Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Birchbox August 2014 Review

Douglas Adams famously said that he loves the whooshing sound that deadlines make as they go by.

…And that's clearly why I'm reviewing August's Birchbox in September. Here's what my box looked like:

I find the "TEE-HEE TEE-HEE TEE-HEE" adorned packaging in this box to be kind of ridiculous. I am trying to imagine the logic at Birchbox headquarters when they chose that.

"What's LOLCATs-y, but not too LOLCATs-y?"
"Is there a minor James Bond villain henchman we'd like to honor via cardboard?"
"If we just plaster the box with pictures from Mario and Luigi Superstar Saga, we'd probably be breaking some sort of copyright law…"

Here's what I got this month:

Amika Perk-Up Dry Shampoo (0.75 oz), approximate retail value $2.97

Today, I am ill. I am a sweaty sick person. The rest of my life, I'm normal. When I'm sick, I'm damp.

I've used this dry shampoo a few times, but never in extreme circumstances. In daily use, I tend to find that aerosol dry shampoo does not vary a lot.

When life hands you lemons, you should definitely spray different sections of your hair with various brands of dry shampoo and visually compare results.

Turns out? I'm still not convinced that aerosol dry shampoos vary significantly. I do look very slightly less like I should be combing my hair back while wearing a leather jacket, though, so we have some small victories here.

Harvey Prince Ageless Body Cream (0.5 fl oz), approximate retail value $0.91

If you have ever made grapefruit frosting before, you know that grapefruit does not taste like itself when enveloped in the sugary embrace of buttercream. It does, however, taste like this lotion smells.

Dr. Jart+ PORE MEDIC Pore Minish Primer (0.2 fl oz), approximate retail value $6.40

I was not expecting to like this primer as much as I did. Although it's clearly got that signature "dimethicone" feel, it's clearly used in a more reasonable proportion than, say, the classic Smashbox Photo Finish Primer. It feels less thick and that "am I painting my face with slippery latex?" feeling is absent.

It's pleasant. It fills pores. It looks nice.

Vasanti Detox Nutrient-Rich Purifying Facial Cleanser (0.68 fl oz), approximate retail value $3.22

Did someone say "detox"?

Hold on, deep breath:


(It's just another generic, overpriced face wash using weird pseudoscientific buzzwords to sell their product.)

Noir Cosmetics Long-Wear Eyeliner (full size at 0.04oz), retail value $15

I feel like I should be able to speak more eloquently about soft eyeliner pencils. I can give you forty page essays on a single perfect matte rid lipstick, but, with eyeliners, I just don't have anything important to say.

If you buy a fair bit of makeup, you already know what this eyeliner is like. You have already tried a hundred eyeliners exactly like this eyeliner.

It's black. That is a color you are familiar with. I don't have to explain it to you. It's neither the blackest black nor the crappiest black.

You might be wearing an eyeliner exactly like it right now.

It's totally adequate (save for the packaging which looks like it belongs in an episode of Sabrina the Teenage Witch).

Total Box Value: $28.50

Overall, the box is fine. Other than the facewash, all the products have value to me. However, there was nothing that I could get excited about. Nothing in this box changed my life. I wouldn't buy any of it.

If you suddenly realized that a Birchbox subscription will give you thrills and chills, you are always welcome to use my referral link by clicking here.


  1. Could you do a Beauty BS on "detox" in the near future? Really miss your science posts!

  2. What I look for in a black eyeliner is whether it transfers to the top of my lid (a huge issue with UD pencils for me), whether it melts into raccoon eyes eventually, and how well it stays put.

    I guess these are all kind of the same quality, actually. Anyway, maybe that could be tested when you get your millionth generic black pencil eyeliner in the mail?

    1. Have you ever tried using a setting powder over your eyeliner? I have problems with transfer sometimes as well, and that what I'll do.

    2. I second Nicole's comment. Much as I love UD's liners, occasionally some of the softer, shimmery shades will try and do a bit of a transfer trick if I'm having an oily browbone day (apparently this is a thing for me). Powder (setting or an eyeshadow) is a winner in this case! Also works well if you want to wear the liner while dancing/working out.

  3. Each time I read one of your Birchbox reviews, it makes me glad that I cancelled my subscription a few months ago.

  4. What lip color are you wearing in the photo? It's beautiful.

  5. I also got the Noir eyeliner and wasn't super thrilled about it, but it's actually the only pencil liner I can use to tightline my eyes that doesn't end up transferring to my bottom lid (and smearing) by the end of the day.

  6. when will beauty boxes learn that if you are the sort of person to get a beauty box you are quite unlikedly to need a black eyeliner

  7. Yay a new review! That said, I am so over subscription boxes. Too many repeats (black eyeliner - really...) and too many items that I couldn't/wouldn't use. Every giveaway and GWP and subscription box seems to think that we need black eyeliners. I am a regular user of eyeliners and still find that a pencil lasts me months and months. Why can't they send plum, or blue, or dark green, or brown - all colors nearly as universally useful and so much more interesting.

    1. Sometimes, I think that GWPs are more aimed at bringing in new customers/people unlikely to otherwise buy the product, rather than those of us who are already makeup fans and are looking to score extra value/goodies on a purchase we might have made anyway. I can't speak to subscription boxes, but I am a connoisseur of GWPs as they're about the only way to get samples/try minis of things in this country. In the process (as an example) I have collected about 6 miniature Lancome black pencil eyeliners, and at least three copies in various sizes of their L'absolu Nu lipstick in 302 (a totally inoffensive pink). I too would prefer some more variety/interesting shades in my GWPs, but I really don't think we're the actual target market, funnily enough!

  8. Sephora revealed a video today on their youtube for nails inc's new product NailKale which claims they put Kale in a nail treatment to be a superfood for your nails. I think a beauty bullshit could be done quite easily on that. And I thought Josie Maran was bad with her line's claims of natural and healthiness abusing the current buzzwords coconut water and argan oil.

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