I’m writing this post a few days later than I had planned (my latest Birchbox arrived five days ago), and when I say writing I actually mean “slowly pecking words out on my laptop with my left hand.” For the past couple weeks I’ve had some discomfort in my right wrist and forearm that gets worse when I type or use my mouse, so I’m trying to give those body parts a rest. Normally I’m a very fast writer and I can bang a blog post out. My left hand is rather useless, though, so I’ve been putting off typing this post. But here we are: my August 2015 Birchbox review!
This month, subscribers were given a choice: get a box curated by Nicole Richie, or pick one of four samples for a regular box. I tried to select the Nicole Richie box but by the time I saw the email it was sold out. So I chose Air Repair Complexion Boosting Moisturizer as one of my samples; the other options were a dry shampoo, a mousse, and a COOLA SPF 30 makeup setting spray—which I already have in a full size bottle.
First, of course, let’s see this month’s box design:
Adorable, as usual. This month’s theme is “Soak It Up!” which refers to taking advantage of the last remaining bit of summer. The box included a code for a full-sze bottle of Marcelle Gentle Make-up Remover with any Marcelle purchase on Birchbox.com. I don’t have any Marcelle purchases to make but that’s a pretty solid offer.
My sample card was promising:
Time to reveal the actual samples. Ta-da!
My first thought? Oh…another dry shampoo—the third dry shampoo sample Birchbox has sent me. (Also, this particular dry shampoo was one of the four samples we could choose for the regular box, and I did NOT choose it…but I ended up with it anyway). My second thought? Yay, a lip product sample! And as you may know I do love me some COOLA, so I was happy to see that I received another sample from the brand.
Let’s go through the samples item by item.
LAQA & Co. Charm School Kit: I don’t get lip product samples from Birchbox often, and when I got around to trying last month’s stila sample I didn’t like it at all (the color wasn’t good on me and the texture was odd). So I was hoping for a good lip product this time around. LAQA’s Cheeky Lip crayon came in a peachy-coral shade called Cray Cray that looked like it would go on with a glossy finish:
When I swiped it onto my lips it was completely matte, and the gloss even disappeared from the crayon tip. The color was alright on me but it’s not a color I’d wear after summer:
I have to say the texture of this product was pretty awful. It didn’t apply smoothly—I’d even go so far as to say it went on patchy—and it really showed off all the lines and texture of my lips. I even used a lip scrub and lip balm before applying it, so it’s not like I started off with dry, chapped lips. I wore this product out last Friday night, and as I am wont to do I reapplied it any time my lips felt dry (I always have to have something on my lips). By the time we came home my lips were pretty caked with the stuff, so much so that my husband commented on how patchy and cracked the color looked. What I learned is that if you’re going to reapply this product, you should really wipe all of it off and start over fresh each time. I didn’t even bother to try this on my cheeks; I’ve already thrown it in the trash. 🙁 Sorry, LAQA.
Air Repair Complexion Boosting Moisturizer: This is the sample that I selected for this month’s box, and I think I chose well. I’ve only used it once so far but it’s more of a light cream than a lotion; it has a nice feel and absorbs very quickly. As most facial moisturizers claim these days, it’s supposed to make dull, dry skin look radiant. I can’t say I noticed a difference after one use, and I likely won’t buy it full sized because it doesn’t have SPF, but it’s not a bad product.
Beauty Protector Protect & Detangle Spray: Hair products…meh. Actually, I take that back. Out of all the types of hair care products on the market, a leave-in conditioner is actually a good one to send me. My fine hair doesn’t do well with heavy conditioning, so a light leave-in spray is just the ticket for me. I’m not a big fan of this product’s scent—its too baby powder-floral-y for my taste.
COOLA® Environmental Repair Plus® Radical Recovery™ After-Sun Lotion: I don’t generally get sunburned because I’m good about using sunblock when I know I’ll be in the sun for awhile, so I don’t plan to have an opportunity to see how well this product soothes burnt skin. But you never know; shit happens. I’m more than willing to give it a shot. Who knows, it may feel nice and soothing even without a burn.
R+Co DEATH VALLEY Dry Shampoo: As unenthused as I was to receive another dry shampoo, I was a bit excited about the brand because I’ve seen some blogs buzzing about it lately. I spritzed my scalp with this stuff and it came out less powdery than other dry shampoos, which was actually pretty nice. However, it didn’t give my hair as much texture or lift as the other dry shampoos I’ve sampled (Klorane Gentle Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk and amika Perk Up Dry Shampoo) so I’m not too impressed. I’ll try it a few more times and see if it grows on me. I do love the label design, so…there’s that. 😛
Each month I like to look up my new samples in the EWG’s Skin Deep database; let’s see how this month’s box fared:
- LAQA & Co. Cheeky Lip: unlisted, but the brand’s lip pencils are rated low hazard with limited data
- Air Repair Complexion Boosting Moisturizer: unlisted
- Beauty Protector Protect & Detangle Spray: unlisted
- COOLA® Environmental Repair Plus® Radical Recovery™ After-Sun Lotion: low hazard, limited data
- R+Co DEATH VALLEY Dry Shampoo: unlisted
To be perfectly honest, I’m considering canceling my subscription. I’m very much on the fence about it, though, and will probably continue with it through the end of this year. This month marked my tenth box, and a little of the fun has gone out of the experience at this point. I try to use up all of my samples, but some of them just aren’t really for me (like the Caudalie Divine Oil from last month; I tried it once and am just not that into it). At the same time, my subscription is only $10/month and I have discovered some brands and products that I truly like: COOLA Face SPF 30 Unscented Matte Tint, jane iredale Just Kissed Lip and Cheek Stain, Vasanti® BrightenUp! Enzymatic Face Rejuvenator, and Parlor by Jeff Chastain Moisturizing Sea Salt Spray.
By reviewing my samples I get points that turn into dollars I can spend in the online store…which, when I think about it, is probably my main motivation for continuing to subscribe. If I review all five samples every month I earn 50 points; once I’ve hit 100 points I get $10 to spend in the shop. So basically, $20 worth of samples turns into $10 worth of spending money at Birchbox.com. It’s quite genius on their part, really: send a bunch of stuff out and see what sticks. Then when the occasional product does stick, I go back to Birchbox and spend more of my money with them, albeit at a discount. Yes, I realize that Birchbox comes out ahead here. Even though I’m aware of this I still fall prey to it! I’ll see how my next couple of boxes go, and then I’ll make a decision whether to cancel.
What is Birchbox?
In case you’ve never heard of Birchbox, it’s a $10/month subscription box that includes five sample sized products based on your preferences (makeup, skin care, hair care, fragrance, etc.). They also have an online store filled with full sized versions of all the products they include in their monthly subscription boxes, so if you fall in love with a sample they sent you, you can go back to their site and buy the real thing. Use my referral link to sign up for your own subscription!