Monday, February 17, 2014

Birchbox February 2014 Review

Snow dances in my region have been far too effective. Perhaps it is time to replace them with a "Birchbox dance" in which we all wiggle around in inside-out pajamas in hopes that we'll get something valuable in our monthly subscription boxes.

Here's what came for me this month:


Coola Tinted Matte Mineral Sunscreen SPF30 For Face (0.17 fl oz), approximate retail value $3.60


I have had pretty mixed results with tinted Coola products, which seem to vary anywhere from "somewhat Robyn-colored" to "this is the right color match for a bottle of Fanta". Luckily, this falls into the former category. The shade is perfectly light, although it definitely leans too yellow for me! (It doesn't matter, though, since I slather on a thick coat of foundation right on top.)



This product also seems to be having a bit of an identity crisis. Is it a bb cream? A sunscreen? Something else entirely? To me, it covers like a very, very sheer tinted moisturizer. The texture, though, is a little funky. It's a little greasy with a bit of graininess to it. No big deal, but not something I'd buy myself.


Ruby Wing Color Changing Nail Polish in Kitten Heels (0.25 fl oz), approximate retail value $5.00


I swear, I really do believe that this product does, actually change color. There is a viable mechanism by which color changing cosmetics work (they utilize photochromic pigments, like the sort used on 'transition' lenses that darken into sunglasses when you go outside). In theory, this should change from a highlighter pink to a red color.

Unfortunately, I am an indoor kind of lady. I stood outside in the cold, hoping my nails would change color, for a solid three minutes before deciding, "This is ridiculous" and going back inside. IT IS WINTER. MY FINGERS BELONG TWO INCHES FROM MY SPACE HEATER, NOT OUTSIDE.

The formula otherwise seemed fine. It's just that I am too impatient to wait for any color change effect, so I haven't witnessed it.

Beauty Protector Protect and Oil (estimated size 0.2 fl oz), estimated retail value $1.30


I am not sure that I have a good use for hair oil, but, nevertheless, I went ahead and coated my ludicrous locks with a layer. The good news is that it didn't make my hair look greasy! The bad news is that it didn't look like much of anything happened, at all.

Smashbox Cosmetics Full Exposure Mascara (0.14oz), approximate retail value $7.18


I like the idea that Smashbox is being sent out by Birchbox, even though I wasn't digging the samples I got in this box. This mascara is pretty much the most generic mascara I have ever used. It's definitely a length-over-volume mascara, but it's not good enough at pumping up length to be actually impressive.


A quick before-and-after:

No Mascara


Smashbox Full Exposure


One more time!

No Mascara


Smashbox Full Exposure


The final effect looks perfectly nice. There's nothing wrong with it. Still, it took approximately 800 million coats of mascara to get where I wanted to go and, even then, it wasn't anything mind-blowing. There are better mascaras in this price range!

Smashbox Full Exposure Palette (estimated size 0.001oz), estimated retail value $0.10


This last sample was super shitty. Cardboard samples aren't an effective way to actually try out a product. Essentially, this is an advertisement for the new Smashbox Full Exposure palette.


The sample contained ten shades from the Smashbox Full Exposure Palette. This kind of baffled me, since the Full Exposure Palette only contains 14 shades. Why not go for the whole hog?

The palette is divided into glitterbombs:


...and mattes:


I will say that I did swatch this palette in person and found that the swatches that I got from the sample were pretty accurate. (So at least that may be a little helpful for those of you who received this product as a sample.)

The biggest issue is simple pigmentation. The shimmers are all very weakly pigmented and the mattes vary from "very nice" to "pretty crappy".

Weirdly, though, (and I have NO GOOD EXPLANATION FOR THIS), I don't hate the palette. I don't know why I don't hate it. Logically, I should hate it. But I don't. I think the biggest upside is that it is a total dream to work with. The pigmentation is crap, but it blends well!

Smashbox Full Exposure Palette on Human Face
Regardless, though, there's no way I would pay $49 for this. Definitely no. BUT... if I found it marked down 50% for some mysterious reason, I might pick it up.

Total Box Value: $17.18

Overall, I have a big ol' shrug for this month's Birchbox. It was neither awful nor stellar. Still, the Birchbox points system easily makes up for these so-so boxes, so I'm definitely not grumbling too loudly.

If joining Birchbox will fill your life with joy and fairy dust, you are always welcome to use my Birchbox referral link by clicking here

44 comments:

  1. I used that nail polish on Valentine Day. I found that not only.did the color change right in front of my eyes when walking from my apartment to my car (2 min or under) but it didn't chip at all. I have never had a nail polish that didn't chip after a day of work. I was astonished.

    Also I'm sad you didn't like the Smashbox mascara. I have always counted it as one of my favorites and a sleeper hit that not enough people know about.

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    1. Excellent! I don't know why mine did such a bad job at color changing... I definitely spent more than two minutes outside while wearing it!

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  2. I like coola a lot, but not enough to pay that much more over regular face sunblock. and the color changing polish is SO fun and I love it, but it's CLEARLY a summertime find. I got it in a summer box and had so much fun driving with one hand out the window and one hand in the car and then running around showing everyone my finger nails until they were like "go away weirdo!" So yeah, fun product, but why send that out in winter???

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  3. At least you're not getting tea.....AGAIN. That's what's coming in mine, whenever it arrives.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bummer! (Unless it is Mighty Leaf, which I love.)

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  4. Oooh, what lip color are you wearing in those pictures?

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  5. Hahaha so I pretty much gave up on Birchbox after over a year of subscribing, just wasn't happy with the products or value any longer... I also stopped really reading reviews on them because I wasn't too interested in the products inside... that being said, I loved reading your review. hahah you're actually honest & hilarious & i love it. keep 'em coming!! :)

    -- Mary

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    Replies
    1. Thank you! There's definitely an incentive to be positive about beauty box products, but I try to stay as unbiased as I can...

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  6. I got the nailpolish in the glitter version and I LOVE IT!! It's gold glittter when it goes on. Make me feel like I have gold dorothy shoes on my fingers. love! When i went outside it changed in just a few minutes to this cool not quite red, but pretty color.

    And this comment is why I don't have a beauty blog. I suck at explaining!

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    Replies
    1. Man, now I'm bummed that this polish seemed to work well for everyone else!

      Delete
  7. Have you seen the new limited edition birchbox that they just came out with? It looks like a lot of their birchbox finds. I'm debating if it's worth the $18.

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    Replies
    1. I saw it, but wouldn't personally get $18 worth of value out of it.

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    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  8. I also got the Ruby Wing in the gold glitter. I have two other Ruby Wing polishs in solid colors and I wasn't hugely impressed. BUT when I can slap on a clear polish with some glitter and not worry about getting it on my skin and then have a gorgeous stained glass red looking polish in the sun, I'm sold!

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    Replies
    1. Yay! The gold glitter one looks really pretty.

      Delete
  9. I got the same exact box, and my visiting friend tried out the nail polish. We then sat outside for hours and hours (in Texas, it was 75 degrees.) Nothing happened. We actually quite liked the color, and she said the formula was good, but yeah....no change.

    Also, the thing in this box I would've been most excited about was the mascara, but I already used to have it and hated it! Aside from what you've mentioned, I found that it dried out very quickly.

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    Replies
    1. Totally jealous of your warm weather...

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  10. I got a completely different box, but mine still included a cardboard sample, this time for Benefit's Big Easy. I wouldn't mind those as an extra, but as one of the standard samples, they're maddening.

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    Replies
    1. I agree that they should definitely be "extras"... although I would have liked to get a color match on the Big Easy!

      Delete
  11. I got the same box as you this month! I like to spoil my boxes by checking their contents online first and I had to admit, I got excited when I saw the Smashbox eyeshadow palette. They failed to mention, though, that it'd just be a sample of the palette, not the whole one. :P (What was I thinking? They'd never give away a full expensive palette ... but I can dream ...)

    I actually got one of those color-changing polishes from another subscription box over the summer and it worked really well! The color changed from like a light peach to a dark magenta, so it was a really noticeable change. I would always get so excited when walking outside when I wore it. I haven't tried this hot-pink -> red formula yet, though ...

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    Replies
    1. A full-sized Smashbox palette would be the fanciest Birchbox ever. I was hoping for a single or a Coastal Scents-style couple of mini shadows.

      Delete
  12. The Ruby Wing polish is interesting, but it does seem like kind of an odd choice for winter. Both the color and the "your fingers need to be exposed to the elements" aspect of it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Apparently it's 75 degrees in Texas... maybe they just forgot about the northerners?

      Delete
  13. I've heard a couple of different people say that the Smashbox palette's pigmentation is pretty horrid, but they still seem to be obsessed with it. I don't need any more palettes, but I'm still tempted by the Clinique Neutral Territory 2 palette. *sigh*

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It seems to be impossible to stop collecting palettes...

      Delete
  14. Yay! We're box twins! And sadly, we're box twins.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I saw your hair oil broke-- you might want to email customer service and grab some free points to make up for it.

      Delete
    2. I ordered a full size (that does not come in a glass vial) and the top was loosely twisted off and oil spilled everywhere.

      They're just having issues shipping that product!

      But I've heard they are sending out new boxes (not necessarily the same one) for the broken glass mishap!

      P.S. - We are box triplets lol

      Delete
    3. At first I wasn't going to bother (lazy) and the items destroyed weren't a big thing, but they're sending me an extra box. ~does the new box disco~

      That totally bites about your oil, Jasmine.

      Delete
  15. Have you ever heard of Influenster? It's a site that companies send products to in order for people to try them out. It's completely free, but takes a while to get your first box. I think I'm about to get my first box, and they asked me my foundation color so I think they might send some things that you would be interested in trying! They encourage people to blog about things, so if you're interested you should check it out! I would love to hear your opinions on the items they send out.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I signed up, and then didn't qualify for the first several boxes (even though I humbly submit that I probably have more influence over people's buying decisions than others who do quality), so got bored and haven't logged in since. I assume it's because I don't have shit like twitter. I'm pretty low social-media profile.

      Delete
  16. I thought the mascara looked fantastic on you - and then I saw that you had to use a bazillion coats to make it look like that. Oh well. Nobody has time for stuff like that in the morning, anyway.

    I'm a personal fan of theBalm's "Cheater!" mascara, though the formula leans a little too thick.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I haven't tried Cheater!, although I do like What's Your Type? The Body Builder.

      Delete
  17. I actually really liked the hair oil. I just dyed my hair, and it really helped make it not feel like straw!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good! Maybe it has more effect on hair that's already missing a little oil?

      Delete
  18. I certainly like the effect you got form using the zillion coats of mascara, but since removing mascara is one of my least favourite things to do ever, I can't say I'm on board with a mascara that *needs* a zillion layers...

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    Replies
    1. Hm... I don't know if it would take any longer to remove! Just to apply.

      Delete
  19. I don't have either birchbox or ipsy, but considering everybody's review, ipsy has a much better deal. Most of the time their total values hare $50+ for only $10. Shrug. Idk. Anyone has some suggetions for which one is better?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You might find this helpful: http://www.brightestbulbinthebox.com/2013/11/birchbox-vs-ipsy-one-year-analysis-by.html

      Delete
  20. My Birchbox was pathetic. Nothing like what Robyn or others have described. I wonder if complaining about the samples moves you up any. Anyone ever complain? Anyway, my Ipsy this month was great and even more so was my Blush Mystery beauty box (bag). Blush is more expensive at $25 a month- only had it 2 months, and same with Ipsy. I do like both of them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hm... I do describe what I get! I'm sorry yours was a bummer, though.

      Delete
    2. I got a shampoo and conditioner mini , a tiny tubes of strivectin with retinol, previse skin milk in a cardboard package, and a wee tube of Skin Transformer Spotlight, which seemed to be like a tinted moisturizer. That product is the closest sample to resemble makeup. My main problem with this box is the lack of cosmetics. I'm getting a bit tired of the creams and lotion trend.

      Delete

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