July 2016 Birchbox samples

My July Birchbox arrived last Friday afternoon, but it’s taken me a few days to get my shit together to sit down and write this post! While this month’s box design is cute, it’s not my favorite. The colors and vaguely rose petal-y shapes feel very “Valentine’s Day” to me:

July 2016 Birchbox design

This month’s theme is #beautyandbreakfast; it’s all about “the things that get you up and at ’em.” Apparently, Birchbox subscribers say the one product they won’t leave the house without is mascara, and I tend to agree. There are plenty of times I leave the house barefaced, but if I had to choose only one makeup item, mascara would be it. So for July, Birchbox gave subscribers the choice of either a curated box or one of several different mascara samples. I decided to go with Benefit Cosmetics They’re Real! Lengthening Mascara, which I’ve somehow never tried despite being a fan of the brand.

My July 2016 Birchbox sample card looked promising:

July 2016 Birchbox sample card

When I took a look at my samples my first thought was, “blah, not another perfume sample.” And my second thought was, “wow, look at the size of that Dr. Jart+ sample!”

July 2016 Birchbox samples

Bonus! The box also included sample packets of Oribe Shampoo and Conditioner for Brilliance and Shine (full-size, $49 each). I haven’t tried these yet because I’m traveling to San Diego for Comic-Con (YAY!!!) this week so I’m going to bring them with me and use them there. I will say, though, that $50 is a whole hell of a lot to spend on shampoo and conditioner, so unless this stuff gives me Connie Britton Hair, there’s no way I’d buy it full sized.

Oribe Shampoo & Conditioner sample packets

On to my sample choice, the Benefit Cosmetics They’re Real Lengthening Mascara (full-size, $24) in Beyond Black. I’ve heard great things about this mascara so I was excited to try it! The wand has a tip that you can use to fan out your corner lashes:

Benefit They're Real sample

And I will say, this mascara delivered! For comparison I took a pic with curled lashes and mascara on one eye but not the other, and you really can see the difference:

Right eye: mascara // Left eye: no mascara.

I really like the wand on this mascara, and it does a great job of lengthening. So far it hasn’t clumped, either. I would actually consider purchasing this mascara full sized! Here’s is how I look with the mascara on both eyes:


Next up is the REN Keep Young & Beautiful Instant Firming Beauty Shot (full-size, $54). I’ve heard of this brand but had never tried any of their products before. This is a serum that’s supposed to plump and firm your skin as well as help retain moisture. I’ve only used it a couple of times so far, during my nighttime skin routine, but it seems pretty good. I squeezed a bit onto the back of my hand so you can see the product here—it’s a clear gel and you’re only supposed to use two or three drops at a time. The jury is still out on whether I’d buy this product full sized.


The Dr. Jart+ Water Drop Hydrating Moisturizer (full-size, $36) definitely caught my eye when I opened my box, for two reasons: 1) the size, as I mentioned before, and 2) that packaging! The tube is a super shiny silver. How fun! The last time I received a Dr. Jart+ sample, it was a fraction of the size of this one. This product reminds me of the Liole Waterdrop Sleeping Pack that I bought from Soko Glam awhile back and have enjoyed using. The product has a sort of matte appearance when you first squeeze it out of the tube:

Dr. Jart+ Water Drop Hydrating Moisturizer sample on hand

Then when you rub it into your skin, it turns shiny and bursts into water droplets that are intended to brighten and soothe.

Dr. Jart+ Water Drop Hydrating Moisturizer swatch

I’ve used this product at night (after the REN serum) a couple of times now and I am really liking it. This is one product I will consider buying full sized; it’s a tad pricey but not totally out of my comfort zone. I’m super happy with the sample size—if I’ve done my math right, the sample contains nearly $11 worth of product!

My next sample is the EVOLVh SuperFinish Polishing Balm (full-size, $32). This is the one brand in my July box that I’d never heard of, and the brand name is a little baffling to me. Is the “h” silent? Is it just pronounced “evolve?” I sometimes don’t understand how brands come up with their names. Anyway, I wasn’t terribly excited about this product but at least it wasn’t another dry shampoo.  The bottle, strangely, was not 100% full, which you can see in the main sample photo above. I’ve tried this product out once so far and it did give my hair a nice, soft feel so I can’t really complain. The scent reminds me very much of Biolage shampoo, which I used in high school and college, and I always loved how it smelled. So that’s a plus: a hair product with a fragrance I actually like! I’ll continue using the sample but I’m not likely to buy it full sized.

Last but not least is the “ugh another perfume sample,” Comptoir Sud Pacifique Vanille Abricot (full-size, $36-85). And guess what? Hell must have frozen over, because I really like this fragrance! I do like vanilla a lot, and this perfume is very vanilla heavy. It’s much lighter on the jackfruit and apricot notes. The only thing that’s not great about this perfume is that it’s not a long-lasting scent. Even so, I would actually consider buying a full sized bottle of this perfume! What?!

As you can tell from my post, I’m quite happy with my July Birchbox. Last month my box wasn’t all that exciting, though I will say I’ve been using the Benefit Gimme Brow sample more than I had expected and would consider buying it in the future! So that sample ended up being a pleasant surprise.

I want to bring up something that many Birchbox subscribers have been very grumbly about lately: the changes the service has recently made to the way they are awarding points for reviewing samples. I’ll try to break it down to the best of my understanding, and if I’ve gotten any details wrong please feel free to correct me in the comments!

OLD SYSTEM: prior to July 11, subscribers received 10 points per sample review that we submitted to Birchbox.com, meaning that each month’s box translated into 50 points (or more, if you received bonus samples like I did this month). Once you hit 100 points, those points turned into $10 that you could use as “credit” for purchases on the website. 200 points got you $20 credit, and so on. I also believe points did not expire, but I might be wrong.

NEW SYSTEM: subscribers now only receive points for the first five reviews that we submit, and we can’t earn additional points for any reviews beyond that. Each point translates to $1 that can be spent on the site, and there’s now no minimum point threshold that you have to hit before you can use them. Points also expire six months from the date they were earned. So, basically, those of us who were used to getting $10  credit every two months for reviewing samples will now only get $5 credit—ever—for reviewing them, and we need to make sure we use our points within six months or we’ll lose them.

Yeah, the new system kind of sucks for those of us who are used to racking up points by writing reviews of products we’ve maybe used once. But look…I get Birchbox’s perspective. I’ve been in their shoes—I used to be a community manager for a tech startup, which shall remain unnamed, that paid members to submit video product reviews. The community grew to a point where the company couldn’t afford to continue paying members so much and we had to reduce the amount we paid. Eventually we switched over to a points system. People rioted. (Not really, but it sure felt that way.) It’s great that Birchbox has built itself up to a point where practically giving products away is no longer sustainable. Seriously, good for them! Does this new system take away a major incentive for many subscribers? Yes, it does. But those who are so angry about the system changes will leave, and the community will evolve, and the company will hopefully thrive.

Will I keep my subscription? I don’t know. I’ve been on the fence about it for awhile now, and to be honest, my knee-jerk reaction to the point system change was “yeah, I’m gonna cancel.” Last month’s box wasn’t great, but I loved this month’s box. So we’ll see—if I end up with another box or two that’s not very exciting it may be time to leave, but I’m not going to cancel as soon as I use up all the my points in my account.

What are your thoughts on the new Birchbox reward system?

You can browse through my previous Birchbox reviews here.

What is Birchbox?

Birchbox is 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!