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Review: Birchbox

Nov 15, 2013

I've been wary of these subscription services that send you a box of stuff each month for a flat fee. I dipped my toes in the water with Stitch Fix because you don't have to subscribe, you can just get a fix when you want one. So, when my friend J asked if we could have a pizza and wine night so she could convince me to use Birchbox, I was hesitant...but let's be honest, she had me at pi.

After she'd buttered me up with prosciutto and banana peppers pizza from Italian Kitchen on U (my favorite), she took out the little box. It was much smaller than I'd imagined, and she explained it's because they send you samples.

Samples?! Uh, no thanks. Rip-off.

But then she showed me what was inside. I don't remember the contents of her box, but what I noticed was most of the sample sizes were pretty large. She told me each box is customized according to your profile with four to five products, and it's only $10 a month then free shipping on any full-sized products you want to order.

She poured me another glass of wine and went in for the kill. 

"And it's so fun to get a package, right?!

Yes, it is, J. *sigh*

The next day I signed up for an account. I was informed there was a waiting list. I rolled my eyes and thought, Good. Saves me ten bucks.

Fifteen minutes later I received a notification that I was in. Sneaky, sneaky marketing tactics, y'all.

Much like Stitch Fix, they ask you questions about your preferences on and challenges with skincare, hair, favorite products, trouble areas, etc. When I saw you can cancel your subscription at any time, I decided to go for it. I could at least try it out once, no harm in that.

Since it was near the end of October and the boxes ship early in the month, I was delightfully surprised to get an October box the following week. 

Noli checked to make sure there were no drugs or bombs, and then I opened it up to find a Beauty Buzz card telling me about some beauty trends and a couple of tips. (The website has a Magazine tab that offers more of this type of information.)

Here's what I got:

I was instantly excited about this because I'm addicted to lip gloss. The color they sent was Flowering Fuchsia, which I wasn't sure about at first. Hot pink is not the greatest color on me. But I found that it gave my lips a subtle stain, along with the gloss, and it was actually really pretty! Also, there's something in it that is kind of minty. That's not in the product description, so maybe it's just naturally refreshing? All of their lip glosses have vitamin E and jojoba oil, which makes your lips extra soft. This is the only lip gloss I've been using since I got it. It looks like a full-sized tube to me, so I'm sure it will last me through the wintertime at least!

Doing my best Lucille Bluth.

I was so happy to see this neutral shade (Dinge) because I really needed a new one. I have awful nails (thanks to Mean Girls I became obsessed with my small nail beds) and prefer a nail polish that gives good coverage so you can't see how far down my nails start. This gives great coverage with the first coat, and the second coat fills in any gaps. It's the perfect neutral shade for me since I'm fair skinned. The sample they send looks like a full-sized bottle, and I would pay that much for OPI or Essie. Score!

3 & 4. dr. brandt microdermabrasion skin exfoliant ($78) & dr. brandt light years away brightening eye cream ($90)
I wasn't thrilled by these because I generally have good skin (my mother would say those genes come from my great-grandmother Mamie). I used microdermabrasion products before and didn't notice a difference then, and because of the yellow tones in my skin, it doesn't have that translucency that some rosy complexions have. So I decided not to try these. I'm going to gift them to someone for a little happy instead.

This was a "Birchbox Find," which means it's an add-on that I might enjoy and is included on occasion. The only difference I could tell between this and the others is it's not a fancypants brand, but it's still something I would totally use. Who doesn't need ChapStick? This particular kind is marketed as a primer for your lipstick. It's not as waxy as the regular ChapStick, but it definitely doesn't add any color. I haven't noticed any huge improvement in my lipstick wear time while using it, but then again, I've been wearing a lot of the POP lip gloss so I haven't had much opportunity to experiment. 

All in all I was very pleased with my first Birchbox. I've already received my November one, so I'll post on that in a couple of weeks. I'm sticking with this for now because, as J said, it's fun to get a package in the mail, and almost all of the products have been something I would try. The sample sizes are a nice way to do that without making a commitment to the full-sized product, and so many of the samples are large, it feels like you're getting the full-sized anyway.

For $10, it's a great deal, plus it keeps me out of the CVS beauty aisle when I have no reason to be there except that I'm bored/sad/happy/stressed/relaxed/going on a date/watching 30 Rock all night with Noli/etc. So really I'm saving money. (That's called single girl math. #girlcode)

P.S. All next week I'm writing about online dating. I have way too much information to put in one post, so be sure to tune in...and chime in!

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