April Birchbox Review

Well, well, well Birchbox, funny seeing you here. Y’all know how I feel about Birchbox (overrated, under delivers), but every now and then they run a promo that is worth paying $10 for. I ended up getting one sample I have really been wanting to try, too, so it wasn’t a total wash. However, if I were you, I would wait until Birchbox is running a free gift with subscription deal that is worth it to you (like Lipstick Queen lipsticks or, in this case, the Smashbox mascara) and subscribe then. That way, you are getting a higher end beauty product for $10, plus samples. That’s the only situation that makes Birchbox “worth it” for me. That being said, here is my April Birchbox!

Total Value (excluding bonus): $22.85
The sample I am most looking forward to trying is the R+Co Dry Shampoo, but otherwise I am … unimpressed by this month’s box. The retail value, while double the cost of the box, is much lower than the retail value of my April Ipsy. However, I bought the box for the Smashbox mascara, so from that perspective, I got the mascara for $10 + some fun samples, which is much more worth it. 

February Birchbox

Good morning and happy Sunday! Sunday is my favorite day of the week these days; it’s also the only day where I don’t have to go to work or school. I usually spend Sunday catching up on housework or working on job projects or doing homework, but for the first few hours, while I’m having my morning coffee, I can just relax. Sitting in my smooshy bed with my smooshy dog, drinking coffee and listening to the Gentle Classical playlist while working on this silly blog is one of my favorite ways to decompress. 

The first two weeks of the month are always full to the brim with subscription boxes – especially when you have a weak month, like my January, and sign up for way too many while good promos are running. The first and most obvious example of this is that I ordered a February Birchbox. I don’t even like Birchbox! Though one of the first beauty subscription boxes, BB has really taken a turn for the worst over the past year. I think they’re affordable and fun for a few months, but they repeat brands and products regularly so the novelty wears off quickly. With $10/month competitors like Ipsy & Sephora Play!, I just don’t think Birchbox measures up. However, if you do want to test it out, you can get your first box for only $5 with this link, and there’s no commitment.

So, all of that to say … I did order a February Birchbox. They were running a promo where I could receive a free full-size Lipstick Queen “Hello Sailor” lipstick (normally $25) with purchase of the box, so I bit. To me, I ordered “Hello Sailor” for $10 and happened to get a box of samples along the way! Just like placing orders at Sephora 😉

My February Birchbox contained:

Total Paid: $10
Total Value: $27.22 (excluding the Lipstick Queen)

 Swatches of Supergoop CC Cream, Laqa & Co. Lipstick, and Hello Sailor

My box had a few items that are considered Birchbox staples – if you’ve subscribed to BB long enough, you’ve absolutely received them once or twice. Examples are the Vasanti scrub, Klorane dry shampoo, and anything from Supergoop. Thankfully, I’ve never tried any of them before, so I feel like my BB experience is finally complete. 
I’m happy with my lip products this month. The balm is thick and moisturizing for overnight use, and I’ve seen it get good reviews for prepping lips & filling in fine lines before applying matte lipsticks. I haven’t worn the Laqa & Co. yet but I love the shade and pigment and every review talks about how nourishing it is. 
However, my real, deep, true love is the reason I bought the box – Lipstick Queen Hello Sailor. I’ve used Lipstick Queen Frog Prince, but it’s a little too sheer hot pink for me to use daily. Hello Sailor turns into the most wonderful sheer cool berry. It reminds me of Clinique’s famous Black Honey Almost Lipstick, but I think it’s even better. I could see Hello Sailor looking not so great on warmer toned skin, but it has become an absolute staple for my no-makeup-makeup days. 

My super late August subscription box master post, kind of

First of all, I’d like to apologize for not being a photographer … at all. Most of these box photos were taken in the shade or at night and I’ve tried to manipulate them to make the labels somewhat legible. Frankly, I can’t believe I subscribed to EIGHT subscription boxes last month, excluding food boxes (like Home Chef and HelloFresh) and clothing boxes (like Le Tote). So without further ado, I present ….. My August Boxes.

BeautyDNA is a unique subscription for me in that it costs $25 per month to receive only one product (or try your first month for $15 by using that link!). However, the products are always full-size and are always worth more than the cost of the box. There is an incredibly detailed personalization quiz to define your beauty profile & skincare concerns. This month I receive the SimySkin Micro Exfoliating Toner (RV $40) and I have absolutely loved it. I use it every night before bed and am working up to using it morning and night (you have to ease into it because it’s 10% glycolic acid!). Check out the note they send explaining why they send each product: 
I also want to mention that the first product I ever received from them (a daily facial moisturizer) broke me out. I emailed to cancel and also let customer service know the issue – I loved the idea and the surprise every month, but wasn’t willing to gamble $25 on one product that may be a complete miss. Not only did they cancel without asking any questions, they also sent me a completely new product (a vitamin-c serum) free of charge and an apology that their algorithm didn’t work the first time around. I was so impressed that I resubscribed, and I really enjoy the little surprise treat every month. 

Benevolent Beauty VIP Box August 2016

Benevolent Beauty Box was one of the first subscription boxes I ever signed up for. I bought a six month plan during their Mother’s Day Sale, so each box averages to about $15. The VIP boxes are $30 a month (this is what I have now) and include 4-7 full-size cruelty-free beauty products. The monthly mini boxes contain 2-3 full-size cruelty-free beauty products for $15-ish a month. Benevolent Beauty donates $1 per box sold to Humane Society International to help the fight against animal testing & cruelty. 

Admittedly, I ended up gifting away almost the entire box this month. That’s because I’m on full-sized product overload, though, not due to lack of quality or value. This month’s box contained: 
  • Manna Kadar Liplocked Priming Gloss Stain in Lucky (RV $24) which I love but unfortunately already own, so I’ll be gifting it.
  • yourMinerals Transparent Veil Setting Powder (RV $26) I have two other setting powders I’m working through, from Innisfree & BareMinerals, so I’ll be gifting this as well
  • Cougar Cosmetics Mineral Blush in Punch (RV ~$20) I love Cougar Cosmetics packaging, but this shade was too warm for my skintone … another gift.
  • Bellapierre Vanilla Bean Lip Balm (RV $10) I’ve had good luck with Bellapierre, but own too many lip balms as it is, so anything that’s packaged in a pot or tub rather than a stick or tube is getting gifted away. 
  • Nvey Eco Eyeshadow in Rose Quartz (RV $18) You could receive either Rose Quartz, Mahogany, or Mystique, and while I probably would’ve preferred either of those shades, I KEPT THIS! Lol. This was the one item I kept from this month’s box. 
While August’s Benevolent Beauty Box was clearly not a hit for me personally, I still think the variety of product’s was great and that the items I can’t keep will make wonderful gifts. The lip stain is one of my go-to lip products, so there’s still a chance I’ll keep it for myself as a backup.

Birchbox August 2016 Avene Cleanance Gel ProfilePRO Ultra Nourishing Oil Manna Kadar Fantasy 3 in 1 Benefit Goof Proof Brow Pencil Oribe Apres Beach Wave and Shine Spray

This was my last, probably ever, Birchbox. I cancel and resubscribe to plenty of boxes as my mood or budget or needs change each month, but I would say that Birchbox is one that is truly unimpressive. What does it have going for it? Well, it’s classic & it’s cheap. For $10 a month you get samples of makeup, skincare, and hair products. What does it have going against it? Sample sizes are tiny, they’ve eliminated the wonderful points system that made each box essentially $5, and the CEO has released multiple statements about how boring the subscription box industry is. I’ve cancelled my subscription and haven’t looked back. Here’s what my parting box contained:

  • Avene Cleanance Cleansing Gel for Face & Body (RV $2.49) Haven’t tried yet
  • ProfilePro Ultra Nourishing Oil (RV $2.30) Haven’t tried yet
  • MannaKadar Fantasy 3-in-1 Blush Highlighter Eyeshadow (RV $19?) I’m not sure about the retail value of this. The packaging is different than the one on the MannaKadar site, but it seems like it could be full-sized. As you can see, mine arrived completely shattered. I repaired it with rubbing alcohol, but it shattered again the next day. To their credit, Birchbox sent me a replacement. I love the color as a blush and eyeshadow, but have to be so, so careful because it wants to break. 
  • Oribe Après Beach Wave and Shine Spray (RV $4.60) I love Oribe and am happy to try anything they put out. Though beachy wave sprays never work for me, this one’s added shine was nice & it didn’t make my hair feel filthy.
  • Benefit Goof Proof Brow Pencil (RV $2.40) This sample size was a joke. The shade was too warm for me but honestly I wouldn’t have cared about that if it had been easy to hold or use in any way. The pencil was too light and small and the amount of product made me nervous that it would only cover one eyebrow. I’ve never received a smaller sample of something in my life.
I also cashed in all of my points and used my birthday gift ($10 off any purchase of $50+) to really say “Adios!” to BB. I “purchased” (for free though, because of my points & discount) a new S’well bottle & clear Anastasia brow gel. I used the free mystery sample gift (with any $35+ purchase) and they sent me a teeny tiny Paula’s Choice Vitamin C Skin Booster sample. I’ve mixed it with my night cream & I like it, but I won’t get more than 3 uses out of it. My other free “sample” was a full-sized Mirenesse mascara. It has awful reviews, but I’m more than willing to try a new mascara for free. Also, you can see the replacement MannaKadar eyeshadow Birchbox sent me, which was unbroken. 🙂
Essence Beauty Box 

The next box is Essence Beauty Box which, for the measly two months I subscribed to it, was wonderful. Essence Beauty Box was created and curated by Essence magazine for women of color, but it ended up being my favorite for beauty staples (like shaving gel and makeup remover) with a splash of fun beauty products. Unfortunately, Essence is discontinuing their beauty box, and the last box will be September’s.

Essence Beauty Box August 2016

  • Nudestix Lip & Cheek Dual Pencil in Mystic/Whisper (RV $24) Love the nude shades and the formula. I’ve used them as lipstick and cream blush & prefer them as lipstick. 
  • Skin & Co Hand Cream in Umbrian Truffle and Citrus Amaro (RV $7.92) Haven’t opened these yet but I’m really looking forward to having them as the weather gets cooler. 
  • SweetSpot On the Go Wipettes (RV $1.28) I LOVED THESE. Their ph-balanced feminine wipes which sounds so… not fun, but I keep them in my gym bag to use as an all-over wipe if I have to head straight to the office after a mild workout. Each scent was awesome and I definitely want to keep buying them. 
  • Hi-Pro-Pac Keratin Replenish Masque (RV $1.75) I wasn’t excited about a foil sample at first, but this lasted for four conditioning masks on my hair & I ended up really loving it. My dry, bleach-damaged hair needed it. 
  • Oyin Hair Dew (RV $1.67) I haven’t tried this leave-in conditioner yet, but plan on packing on my upcoming trip. It gets great reviews & I’m excited to try it. 

Glossybox markets themselves as a luxury beauty box for $21 a month. They send 5 niche, high-end, or emerging brands in the form of deluxe samples or full-sized products. I received a buy one, get two free promotion so I haven’t come close to trying all of these products yet. I will list them out, but really can’t give item by item reviews yet.
August 2016 Glossybox
This was my official August Glossybox. I think it had a decent variety of products that I wouldn’t normally get to try, so I’m satisfied – the two bonus boxes are a heck of an add-on, though! I received: 
If you want to try Glossybox out, click that link and use code SUNSET at checkout to receive a free mystery box along with your first box! Here are my two bonus boxes, the first from May 2016 and the second from December 2015. 

Finally, I have a couple more $10 subscriptions that I think are much more worth the money than Birchbox. 
Ipsy really runs the gamut with its offerings, from drugstore to high-end and everything in between. It’s customizable, and every month your selections will (arguably) become more & more accurate as you review the products & brands you like vs. dislike. In August I received an extra item, the Pixi Glow Tonic, as a points reward. I also received: 
Look at this cutesy packaging! Sephora Play can be frustrating because there’s a waitlist with no real end. I was on it for months and never received notification that the sign ups were open, but I heard on Reddit that people were able to sign up and gave it a whirl — it worked! You kind of just have to hope for the best and hurry to try to sign up when you hear that it’s open again. August’s focus was all about eyes. 
Sephora Play August 2016 Make Up For Ever Pink Granite Eyeshadow Clean Reserve Blonde Rose Sephora Collection Eyeliner Flirting Game Urban Decay Perversion Mascara Caudalie Eye Cream Lancome Energie de Vie
So, that’s it! Those are all of the regularly scheduled beauty boxes. I have others, like FabFitFun (which is seasonal) and Julep (which may well be my favorite box of all, but I happened to skip August), and I’ll be sure to post whenever they arrive. But I hope this covers everything you could possibly hope to know about my August boxes.