Saturday, August 3, 2013

Retrospective: Birchbox March 2012

Without any subscription boxes coming in, and with me being too lazy to get off my butt and look though my cabinet to pick something to write a review about, I figured I would go through all my past Birchboxes and do a retrospective review of the products.

Here is what my profile looks like (and has always looked like):

My level of beauty knowledge is: Dedicated enthusiast: I love learning and exploring

I can never have too many: Haircare products, makeup products, nail polishes

For me, fragrance samples are: Not my favorite- please send me no more than 6 fragrance samples per year

I'd love to see more of these types of extras in my Birchbox: Organic and natural products, small acessories 

I am signing up for Birchbox because: I want samples, samples, samples!; I'm looking to experiment and change my beauty routine

My beauty style is: Classic- I err on the side of traditional, think Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn; Low-maintenance- I tend to be pretty natural and don't spend much time getting ready

My hair is: Curly, dry, too short for a ponytail

My hair is closest to: Blonde

I do the following to my hair: Color treat, curl with a curling iron, straighten with a flat iron, always let it air dry- why mess with nature?

My ethnicity is: White or caucasian

My skin tone is: Fair

My complexion is best described as: Normal

I am most concerned about: Cellulite, hyper-pigmentation or dark spots, sun protection

My day of birth is: 1987

Birchbox has you fill out this profile, and whether or not they take it into consideration when they send products is another thing all together.

March 2012
This was my first month with Birchbox, and I didn't really know what to expect.  I ended up with two products that are still in my top 5.

Color Club Classic Nail Polish in He Loves Me (left)
Photo from Birchbox

I hate color club polish and this one started it.  It's a pretty color, but it's streaky as all get-out, chips easily, and needs 3 coats.  Ugh.  For $8, I'll buy Essie or OPI.

Full size $8 for 0.5 fl.oz. (save your money), 0.25fl.oz. sample value $4

Jouer Luminizing Moisture Tint in Golden
Photo from Birchbox
 This was great.  I used up the sample and wished that it was bigger, or that I had enough money for the full thing.  I just wish that I had gotten "Pearl", the lightest shade- of which I ended up receiving a deluxe sample size in another subscription service.  "Golden" would be fine for me in the summer, but not in March when I'm translucent.

Full size $38 for 50 mL. Sample value (I think it was 2 mL?) $1.52

Orofluido Elixir aka Mystical Hair Potion of the Gods
Photo from Birchbox
 See my link to the top 5 for my review of this.  It's awesome.  It makes you hair look and smell awesome.  I love it.  You will love it.  End of story.

Full size $29.99 for 100 mL.  Sample size 5 mL (I believe), value $1.50
Stila Smoky Eye Shadow Trio
Photo from Birchbox
 This came on a cardboard postcard and was the dinky little plastic-covered sample pressed onto the paper backing.  Not a little mini version or anything, just the stuff you get sent to you in magazine inserts sometimes.  I was able to swipe them on my hand and that's it.  Not very useful if I can't create a look with it!

Full size, $49 for 0.9 oz (all three).  Sample value $0.
Harvey Prince Ageless, the perfume that converted me into a perfume-wearer
Photo from Birchbox

Again, see my top 5 for a review of this.  It smells unlike any other perfume I've ever smelled and I love it.  It's just... me.

$98.00 for 100 mL.  Sample value (assuming it was a standard 1.5 mL), $1.47
Tea Forte Skin Smart Teas in Cherry Marzipan, Honey Yuzu, and Cucumber Mint
Photo from Birchbox

Birchbox included one of each of their flavors, and I found that I really liked them all.  I don't like herbal teas, but these were more fruity than anything.  The honey yuzu (which is a kind of citrus) was my favorite, with the cherry marzipan (almond) close behind.

Full size $6 for 16 bags.  Value of 3 bags is $1.12.

Total Value $9.61

This is less than the $10 I paid, but with the 60 points from the 6 reviews, which equates to $6 to spend in the Birchbox shop, it worked out.  Considering how much I loved the perfume and Orofluido, it remains one of my favorite boxes to date.  Isn't that the point of a subscription box service? To find things you love and can't live without? I think so, and I think Birchbox and I got off to a great start!

Birchbox costs $10/month, including shipping and sends you a box of 4-6 samples and sometimes full-sized products.  You can review the products you receive for 10 Birchbox points each.  For every $1 you spend in the BB shop, you also receive 1 BB point.  For every 100 BB points you accumulate, you get $10 to spend in their shop.  If you would like to sign up, my link is here and I will earn 50 BB points at the end of your first month.

This post contains products I purchased with my own money.  No compensation was received for this post and all opinions are my own.  This post contains a referral link, see above for details.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Popsugar Fall Fashion Box, Love With Food August Spoiler

Some news from my inbox...

$100 will get you the Fall Style Special Edition Popsugar Must Have, will ship in September

I think I might be able to resist this special edition box.  I liked the Summer Fun box, but not enough to drop another $100.  I'll buy another 3 months of the regular subscription, instead ;)  If you want, here is my referral link! The August box is sold out, your subscription would start in September. Or, you can purchase the Fall Style box separately as a one-time deal without signing up for anything else.  Or both. 

BOPS chips in August Love with Food
I need to do a "why I canceled Love with Food" post.  I still get their incentive emails though.

This post contains a referral link.  If 2 people subscribe to PopSugar, I get a free month.  All opinions in this post are my own and no compensation was received.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Little Black Bag, July Haul

My Little Black Bag for the month of July showed up today!  I outlined my trading process for this bag in this post here.

Even though I know what's in the box, I still get excited!
Double-checked on the packing slip.

Steve Madden Clutch
Little chevron print inside.
The clutch.  It's a little big and impractical for me; I'm sending it back.

The jewelry 

Unpacked Jewelry.  I'm keeping the Mata Traders earrings on the right and sending the others back.

The best part of the box, and my opening items.

Love these! Seychelles sandals.

As it happens with LBB, things looked much different in real life.  The braided bracelet was dull and not as brightly gold colored as it was shown to be.  The circle and tassel earrings are quite long, and while I could shorten them pretty easily, I don't wear gold very often and I like the other pair better.  The clutch is big and it doesn't hold a lot and it is totally impractical for my needs.  I've never returned anything to LBB, we will see how it goes!  You have to pay shipping costs on the way back.  I'm going to exchange instead of asking for a refund.  Plus, that way I can trade more ;)

My referral link to Little Black Bag is here.  You pick your first item and can bundle it with a few surprise items at a discount.  You then have a week to trade your items for other items.  See my linked post above for more details.

This post contains items that I purchased with my own funds.  No compensation was received for this post and all opinions are my own.  This post contains a referral link; if you use my link to sign up for LBB, you can get a 25% discount on your first bag and I will get a free item in my next one.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

What's in a Birchbox Mystery Pick Two Pack?

When you spend over $35 on Birchbox, you can pick out a Pick Two Sample Pack for free.  You can also buy them for $10, but that doesn't seem as good of a deal to me.  The duos vary throughout the year, and you can either pick a certain pair or opt for a "Mystery Pack."

None of the pairs really interested me when I placed my last order, so I decided to go out on a limb and chose the mystery pack.  I'm sure that what I got is not what everyone who picked this option received, but it can give you an idea of what to expect.

Ta-da! Mystery Pick Two Sample Pack from Birchbox.

I ended up with a 30 mL sample of Alessandro Cream Rich Hand!Spa Age Complex Regenerating Hand Cream with Pearl Protein Extract and Hyaluronic Acid, as well as a Color Club mini in Wild Cactus.

The full size of the hand cream is 100 mL and retails for $30 on Birchbox.  The sample value is $9.
The nail polish is part of Color Club's Fiesta collection and the full size, 0.5 oz is $8. The sample value is $4 (0.25 oz).

The hand cream smells like a Yankee Candle store.  I can't put my finger down on the scent, it just smells like a mix of everything, but not in an overpowering or unpleasant way.  It is very nice and isn't greasy at all.  Just a very rich hand cream with a very light, very unobtrusive scent.

Unfortunately, I had received a sample bottle of Wild Cactus in my February 2013 box.  It's a pretty color, but it stains.  I also don't like Color Club as a brand, in general.  I find that their polishes chip much faster than other, similarly priced, polishes such as Essie or OPI.

This is from February, when I received Wild Cactus for the first time.  Don't mind the mess on my cuticles.  It matched my shirt, though!

Just because this is what I received in my Mystery Pick Two Sample Pack, that doesn't mean it is what you will get!  I do want to note that neither of these items were listed in any of the other packs (there was a different color club polish in one of them, though).  The hand cream was a nice surprise and I will be able to give the duplicate polish as a gift... along with a nice base coat!

This post contains products that I purchased with my own funds.  No compensation was received for this post and all opinions are my own.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Birchbox for CEW

I made a post recently about some special edition boxes that Birchbox put out in collaboration with CEW, the Cosmetic Executive Women, Insiders' Beauty Awards of 2013.

I decided that since I either own or have tried that majority of the Prestige box (still available for $18), I should go for the Mass Appeal collection (currently sold out).

This cost $12 and arrived today!  I love that Birchbox is able to ship my orders so fast.  It was just what I needed after a tough work day.

First look! It came in a normal pink Birchbox shipping box, but since I ordered other products, that pink box was within yet another box.  Boxception.

Info card

The inside of the box isn't printed, like the July Suits edition was, but the top has a nice chevron print.
First look... the Olay treatment was hiding

Here it is!

The item I was most excited about was the Infallible eye shadow from L'Oreal...until I opened the box.  I received a reddish-purple color called, "Glistening Garnet", however it looked much better once I swatched it.  I don't normally wear reds or pinks near my eyes because I'm so fair and I feel like it makes me look like I have conjunctivitis.  For this reason, I do not have a lot of pink or red eye shadows (except the random ones sent in sub boxes) and this is totally different from everything I have in my collection.

L'Oreal Infallible in 557 (Glistening Garnet).  This is the bottom of the container.
Image from

Full size, approximate retail $7.99 but I'm sure there are all kinds of coupons out there, as well as pharmacy reward deals.

It comes with a little plastic damper?  Is that the right word? It seems like you pack down the powder with it.  IDK.  I used it to smear some of the shadow on my hand.
 If you look at the bigger size of the swatch picture, you can see that there is definitely some multidimensional shimmer to the product, which makes it swing more to the purple side of things, thus making it infinitely more wearable.  I'll have to give it a try.

Nivea Olive Oil and Lemon Moisture Rich Lip Care
Image from

Full size, approximate retail value $2.99. You can never have enough chapsticks or lip balms or moisturizing lip treatments, or whatever you want to call the gunk you smear all over your kisser.  I don't really want to open this until I have to, or until I lose all of the currently open lip products I'm using.

Olay Professional Pro-X Even Skin Tone Spot Fading Treatment
Image from

This retails for about $32.99 for 40 mL.  The sample size is 7 mL, an approximate value of $5.77.  It is certainly a large enough sample for me to tell if I like the product or not!  Do freckles count as dark spots?  I have too many!  Damn you, Irish/Scottish heritage! Damn you, sun!

Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain in 040 (Rendezvous)

Image from
This is also full-sized and retails for about $8.99, but again, there are always sales and coupons.  

I LOVE THESE LIP BALM STAINS.  I have 4 of them, including this color, so now I have a duplicate.  Or a gift for someone because everybody should know how awesome these crayons are.  They twist up- no sharpening needed, smell a little minty (but not overpowering), and the stain lasts a long time and wears evenly.  There is no gross stain ring around the edges of your lips at the end of the day.  Depending on how hard you press, you can get anywhere from a light wash of a pretty, warm pink color to a deep, intense orange out of this particular shade.  It's amazing.  Seriously.  This is one of the reasons I ordered the Mass Appeal box- so I could get one of these for cheaper than I could even with coupons and on sale!

Simple Revitalizing Eye Roll-On

Image from
This is another full-size product, which retails for about $10.99.  It has a cooling metal roller-ball, and I bet this would be awesome if you kept it in the fridge and used it in the morning to deflate any under-eye puffiness.  It felt nice when I applied it, but I'm sure that's mostly due to the cold metal ball and less due to the generic ingredients in this product.  Either way, it feels nice and can't do much harm.

Burt's Bees Ultimate Care Hand Cream

Image from
The full-sized hand cream retails for about $12.99 for 90g.  This 50g sample has a value of about $7.22 and is slightly more than half the full size!  I think that Burt's Bees makes some great products, and this hand cream is no exception.  It came sealed within the tube, which always makes me happy, and it smells wonderful without any added fragrance.  It's nice and thick and will be perfect in the winter when my hands dry out from the cold and from washing them so many times a day.  I'm bringing this to work in the morning and I'm going to toss the old hand cream that's on my desk because it's from about 5 years ago and smells bad.  I didn't want to buy another one when I wasn't finished, but now I don't have to ;)

The overall value of the products included in the Birchbox & CEW Mass Appeal Box is approximately $43.95.  Because these are all products readily available in drugstores like CVS, Rite Aid, and Walgreens, that is the highest price you should expect to pay for everything combined.  Store specials and newspaper and online coupons will get you most of these products for a few dollars less than I listed.  It was still a great deal at $12, and an even better deal because I paid for it with my Birchbox points!

If you are not signed up for Birchbox and would like to join, here is my referral link.  In the name of disclosure, I will get 50 BB points after your first month.  BB costs $10/month, including shipping, and will send 4-6 sample and full-sized products to you.  You can then review the products you received and earn 10 points each.  Every 100 points gives you $10 to spend on full-sized products in their shop.  It is one of the best values out there!

This post contains products that I purchased with my money.  No compensation was received for this post and all opinions are my own.  This post also contains a referral link.  I will earn 50 BB points for every person who subscribes using my unique code.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

What is in My Shampoo?

I thought it might be interesting to do a comparison of three different shampoos, and to describe what all that stuff in them is actually supposed to do.  I don't expect companies to spend the money on including an ingredient for no reason, so what is it all for?  I know this is not something a normal person would find cool, but I'm a chemistry graduate student.  It's interesting... right?

The contenders

I chose three shampoos I had at my house.  The first is a clarifying shampoo from Suave.  Clarifying shampoos are not meant to be used every day, they are for once every week or two to remove all the build up from styling products.  I use this every so often before I do a deep conditioning treatment.  Other than this shampoo, I try to stick to sulfate-free stuff.  I'll explain why when we get there.

The Frizz-Ease is a shampoo I used to use before I switched to sulfate-free.  It says it is safe for color-treated hair, but it has sulfates.  This is a smoothing shampoo and coats hair to provide a barrier against moisture, thus preventing frizz.

The Rite-Aid product is my normal shampoo.  I wash my hair a few times a week, and this is what I use.  I used to buy the more expensive name brand, but my local drugstore has their own version now and it works just as well.

So.  What is in my shampoo? Warning: Lots of pictures and lots of science ahead!