Saturday, January 25, 2014

Birchbox January 2014 Review

Birchbox has a reputation for being a little bit bland. It was a surprise, then, to open my box and see so many different colors and shapes. Seriously, look at this. It's what Birchbox ads are made of:

VISUALLY APPEALING.
Were the products amazing? Eh. Still, say what you will about my Birchbox this month... It wasn't bland.

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.

Before mascara:


After mascara:


One more view. Before mascara:


After 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.

36 comments:

  1. Do you use a base coat under your nail polish? Ditto on a top coat?

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    1. I use a base coat by Essie. I usually use Seche Vite as a top coat, but didn't apply it to this polish because I intended to add more to it first... but that definitely doesn't excuse such an awful performance!

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  2. I had the same experience with the nail polish i got (it was the navy velvet manicure). It was thin and watery and took a lot of coats to get it opaque. I'd never use it on its own, only with the weird velvety stuff.

    Also, i got the serge normant dry shampoo once from birchbox and it was the worst dry shampoo i've ever used. It made my hair feel gross. It was odd and sticky and smelled too strong.

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    Replies
    1. Oh no! I have never had a bad dry shampoo, but that sounds pretty awful.

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  3. Great detailed review! I'm so glad I found your blog. I feel like my birchboxes are getting worse. I kinda regret my one year subscription but the Birchbox points really make up for it.

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    1. Birchbox points are awesome. I feel like boxes have been staying consistent in quality...

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  4. My eyes kind of bugged out at the nail polish - my polish peels off in full nail sheets no longer than 48 hours after I apply it (regardless of top or base coat, regardless of pre-treatment; professionally applied gel nails last maybe 5-6 days) - I didn't think it was possible for normal people( i.e not freaks like me) to have this experience ! :-( I guess crappy polish is crappy polish...

    That mascara is truly impressive (despite the company story that makes me weep a bit for the catastrophically low opinion marketers have of our intelligence)

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    1. Wait, you mean some people's nail polish doesn't come off in one nail shaped piece, and they don't have to repaint them every day?

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    2. Huh. I'm curious what accounts for that difference!

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    3. ME TOO. Mine no longer comes off that badly most of the time, unless I do exceptionally thick coats of really big glitter or something. But it used to come off extremely quickly. Now sometimes I can go for 3 whole days before chipping.

      What worked for me was experimenting with base and top costs and SANDWICHING them. This is a tip I read from some salon person: you do the base coat (currently using some essies, the one that supposedly helps your nails grow but probably just keeps them from breaking, and the millionails one) then a layer of polish, then of topcoat (millionails again) then polish, then topcoat etc. I also think that more layers (up to a point. More THIN layers, not big globby ones like I used to do) helps - like three or even four as opposed to one or two. No, that's not counting layers of topcoat.

      Also maybe helpful: making sure my nails aren't greasy beforehand (vinegar works but also just non-condition nail polish) and... that might be it. Maybe also the thin layers and letting them dry all the way in between, so I don't smoosh them by accident :-)

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  5. Very detailed review! I had been thinking of getting a subscription box for some time but the possibility of getting junk I had no use for as well as the high costs ( I live in Canada where everything's more expensive) made me stay away. After reading your reviews of these boxes every month, it doesn't seem like you like even 25% of the product inside. Anyways, thanks for doing this for the rest of us :D!

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    Replies
    1. I live in Canada too (BC) and went with the Ipsy box based on the reviews on this site. The shipping is about $6 but its SO MUCH FUN to receive a package every month! I give away the products that aren't 'me' to friends (or friends with teens if the stuff is too wacky) but there's at least one or two products every month that seem to be up my alley.

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    2. Yeah, I'm a cynic, but I obviously like getting Birchbox and Ipsy or I wouldn't pay for them. ;)

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  6. I don't think that the Nail Rock polish is meant to be used alone :/ I did two accent nails, full nails with full glitter, and it stayed on for 4 days without a chip!

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    1. Does the crappiness of its formula alone make it any better with glitter? I was so frustrated that I definitely didn't choose to re-do that awful manicure with glitter, haha.

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    2. Well, the instructions say to put on two coats, then the glitter, then dry for twenty minutes - I did two thick, gloopy coats of the polish, and the mushed the glitter into the thick, still-wet polish. I think that the polish is intended to HOLD the glitter.

      Or, it could be that I just had better luck!

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    3. Ha! That makes sense. I was also going to say that the glitter by itself would be worth it to me, even though I know glitter is cheap as fuck..

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  7. That mascara looks amazing on you!

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  8. Would definitely enjoy a review of the terrible eyeliner!

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    Replies
    1. Ha! Okay. It's reeeeeally bad.

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    2. I would also enjoy reading a review of that!

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  9. Your experience with that red polish mirrors my experience with every matte polish in existence. "How did I chip out of the middle of my nail IN MY SLEEP?!"

    Isn't it crazy when one of the million mascara samples you end up with actually works?

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    Replies
    1. I was pleasantly surprised! Usually the mascara samples I get are not the best.

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  10. Yeah, the mascara does look great. Never have bought anything from the company, but I might try this mascara. Is it 100% Pure?? Would you say it's more lengthening than volume? I wish my BBox had some of your stuff in it. (I'll send you my tea.)

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    1. It is definitely lengthening and not particularly volumizing, but I like the aesthetic as it is.

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  11. I got the Nail Rock polish in Glitter Dust Pink in my Birchbox this month, and I actually had some success with it! The pink is just like, not happening as a color in its own right on my nails (I just did one coat), but with glitter over the entire nail, it worked quite nicely as the glue to attach the sparkles. I pressed down the glitter after I was done dipping and then applied a coat of Seche Vite over. It's acting as a good sealant! Granted, I only did this half an hour ago and minds can change. I might post an update, but for me it's working pretty well!

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    1. Be sure to let us know how it went!

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  12. I fucking love 100% Pure, just because the moisturizer I tried from them was fuckmazing on my skin. Wow, that was a lot of swearing in one comment even for me. But I would fucking hate a product that smelled like jolly ranchers. Everything I've tried in their store is pretty great, happily. I am not an apple scent fan in general so I probably haven't even smelled that one... and now I never will. (Lie. Now I'll smell it perversely just to see how bad it is.)

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  13. Aluminum Starch Octenylsuccinate is chemically modified corn starch or rather derivative :) It does jack though in hair. The ONLY thing in that ingredient list for the dry conditioner is Cetrimonium Methosulfate, which will make your hair easier to comb. There are other cationic salts (the quats) in there, so this will cause build up fairly quickly too. Argan oil is there at bullshit levels, totally right! Crap indeed :D

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    1. That's fair, but Aluminum Starch Octenylsuccinate is still definitely different from cornstarch. It's an aluminum salt FFS, haha!

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    2. Oh yeah, totally. You can just see a marketing guy trying to really stretch claims on that product for sure!

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  14. The 100% pure mascara was a train wreck on me, but I have Asian lashes that prefer a waterproof formula rather than wetter ones. It basically undid my curl, did nothing for length, and extremely little for thickness on me. Mine went in the trash after two tries.

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  15. I just had to chime in with my take on the Sequin Green version of Nail Rock. I applied as directed (two coats polish, dip immediately in glitter, dry 20 minutes) except I actually waited 30 minutes. Thirty minutes with my hands covered in glitter I couldn't get off with damaging the nails. Then, when I did remove the access, most of what was supposed to stay on my nail came with it. One of my nails only had 23 pieces of glitter left, immediately after finishing the manicure. Add to that the fact that the remaining glitter is super-rough and likely to catch on things, and I'm betting it's all gone within a day.

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  16. I know this is suuuuper late but I just wanted to post that I bought the 100% Pure mascara because of this post, and I LOVE it. It is my new staple/every day/natural mascara.

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