Saturday, August 30, 2014

PopSugar Must Have August 2014 Review

At a relatively high $40 a month, I always have a few reservations about PopSugar Must Have. It's nice when that hemming and hawing ends up being completely unnecessary. I was quite happy with my box this month!

Lollia at Last No. 17 Perfumed Shower Gel (8 fl oz), retail value $22.00

Although I am totally body-lotioned out at this point in my career of receiving subscription boxes full of goodies, I have managed to avoid getting gallons of body wash. This fancy-pants shower gel, then, is actually an appreciated bathroom addition.

I was expecting the smell to be a little more floral, given the bright yellow blooms all over the tube. The subtle smell, though, is still very pleasant, and the packaging looks lovely chilling out in my shower.

PaddyWax Ocean Tide + Sea Salt Mini Jar Candle (3 oz), retail value $10.00

This candle doesn't smell like a literal ocean, but the faintly soured sweetness is definitely evocative of one.

As a child, I got very excited about scented candles. I haven't had one in about ten years, though! Since crappy tea lights can't fulfill 100% of my need for unadulterated fire, I'm excited about using this when the weather cools down a bit.

Think Thin High Protein Bar in Brownie Crunch (2.1 oz), retail value $1.99

I have been experimenting with protein bars lately, so I was really happy to get this one. It's frustrating as hell to find something promising, be unable to buy a single bar, order a box, and find out that they are actually disgusting. (Seriously, fuck Quest bars, you guys. I don't care how popular they are or how excellent their macros are; they taste vile.)

This one is neither the best nor the worst that I have tried. It's sweetened with maltitol, which is a sugar alcohol that is used as a lower calorie sugar substitute, at about 2 calories per gram to pure sugar's 4. If you've read the hilarious reviews of the 5 lb bag of Haribo Sugar Free Gummi Bears, which went viral a while back, you may already know that maltitol has a laxative effect, but it's not potent enough to matter if you're eating a single protein bar. The sugar on these is at 0g, but it's worth noting that there are 12g of sugar alcohol. Maltitol does have a pretty high glycemic index (not quite that of sugar, but close), so it's not like it's an amazingly healthy alternative. I personally would prefer to just go ahead and eat the sugar.

It contains 20g of protein, which is pretty standard. It's a mix of calcium caseinate, whey protein isolate, and soy protein isolate. Most research suggests that whey protein is best for people who are serious about gaining muscle, but for many of us, a blend like this will be good enough.

There is a very slightly chalky taste to these and they're a bit bland, but the flavor is not bad.

Personally, the best-tasting protein bar I have found is Clif's Builder Bar in Mint Chocolate. It certainly comes with its downsides: It's slightly higher in calories (270 vs. 230), it gives you your fucking sugar (and lots of it at 22g), and it's soy protein isolate, not whey. However, I am just the kind of person who would rather eat things that taste good. I'll find the perfect protein bar one day.

The Mason Jar Cookie Company Festive Celebrate Cookie Mix (20.2 oz), retail value $12.99


Inexplicably, the Mason Jar Cookie Company chose to send us something that was not in a mason jar-- it was in an opaque pouch printed with mason jar pattern that did not reflect the contents of the pouch (as there is no chocolate in the cookie mix). Hm…

The mix is a sugar cookie base with chocolate candies and sprinkles.

In theory, you add an egg, half a stick of butter, and a little vanilla, mix, bake, and you get cookies! Despite the mild annoyance of using half an egg, I was able to split the recipe in half.

Right out of the pouch, it looks like this:

Cookie dough:



I think the bake time was a little too long on these (they ended up too crispy for my taste. I use an internal oven thermometer so I know my oven was the recommended temperature!), but they were definitely yummy.

Kendra Scott Elle Earrings in Slate, retail value $52

These earrings were definitely my favorite thing in the box. Not only do I love them, I am considering purchasing another (more expensive…) pair of Kendra Scott earrings. Her style just hits the mark for me; they're the perfect combo of gaudy and classy.

The stone is chrysoberyl (also called cat's eye) and the metal is rhodium over brass.

I've been getting a crapload of use out of these and will almost certain continue to do so.

Goodbyn Small Meal Box, retail value $6.50
Goodbyn Little Dipper, retail value $1.49

This is a neat little storage tub option.

Although I believe it's intended for lunches, I feel like it will be most handy for storing leftover taco supplies.

Bite Beauty Lush Fruit Lip Gloss in Popsugar (0.13 oz), retail value $22.00

This limited edition Bite Beauty lip gloss is a fandango pink. As a lipgloss, it looks like a near-radioactive melted candy.

It's a bit sheer. I wish it truly committed and packed a color punch!

It's also very, very, very sticky. It's a classic lipgloss for people who like not a lot of color, stickiness, and an ultraglossy look.

I assume that those people are out there.

Total Box Value: $128.97

Overall, I think that this is the most consistent PopSugar box that I have received. Usually, there are some things I love and some things that are basically trash for me. Even though every product wasn't flawless, everything I got this month had value to me. It was a good box. That'll do pig. That'll do.

If you feel that PopSugar has been desperately missing from your life, you are always welcome to use my referral link by clicking here. I believe the code MUSTHAVEYT will get you $10 off for at least a few more days. After that, REFER5 will get you five bucks off. (Side note: The September box is scheduled to include a Tilo scarf that retails at $125… so that should be good.)


  1. I'm still on the fence about the PopSugar Must Have Box. This month I would have liked to get it, but other months I would have been pretty sad to receive salad tongs or tea towels, for example. My overall opinion is I may just not be classy enough for this kind of subscription box. (I'd probably try to eat the candle or something.)

    On the protein bar hunt, I finally tried my first Quest Bar. I was so pumped because of all the gushing and raving on the internet, and you're so right: it was horrifying. My best finds in terms of protein bars have also been the Cliff Builder's Bars, but even those get old. (I find the Vanilla flavors to be all around gross.) I also don't mind Lara's ALT bars, but they don't keep me full, so protein fail. If you ever find an amazing protein bar, share!

  2. Looking at the "collection" on their website, Tilo's scarves are (for my taste) a roughly equal mix of nice, baffling, and fugly. That's pretty bad odds, even at $40.

  3. Oddly enough, I think my favourites from this box would be the bodywash and the (not)tupperware! The packaging of the body wash is just plain pretty, and you can never have enough sealable containers, as far as I am concerned. I want to like the Bite lipgloss, but if I'm going to put up with stickiness (hypothetically speaking) then I better get full pigmentation to go with that shine...

  4. Try Power Crunch protein bars... low (real) sugar, good deal of protein, and excellent flavors. I love their vanilla, lemon, and chocolate/mint! They taste like cookies.

    1. Those are my favorite protein bars too - The Peanut Butter is really good!

  5. As much as I dislike sprinkles, those cookies look pretty darn good.

    I'm seconding Power Crunch bars. They're not LOW carb but they're lower in carbs than most bars (think 10-15g vs 20-50! g) and cheaper than the few low carb bars out there. The flavors are pretty good. But every one I've gotten has been a damn mess, in the package and in my mouth. They stick to my molars like almost nothing else.

  6. If you have a chance to get a single, try Squarbar. It's only 12g of protein, but then only 200 calories. I'm not so much for the "organic, gluten free, natural" campaign, but the bar is damn good. It has a little bit of chalkiness, but I got over that really quick and now I feel like I'm eating a candy bar. Plus, they donate to Not for Sale, a charity that tries to stop human trafficking through providing a safe haven, jobs, education, and health care to people at risk.

  7. I have spent the last week most happily reading your blog from start to finish like an amazing novel after work and before bed until low and behold I get to January and all the images are gone.

    I think I need to write a strong worded letter to Blogspot! Either way, your blog is amazing, and witty, and thought provoking. And I'm currently doing statistical methods as part of my science degree and I swear I will never have a grasp on T Testing and P values like you appear to!

    Love love love your writing. Please keep it up!

  8. Hey Robyn!

    I have a request, if you happen to have the time...? I know you're an avid sunscreen-wearer, and that you studied biology in college. I was wondering if you could glance over some of the studies cited by this company:

    and see if their claims are at all valid? They say that their sunscreens have been tested to biodegrade in natural waterways without affecting their marine ecosystems. That's something I care about very much, but I can't really decipher these studies to know if they're just BSing me.

    Thanks so much for maintaining your blog, by the way. I appreciate your dry sense of humor :)

  9. I am that person who loves sticky lipgloss. It stays on better and seals the moisture into my lips. I am a texture person - I cannot stand touching a glass with dry fingers, for instance - and dry lips make me very upset. Seriously, ridiculously upset. I'm doomed in terms of lipstick.
    I'm not too into looking like my lips are dripping with biological ooze, but rubbing my lips together takes away some of the gooey dewy look. And they feel good. That's what matters to me.

  10. I bet the cook time for the cookies was for the whole batch. More cookies = more heat absorption.

    I'm getting some power crunch bars. I NEED them. Thanks for the recommendation, guys!

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