lays these pictures out more adorably than I ever could.

Kate Spade New York Twirl (0.05 oz), approximate retail value $1.18
This is a really generic scent. I used it and completely forgot about it. It was kind of floral-y and ladylike, but really nothing special.

A Twistband Hair Tie, approximate retail value $1.50
Apparently I was supposed to experience some kind of revelation when I tried this? It's just a non-hideous hair tie. I have thick hair so I don't have major problems with dents in my hair from hair ties so maybe that was the problem.

A Tili Bag, approximate retail value $0.71
My tili bag had a really tacky print. This is basically a ziplock bag. However, is a good place to keep your sex toys... er... lip gloss, I mean.

WEI to go Sleepover Kit (1.0 and 3.0ml), approximate retail value $3.80
This was by far the best thing in this box. The sleepover kits contain a nice little facewash and a great, full-coverage CC cream that is hydrating, meaning you don't need to wear a moisturizer. (I also got a "plus two" pack that contained another tili bag and a sample of Dr. Jart's Water Fuse Beauty Balm, which was nice but not full enough coverage for me.)

21 Drops Aromatherapy Blend in "Focus" (2 ml), approximate retail value $7.73
This is a peppermint and rosemary rollerball. I still have it and it has lasted well, but I don't think it has any tangible effects on my ability to focus.

Birchbox and Color Club Custom Collection Nail Polish (.25 oz), approximate retail value $4.00
I originally hated this dull dark gray color, but it looks pretty stellar when you adorn your tips with Opi's Rainbow Connection. 

Total value of the box: $18.92

In October, I recieved:

Lulu Organics Lavender and Clary Sage Hair Powder (5g), approximate retail value $1.32
If you like lavender, you will probably like this. As a lavender-scent hater (a lavender body wash once gave me hives and ruined the scent for me forever), I will stick with my skinnyskinny black pepper and rose.

A Luna Bar in Lemon Zest, approximate retail value $1.25
I do not like lemon and I found a live Indian moth larvae crawling inside my Luna bar (as in INSIDE THE PACKAGING) earlier this year. I gave this away.

Karuna Hydrating Treatment Mask, approximate retail value $7
This was the best thing in my October box by far. It was relaxing to use, had a nice smell, and felt great on my skin. However, given that it was a one-use product, I haven't the foggiest idea what the long-term effects are on one's skin. 

Embryolisse Lait-Creme Concentre 24-Hour Miracle Cream (4ml), approximate retail value $2.13
Two foil packets of generic moisturizer. Certainly not a "miracle".

Naked Princess Naked Shine Luscious Lip Gloss (0.008oz), approximate retail value $2.08
This is the smallest sample I have ever seen and it smelled so sickly cotton-candy sweet it was ridiculous. It also had virtually no color. 

Total value of the box: $13.78

In November, I received:

Oscar Blandi Pronto Texture & Volume Spray (1 oz), approximate retail value $6.25
I ADORE this product. I sprayed it on kind of absent minded-ly and went about my business. When I caught a glimpse of my hair in the mirror, I looked FANTASTIC. I ended up buying the Oscar Blandi Pronto Texture and Volume Styling Kit, which contains a full size version on this product, a full size spray-on dry shampoo and a styling doo-dad that I haven't used.

Miracle Skin Transformer Vanish Instant Imperfection Corrector (0.1 oz), approximate retail value $5.80
This is a very nice primer and it really turned me on to primers in general. However, I didn't want to pay $58 an ounce, so the primers I purchased following this were by different brands, including the much beloved Smashbox primer, which hasn't gotten here yet.

Chuao Chocolatier Assorted ChocoPod in Potato Chip, approximate retail value $1.14
This is delicious and I bought several of the 7-pack ChocoPods for gifts... and one for me. The "Sweet and Salty" one was out of this world. However, if it just chocolate covered potato chips you are craving, I recommend melting some chocolate in the microwave and dipping in Tim's potato chips so you can get the perfect ratio of chocolate and potato chip for your palette.

Atelier Cologne Rose Anonyme Petite Cologne Absolue (.05 oz), approximate retail value $3.75
This is a very nice rose perfume that I would never, ever, ever pay full price for.

Stila All Over Shimmer Liquid Luminizer, approximate retail value $6.67
There are three colors of this. The one that I got was almost an orange-y color, limiting its usefulness to me. It does look nice on cheeks when it is just adding a wee bit of shimmer. 

Total value of the box: $24.01

As with the Ipsy review, I have my December box but have not had a chance to sample the products yet.


  1. "However, is a good place to keep your sex toys... er... lip gloss, I mean." Epic quote! :D U have someone a bar with a larvae in it??? what?

    1. I should have taken a picture, retrospectively. There is a blog here that had the exact same thing happen to her, though:

      I took a bite before I noticed, though.

      It was really, really, really unfortunate.

      Aaaaand that's why I don't eat Luna bars anymore.

    2. Well that settles it for me, I'm never trying Luna bars now.

  2. I just found your blog and am really enjoying it! I also just got an "invite" for Birchbox and your reviews were very helpful in deciding whether to subscribe or not.
    Thank you

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