Boxes

Birchbox vs Birchbox {December 2015}

This is a little late, as my second box came AFTER the new year, and then it took me a bit to get through trying all the products. Benefit for you? Now you get to see what they’re really like rather than just what they look like.

About Birchbox: Birchbox is a $10/month subscription box filled with 4-6 beauty & cosmetics samples every month, delivered to your door in an adorable and reusable box. You will primarily receive deluxe samples with a few full size products every month or two. Your samples are moderately tailored to your beauty profile, and you can earn back $6.00 of your subscription cost in store credit every month by sharing your bag to social media (Facebook or Twitter) through the Birchbox website or app, and reviewing your items on the site.

Birchbox is currently unique in having the option each month to choose 1 of your samples from a selection, choose the curated box, OR leave your box random.

Sign-up for Birchbox, or see the boxes I’ve gotten since!

About Me: I recently began living a more minimalistic life (sounds weird that I’d then get beauty boxes, because of excess, but hear me out!) and threw out all of my expired makeup, and products I just never used, even if I wanted to like them. Getting these boxes is super fun for me to both discover things I wouldn’t go out looking for, experiment with products, and not have to commit to full size products that I feel wasteful getting and not using.

New Subscriber Impressions: My first box I received just before Christmas (because I ordered it first).

These are my little box children. They wanted to open a present early so when this came, this was it.

It contained a variety of products that when I opened the box, looked SO small. Actually the box looked small too, but that’s just because when people hold things up on YouTube unboxings, they’re held towards the camera, so they look larger, and when people take photos of just the products, you can’t get an idea of scale.

Once I looked more, I’m actually really happy with each of the sample sizes (and the boxes are perfectly the size to fit in my makeup stand’s top drawer, YES!)

On to the review!!!

Box #1: “All Wrapped Up” DEC 2015

COOLA Classic SPF 30 Cucumber Moisturizer for Face
SAMPLE = 0.23 oz tube
So many people complained about receiving this moisturizer, and other COOLA products, maybe they’re just getting a lot of moisturizers built up? But I really like it. The scent is light and sweet, just that hint of cucumber that makes you feel fresh. It’s lightly moisturizing with no greasy feeling or shine, it absorbs into your skin beautifully. I tend to use it just over my acne problem areas after the ‘treatment’ products to keep my skin from drying out. It’s easily the best moisturizer I’ve tried. It’s the only moisturizer that I’ve tried and used for more than a day outside of being desperate for sunscreen. This could easily be part of my daily routine for a whiiiile.
Rating: 4.5/5
Sample Value: $4.32
My Value: $1.50
Would I buy it? If I can find it discounted or use BB points.
Birchbox Price: $32.00

The Beauty Crop Lighting Crew Highlighting Cream
FULL SIZE
Initial impression? “Oooo pretty shinyyy” I’d seen this in a few other people’s unboxings since I got in on December late to the game, but I was pretty excited to get this in my first Birchbox! (Plus $18 value, yes please!) Now… I’m icy pale, like if you go into Walmart, and pick up the palest shade? It would give me a few shades of tan, or work as a bronzer (maybe that would work well with the whole contouring fad?), so actually on me? I’m using this as a combination highlighter and blush, which turns into a really pretty effect across my cheekbones with a subtle shimmer.
Rating: 4/5 as a  highlighter, 5/5 as a blush
Sample Value: $18.00
My Value: $8.00
Would I buy it? I sort of did? I got the Complexion Perfection with a second one in it. Check out my review for that here:
Birchbox Price: $18.00

Coastal Scents styleEYES [duo] in FormalEYES
SAMPLE = 2 shadows
So the sample looks teeeeny tiny, but it’s not any smaller than the colors you’d have in an 88 or 120 palette. Pretty good quality, nice payoff. Mine were in a rosegold shade and more of a pretty mauve/rose dust shade. There’s nothing wrong with the shades. They’re very pretty and flattering on the skin. The lighter shade blends into the skin pretty well for a subtle shimmer while the rose/mauve shade blends out well to give a soft pretty feel. Others received shadows with greys or green, this would have been my personal preference as I like lighter makeup with a stronger liner.
Rating:
4.5/5
Sample Value: 
$3.00
My Value: 
$2.00
Would I buy it?
 No. I currently have 2 – 120 color palettes, I don’t need a new one.
Birchbox Price: 
$12.00 for full palette

amika Perk Up Dry Shampoo
SAMPLE = 0.75 oz spray can
I’ve been on a dry shampoo kick, so this was pretty fun to get. Before this I had only tried a Suave one, and I far prefer this. It gives a nice cooling feeling on your scalp (just enough to wake up, not a brain freeze type) and takes away any oiliness while leaving a nice matte finish. It makes my hair smell, look, and Feel clean. I really love this sample. I’m so glad it’s in my box. It has a lightly floral/nature scent to me that’s barely there. And the packaging is adorable.
Rating:
5/5
Sample Value: 
$3.11
My Value: 
$1.50
Would I buy it? 
Not quite for $22.00. 
Birchbox Price: 
$22.00

Harvey Prince Sea Salt Texturizing Mist
SAMPLE = 0.27 oz spritzer bottle
So… wasn’t a big fan of this, but for backwards reasons. This is supposed to give your hair texture, and piecey waves, and my hair already has that, so I feel like I have a coarse lion mane when I try this on. I think it would work amazing for those with thin hair, but for me? It was gifted to an aunt over Christmas dinner.
Rating: 3/5
Sample Value:  $1.08
My Value: $0.50
Would I buy it? No.
Birchbox Price: $24.00

I also received a $10 off $35 purchase coupon code, and was able to use it in my Complexion Perfection and Marcelle Travel Eyeliner kit order along with $20 in points I had earned.

Box #2: The Customer Favorites Box:

My second box is the Customer Favorites Box. Because I gifted myself a year membership  (it was on sale for $88, so ignoring free gifts and credits earned for reviews, that’s down to $7.33 a box!) they start off the ‘giftee’ with a box of the products that most BB members LOVED. I have no disappointments with this box whatsoever.

Soap & Paper Factory Shea Butter Hand Cream in Green Tea
SAMPLE = 0.50 oz travel size tube
This felt really smooth, it wasn’t greasy, it’s a decent sample size, I could see people loving it… I’m not a hand cream person, and the green tea smell (while I love drinking it, with tons of honey and fruity flavors) just didn’t do it for me. Its’ a very light smell, it’s not offensive or unpleasant, but if I’m going to make myself use a hand cream? This ain’t it. Mom adores it. It’s in her purse, and she’s been choosing it over her Avon creams for the moment.
Rating:
3/5
Sample Value:
 $3.97
My Value: 
$2.50
Would I buy it?
 No, just not a product I’d use.
Birchbox Price: 
$18.00

Number 4 Fluoro 5 Elixer Restore & Repair Oil
SAMPLE = 0.5 oz mini bottle
My initial impression was that I wasn’t even going to try it. And I put it off… and then I took a long bubblebath, massaged a bit into my damp hair as instructed, and OHHHH YES. Yes yes yes. Soft, shiny hair, very hard to stop playing with it (that’s what he said 😉 ). I’m gonna be a little sad when I run out of this sample. I might have to purchase it, I just don’t know if I can mentally justify myself buying hair oil? Maybe that’s just me. I dunno, I’m cheap. 4 stars.
Rating: 4/5
Sample Value:
$6.50
My Value:
$2.50 for quality and uses
Would I buy it?
If I can mentally justify buying a hair oil
Birchbox Price:
$26.00

Dr. Lipp Miracle Balm
SAMPLE = 0.1 oz tube
Sitting here squeeeeezing the tiny bottle to get the thick formula out… and giggling because they also make ‘nipple balm’. And then it comes out in a creamy yellow color. Little odd. If I’m getting a yellowish lip cream/balm I rather prefer a little tub because it’s just slightly weird looking coming out of a tube yellow. That being said, it does moisturize my lips without having a scent, without feeling sticky or slimy, and without adding any tint or color. It helps lipstick go on smooth, I’ll happily use it up. It’s not a bad product, and I think if you are prone to dryer lips than mine that the formula would be especially good for you.
Rating:
3 stars
Sample Value:
$3.30
My Value:
$1.25
Would I buy it?
I really like my ChapStick…
Birchbox Price:
$16.50

Eyeko Fat Liquid Eyeliner
FULL SIZE
Looking through a ton of Birchbox posts, reviews, and unboxings, this is apparently a huge deal, even besides the value of the product. It was promised and then stuck in customs and they maybe didn’t handle it the best since they didn’t address it?

But the product, OH MY GOD. I thought I loved my E.L.F. Waterproof Felt Eyeliner Pen? Nah. I LIKE that, I LOVE this. Wings in a flick, dries in actual seconds, doesn’t smudge while you sit there like you’re crazy rubbing your fingers over the back of your palm with various amounts of spit trying to see if it will last through a crying session. Legit waterproof eyeliner. Awesome. Insanely black. Love love love. It is thick, if you didn’t get that from the “FAT” name, they do also have a “Skinny” version if that isn’t your thing. Would probably actually pay full price for this because it also looks like it will last me FOR-EVER. And that’s coming from a girl who won’t pay $3.50 for an eyeliner. No complaints.
Rating: 5/5
Sample Value: 
$16.00
My Value:
$16.00
Would I buy it? 
I kinda did! I chose it as my sample choice for January as well, since my other account is getting the Korean Beauty curated box.
Birchbox Price:
$16.00

Juliette Has A Gun [in] Not a Perfume
SAMPLE = 0.06 oz spritzer bottle
First reaction to seeing this in my box because I’m impatient and saw it online after checking obsessively every few hours: “HOLY F*CK THEY ARE SENDING A SAMPLE OF A $100 PERFUME!!!!” Yes it was out loud.

It’s a single ingredient. You can read a ton about it. It feels a little spicy, not much musk, still pretty girly, a little borderline fruity (which I like), but to me, it feels and smells like I should be wearing an evening gown… and I don’t even own one. I’ll definitely be using it on dress up days and special events.
Rating: 4.5/5
Sample Value: $3.54
My Value: $1.50
Would I buy it? NO! It’s $100!! I cannot justify spending that on one product. It doesn’t matter what it is.
Birchbox Price: $100.00

Added Value

Sometimes Birchbox has been known to throw in some extras, a foil packet, a lifestyle accessory, etc, but the biggest added value to every box is REVIEWING. If you get 5 products in your box, and you review all 5, you have earned 50 points, or $5.00 in the Birchbox shop.

You can earn an additional 10 points if you are willing to share your box on Twitter or Facebook. This can be before it comes, or after you’ve received it, and you can customize your message. I don’t think this is ‘spammy’ to do, and I think it’s a very valuable tool to you, and that more people than you think would be interested in products that someone they know has tried, or even in Birchbox itself.

Points can (only) be redeemed in the store in 100 point increments, but it’s an amazing deal, and each month you can earn about $6.00 in credit. If you pay month to month, this brings your actual box cost down to $4.00 each box, so any value in your samples over $4.00 is profit. If you get in on one of the longer deals such as the 20% off a year long gift subscription for my second account, your initial cost is $7.33, and it brings it down to $1.33 per month that your value has to beat. That works even for the cheapskate girlies like myself.

If you are interested in signing up with a discount, you can get $5.00 off your first box by signing up with my referral link: https://www.birchbox.com/invite/thatgeekygf

Box #1: December Box Evaluation

Box Rating: 4.4
Full Size Products:
1 Deluxe Samples: 4 Foils: 0
Total Sample Value:
$29.51
Total Personal Value: $12.00
+ Birchbox Points Earned: $6.00
+ $10 off $35 Purchase: $10.00
= Box Value: $28.00
Opinion: I have absolutely no problem with this box. There was only one product that I didn’t like enough to use. I got to try things I would never have purchased for myself, I got more than one use out of everything, and 2 weeks later have some of everything left. Very good deal.

Box 2: Customer Favorites Evaluation

Box Rating: 3.9
Full Size Products:
1 Deluxe Samples: 4 Foils: 0
Total Sample Value:
$33.31
Total Personal Value: $23.75
+ Birchbox Points Earned: $6.00
= Box Value: $29.75
Opinion: This was a fantastic box. I’m not huge on perfumes, which is why they aren’t worth much to me, and I do LOVE my ChapStick, but the eyeliner was a total surprise to see in my box preview, and I’m more than content to try a hand cream and be able to give it to my mom as something she’ll use. Very good value, great variety of products, great concept to have as a Welcome box to those that are given a gift. Even without my profile being filled out these were pretty universally relevant for things people should be willing to try.

Winning box? I can’t pick. The monetary value isn’t the only factor for me. I’m loving that eyeliner though…

Overall I’d definitely recommend Birchbox to anyone that’s open to trying different skin care, hair care, AND beauty products. It’s absolutely not just for makeup, and if that’s all you’re wanting you WILL be disappointed.

Be sure to read through their FAQ’s if you’re a picky person:
(I am, but this is probably the perfect subscription for me to try as many things for as little as possible and feel like I’m earning my money back too)

They are NOT able to completely cut off any one type of product for you, and yes you may get something that you’re allergic to.

Read the ingredients. Be willing to participate in product trades or to give your unused samples to friends, family, even coworkers that you don’t really like but feel like you need to get something for on the holidays/birthdays, and just enjoy the experience of trying things and getting little surprises in the mail each month that can sometimes be pretty damn cool. 🙂

What’s your favorite subscription box?

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