My December Birchbox arrived the other day, and the very pretty box is designed to look like a subtly shiny holiday gift:

December 2016 Birchbox design

I haven’t been getting Birchbox’s email that asks you to select a sample for your upcoming box, but I usually remember to log on at the end of each month to make my choice. I completely forgot to do so at the end of November because I was in St. Louis for Thanksgiving, so I have no idea what my sample choice options might have been for December. I assume that I received this month’s standard curated box.

When I opened my box the first thing I noticed was that I had received a fragrance sample that had completely spilled in transit. So everything, including the box itself, smelled like Vera Bradley Fragrances Appleberry Champagne Eau de Toilette (full-size, $48)…and it was really not my kind of scent. Maybe I was biased the moment I saw the Vera Bradley name, because I am not a fan of the brand, but I just wasn’t feeling the perfume. I ended up throwing out the pretty Birchbox because the odor emanating from it was overwhelming.

However, the unintentionally scented sample card included other items that looked good:


Here’s a look at my five December 2016 Birchbox samples:

December 2016 Birchbox

I was happy to see that Birchbox sent samples from brands that were somewhat new to me. I have actually heard of Key West Aloe before—I passed by one of their stores while on vacation in Key West last year—but had never tried any of their products. I used this Key West Aloe Cucumber Under Eye Gel (full-size, $25) after my shower this morning, and it felt light and absorbed quickly. Considering the fact that I’m currently working my way through what feels like a neverending tube of Acure Organics Eye Cream Superfruit + CGF, I don’t see myself buying eye cream anytime soon.

Key West Aloe Cucumber Under Eye Gel | Birchbox
Pretend you don’t notice my chipped nail polish…

Next up? NUXE Moisturizer Cream CrĂšme FraicheÂź de BeautĂ© (full-size, $34).  I have heard of this brand (mostly due to the cult classic status of their Reve de Miel lip balm) and was excited to see a generous sample of this moisturizer in my box. The timing for trying out a hydrating cream is just right, because it is literally freezing in NYC today—the temp was 16°F when I got up this morning—so the heat is cranked up and it’s super dry indoors. I used this cream to moisturize my face after my morning shower, and a few hours later I noticed that my cheeks were still a tad flaky so I applied more cream. This product might moisturize well in ultra dry weather if I apply enough, but I don’t like that it’s fragranced. It’s not a bad scent per se—it’s actually rather pleasant as far as these things go—but I really don’t like using fragranced products on my face. For that reason, I wouldn’t buy this full sized (plus, I recently bought Embryolisse Lait-CrĂšme ConcentrĂ©, so I don’t particularly need another moisturizer at the moment).

NUXE Moisturizer Cream CrÚme FraicheŸ de Beauté | Birchbox

The next brand and product type were both totally new to me: Saphira Hair Mineral Mud (full-size, $31). This is a mud mask for hair made with 26 Dead Sea minerals meant to hydrate and repair damage. I love the pretty paisley print on this sample tube! I tried this mud mask on my hair in the shower today, and while I don’t love the strong scent (I know, I’m a total broken record), it made my hair feel super soft! I think my hair is also extra shiny today, too. Due to the fragrance I don’t think I’d buy this mud mask full sized, but it really did make my hair feel lovely.

Saphira Hair Mineral Mud | Birchbox

My final sample from this box is Laura Geller New York GlamLASH Dramatic Volumizing Mascara (full-size, $24). This is the third mascara sample that I’ve received in a Birchbox since September, and I wasn’t super impressed by the previous two. The Laura Geller mascara is pretty good, but I wouldn’t say it’s especially dramatic or volumizing. It sort of reminds me of the  Elizabeth Mott It’s So Big Volumizing Mascara from my September 2016 Birchbox in that it defines and lengthens lashes but doesn’t add much bulk. Would I buy this full sized? Nah, I’ll stick with my tarte and Maybelline mascaras.

Laura Geller New York GlamLASH Dramatic Volumizing Mascara | Birchbox

Birchbox also included a gift for the holidays in the December box: a little mirror with a fun print on the back. Mine came with some scuff marks on it, but it’s pretty cute regardless and it was nice of them to send us subscribers a little gift.  🙂


Overall, my December 2016 Birchbox was pretty average; it exposed me to new brands, but my issue with scents kept me from truly enjoying many of these samples. It didn’t help that the whole thing arrived stinking like a fragrance I’d never wear (though to be fair, the perfume certainly could have been worse).

For months now I’ve been considering canceling my Birchbox subscription. I really have enjoyed Birchbox but I have a bit of fatigue with the service—I’ve been a subscriber for two years now and I am itching to try something different. I’m a little overloaded on hair care samples that I never use, and I’m interested in getting samples from a new array of brands. So as of this morning, I canceled my Birchbox subscription. In my feedback to Birchbox when I was canceling I said that I wished they allowed for more personalization—for example, I’d love to specify no hair care or fragrance samples. I also went ahead and signed up for PLAY! by Sephora, which is very similar to Birchbox (it even costs the same). Moving forward, you can count on seeing a review of my PLAY! samples each month.  🙂

How did your December 2016 Birchbox fare? Did you discover any new holy grail products?

You can browse through my previous Birchbox reviews here.

What is Birchbox?

Birchbox is a $10/month subscription box that includes five curated product samples 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 it full sized. You earn 1 point per $1 you spend at and earn points for referring friends; then you can use those points toward future purchases. Use my referral link to sign up for your own subscription!