Here is what I got:
Nail Rock Manicure Glitter in Red Glitter (full size at 0.34 fl oz for the polish, 0.18oz for the glitter), retail value $7.00
I was really excited about getting this product because... well, glitter and nail polish. I also really like the color-- if you need a reference, it's very similar to the red that McDonald's prints on their ketchup packets.
As you are all probably aware, I am not particularly good at doing my nails. I am also impatient as fuck. That means that if I try to do any sort of nail art the day that I paint my nails, everything ends in tragedy. My strategy, then, is to do my nails at night, go to bed (so I am literally 100% sure that my nails are dry when I try something fancy), and then do whatever miscellaneous nail art I wanted to do. (And we're using the word "nail art" pretty loosely here.)
When I applied the nail polish itself, I was already pretty not-blown-away by the formula. It's very thin and watery. It feels like a quick-dry nail polish... but, like, worse. Then, I could not get it opaque for the life of me. I did four coats of the stuff before getting frustrated and giving up. I figured I would do a half-moon manicure and just cover the tips of my nails with glitter, and no one would be the wiser. I went to bed.
When I woke up the next day, my nails looked like this:
That is absolutely unacceptable. I spent the rest of my day watching as little flakes of nail polish drifted off my fingers.
Beauty Rock is not a brand that I have had success with in general. The Nail Rock Nail Wraps were terrible... and I tried out (and didn't review. Let me know if you are aching for one!) the Eye Rock Designer Liners and they possibly the worst product I have ever used. I just wasn't expecting this to be so bad because nail polish and glitter isn't exactly a complicated product concept.
Serge Normant Meta Revive Dry Conditioner (1.2 oz), approximate retail value $9.38
Dry shampoo is not the same thing as regular shampoo. It just doesn't serve the same function. If you have gunk in your hair, dry shampoo won't get it out. Thus, I am, in theory, willing to kind of cut dry conditioner a break if it doesn't actually add back in oils or (for some conditioners) coat your hair in silicone, which is how conditioner does its job.
However, a few glances through the ingredient list of the Serge Normant Dry Conditioner and I am baffled at how they can call it conditioner. In fact, based on its ingredients, it looks exactly like a dry shampoo. Ingredients like Aluminum Starch Octenylsuccinate are included to absorb oil. I don't understand how that fits with the concept of a dry conditioner. A few ingredients are kind of conditioner-y (e.g. Butylene Glycol, a humectant), but those ingredients are commonly used in dry shampoo, as well.
Looking the Birchbox description of what ingredients are supposedly making this product function is even more baffling. Birchbox states, "Argan oil makes hair soft and supple while fortifying the cuticle to help hair shine. Cornstarch absorbs oil without weighing down your mane."
Okay, let's go ahead and look at the actual ingredients of this product, for a minute: Butane, Propane, SD Alcohol 40-B, Ethyl Trisiloxane, Aluminum Starch Octenylsuccinate, Butylene Glycol, Diisopropyl Adipate, Quaternium-91, Cetrimonium Methosulfate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Fragrance, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein PG-Propyl Silanetriol, Polyquaternium-59, Butylene Glycol, Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil, Disteardimonium Hectorite.
See where argan oil ("Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil") is located on that list? Four ingredients after "fragrance"? (For those of you not already aware, the order of ingredients is indicative of the amount of the ingredient in the product. The product contains more of the ingredients at the beginning of the list.)
See where cornstarch is located? Yeah, me neither. It's not even on the ingredients list.
In other words: bull-fucking-shit, Birchbox.
Now, let's go ahead and look at what this product actually did to my hair. Here is my hair pre-dry conditioner:
Here is my hair post-dry conditioner.
It did absolutely nothing. It doesn't work and theory and it doesn't work in practice.
100% Pure Fruit Pigmented Mascara in Black Tea (0.1oz), approximate retail value $7.50
I had really low expectations for this product. My last 100% Pure Product, a green apple body cream, smelled like Jolly Ranchers and had no redeeming qualities. Both the brand and the product seem gimmicky to me. ("While picking blackberries in her garden, 100% Pure founder Susie Wang noticed that the fruit stained her skin a beautiful deep red color—and had an epiphany: All-natural pigments could mimic the brilliance of harsh artificial dyes, minus the irritating side effects." Okay, naturalistic fallacy.)
To my surprise, though, this mascara is actually super, super awesome. I really like mascaras that are effortless. To me, this is the perfect, effortless mascara. It looks as natural as a black mascara can look and it gives lots of length without causing clumpy spider legs.
One more view. Before mascara:
I definitely would consider purchasing a full size of this product. The only caveat I have is that it doesn't smell amazing. The "black tea" scent is reminiscent of blueberry cough syrup.
ZENMED Gentle Cleansing Cream (0.33 fl oz), approximate retail value $1.05
I don't have a lot to say about this product because it is (unlike the rest of my box) boring. I was amused that the back of the product read, "ideal for mature or dry skin", as I definitely do not have either mature or dry skin; I have the skin of a greasy 15-year-old. I also thought Birchbox's explanation of why it's supposedly awesome was funny: "Thanks to a pH-balanced formula, this gentle cleanser washes away dirt and oil without disrupting skin’s acid mantle, aka the invisible shield that protects skin from environmental aggressors." That is technically true. However, if you have a product that is NOT designed with your skin's pH in mind, that is a bad product and you really shouldn't use it.
Bland cleansers are good things, ultimately. But it's awfully hard to get worked up about them.
Ahmad Teas in Mint Mystique, Apricot Sunrise, and English Tea No. 1 (3 bags), approximate retail value $0.53
Finally, I got tea. I know some people hate getting tea in their Birchboxes, but I don't mind. The Mighty Leaf Tropical Green Tea that I got from Birchbox is currently part of my weekday morning routine.
These three, unfortunately, didn't blow me away. The Mint Green Tea was fine, but I thought that black teas were too bitter. I'm a green tea drinker, though, so take my opinions with a grain of salt.
Total Box Value: $25.44
Overall, I think this box was fine. The awesome mascara (which I have been using as my "I am running late so I guess I'm going light on the makeup today" mascara) saved the other products that weren't as loveable. (When I add in the value of Birchbox points, though, I feel a lot more happy about my box!) I think the huge variety of products and the large sample sizes, though, bode well for the start of 2014.
If you realize that Birchbox is what is missing in your life, for some reason, you are welcome to use my referral link by clicking here.