Monday, January 20, 2014

Ipsy January 2014 Review

Ipsy definitely has its disappointing months, but it usually sustains interest based on the fact that they really do send out primarily makeup-related items. Like, you get things that are purple or glittery or glossy. This month, they decided to go the skincare/haircare/boring shit route. It wasn't a good change.


I also really didn't like the bag itself. The sky blue with pictures of miscellaneous, faceless body care products looks like something that would be in a tween magazine ad or a book about your first period. The bag (not to mention the inclusion of Proactiv) kind of makes me feel like I am too old for this subscription service... and I'm not particularly old. I am of the age where I could conceivably wear body glitter and maybe even get away with it. To me, it seems a little unwise for Ipsy to make their aesthetic as young-looking at they have, since I would wager that most of their subscribers are over the age of 14.


Here is what I received: 

Epice Purifying Exfoliant (1 ounce), approximate retail value $10


I don't have a lot to say about this exfoliant. It exfoliates. It does its job. Sadly, it is a polyethylene cleaner and I'm kind of trying to stay away from polyethylene cleansers for environmental reasons. It thoroughly unremarkable, really. I can't think of any reason you would feel compelled to purchase it.

Briogeo Don't Despair, Repair Deep Conditioning Mask (1 fl oz), approximate retail value $4.95


This is another totally unremarkable product. It is a conditioner. It conditions your hair. It vaguely smells like coconut, but it doesn't seem to have any coconut-y ingredients in it.


The one ounce sample was a single use for me because I have so much hair that it's silly. I'm definitely not willing to pay $5 every time I condition my hair, so this is out of my conditioner-related price range. I need to buy conditioner by the jug.

Proactiv+ Mark Fading Pads (4 pads), approximate retail value $10.93


Unlike a large number of acne-ridden former teenagers, I have not actually tried Proactiv. These products are formulated with both glycolic acid and salicylic acid in pretty high concentrations (5% and 2%, retrospectively). Those are both effective ingredients at fading post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation from acne, so these probably would work if you used them regularly. (Worth noting: My skin can definitely handle them, but these would be a nightmare for sensitive skin since those chemical exfoliators are so strong.) Unfortunately, my problems with this product are twofold: Firstly, I'm trying to, as best as I can, stick to an alcohol-free skincare routine. Secondly, Proactiv is kind of a shitty company. (More info from the not-the-most-reliable-but-still-easily-accessible Jezebel by clicking here.)

Even if I did adore the product, these are no longer available for sale individually (I based my approximate retail value on their previous pricing), so I would have to sign up for a whole big Proactiv kit to get them. No thank you!

Mica Beauty Tinted Lip Balm in Natural (0.09oz), approximate retail value $18.75


I really wanted to like this product, since it is actually a very pretty color. 'Natural' is a lovely "my lips but better" shade: an opaque dusty rose.


Unfortunately, I think that the atrocious texture makes the product completely unwearable. This "lip balm" is not moisturizing at all. It feels like I am applying grease paint to my lips.


It looks beautiful, but there are plenty of products that look beautiful and have less distracting, uncomfortable formulations.

Yaby Natural Finish Liquid Foundation in Buff (full size at 0.272 fl oz), retail value $13.55


It probably says more about my incredibly low standards for beauty box foundations that I looked at this and was impressed that it was in the same genre as my skin color. (The Yaby concealer I got from Ipsy in May of 2013 was so far off that it was almost comical.) It was also very wise of Ipsy to choose a sheer foundation, rather than one with more coverage, since more people can kind of pretend that it suits their skintone.Unfortunately, I can't even pretend. On me, this foundation is very orange. It simultaneously provides almost no coverage, so I just look like someone who is covered in acne and also has an orange face. It's really not a good look. It also has a very weird texture. It's a silicone-based foundation, which is a category with which I have mixed results, but this, to me, feel really greasy and strange.

Swatch of a foundation that actually fits my skintone (Wet'n'Wild's Coverall in Fair) on top, Yaby Buff on bottom.

There are definitely things about this product that I think are smart (for example, the tube at the end can be pulled out and flipped around, letting you squeeze in other foundations to get a better color match), but it doesn't have any of the qualities that I like in a foundation and it doesn't match my skintone. I'm sure this foundation would work for someone, but it sure as hell doesn't work for me.

What's more, this product is actually pretty ridiculously pricey: $49.81 per fluid ounce.

Total Box Value: $58.18

Although the monetary value on this bag was totally fine, I didn't like a single thing that I got. I feel like this bag kind of highlights the thing about subscription services that doesn't quite work. Even if a service did really listen to your customization preferences, there is no way for you to list every little thing you care about. There's no way for you to say, "No, when I say that I am fair, I mean that I am REALLY VERY FAIR" (and, of course, I am sure that problem is even worse on the darker skinned part of the spectrum). There's no way to list the random environmental causes you care about or that you don't want XYZ ingredient in your skincare.

I actually don't think I am particularly picky when it comes to beauty products. I don't gush with love over most products, but there aren't very many products that I reject on their face. Save for the tinted lip balm, these are all things that I could have told you were terrible choices for me without even trying them. For people who are legitimately picky, I feel like subscription boxes are just a bad choice in general. However, I generally do like getting subscription boxes, so it's just a bummer when your dislikes collide in such an conspicuous way.

May next month be better...

If you feel somehow compelled to join Ipsy despite my negative review, you are more than welcome to use my referral link by clicking here.

52 comments:

  1. My bag sucked more than yours! I got the Yaby foundation and all I could think was how the hell are the sending out only one color of foundation to everyone? It is way too dark and way too yellow for me. And then I got a body balm full of weird nasty looking lumps. After your Wantable mold post I'm just afraid to use it, even though it doesn't look the same. And it reeks, even worse than the bag.

    I usually love my ipsy bag even when I wind up not using the products, as I feel like I've had the fun of trying them. This month was no fun at all. I didn't get a single makeup product, not even a nasty, greasy lip balm.

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    1. I think they just sent it to the lighter end of the spectrum? Either way, it was kind of funky.

      I would heat up a tiny bit of the body balm in the microwave and see if it's just a heat issue. My guess is that it would melt together. Might not be worth it if you don't like the smell, though.

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  2. I got the exact same box as you this time. I'm scared to try the foundation.. the color isn't too far off for me, but there is no way I'm trying this on a day I have to go outside my house. I like full coverage. The conditioner was (barely) a one use for me too, and it didn't feel like it did anything especially wonderful to my hair. It was ok, I would use more if it were free. I'm going to use the tub for conditioner when I travel because I buy huge bottled of conditioner. So, it will come in handy. I completely agree about the texture of the lip balm, but it does seem to get a little less 'I ate fried chicken straight from the fryer' feeling after awhile. I am also hesitant about the proactive pads. The instructions say to use 1-3 times a day, so I'm not really sure its even worth using if I don't have enough to see any results. I like the exfoliator the best, it works and I was out of mine. Not my favorite bag.. but I still like it better than most of my birchboxes. I wish Ipsy had the same point system birchbox does. It would make 'meh' boxes, like this one, worth way more.

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    1. I love the idea of using it as a travel tub! I'll have to steal that idea.... which may involve digging the packaging out of my bathroom trash can. I'll wash it off and it will be fine.

      I agree about the points system. The Birchbox points system is fabulous.

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  3. Off-topic, but: your skin has been looking KICK. ASS. in posts lately. Do you mind updating us on what your routine is these days?

    On topic: this is exactly why I'm cutting off my Birchbox account. It was worth it for a year and a half, because I worked from the idea that since I was pretty meticulous about filling out those surveys for points, each box would only have to be worth $5 to me. I'm just so sick of getting crap I have literally no use for. It'd be one thing if I had disappointing makeup to contend with. But they are constantly sending me haircare designed for straight hair when I've checked my settings repeatedly to make sure they indicate that I have naturally curly that I never use heat to style. Dry shampoo, lovely though it may be, is useless for natural curls, because you can't brush them out, and so the product just stays, staining my scalp white. Not a cute look. Or an effective use of a product, either.

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    1. I'm not sure you want my routine unless you see me without makeup, haha.

      (Also, it's not much of a routine.: I'm using the Burt's Bees makeup removing wipes and then Pond's Cold Cream to remove makeup. Occasionally I use the Alcohol-free Stridex pads. My moisturizer jumps around a lot; I'm trying to stick to "Cerave in the tub" but it's not the best under makeup.)

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    2. I was totally unclear -- your foundation has made your skin look luminous; it's been looking especially excellent of late! I was wondering if the default routine you posted about a while back had changed at all.

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    3. This might not be useful for you and is really off topic, but I have dark curly hair and I try to wash it as little as possible, so occasionally I need a dry shampoo because I waited too long. To keep from having white patches, I mix corn starch with cocoa powder so it's darker and then rub it in with my fingers so it spreads out. It works well enough that I can leave the house without feeling like a grease ball. I've also used translucent face powder - just lightly dusting it on with a powder brush and never had problems with visible powder.

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    4. Interesting! I might have to give that a shot. I really hate washing my hair. Detangling my stupid curls is the worst.

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    5. This probably varies somewhat by texture, but I've really enjoyed switching to no shampoo at all for curly hair - if that's what you mean by washing. I don't have to detangle when I just condition. It took me a little experimentation to find a conditioner that I could do this with - I.e. that didn't build up and leave my hair heavy and greasy after a while. I liked the trader Joe's tea tree and peppermint (or maybe it's rosemary and peppermint?) pretty well for my coarse Italian hair, but the Giovanni Eco-Chic Ultra-Sleek conditioner seems to be my holy grail. I just realized, writing this, that I haven't had to shampoo at all in I don't know how long. I might have done it a little bit a couple weeks ago on a lark and then immediately re-conditioned?

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    6. I used a powdered luminizer (Too Faced Candlelight) over my foundation, but my guess is that it's just flattering lighting. (And I definitely have friends who use the cocoa powder trick.)

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  4. I got the Mica lip thing in "Fiesta" and I'm really wondering why they decided to call it a lip balm. It's a very pretty color, but the texture is sort of grainy and it's not even a little bit moisturizing. It reminds me more of a cream blush, really. I also got a very mediocre eyeshadow pencil in my Ipsy and that was it for the makeup. I hate to say it, but this month is actually making me miss the typical supply of Starlooks and Be A Bombshell-type products.

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    1. Huh. You're right that it kind of feels like a cream blush! Mine isn't grainy at all, though.

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  5. The foundation matched me perfectly :O I was surprised! It feels sort of... like liquid rubber... or something going on but I actually like it o.O

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    1. I'm glad it worked well for you! Going sheer definitely increased the number of people who can use it.

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  6. The bag is pretty underwhelming, but there is a part of me that (since it's such a 'blank slate' sort of bag) wants to get some of those fabric glitter gel or foam or whatever pens and some jewels and try to make something interesting out of it. Googly eyes on all the bottles, maybe?

    I feel that it's at least not as hideous and tacky as some of the other ones? Maybe?

    *crickets chirp* :-D

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    1. It's not the ugliest bag we've gotten, but that's sort of damning with faint praise, no?

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  7. My friend got the same lip balm and I suggested using it as a cream blush - I have a very similar shade from Inglot in a cream blush and it's gorgeous. Bit of a shitty bag really - definitely agree about the teen demographic thing, kind of sucky.

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    1. I will definitely try that and see how it works!

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  8. Seriously, your skin/makeup looks flawless in this post. I'm sure I'm not the only one wishing for a product list.

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    1. Skin is Cerave-in-a-tub slathered on and then inartfully removed because it will ball up under makeup, miscellaneous sunscreen, Smashbox primer the-green-one-with-salicylic-acid, Wet'n'Wild's Coverall in Fair, Illamasqua Hollow to contour, some blush I forgot, and Too Faced Candlelight on top.

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  9. I got a spray on healthy sexy hair conditioner, some face wipes, an eye pencil in "lucky penney" and some other shit that is completely forgettable. I was lucky in that I LOVE that brand of conditioners and find that they work really well on my hair, they're also crazy expensive here in Newfoundland so it was enough to save the bag for me. I'm impressed that they managed to make yours even more boring than mine...
    I also agree that either your skin is amazing lately or your foundation game is on the rise because you are glowing in that picture.

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    1. ...the close-ups don't look quite so good.

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  10. I got the Mica lip balm in…the other color: a weird pink with an unpleasant purple undertone. It felt very strange on my lips, and smelled funny. It's gone. The eye pencil in "Pearl" was pretty bad, too. I tried it on the inner corner of my eye. By the time I got to work, the circles under my eyes were coated in migrated glitter. They sparkled like a vampire in the sunlight.

    The conditioner worked great for my short fine wavy hair. I can probably get 4, maybe 5 uses from the sample size. After I stepped out of the shower and towel-scrunched, I got a mass of curls. I'm actually impressed, but that may be because I was using crummy conditioner before.

    I described this month's bag to a friend as a "sad little collection of mediocrity."

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  11. I got the Yaby foundation (will not use) the lip balm (looks horrible on me), Fekkai glossing shampoo & conditioner (it made my hair very shiny!), and a reusable deodorant clothing wipe to remove odors from clothes. Except for the first two I liked my box.

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  12. I keep thinking I should quit Ipsy and then I don't. I was disappointed as well. The bag smells awful.
    The vinyl is giving off a horrendous odor. I had to remove it from the premises. Seriously a wtf bag.

    Love the blog, btw. I, like you , am VERY FAIR with a pinkish glow. It's always challenging to find the right color. I am not an oompa loompa nor do I want to look like one. Ever. And, despite being way older than you, still battle acne. If you haven't checked out Paula's Choice, she has some great options that do work. I'm not affiliated at all, but her bha stuff has really helped my skin.

    Your blog was my favorite find of 2013! You've inspired me to be adventurous with lipstick colors!

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    1. To me, the good Ipsys are worth the crap ones in between. And thank you! Good luck with your lipstick!

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  13. This was definitely the month I unsubscribed to Ipsy. I got the exact same bag, and found that enough disappointment (every other month) was enough.

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    1. Totally fair. I'm still holding out hope for future months.

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  14. Yikes. Yeah, Ipsy kind of missed the mark on this one. I feel like they swing the pendulum a little too far in each direction (glitter makeup and poorly colour-matched foundation, to no-makeup-bags and extremely specific skin care items) but when they hit the happy medium, it works. They just need to stick to the formula that works best for them -- colour cosmetics and more inclusive skin/body/hair care products thrown in to balance it out. Blah.

    Well, I'm feeling a bit better about not receiving that hair mask, based on its lackluster qualities. Phew, at least there's that. Had I received the YABY foundation, I would have been steaming mad.

    Kalyn @ The Scenic Route
    http://www.kalynlord.com

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    1. I feel like they just don't have enough brands supporting them to consistently send out good brands. I think they kind of have to go, "Proactiv will send us free shit? OUR SUBSCRIBERS ARE GETTING PROACTIV."

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  15. My fair skinned self was lucky enough to not get the foundation. I received a tiny tube of orange face lotion instead. Not great, but not horrifying.

    I'm a fan of the mask, but not for the price.

    Everything else? Ugh. I feel ripped off, which is silly, considering my cost. Ipsy is turning me into an entitled snob.

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    1. I don't think it's entitled to be disappointed that you paid $10 for something you didn't want. You're allowed to be frustrated!

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  16. Ipsy's one of those things that, for me, was exciting the first couple of months, but then lost its lustre. I forget which month was my last, either September or October. Basically, I'd had a couple of mediocre months, felt a bit deceived when the website was advertising either a bracelet or an UD shadow for referral bonuses and I got a NOPI polish, and then I got a bag of haircare stuff when they were putting Butter London front and center on the pictures for the bag that month.

    I also got that ridiculously dark Yaby concealer last year--it was so far from my skintone, before I looked at it closely, I had it pegged for a different product entirely, like a cream shadow or a lip color.

    Hair and skin care are so, so subjective I don't get how the companies see much return from the samples. I think I got dry shampoo once, which was the only hair care thing Ipsy gave me I ever used. Half the time I subscribed, too, I had rather long hair (and it's always thick), so none of the sizes were adequate for my hair, anyway.

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    1. I would also be curious to know how well samples work for different types of products. For no-name brands, they might see an increase just because people think, "Oh, I have heard of them!" when they encounter the brand later...

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  17. Not only was my ipsy bag the same as yours, but I also have the same feedback on every product - in fact, I canceled my subscription after this bag. It's just not worth the $10, which is sad. It's not tailored to my skincare or makeup needs whatsoever, and the products are usually from no-name brands that I'd never purchase on a normal day. Additionally, my Mica lip stuff smelled TERRIBLE. Even if the texture wasn't disgusting, the smell was so gross I'd never wear it. I also thought the hair conditioner smelled less-than lovely. Glad I'm not the only one...

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    1. My Mica lip balm has a faint chemical-y smell, but it's not too bad, in my opinion.

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  18. Geez, that foundation is more expensive than UD's Naked Skin, which I was just whining about being too expensive!

    I got Proactive Wipes, Mica Lip Gloss, the hair mask, an eyeshadow stick and a face lotion. I honestly haven't even opened my bag, despite the fact that I got it last week. I really hate plastic-y smells, and since everyone is complaining about it, I can't bring myself to open it. :/ And it's my first ipsy bag!

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    1. Oh no! That's a huge bummer. Make someone else open it and hand you the stuff.

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  19. I saw the color of that foundation in the first picture and all I could hear in my head was the JAWS music like no...no it's gonna be too dark isn't it...it's coming noooooooo.

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    1. Appropriate Jaws music is appropriate.

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  20. I've been incredibly lucky on the Yaby front- I received the concealer and foundation in buff and it matches my yellowish skin quite well! They call it a neutral foundation on their site but I doubt anyone with genuinely neutral tones would be able to wear it.
    Anyway I just wanted to second whoever said your skin looks fantastic in this post. I'm going to try to hunt down that wet and wild foundation if it comes in my shade and hope like crazy it doesn't make me break out.

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    1. Wet'n'Wild runs pink, as a warning!

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  21. Same deal with me as Adriana- 1st Ipsy bag and same contents. The bags are touted as being cute, but mine brought on a WTF moment. Smelled like some kind of industrial solvent and was kinda' retro and cheap looking with the generic bottles image. The lipgloss I got was Fiesta, a plum color- not bad- usable but consistency was thin and not moisturizing. The shadow stick in "pearl" held promise with its nude color, but it tugged on my lids and had the dreaded sparkle. I'm way too old for sparkle, but I'm sure some of the younger members could carry the look. (Actually wished I had gotten the foundation.) Tried the hair conditioner and it was nothing to brag about- left my hair kinda' limp and greasy. The orange face lotion was an immediate turn off as I hate the smell of oranges. The product itself wasn't too bad, but I wouldn't go out and buy it. After my Birchbox duds here recently with the teabags and one makeup, I'm beginning to rethink all these boxes but will probably give them all more time.

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    1. The Birchbox points system, in my opinion, more than makes up for any imperfect bags!

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    2. Agreed. I figure if I ever go to cancel it, I'll wait 'til I accrue enough points to get something free first. Plus, I also believe that Birchbox banks on those points to keep members subscribing.

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  22. Sucks that your bag was sad! I read so many negative reactions before I got my bag that I was prepared to be disappointed (especially after I loved my Dec bag - my first one), but despite all that I ended up liking it! As a complete make-up and beauty product noob my standards are low, and it also means that the random stuff in this bag was like a surprise opportunity to try some new stuff! (Oil?! Dry Shampoo? What are these things?!)

    We have hardly any overlap except for the lip "balm", which I agree is the un-balmiest thing ever (but in a good color). Notables in my bag were the marula oil which has done wonders for my dry flaky forehead (seriously wtf is up with this, i've never had dry skin before), and the Elizabeth Mott shadow in Penny, which is opening up new possibilities for my favorite eye shadow color.

    I recently found your blog (I think from a random link on reddit) and gotta say, this is an awesome thing you have going on. And as the only beauty blog I've ever read you have way to much influence over my purchases right now ;)

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    1. That's excellent! I'm glad you liked yours.

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  23. I like your sweater :D

    I haven't been able to play with my bag but I looked online and it doesn't seem too bad. I got the Willa wipes instead of the proactive (thank god because I have dry skin and no acne), an "eyeshadow stick" (I heard it's more of a thickness of an eyeliner), the same lip balm as you, Sexy Hair Leave-in Conditioner (the thing I'm probably most excited for) and Nourish Organic Face lotion. It's almost the same format as Birchbox this month (1 makeup, 1 face product, 1 body product, 1 hair product and 1 extra give or take a category) but just not as exciting. My Birchbox is on the meh side as well (dem body-butter ketchup packets) so maybe they're both gearing up for an awesome February.

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