Saturday, November 30, 2013

Is Revlon Filled With Cancer-Causing Crap? (Hint: No.)

Let's all give a huge, collective eyeroll to the Breast Cancer Fund, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, and UltraViolet. Ready?


These advocacy groups have targeted Revlon, demanding that the cosmetics company stop producing "makeup laced with cancer-causing chemicals". Their list of suspects includes chemicals that are not used by Revlon and other chemicals that are not associated with cancer. Revlon has responded via a cease-and-desist letter, demanding that the incorrect information be removed. This, supposedly, is "bullying".

These non-governmental organizations conducted a "survey" (they just read the ingredients list on Revlon products) to find alleged cancer-causing ingredients. The list of supposedly evil chemicals ("CHEMICALS" IS A SCARY WORD, YOU GUYS) includes:

Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA)
What it is: BHA is the name for two very similar organic compounds containing conjugated aromatic rings.
BHA
Image Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:2-tert-Butyl-4-hydroxyanisole_and_3-tert-butyl-4-hydroxyanisole_2D.png
Why it's in your makeup: BHA is an antioxidant and preservative. Its conjugated aromatic ring is able to scoop up free radicals, preventing further damage to molecular structures. In other words, your makeup won't go rancid!
Why it's not giving you cancer: First of all, it's not causing cancer because it's not in your makeup at all. Revlon hasn't used BHA in their products for years. Secondly, although it is true that high doses of BHA do cause squamous cell carcinomas in rats and hamsters (leading the National Institutes of Health to classify it as "reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen", the doses of BHA that one is exposed to as a human are so low that they don't show up as a statistical risk factor at all. The Netherlands Cohort Study, a study of 120,852 men and woman, showed that there was no association between BHA consumption and cancer risk. This wasn't just a case of "well, it didn't quite reach statistical significance"-- there was actually a statistically non-significant decrease in cancer risk associated with increased BHA consumption. BHA is currently recognized as a generally safe food additive in low doses. Finally, all the research on BHA and cancer risk has been on dietary BHA. This is important, since BHA is used in medicines and food. However, since you don't eat your foundation, it seems pretty unlikely that it's going to give you stomach cancer.

Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)
What it is: BHT is structurally similar to BHA.

BHT
Image Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:2,6-bis%281,1-dimethylethyl%29-4-methylphenol.svg
Why it's in your makeup: Like BHA, BHT can neutralize free radicals and prevent rancidity.
Why it's not giving you cancer: BHT has studies that indicate that it is a potential carcinogen, but there are also studies showing a protective effect. Regardless, at the dosage found in cosmetics, there is no indication that any harm is caused. A toxicology review on the potential for a carcinogenic effect "concludes that the concentrations of BHA and BHT nowadays used in food, drugs and cosmetics are probably harmless." P.S. Remember that Netherlands Cohort Study? It looked at BHT, too, and also showed a statistically insignificant protective effect. And that is if you are literally eating the stuff.

Quaternium-15
Quaternium-15
Image Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Undefined_Quaternium-15.png
What it is: An ammonia salt.
Why it's in your makeup: Quaternium-15 is anti-microbial. It keeps the creepy-crawlies out of your mascara.
Why it's not giving you cancer: There are a couple of different claims about Quaternium-15 and their fuck-up-your-health-ability.
Claim 1- Quaternium-15 is a teratogen [an agent that causes birth defects].: This is true, but misleading. As Becker and colleagues note in the International Journal of Toxicology, "Quaternium-15 [is] an oral teratogen, but not a dermal teratogen, in rats at doses that exceeded the expected cumulative exposure from cosmetics." In other words, if you are pregnant, do not eat 25 Revlon lipsticks. Otherwise, carry on.
Claim 2- Quaternium-15 causes sensitization, increasing your likelihood of developing conditions like contact dermatitis.: This is also true, but misleading. This will only occur at high doses. Levels below 0.2% have never been shown to be sensitizing in either human or animal studies.
Claim 3- Quaternium-15 releases formaldehyde, which causes cancer. Quaternium-15 may or may not be a formaldehyde-releaser. A 2012 study in Dermatitis found a correlation between formaldehyde-sensitivity and quaternium-15-sensitivity, but there was no predictability based on severity. The authors concluded, "Despite coreactivity with formaldehyde, quaternium-15 may not be a significant formaldehyde releaser." However, even if quaternium-15 does turn out to be a notable formaldehyde releaser, this concern will be primarily for individuals who are sensitive or allergic to formaldehyde.

Parabens
Paraben General Structure
Image Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Paraben-2D-skeletal.png
What it is: Parabens are a class of preservatives.
Why it's in your makeup: Parabens are also antimicrobial.
Why it's not giving you cancer: I could wax poetic about parabens all fucking day, and, indeed, I already have. You can read the full post here. In summary, *Insert Raspberry Noise Here*.

Octinoxate

Octinoxate
Image Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Octyl_methoxycinnamate.png
What it is: An ester formed by methoxycinnamic acid and 2-ethylhexanol.
Why it's in your makeup: This sunscreen can absorb UVB rays.
Why it's not giving you cancer: I'm really struggling to find evidence that there is a notable risk to octinoxate use. Regardless, octinoxate doesn't penetrate the skin enough to be concerning. Hayden and colleagues wrote in the Journal of Skin Pharmacology and Physiology that "the human viable epidermal levels of sunscreens are too low to cause any significant toxicity to the underlying human keratinocytes."

Resorcinol
Resorcinol
Image Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Resorcinol.svg
What it is: A dyhydroxy benzene that is the major natural phenol in argan oil.
Why it's in your makeup: It's an antiseptic that is used in hair dye and shampoo.
Why it's not giving you cancer: To be fair, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and their partners are not claiming that this gives you cancer, which is good, because that would be ridiculous. They're claiming it is an endocrine disruptor, which it totally is. However, there is no evidence that the levels found in shampoo (or argan oil or whatever you want to use) are sufficient to cause medical problems.

p-Phenylenediamine
p-Phenylenediamine
Image Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:P-phenylenediamine.png
 
What it is: This is an aniline derivative that oxidizes from a white color to a darker brown.
Why it's in your makeup: p-Phenylenediamine is commonly found in hair dye. For those of you who have home-dyed your hair-- you know how the dye starts out white and then changes in color to be more reflective of the shade on the box? p-Phenylenediamine is one the ingredients that causes this color shift. Its oxidized state is a dye.
Why it's not giving you cancer: According to the EPA, p-Phenylenediamine "was not carcinogenic in a study of rats and mice exposed to the compound in the diet. Other studies have also demonstrated that p-phenylenediamine is not carcinogenic by oral or dermal exposure. " And, again, you're probably not eating your hair dye.

p-Phenylenediamine is definitely not completely risk-free, but that risk is adequately addressed by cosmetics companies. It is a contact allergen. However, if you follow the instructions on the hair dye which recommend patch-testing, this is not a significant concern.

Carbon Black
Carbon Black
Image Source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/98/Carbon_black.jpg
What it is: A color additive produced by incomplete combustion of petroleum products. 
Why it's in your makeup: It's black. Sometimes you want your makeup to be black.
Why it's not giving you cancer: Carbon Black has been identified as a potential carcinogen, and was originally eliminated from cosmetics in the United States in 1976. In 2005, the FDA granted one teensy tiny exception: High purity furnace blacks are allowed up to 2.5%, subject to batch certification. Research on carbon blacks that do not take into account current US law are kind of silly, to be frank, since random-ass carbon black that factory workers are exposed to isn't exactly comparable to the samples used in modern cosmetics. Furthermore, I'm not necessarily sure that the carcinogenicity research on carbon black in general is particularly relevant to cosmetics, since all of it is based on accidental inhalation, and I generally refrain from snorting my mascara. There are no carcinogenicity studies based on topical exposure.

Is it possible that we will find sufficient evidence that the ingredients listed above are unsafe for use?
Fuck yeah, it's totally possible. However, the evidence right now suggests that they are safe.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Review: Maybelline Eye Studio Lasting Drama Gel Eyeliner

Gel eyeliner is a gateway drug. It's the perfect transition from wobbly, "what-the-fuck-am-I-doing" pencil liner to the smooth, crisp lines you usually associated with liquid liner. In comparison to liquid eyeliner, gel products are more forgiving and maneuverable. Maybelline gel liners are the perfect item to push wafflers over the makeup addict edge.


I have three colors: Blackest Black, Espresso, and Charcoal. 

These gel eyeliners do come with brushes, and the brushes definitely aren't the worst thing in the world. They're neither too stiff nor too flexible, meaning that they are relatively easy to use. Their narrow, paddle-like shape is definitely different from a conventional eyeliner brush, but it doesn't impede use. I strongly suspect that many will prefer to use a traditional brush, regardless.


The texture of the product is very creamy, making it easy to use. If they are properly stored (upside down with a tight cap), there shouldn't be any substantial problems with them drying out or clumping. 


Charcoal is a shimmery slate.

Espresso is an aptly named coffee bean brown.

Blackest black is... a pretty black black.

All three colors are intensely pigmented.

Swatches from left to right: Charcoal, Espresso, Blackest Black
I've tried a few other drugstore gel eyeliners. In comparison to Maybelline, all of them feel cheap, dry, thin, and insufficiently dark. (As a side note, I have to direct some serious eyerolls to anyone who recommends the ELF gel eyeliner as an alternative. Worst. Product. Ever.)

Maybelline Eye Studio Lasting Drama Gel Eyeliner in Charcoal on Human Face
The Maybelline Eye Studio Lasting Drama Gel Eyeliners retail for $9.99 for 0.11oz, or $90.82 per ounce. This is pretty expensive for a drugstore product, but I definitely think the price is warranted given the quality of the product. For comparison, MAC Fluidline Gel Liner retails for $16 for 0.1oz, or $160 per ounce.

Monday, November 25, 2013

A Guide to Sephora's 2013 $10 Black Friday Deals

Sephora has officially released their $10 Black Friday deals! You can check out pictures on their Pinterest by clicking here. Although they haven't listed sizes on Pinterest, I think we can make a pretty safe assumption that the minis are the same size as the regular minis, travel-sizes, and sample sizes that these brands usually produce. For example, there is a set of Bite Beauty lipgloss minis. I have a Bite Beauty lip gloss mini. It is 0.1oz. It looks the same as the ones in the pictures on Pinterest. I feel comfortable, then, concluding that the lip glosses in the Bite Beauty $10 Black Friday deal are also 0.1oz and I'm making my statements of value based on that assertion. Additionally, many of the sizes are visible in the Sephora promo pictures. If I get shit wrong, my numbers will obviously be wrong. This is the best estimate that I have based on the information that is currently available. 

There are also some $10 deals that have no calculable equivalent. They are products that are not sold during the rest of the year. I am putting those deals first and I'm just going to talk about them. If you are only interested in the value sets, you may want to just scroll past this section. Finally, at the bottom, I'm going to state what I intend on purchasing on Black Friday and why.

Source: http://www.pinterest.com/sephora/black-friday-2013/
Sets that Do Not Have Calculable Values (Alphabetically):

Nails Inc. Crystaltastic Nails
Contains:
False Nail Set
Comments: I can find no other false nail sets on the Sephora website, so it's difficult to gauge whether or not this is actually a 'deal'. 

Sephora Collection Sparklers Brush Set
Contains:
A powder brush, a shadow brush, and a liner brush
Comments: I actually have this brush set from last year, when it was gold and called the "Gilded Trio Brush Set". The eyeshadow brush is awful, but I do use the eyeliner brush to fill in my brows and I use the powder brush for highlighting. This would be an okay purchase for someone who is really shy on brushes.

Stila Artful Eye Collector’s Palette (3 Colors)
Contains:
0.27oz Eyeshadow
Comments: These palettes are already available on the Sephora website. At $10 for 0.27oz, this product comes out to $37.04 per ounce, which is comparable to drugstore eyeshadow prices.

Stila Collage of Color Lip & Cheek Palette
Contains:
0.33oz Convertible Colors
Comments: There is a non-zero chance that this is 0.11 oz TOTAL, as the eyeshadow palette is labeled 0.27 X 5 when it is clearly 0.27 total oz. If the website is correct, it is $30.30 per ounce. If it is incorrect, it is $90.91 per ounce.

Sets that Do Have Calculable Values (Organized from Worst to Best Value):

Lavanilla the Healthy Deodorant in Vanilla Grapefruit
Contains:
Travel Size Deodorant (0.9 oz), retail value $8
Total Value: $8

TokyoMilk Takeout
Contains:
Eau de Parfum Tainted Love #62 (0.16 oz), approximate retail value $3.39
Get Lucky Lip Tint, estimated retail value $7.00
Total Value:  $10.39

Living Proof The Full Collection
Contains:
Full Shampoo (1 fl oz), approximate retail value $3
Full Conditioner (1 fl oz), approximate retail value $3
Style Extendant (1 fl oz), approximate retail value $4
Full Thickening Cream (0.5 fl oz), approximate retail value $3.51
Total Value: $13.51

Tocca Florence Travel Fragrance Duo
Contains:
Hand Cream (2 fl oz), retail value $8.00
Tocca Perfume (0.14 fl oz), retail value $5.60
Total Value: $13.60

Ole Henriksen Clean Sweep Duo
Contains:
African Red Tea Foaming Cleanser (1.5 fl oz), retail value $9.00
Truth To Go Wipes (10 wipes), approximate retail value $5.00
Total Value: $14.00

Boscia Pore Perfection Set
Contains:
Luminizing Black Mask (1 fl oz), approximate retail value $12.14
Pore Purifying Black Strips (1), approximate retail value $2.33
Total Value: $14.47

Formula X ASAP Real Nail Lacquer Duo Pack
Contains:
2 Colors of Nail Strips, estimated retail value $15.00
Total Value: $15

Vita Liberata Rich Face + Mini Mitt Duo
Contains:
Self Tan Lotion for Body (2 fl oz), approximate retail value $11.09
Tanning Mitt, retail value $6
Total Value: $17.09

Bliss Soapy Suds Body Wash + Bubble Bath
Contains:
Soapy Suds (16 fl oz), retail value $18
Total Value: $18

Clean Rollerball Set
Contains:
Rain, White Woods, and Skin (3 X 0.17 fl oz), retail value $18
Total Value: $18

Josie Maran Argan Hand Healers Set
Contains:
Bare Naked Nail Wipes (20 wipes), retail value $9.00
Whipped Argan Oil Hand Cream (1 fl oz), approximate retail value $9.28
Total Value: $18.28

Buxom Havana Full-On Lipstick
Contains:
Full-On Lipstick, retail value $19
Total Value: $19

Kate Somerville Dermal Quench Liquid Lift Treatment
Contains:
Dermal Quench Liquid Lift (0.5 fl oz), approximate retail value $19
Total Value: $19

Alterna Caviar Moisture Trio
Contains:
Replenishing Moisture Shampoo (1.35 fl oz), approximate retail value $5.08
Replenishing Moisture Conditioner (1.35 fl oz), approximate retail value $5.08
Caviar CC Cream (1 fl oz), approximate retail value $10
Total Value: $20.16

Philosophy Purity Made Simple
Contains:
Facial Cleanser (12 fl oz), approximate retail value $20.50
Total Value: $20.50

Wei Pore Purifying & Brightening Collection
Contains:
1 Gingko Leaf Repairing Face Treatment Pad, approximate retail value $11.33
Royal Ming Firming and Hydrating Cream Sample (estimated 0.025 fl oz), estimated retail value $1.44
2 Containers Golden Root Purifying Mud Mask, approximate retail value $10.50
Total Value: $23.27

The Art of Shaving: The Four Elements of the Perfect Shave
Contains:
Aftershave Balm (0.5 fl oz), approximate retail value $5.88
Pre-Shave Oil (0.5 fl oz), approximate retail value $8.00
Shaving Cream (1 oz), retail value $5.00
Trial Size Badger Shaving Brush, estimated retail value $5.00
Total Value: $23.88

LORAC Fan Favorite Duo
Contains:
Eyeshadow Single (0.06 oz), retail [sale] value: $6
Waterproof Eyeliner Pencil (0.02 oz), retail value $18
Total Value: $24

Tarte Little Miracles Best Selling Essentials
Contains:
Smooth Operator Finishing Powder (0.07 oz), approximate retail value $6.34
Maracuja Oil (0.24 fl oz), approximate retail value $6.49
Lights, Camera, Lashes Mascara (0.16 oz), approximate retail value $12.67
Total Value: $25.50

Smashbox Heat Wave Lip Gloss Set
Contains:
4X Lip Enhancing Gloss (0.07 X 4), approximate retail value $26.60
Total Value: $26.60

Too Faced Better Than Sex Amazing Eyes Set
Contains:
Better Than Sex Mascara (0.17 oz), approximate retail value $14.48
Perfect Eyes Waterproof Eyeliner (0.03 oz), approximate retail value $13.50
Total Value: $27.98

bareMinerals Enchanting Eyes
Contains:
Ready Eyeshadow in the Flashback, retail value $20
PrimeTime Primer (0.05 fl oz), approximate retail value $9
Total Value: $29

Buxom Curtain Call Set
Contains:
Buxom Lash (0.2 oz), retail value $10
Buxom Full-On Lip Stick (0.03 oz), retail value $19
Total Value: $29

Bite Lush Lip Trio
Contains:
3X Lip Glosses (0.1 fl oz X 3), approximate retail value $50.77
Total Value: $50.77

My Purchase List:

My top two purchases are the Art of Shaving kit, which looks like the perfect stocking stuffer for the gentleman in my life, and the BareMinerals Enchanting Eyes Set, which is an inexpensive way of trying out the BareMinerals pressed shadows.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Review: Bite Beauty Best Bite Set/High Pigment Lip Pencils

Value sets, cute packaging, and lip pencils are a few of my favorite things. Way fucking better than raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens. (Note: I will accept brown paper packages tied up with strings... if they are from Sephora.)

The Bite Beauty Best Bite Set is the perfect way to fulfill those desires.


This set contains four miniature High Pigment Lip Pencils in Madeira, Quince, Rhubarb, and Cranberry, encased in a mirrored tin with impressive adorability. (Look! There's fruit on it! I like fruit!)


The pencils twist up, which is a nice feature for those of us who are lazy busy.

I am a real person, so my lip pencils and nails are messy. My eyebrows are pretty good, though, so I've got that going for me.

The finish is moderately glossy, but they're all fully opaque. They're super smooth and lovely to apply.

Bite Beauty Best Bite Set Swatches
Here's how they look on my face:

Madeira is as nude as fuck. It's definitely darker than my skin, but there will be many (many, many) people for whom this will not be the case. The color is moderately warm, with a tiny bit of an orange-y tone.

Bite Beauty Madeira on Human Face
Quince is my favorite of the lot. Sephora describes this as a "rose berry". I definitely think it's brighter than that, though. It's more of a mid-tone fuchsia.

The name originally received an eyebrow raise from me since, uh, that's not what color a quince is, but it turns out that chaenomeles, which are related to the quince, have brightly colored flowers that could conceivably be seen as similar to this lip pencil if you did some photoshopping and squinted a little.

Bite Beauty Quince on Human Face
Rhubarb is a rosey mauve shade that is actually strikingly similar to the color of rhubarb that's cooking on the stove. Since rhubarb is by far my favorite stalk (team pie!), this pleases me.

Bite Beauty Rhubarb on Human Face
Cranberry is another gorgeous color. It's a red that just screams for a sexy Santa Clause costume. If you hate this lipcolor, I can only assume that you also hate Christmas.

Bite Beauty Cranberry on Human Face
I also did a "four hours and a meal" test on Quince.

Quince, when applied.
Quince, four hours and a meal later, in the shitty lighting of my parked car.
The color stayed pretty nicely through the four hours, but the glossiness definitely had disappeared. Quince, Cranberry, and Rhubarb all leave a distinct stain that will keep color on your lips substantially after the gloss goes away. 

The Bite Beauty Best Bite Set retails for $25 for four 0.05oz pencils ($125 per ounce). The full-size pencils retail for $24 for 0.09oz ($266.67 per ounce). This means that each of the minis is worth approximately $13.33. That means that you are coming out ahead even if you only like two of the four colors in the set. Personally, I know that I will use every color except Madeira, so I'm really happy with my purchase.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Birchbox vs. Ipsy: A One Year Analysis by the Numbers

There are a lot of beauty box subscription services out there and they all bring something different to the table. Two of the most oft-compared are Birchbox and Ipsy, likely because they both cost $10 a month. I have now received 15 Birchboxes and 14 Ipsy bags, so it seemed like an opportune time to get into a nitty gritty comparison.

However, I quickly realized that there were a lot of different ways I could approach this comparison. I chose the four ways that I thought would be the most valuable for anyone who is trying to decide if they should join Ipsy or Birchbox. The following sections include:
  1. Test 1 - A t-test comparing the estimated retail values of the two boxes.
  2. Test 1 - A similar t-test where the products that were not valuable to me, personally, were eliminated.
  3. An addendum to Tests 1 and 2 that considers the value of points.
  4. Test 3 - A Chi-square test examining what happens if the two boxes simply go head-to-head.
  5. Test 4 - A comparison of the products I actually purchased after sampling them.
  6. My subjective thoughts and conclusions.
WHICH ONE?

Test 1 - Raw Value

The Description:  I calculated the value of my Birchbox and Ipsy the same way that I do every month based on approximate retail value. For example, if a full size product is 1 oz and retails for $30, a 0.25 oz sample would have an approximate retail value of $7.50. I then did a t-test to determine whether Ipsy or Birchbox sends out boxes with higher retail values.
The Benefits: It's an objective test. It could be re-created by anyone. There is no part of this test that is based on how I feel about the box, so if our preferences are different, this test would still be applicable to you.
The Disadvantages: Any of you who have gotten subscription boxes already know that you're probably going to get shit that can't use, at least some of the time. Someone could send me a bottle of Chanel Foundation, but if you send it to me in "Tawny Beige" it's disingenuous to pretend that it's worth $65 because I can't use it.  

Birchbox

September 2012
Kate Spade New York Twirl (0.05 oz), approximate retail value $1.18
A Twistband Hair Tie, approximate retail value $1.50
A Tili Bag, approximate retail value $0.71
WEI to go Sleepover Kit (1.0 and 3.0ml), approximate retail value $3.80
21 Drops Aromatherapy Blend in "Focus" (2 ml), approximate retail value $7.73
Birchbox and Color Club Custom Collection Nail Polish (.25 oz), approximate retail value $4.00
Total value of the box: $18.92

October 2012
Lulu Organics Lavender and Clary Sage Hair Powder (5g), approximate retail value $1.32
A Luna Bar in Lemon Zest, approximate retail value $1.25
Karuna Hydrating Treatment Mask, approximate retail value $7
Embryolisse Lait-Creme Concentre 24-Hour Miracle Cream (4ml), approximate retail value $2.13
Naked Princess Naked Shine Luscious Lip Gloss (0.008oz), approximate retail value $2.08
Total value of the box: $13.78

November 2012
Oscar Blandi Pronto Texture & Volume Spray (1 oz), approximate retail value $6.25
Miracle Skin Transformer Vanish Instant Imperfection Corrector (0.1 oz), approximate retail value $5.80
Chuao Chocolatier Assorted ChocoPod in Potato Chip, approximate retail value $1.14
Atelier Cologne Rose Anonyme Petite Cologne Absolue (.05 oz), approximate retail value $3.75
Stila All Over Shimmer Liquid Luminizer, approximate retail value $6.67
Total value of the box: $24.01

December 2012
Thymes Body Lotion in Naia (1.5 oz), approximate retail value $4.05
Thymes Body Lotion in Lotus Santal (no size listed, about 0.15oz), approximate retail value $0.41
Keratase Nutritive Nectar Thermique (0.68 oz), approximate retail value $5.60
ModelCo Shine Ultra Lip Gloss in Berry Pink, retail value $16.00
Juice Beauty Stem Cellular Repair CC Cream in Natural Glow (0.17 oz), approximate retail value $3.90
Total box value: $26.23  

January 2013
Lumiere d'hiver Clarifying Shampoo (1.75oz), approximate retail value $6.67
Fresh Lotus Youth Preserve Face Cream (0.14oz), approximate retail value $3.48
Harvey Prince Skinny Chic (estimated at 2ml), approximate retail value $1.82
Lashem Double Trouble Mascara (estimated at 1ml), approximate retail value $4.76
TheBalm Hot Mama (1g), approximate retail value $3.11
Total Box Value: $19.84 

February 2013
Beauty Protector Protect and Detangle (estimated 1.25 oz), approximate retail value $4.12
Color Club Nail Polish in Wild Cactus (0.25 oz), approximate retail value $4.00
Dr. Jart+ Black Label Detox Beauty Balm (0.1 oz), approximate retail value $2.13
Juicy Couture Couture La La Perfume (0.05 oz), approximate retail value $1.32
Ghirardelli Milk and Caramel Square, approximate retail value $0.42
Total box value: $11.99   

March 2013
Whish Shave Crave Shaving Cream in Blueberry (0.75oz), approximate retail value $2.93
Madewell for Birchbox Nail Emery Board, approximate retail value $5
Benefit Stay Don't Stray Primer (0.09oz), approximate retail value $7.09
Evologie Intensive Blemish Serum (0.17oz), approximate retail value $11.90
Twistband Headband, approximate retail value $3.17
Total Box Value: $30.09      

April 2013
Nexxus Youth Renewal Rejuvenating Elixir (0.14 oz/4mL), approximate retail value $3.00
LaFace Laboratories PUR Purifying Face Wash (0.1oz/3mL), approximate retail value $0.64
Folle de Joie eau de parfum (0.06oz/2mL), approximate retail value $1.73
Mirenesse Glossy Kiss in Flirty Kiss (0.15oz/4g), approximate retail value $26.55
Simple Revitalizing Eye Roll-on (0.5oz/15mL), approximate retail value $10.99
Total Box Value: $42.91      

May 2013
Amika Obliphica Nourishing Mask (0.67oz), approximate retail value $1.60
Sumita Color Contrast Eyeliner in Suman/Black (0.024oz), approximate retail value $5.25
Run Guyausa Tea (4 bags), approximate retail value $1.75
COOLA Classic SPF 30 Cucumber Moisturizer for Face (0.23oz), approximate retail value $4.33
Marvis Toothpaste in Classic Mint (0.5oz), approximate retail value $2.10
Total Box Value: $15.03      

June 2013
Suki Exfoliate Foaming Cleanser (0.25 oz), approximate retail value $2.06
Klorane Gentle Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk (1.06 oz), approximate retail value $5.90
SW Basics Lip Balm Flights in Cinnamon, approximate retail value $3.75
Tweezerman Filemate Matchbox Itty Bitty Nail Files, retail value $7.99
Color Club Wanderlust in London Calling (0.25oz), approximate retail value $2.00
Total Box Value: $21.70

July 2013
100% Pure Green Apple Nourishing Body Cream (0.198 oz), approximate retail value $0.37
Benefit Cosmetics Girl Meets Pearl (0.25 oz), approximate retail value $18.75
Number 4 Super Comb Prep & Protect (estimated 0.75 oz), approximate retail value $3.55
Benta Berry G-1 Moisturizing Face Cream (0.16 oz), approximate retail value $3.52
Birchbox Bobby Pins (2), approximate retail value $1.67
Total Box Value: $27.86 

August 2013
Dr. Jart+ Premium BB Cream SPF 45+ (5ml/0.17 fluid oz), approximate retail value $4.42
Jasmine Seven Fresh Feet Wipes (2 wipes), approximate retail value $0.66
ModelCo Party Proof Lipstick in Disco Fever (1 at 0.13oz), approximate retail value $8.00
Violet Oasis 100% Organic Argan Oil (4ml/0.14 fluid oz), approximate retail value $2.66
TanTowel Classic Formula Self-Tan Towlette (1 towelette at 0.25oz), approximate retail value $2.40
Total Box Value: $18.14

September 2013

Yes to Grapefruit CC cream in Light and Light Medium (estimated 0.1oz), estimated retail value $0.94
VOESH New York Collagen Gloves - Premium Manicure Hand Mask (1 set of gloves), approximate retail value $6.67
Yes to Blueberries Age Refresh Cleansing Facial Towelettes (8 wipes), retail value $2.99
Ruffian Nail Lacquer in Hedge Fund (full size at 0.17oz), retail value $10
Coastal Scents Eyeshadow Sample in Set 34 Thrill Ride (0.07oz), approximate retail value $3.06
Total Box Value: $23.66  

October 2013
TheBalm Stainiac in Beauty Queen (0.04 fluid oz), approximate retail value $2.27
Beauty Protector Protect and Detangle 'Protect & Shampoo' Daily Shampoo (estimated 0.75 fluid oz), estimated retail value $2.05
Beauty Protector Protect and Detangle 'Protect & Condition' Daily Conditioner (estimated 0.75 fluid oz), estimated retail value $2.05
Evologie Stay Clear Cream (0.33oz), approximate retail value $20.46
Chapstick Hydration Lock (full size at 0.15oz), retail value $2.99    
Total Box Value: $29.82

November 2013
Eyeko Skinny Liquid Liner (0.04oz), approximate retail value $9.14
Mighty Leaf Tea Pouches in Green Tea Tropical, Organic African Nectar, and Vanilla Bean, approximate retail value $1.99
Vasanti Brighten Up! Enzymatic Face Rejuvenator (0.71oz), approximate retail value $5.67
BeeKind Body Lotion (1.01 fluid oz), approximate retail value $1.89
Color Club Cocktail Hour Collection in On the Rocks (0.25 fluid oz), approximate retail value $4.00
Total Box Value: $22.69   

Birchbox Statistics
Data Set- $18.92, $13.78, $24.01, $26.23, $19.18, $11.99, $30.09, $42.91, $15.03, $21.70, $27.86, $18.14, $23.66, $29.82, $22.69
Mean Value- $23.07
Median Value- $22.69
Standard Deviation- $7.82
Range of Values- $11.99 to $42.91
Range- $30.92 

Ipsy

October 2012
Coastal Scents Eye Shadow Quad (0.07 oz), approximate retail value $3.06
Couture Colour Pequi Oil Treatment (0.5oz), approximate retail value $12.00
Be a Bombshell Eye Liner in Onyx, approximate retail value $14.00
Mirenesse Lip Bomb Glossy Lacquer Stain, approximate retail value $35.10
theBalm What's Your Type? "the body builder" Mascara (0.11 oz), approximate retail value $5.50
Total Box Value: $69.71

November 2012
Nailtini Nail Polish in Millionaire, approximate retail value $13.00
Chella Eyebrow Defining Gel, approximate retail value $18.00
BareMinerals Marvelous Moxie Lipgloss in Dare Devil, approximate retail value $8.40
Starlet Peace, Love & Chocolate Eyeliner, approximate retail value $11.00
Meet Matt(e) eyeshadow in Matt Batali, approximate retail value $3.83
Total Box Value: $54.23

December 2012
Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in Zero (0.8g), approximate retail value $12.67
Be a Bombshell Lip Gloss in Hot Mess, retail value $14.00
NYX Ultra Pearl Mania in Mink Pearl, retail value $3.00
Mirabella Prime for Face and Eyes, retail value $29.00
Mai Couture Highlighter "Papier" in St. Bart's (25 sheets), approximate retail value $14.00
Total Value of the Box: $72.67

January 2013
Argan Oil by Josie Maran Cosmetics (0.17oz), approximate retail value $4.17
Pacifica Tuscan Blood Orange Body Butter (2.5oz), retail value $7.00
Big Sexy Hair Spray and Play (1.6oz), retail value $6.00
Nailtini in Bloody Mary, retail value $13.00
Soho New York Eyeliner Brush, retail value $7.99
Total Box Value: $38.16  

February 2013
Lash Cards (4), approximate retail value $2.80
Pixi Flawless and Poreless Primer (0.5oz), approximate retail value $14.50
Mica Beauty Gel Eyeliner in Black (3g), approximate retail value $18.00
Pop Beauty Smokey Lash Kapow Mascara (0.17oz), approximate retail value $12.58
Coastal Scents mini quad in Candlelight, Gunmetal, Incognito and Ashen (0.07oz), approximate retail value $2.24
Total box value: $50.12  

March 2013
Juice Beauty Hydrating Mist (1oz), approximate retail value $3.38
LA Fresh Travel-Lite Makeup Remover Wipes (8 count), approximate retail value $1.49
Glam RX Mini Freestyle Palette, estimated retail value $4
Yaby Eyeshadow Refill (2 at estimated 0.02oz each), estimated retail value $1.54
Total Box Value: $10.41 

April 2013
Sation Nail Color in Love At First Byte, retail value $5.95.
Big Sexy Hair Powder Play (0.07oz), approximate retail value $1.98.
Be a Bombshell Blush in Sweet Cheeks, retail value $16.
Two Cosmetics Duo Eyeshadow in Heartache, retail value $5.75
Total Box Value: $29.68

May 2013
Zoya Nail Polish in Julie, retail value $8.00
Pacifica Island Vanilla Perfume Roll-On, retail value $12.00
Pacifica Coconut Crushed Pearl Bronzing Body Butter Mini, retail value $7.00
Yaby Concealer Refill in Honey (2g), approximate retail value $2.77
Mirabella Shimmerati Glimmer Gloss, retail value $16.00
Total Box Value: $45.77      

June 2013
Starlooks Lip Pencil in Tipsy (2.4g/0.08oz), retail value $12.00
Chella Ivory Lace Highlighter (1.4g/0.05oz), retail value $18.00
Psssst! Instant Dry Shampoo (1.76oz), retail value $3.50
J Cat Sparkling Cream Palette in Suzie (0.1oz), retail value $4.49
NYX Rouge Cream Blush in Natural (0.12oz), retail value $6.00
Total Box Value: $43.99

July 2013

BH Cosmetics California Collection Eyeshadow Sample (estimated 0.09 oz), estimated retail value $0.62
Pop Beauty Pouty Pop Crayon in Coral Crush (0.1 oz), approximate retail value $4.17
Coola Rose Essence Tinted Moisturizer (0.23 oz), approximate retail value $4.87
Healthy Sexy Hair Soy Renewal Beach Spray (1.7 oz), approximate retail value $8.88
Nailtini Nail Polish in Mai Tai (0.5 oz), retail value $6
Total Box Value: $24.54   
   
August 2013
Urban Decay Revolution Lipstick in 69 (0.03oz), approximate retail value $7.33
Mica Beauty Shimmer Powder in Bronze (full size at 0.1oz), retail value $14.95
Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer (0.25oz), approximate retail value $9.75
Michael Todd True Organics Pumpkin Nutrient Rich Facial Mask (1oz), approximate retail value $10.00
Pixi Lash Booster (estimated 0.1 fluid oz), estimated retail value $6.80
Total Box Value: $48.83  

September 2013
Victoria Jackson Taupe Eyebrow Pencil (full size at 0.1oz), retail value $14.95
Cailyn Tinted Lip Balm in Big Apple (full size at 0.14oz), retail value $19
Starlooks Kohl Eye Pencil in Obsidian (full size at 0.08oz), retail value $12
NYX Single Eyeshadow in Morocco (full size at 0.085oz), retail value $4.50
Elizabeth Mott It's So Big Volumizing Mascara (0.14 fl oz), approximate retail value $8.00
Total Box Value: $58.45     

October 2013
Ole Henriksen Truth Creme Advanced Hydration (0.25 fluid oz), estimated retail value $6.72
Nourish Organic Coconut and Argan Body Lotion (1 fluid oz), estimated retail value $1.25
Buxom Lip Polish in Dolly (0.07 fluid oz), estimated retail value $8.87
Big Sexy Hair Blow Dry Volumizing Gel (1.7 fluid oz), estimated retail value $3.39
Zoya Nail Polish in Mason (full size at 0.5 fluid oz), retail value $8.00
Total Box Value: $28.23

November 2013
Em Cosmetics by Michelle Phan Lash Gallery Lengthening Mascara in Black (full size at 0.236 fluid oz), retail value $20
Starlooks Gem Eye Pencil in Amethyst (full size at 0.08oz), retail value $14
Be A Bombshell Lip Crayon in Hot Damn (full size at 0.09oz), retail value $14
Pixi Beauty Bronzer in Subtly Suntouched (0.11oz), approximate retail value $5.50
GlamGlow YouthMud Tinglexfoliate Treatment (travel size at 0.5 fluid oz), retail value $19
Nailtini Nail Lacquer in Caviar Cocktail (full size at 0.5 fluid oz), retail value $13 
Total Box Value: $85.50   

Ipsy Statistics
Data Set- $69.71, $54.23, $72.67, $38.16, $50.12, $10.41, $29.68, $45.77, $43.99, $24.54, $48.83, $58.45, $28.23, $85.50
Mean Value-$47.16
Median Value- $47.30
Standard Deviation- $20.45
Range of Values- $10.41 to $85.50
Range- $75.09

T-test Comparison:
A t-test showed that the difference between the two services was extremely statistically significant, t(27)=4.25, p=0.0002. Ipsy tends to send out boxes that have higher retail values, and that difference is robust. 

Test 2 - Personal Value         
 
The Description: This test is similar to Test #1, except that I eliminated the products that didn't add value to my box. A product added value if I was glad to have received it. A product I wanted to try would add value (even if I didn't end up liking it). A product I didn't expect to like but ended up enjoying would also add value. As a side note, I am only including products that gave me value outside of blogging. For example, it was a Juice Beauty product I received from Birchbox that originally inspired my "Beauty Bullshit" series. For the purposes of this test, that doesn't count as value (even though I hope those posts are valuable!).
The Benefits: This test takes into account the fact that subscription services are sometimes going to send out crap without asking me to come up with subjective values for products.
The Disadvantages: There is no objective measure for "crap". There is someone out there who likes products that I hate. If you have a different idea about what is crap, you may find that your results are different. I can only tell you what I didn't like and didn't use. 

Birchbox Test #2

September 2012
Kate Spade New York Twirl (0.05 oz), approximate retail value $1.18
A Twistband Hair Tie, approximate retail value $1.50
A Tili Bag, approximate retail value $0.71
WEI to go Sleepover Kit (1.0 and 3.0ml), approximate retail value $3.80
21 Drops Aromatherapy Blend in "Focus" (2 ml), approximate retail value $7.73
Birchbox and Color Club Custom Collection Nail Polish (.25 oz), approximate retail value $4.00
Total Personal Value: $17.03

October 2012
Lulu Organics Lavender and Clary Sage Hair Powder (5g), approximate retail value $1.32
A Luna Bar in Lemon Zest, approximate retail value $1.25
Karuna Hydrating Treatment Mask, approximate retail value $7
Embryolisse Lait-Creme Concentre 24-Hour Miracle Cream (4ml), approximate retail value $2.13
Naked Princess Naked Shine Luscious Lip Gloss (0.008oz), approximate retail value $2.08
Total Personal Value: $8.32

November 2012
Oscar Blandi Pronto Texture & Volume Spray (1 oz), approximate retail value $6.25
Miracle Skin Transformer Vanish Instant Imperfection Corrector (0.1 oz), approximate retail value $5.80
Chuao Chocolatier Assorted ChocoPod in Potato Chip, approximate retail value $1.14
Atelier Cologne Rose Anonyme Petite Cologne Absolue (.05 oz), approximate retail value $3.75
Stila All Over Shimmer Liquid Luminizer, approximate retail value $6.67
Total Personal Value: $24.01

December 2012
Thymes Body Lotion in Naia (1.5 oz), approximate retail value $4.05
Thymes Body Lotion in Lotus Santal (no size listed, about 0.15oz), approximate retail value $0.41
Keratase Nutritive Nectar Thermique (0.68 oz), approximate retail value $5.60
ModelCo Shine Ultra Lip Gloss in Berry Pink, retail value $16.00
Juice Beauty Stem Cellular Repair CC Cream in Natural Glow (0.17 oz), approximate retail value $3.90
Total Personal value: $20.46 

January 2013
Lumiere d'hiver Clarifying Shampoo (1.75oz), approximate retail value $6.67
Fresh Lotus Youth Preserve Face Cream (0.14oz), approximate retail value $3.48
Harvey Prince Skinny Chic (estimated at 2ml), approximate retail value $1.82
Lashem Double Trouble Mascara (estimated at 1ml), approximate retail value $4.76
TheBalm Hot Mama (1g), approximate retail value $3.11
Total Personal Value: $19.84 

February 2013
Beauty Protector Protect and Detangle (estimated 1.25 oz), approximate retail value $4.12
Color Club Nail Polish in Wild Cactus (0.25 oz), approximate retail value $4.00
Dr. Jart+ Black Label Detox Beauty Balm (0.1 oz), approximate retail value $2.13
Juicy Couture Couture La La Perfume (0.05 oz), approximate retail value $1.32
Ghirardelli Milk and Caramel Square, approximate retail value $0.42
Total Personal value: $10.25

March 2013
Whish Shave Crave Shaving Cream in Blueberry (0.75oz), approximate retail value $2.93
Madewell for Birchbox Nail Emery Board, approximate retail value $5
Benefit Stay Don't Stray Primer (0.09oz), approximate retail value $7.09
Evologie Intensive Blemish Serum (0.17oz), approximate retail value $11.90
Twistband Headband, approximate retail value $3.17
Total Personal Value: $6.10    

April 2013
Nexxus Youth Renewal Rejuvenating Elixir (0.14 oz/4mL), approximate retail value $3.00
LaFace Laboratories PUR Purifying Face Wash (0.1oz/3mL), approximate retail value $0.64
Folle de Joie eau de parfum (0.06oz/2mL), approximate retail value $1.73
Mirenesse Glossy Kiss in Flirty Kiss (0.15oz/4g), approximate retail value $26.55
Simple Revitalizing Eye Roll-on (0.5oz/15mL), approximate retail value $10.99
Total Personal Value: $28.28    

May 2013
Amika Obliphica Nourishing Mask (0.67oz), approximate retail value $1.60
Sumita Color Contrast Eyeliner in Suman/Black (0.024oz), approximate retail value $5.25
Run Guyausa Tea (4 bags), approximate retail value $1.75
COOLA Classic SPF 30 Cucumber Moisturizer for Face (0.23oz), approximate retail value $4.33
Marvis Toothpaste in Classic Mint (0.5oz), approximate retail value $2.10
Total Personal Value: $9.58    

June 2013
Suki Exfoliate Foaming Cleanser (0.25 oz), approximate retail value $2.06
Klorane Gentle Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk (1.06 oz), approximate retail value $5.90
SW Basics Lip Balm Flights in Cinnamon, approximate retail value $3.75
Tweezerman Filemate Matchbox Itty Bitty Nail Files, retail value $7.99
Color Club Wanderlust in London Calling (0.25oz), approximate retail value $2.00
Total Personal Value: $13.71

July 2013
100% Pure Green Apple Nourishing Body Cream (0.198 oz), approximate retail value $0.37
Benefit Cosmetics Girl Meets Pearl (0.25 oz), approximate retail value $18.75
Number 4 Super Comb Prep & Protect (estimated 0.75 oz), approximate retail value $3.55
Benta Berry G-1 Moisturizing Face Cream (0.16 oz), approximate retail value $3.52
Birchbox Bobby Pins (2), approximate retail value $1.67
Total Personal Value: $1.67

August 2013
Dr. Jart+ Premium BB Cream SPF 45+ (5ml/0.17 fluid oz), approximate retail value $4.42
Jasmine Seven Fresh Feet Wipes (2 wipes), approximate retail value $0.66
ModelCo Party Proof Lipstick in Disco Fever (1 at 0.13oz), approximate retail value $8.00
Violet Oasis 100% Organic Argan Oil (4ml/0.14 fluid oz), approximate retail value $2.66
TanTowel Classic Formula Self-Tan Towlette (1 towelette at 0.25oz), approximate retail value $2.40
Total Personal Value: $13.08

September 2013

Yes to Grapefruit CC cream in Light and Light Medium (estimated 0.1oz), estimated retail value $0.94
VOESH New York Collagen Gloves - Premium Manicure Hand Mask (1 set of gloves), approximate retail value $6.67
Yes to Blueberries Age Refresh Cleansing Facial Towelettes (8 wipes), retail value $2.99
Ruffian Nail Lacquer in Hedge Fund (full size at 0.17oz), retail value $10
Coastal Scents Eyeshadow Sample in Set 34 Thrill Ride (0.07oz), approximate retail value $3.06
Total Personal Value: $16.05

October 2013
TheBalm Stainiac in Beauty Queen (0.04 fluid oz), approximate retail value $2.27
Beauty Protector Protect and Detangle 'Protect & Shampoo' Daily Shampoo (estimated 0.75 fluid oz), estimated retail value $2.05
Beauty Protector Protect and Detangle 'Protect & Condition' Daily Conditioner (estimated 0.75 fluid oz), estimated retail value $2.05
Evologie Stay Clear Cream (0.33oz), approximate retail value $20.46
Chapstick Hydration Lock (full size at 0.15oz), retail value $2.99    
Total Personal Value: $29.82

November 2013
Eyeko Skinny Liquid Liner (0.04oz), approximate retail value $9.14
Mighty Leaf Tea Pouches in Green Tea Tropical, Organic African Nectar, and Vanilla Bean, approximate retail value $1.99
Vasanti Brighten Up! Enzymatic Face Rejuvenator (0.71oz), approximate retail value $5.67
BeeKind Body Lotion (1.01 fluid oz), approximate retail value $1.89
Color Club Cocktail Hour Collection in On the Rocks (0.25 fluid oz), approximate retail value $4.00
Total Personal Value: $20.80   

Birchbox Statistics
Data Set- $17.03, 8.32, 24.01, 20.46, 19.84, 10.25, 6.10, 28.28, 9.58, 13.71, 1.67, 13.08, 16.05, 29.82, 20.80
Mean Value-$15.93
Median Value- $16.05
Standard Deviation- $8.08
Range of Values- $1.67 to 29.82
Range- $28.15

Ipsy Test #2

October 2012
Coastal Scents Eye Shadow Quad (0.07 oz), approximate retail value $3.06
Couture Colour Pequi Oil Treatment (0.5oz), approximate retail value $12.00
Be a Bombshell Eye Liner in Onyx, approximate retail value $14.00
Mirenesse Lip Bomb Glossy Lacquer Stain, approximate retail value $35.10
theBalm What's Your Type? "the body builder" Mascara (0.11 oz), approximate retail value $5.50
Total Personal Value: $57.66

November 2012
Nailtini Nail Polish in Millionaire, approximate retail value $13.00
Chella Eyebrow Defining Gel, approximate retail value $18.00
BareMinerals Marvelous Moxie Lipgloss in Dare Devil, approximate retail value $8.40
Starlet Peace, Love & Chocolate Eyeliner, approximate retail value $11.00
Meet Matt(e) eyeshadow in Matt Batali, approximate retail value $3.83
Total Personal Value: $12.23

December 2012
Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in Zero (0.8g), approximate retail value $12.67
Be a Bombshell Lip Gloss in Hot Mess, retail value $14.00
NYX Ultra Pearl Mania in Mink Pearl, retail value $3.00
Mirabella Prime for Face and Eyes, retail value $29.00
Mai Couture Highlighter "Papier" in St. Bart's (25 sheets), approximate retail value $14.00
Total Personal Value: $12.67

January 2013
Argan Oil by Josie Maran Cosmetics (0.17oz), approximate retail value $4.17
Pacifica Tuscan Blood Orange Body Butter (2.5oz), retail value $7.00
Big Sexy Hair Spray and Play (1.6oz), retail value $6.00
Nailtini in Bloody Mary, retail value $13.00
Soho New York Eyeliner Brush, retail value $7.99
Total Personal Value: $7.99

February 2013
Lash Cards (4), approximate retail value $2.80
Pixi Flawless and Poreless Primer (0.5oz), approximate retail value $14.50
Mica Beauty Gel Eyeliner in Black (3g), approximate retail value $18.00
Pop Beauty Smokey Lash Kapow Mascara (0.17oz), approximate retail value $12.58
Coastal Scents mini quad in Candlelight, Gunmetal, Incognito and Ashen (0.07oz), approximate retail value $2.24
Total Personal value: $34.74

March 2013
Juice Beauty Hydrating Mist (1oz), approximate retail value $3.38
LA Fresh Travel-Lite Makeup Remover Wipes (8 count), approximate retail value $1.49
Glam RX Mini Freestyle Palette, estimated retail value $4
Yaby Eyeshadow Refill (2 at estimated 0.02oz each), estimated retail value $1.54
Total Personal Value: $0.00

April 2013
Sation Nail Color in Love At First Byte, retail value $5.95.
Big Sexy Hair Powder Play (0.07oz), approximate retail value $1.98.
Be a Bombshell Blush in Sweet Cheeks, retail value $16.
Two Cosmetics Duo Eyeshadow in Heartache, retail value $5.75
Total Personal Value: $21.75

May 2013
Zoya Nail Polish in Julie, retail value $8.00
Pacifica Island Vanilla Perfume Roll-On, retail value $12.00
Pacifica Coconut Crushed Pearl Bronzing Body Butter Mini, retail value $7.00
Yaby Concealer Refill in Honey (2g), approximate retail value $2.77
Mirabella Shimmerati Glimmer Gloss, retail value $16.00
Total Personal Value: $0.00      

June 2013
Starlooks Lip Pencil in Tipsy (2.4g/0.08oz), retail value $12.00
Chella Ivory Lace Highlighter (1.4g/0.05oz), retail value $18.00
Psssst! Instant Dry Shampoo (1.76oz), retail value $3.50
J Cat Sparkling Cream Palette in Suzie (0.1oz), retail value $4.49
NYX Rouge Cream Blush in Natural (0.12oz), retail value $6.00
Total Personal Value: $39.50

July 2013

BH Cosmetics California Collection Eyeshadow Sample (estimated 0.09 oz), estimated retail value $0.62
Pop Beauty Pouty Pop Crayon in Coral Crush (0.1 oz), approximate retail value $4.17
Coola Rose Essence Tinted Moisturizer (0.23 oz), approximate retail value $4.87
Healthy Sexy Hair Soy Renewal Beach Spray (1.7 oz), approximate retail value $8.88
Nailtini Nail Polish in Mai Tai (0.5 oz), retail value $6
Total Personal Value: $8.88
   
August 2013
Urban Decay Revolution Lipstick in 69 (0.03oz), approximate retail value $7.33
Mica Beauty Shimmer Powder in Bronze (full size at 0.1oz), retail value $14.95
Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer (0.25oz), approximate retail value $9.75
Michael Todd True Organics Pumpkin Nutrient Rich Facial Mask (1oz), approximate retail value $10.00
Pixi Lash Booster (estimated 0.1 fluid oz), estimated retail value $6.80
Total Personal Value: $17.33

September 2013
Victoria Jackson Taupe Eyebrow Pencil (full size at 0.1oz), retail value $14.95
Cailyn Tinted Lip Balm in Big Apple (full size at 0.14oz), retail value $19
Starlooks Kohl Eye Pencil in Obsidian (full size at 0.08oz), retail value $12
NYX Single Eyeshadow in Morocco (full size at 0.085oz), retail value $4.50
Elizabeth Mott It's So Big Volumizing Mascara (0.14 fl oz), approximate retail value $8.00
Total Personal Value: $19.45  

October 2013
Ole Henriksen Truth Creme Advanced Hydration (0.25 fluid oz), estimated retail value $6.72
Nourish Organic Coconut and Argan Body Lotion (1 fluid oz), estimated retail value $1.25
Buxom Lip Polish in Dolly (0.07 fluid oz), estimated retail value $8.87
Big Sexy Hair Blow Dry Volumizing Gel (1.7 fluid oz), estimated retail value $3.39
Zoya Nail Polish in Mason (full size at 0.5 fluid oz), retail value $8.00
Total Personal Value: $6.72

November 2013
Em Cosmetics by Michelle Phan Lash Gallery Lengthening Mascara in Black (full size at 0.236 fluid oz), retail value $20
Starlooks Gem Eye Pencil in Amethyst (full size at 0.08oz), retail value $14
Be A Bombshell Lip Crayon in Hot Damn (full size at 0.09oz), retail value $14
Pixi Beauty Bronzer in Subtly Suntouched (0.11oz), approximate retail value $5.50
GlamGlow YouthMud Tinglexfoliate Treatment (travel size at 0.5 fluid oz), retail value $19
Nailtini Nail Lacquer in Caviar Cocktail (full size at 0.5 fluid oz), retail value $13 
Total Personal Value: $38.50    

Ipsy Statistics
Data Set- $57.66, 12.23, 12.67, 7.99, 34.74, 0, 21.75, 0, 39.50, 8.88, 17.33, 19.45, 6.72, 38.50
Mean Value-$19.82
Median Value- $15.00
Standard Deviation- $16.93
Range of Values- $0 - 57.66
Range- $57.66

T-Test Comparison:
It turns out that when you take out all the shit that I didn't want to get in the first place, there is no statistically significant difference between the values of the two boxes, t(27)=0.4325, p>0.05

Addendum to Tests #1 and 2 - The Issue of Points

You'll note that I did not include points in Test #1 or Test #2.

For the purpose of this addendum, I'm going to explore what happens if you add in the value of points. Both Birchbox and Ipsy have points systems, although Birchbox's point system is more established and more valuable. I intend to ignore the issue of referrals since the average person is probably not making a buttload of referrals.

Ipsy offers 250 points for referrals and 10 points for product reviews. However, it is 1000 points to actually redeem something. Since your points expire in a year, people who aren't making referrals aren't going to be able to redeem their points for anything. (Approximately 50 points a month times 12 months is only 600 points...) Thus, for the purposes of this analysis, Ipsy points are worthless. 

Birchbox points are worth money in the Birchbox store. 100 points are worth $10. You get 10% back in points for shopping in the Birchbox store, 50 points for making referrals, and 10 points for giving feedback on products. Although you can only redeem points in intervals of 100, each of those product reviews has an approximate value of $1. 

So, when you add in the value of points, your estimated box values change slightly. For example, in Test #1, the data set for Birchbox becomes: $24.92, $18.78, $29.01, $31.23, $24.18, $16.99, $35.09, $47.91, $20.03, $26.70, $32.86, $23.14, $28.66, $34.82, $27.69.

I conducted two t-tests to see whether my results for Test #1 and Test #2 changed when you added in the Birchbox points, and they did not. Ipsy still came out ahead in Test #1 and there was still no statistically significant difference in Test #2. With that, I adore the Birchbox points system. 
 
Test #3 - Head-to-Head

The Description: Instead of trying to calculate value, I just did a basic head-to-head for each month that I have been subscribed to the two services. I then ran a Chi-square test to check for statistical significance.
The Benefits: This eliminates all the worries about whether or not I really got X-number-of-dollars-of-value out of Y product. It's the most basic way to compare services on a multitude of levels. Which did I like better?
The Disadvantages: Again, this is a highly subjective test. There also isn't a lot of statistical power in only 14 months worth of data.

Ipsy and Birchbox, Head-to-Head

(Obviously, I can't do September 2012, since I didn't get an Ipsy that month.)

October 2012
Winner: Ipsy
The Mirenesse lip lacquer and theBalm Body Builder mascara are still favorites of mine.

November 2012
Winner: Birchbox
I still use the Oscar Blandi Texture Spray that Birchbox sent (I bought a full size), I bought a million Chuao chocolate bars, and the Atelier Cologne Rose Anonyme is on my list of things that I will perpetually lust over.

December 2012
Winner: Birchbox
I purchased a full size of the Thymes Body Lotion and I still use that ModelCo lipgloss when I am lazy or in a rush. (I used it in my three-minute makeup challenge video!)

January 2013
Winner: Birchbox
I got personal value out of all the products sent in my Birchbox, whereas Ipsy was largely a bust.

February 2013
Winner: Birchbox
The Beauty Protector Protect and Detangle is one of my all-time favorite products, and Wild Cactus by Color Club is the most perfect shade of green polish.

March 2013
Winner: Birchbox
I hated everything I got in that Ipsy. Although my Birchbox wasn't killer, I did purchase that Whish shaving cream in the full size... and I just recently re-purchased it in the almond scent. I also use that Twistband headband all the time and may purchase more of them for lazy weekend days.

April 2013
Winner: Ipsy
This was a close one, but I loved all the shimmery pink products from this Ipsy bag!

May 2013
Winner: Birchbox
Neither box was particularly good, but I did like the Sumita eyeliner I received from Birchbox (and I did end up buying it in green).

June 2013
Winner: Birchbox
Both boxes were awesome this month. From Birchbox, I ended up purchasing the Suki Exfoliate Cleaner (I re-purchased this one, as well), the Klorane Gentle Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk, SW Basics Lip Balm Flights, AND the Color Club Wanderlust Collection. From Ipsy, I still regularly use Chella Ivory Lace Highlighter (and would purchase) and the NYX Rouge Cream Blush. For sheer magnitude of "shit I loved", though, the win has to go to Birchbox.

July 2013
Winner: Ipsy? I guess?
Both of these boxes were AWFUL. However, the Beach Spray from Ipsy wasn't the worst thing in the world. (With that said, I still use the bobby pins I got from Birchbox and I have no idea what happened to the Ipsy spray.)

August 2013
Winner: Ipsy
An Urban Decay Revolution lipstick sample and a Michael Todd mask? SOLD.

September 2013
Winner: Ipsy
The discovery of the Victoria Jackson brow pencil was more valuable than the products I received that I enjoyed from Birchbox.

October 2013
Winner: Birchbox
Most of the Birchbox Products weren't huge wins, but most of Ipsy products were awful.

November 2013
Winner: Ipsy
I was super excited about the GlamGlow, the Pixi Bronzer, and the Starlooks Gem Eye Pencil.

Birchbox Total Wins: 8
Ipsy Total Wins: 6

I probably don't have to actually conduct the Chi-Square Test for y'all to know that that isn't going to be statistically significant, but I will anyways. Clearly, with 14 months of data, the null hypothesis would predict that Birchbox would win 7 times and Ipsy would win 7 times. My Chi-Square test showed that we could not reject the null hypothesis, c2(1, N = 14) = 0.286, p = 0.5930.

To be fair, 14 data points isn't very much. One of the brands would have had to win 11 times for significance to be detected in such a small sample size. Still, even if we don't worry about the p-value, I feel super comfortable attributing this slight difference to chance. There doesn't seem to be a marked difference in which box I, personally, prefer.

Test #4 - What Did I Actually Buy?

The Description: This is a simple list of the products that I purchased after sampling them from Birchbox or Ipsy. I debated exactly how I wanted to operationally define this category because 1. I have purchased a ton of things from the Birchbox shop that I didn't sample in my box and 2. There are two things I purchased after sampling from Ipsy that I'm pretty sure I would have purchased either way. I ended up listing everything that I purchased after sampling that I had not already tried prior to the subscription service.
The Benefits: One of the reasons that I use subscription services is to find new, amazing products that I might otherwise never have encountered. This is an easy way to see whether Ipsy or Birchbox is facilitating that process more effectively.
The Disadvantages: This does not apply to people who subscribe to Birchbox or Ipsy for reasons other than finding new HG products.

What I Bought After Sampling From Birchbox:
WEI to go Sleepover Kit
Oscar Blandi Pronto Texture & Volume Spray
Chuao Chocolatier Assorted ChocoPod
Thymes Body Lotion in Lotus Santal
Beauty Protector Protect and Detangle
Color Club Nail Polish
Dr. Jart+ Black Label Detox Beauty Balm (I ended up hating this, but I did buy it.)
Whish Shave Crave Shaving Cream
Sumita Color Contrast Eyeliner
Suki Exfoliate Foaming Cleanser
Klorane Gentle Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk
SW Basics Lip Balm Flights

What I Bought After Sampling From Ipsy:
TheBalm What's Your Type? "the body builder" Mascara
Mirenesse Lip Bomb Glossy Lacquer Stain
TheBalm Meet Matt(e) Eyeshadow Palette
Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil

It is immediately apparent that I purchased more based on Birchbox samples than Ipsy samples. (Additionally, I strongly suspect that I would have bought Meet Matt(e) and the UD 24/7 Liner either way.) I went ahead and did a Chi-square test on this data as well and found that I do clearly purchase more based on products that I received in my Birchbox, c2(1, N = 16) = 4.00, p < 0.05. To me, this suggest that Birchbox sends me more products that impress me and that they are making a bigger impact on my beauty routine.

In Conclusion, My Totally Subjective Feelings

I think that the statistics clearly demonstrate the feelings that I have always had about these two services. When Ipsy is good, they're good, but they send out a lot of crap alongside their nicer products. Birchbox sends out smaller samples, but they are much more consistent and they are more likely to send you something that you feel the need to purchase.

I would recommend Ipsy to someone who is looking for a monthly makeup gift, and I would recommend to Birchbox to someone who is looking to discover new products to love (and purchase).  Personally, I fully intend to stay subscribed to both services.

If you would like to join Birchbox, please feel free to use my referral link by clicking here.
If you would like to join Ipsy, my referral link is available here
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