Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Birchbox June 2014 Review: "Away We Go"

So for some reason, despite the fact that this is my very first Birchbox ever, I failed to do any good documentation of it before using up the contents of half of the items. I did manage to snap just a couple of poorly-lit photos before deciding to procrastinate, so there's that, at least. For informational purposes: much like my Ipsy subscription, Birchbox is a monthly shipment of 4-6 makeup, skincare, and haircare samples that costs me $10. Birchbox, however, apparently tends to include smaller samples from higher-quality brands, where Ipsy tends to send out larger or full-sized samples from lower-end brands. It seems to me that there might be a place in my life for both subscription services, so I'm going to give Birchbox a few months and see what I think.

Here be Birchbox.
Before we delve into the contents, I do have to say that I hate how wasteful Birchbox's packaging is. The goodies arrive in this perfectly serviceable box... which is packaged inside ANOTHER box. Come on now.

Because I neglected to take photos of the individual items as I usually do, you're just going to have to follow along in the above picture... I trust that you can figure out which item is which. On to the reviews!
  • Davines Love Smoothing Shampoo (sample bottle, valued at  $7.50) and Smoothing Conditioner (foil packet, valued at $1.40): First, let me address the good about these samples... the shampoo is a very nice size. It annoys me when a sample is too small to see how the product performs over a little time, and the shampoo bottle definitely has a good amount of uses in it. Unfortunately, I can't say the same of the accompanying conditioner, which came in a dinky foil packet from which I was able to get approximately 1.5 uses. The scent is extremely off-putting to me; it smells a LOT like the foaming tub cleaner I use, and that's definitely not something I want wafting off my head. And despite the fact that these products are billed as being for dry and frizzy hair, I found that my already-dry hair felt noticeably more straw-like after using them. To be fair, I continued using the shampoo after the conditioner ran out, and it cleans my hair acceptably, but I'm following it up with my usual conditioner, so I can't speak to its solo smoothing performance.
  • Davines OI All in One Milk (foil packet, valued at $0.83): I just don't have anything good to say about this item, y'all. Foil packets are always disappointing, although to be fair, this one had a solid few uses in it. I just find it unsanitary to keep an open foil packet for multiple uses... give me something I can re-seal, dang it! Scent: although this doesn't have the same tub-cleaner smell of the previously-mentioned Davines products, it's still not a scent that I like at all. And of course, there's the performance... or lack thereof. I didn't notice any improvement in my hair's texture after using this, although at least it didn't weigh my hair down or make it look oily like this type of product often does on me.
  • Suki Exfoliate Foaming Cleanser (sample jar, valued at $1.65): Face wash is not something that I normally spend money on, because it's literally on your face for ten seconds and then rinsed away. I put the big bucks toward the moisturizers and whatnot, because they're actually on your face for the long haul. I'm not sure that any product will ever change my thinking on that... but this one comes pretty damn close! Actually, if not for the hefty price tag, I probably would have ordered a full size of this already. For some reason I've been grooving hard on lemon-scented things lately, and this has a lovely lemongrass scent. (I do have to say that I wasn't completely impressed by the exfoliation, but I think that's probably because I was using tiny amounts to make the sample last longer.)
  • LAQA & Co. Sheer Lip Lube Pencil in "Bee's Knees" (sample size, valued at $9): First of all, did they really need to put "lube" in the name? There's no situation in which that word doesn't conjure up icky connotations, not even taking a car to Jiffy Lube. But I digress. I'm not sure what I think of this product, but I can't swear that my issues with it aren't just a function of the color being too light for me. I love a good coral lip, but this shows up as a pale peach on me. It's lighter than both my natural lip color and my skin tone, which is not a good look. And I feel like it settles into and accentuates the lines in my lips, but that might not be an issue if the color didn't already look so jarring on me. It's got a pleasant minty scent and a bit of a tingle, which I like, and it feels like a lip balm. I actually wish I'd gotten the purplish shade that some other subscribers received... and I may still have a chance at one, because I will be receiving another one of these from Birchbox. You see, this one arrived with most of the product broken off and stuck up inside the cap, so I sent an email and a picture to Birchbox's customer care, and promptly received a reply promising a replacement item. Good service!
  •  Harvey Prince "Hello" Perfume (sample vial, valued at $1): Ugh, perfume. I am NOT a fan of perfume samples, because for some reason most perfumes tend to react badly with my body chemistry. I've found a couple that work for me, and I don't stray often. This one, while pleasant-smelling enough, is not going to make it into my rotation... too floral for me. (I'm not a connoisseur who can pick out the individual components of a scent, so I'll raid Birchbox's description for the specifics: Meyer lemon, Satsuma mandarin, summer forsythia, and pink plumeria.) 
  •  Egyptian Magic Skin Cream (sample jar, valued at $2.37): Magic? That's big talk. For me, the jury's still out on this product's magical powers. It's all-natural, which I guess is nice, and reminds me very much of the coconut oil I use on my hair (solid at room temperature, melts down on contact with body heat). It's unscented, which I actually don't love, but hey, at least it's not a scent I dislike. I'm throwing this little guy into my purse for use on my dry hands and rough cuticles, so we'll see about this "magic" business.
(I also received a bonus item, I guess as a welcome gift? Anyway, it's a sample tube of Cynthia Rowley Beauty Creamy Lip Stain in "Sugar," which is a nudey-rose shade that bores the crap out of me. This one's staying sealed and going off to the ol' trade list.)

So, my first Birchbox. I actually didn't realize how completely underwhelming it was until I started writing this review! From a dollar standpoint, everything (sans the extra lip product) adds up to $23.75. This is a lower value than I'm used to from Ipsy, where the tally is generally closer to $40. Still, an acceptable numeric return on my $10 investment... plus, what Birchbox lacks in up-front value, it makes up for with its points system! For every item I receive and review on the website, I get ten points, which basically equates to a dollar to spend in the Birchbox shop. So this month, for example, I received seven items that were eligible for review points, which adds up to $7 I can eventually spend in the shop! Birchbox's shop includes all kinds of items, from cosmetics to home decor, and includes popular brands like Benefit as well as highly-rated Birchbox exclusives like Beauty Protector. In addition to review points, subscribers get a point for every dollar spent on products in the shop, so I can see how points could add up quickly. We shall see, over a few months, if the points system helps to balance out underwhelming boxes like this one.

If you feel compelled to join Birchbox after reading this review, please feel free to clicky-clicky here to sign up using my referral link. (Another way to get those wonderful points!)

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