Sunday, June 17, 2012


I have this tendency to buy makeup I don't need, and to do that thing where you buy several cheap items (costing more, in the long run) instead of one good one (with, perhaps, a higher price point). So, when I heard about Birchbox, I thought this might be a fun way to get makeup treats1 at a controlled cost. The basic idea is that you pay $10/monthly (or about the same amount for a subscription of some length between three months and a year) and you get a selection of beauty and "lifestyle" samples. People who care about it more than I do work out the retail on the samples, figure out the cost per ounce/unit/whatever, and report that the worth of the samples is usually well over $10.

I'd heard mixed reviews about Birchbox, so I signed up on a month-to-month basis. June was my first box, and it had a problem: the insert card that's supposed to detail my samples was for a different box! (You fill out a profile and get matched up with one of howevermany different iterations of the box they're sending out--surprise only, no picking, and your profile matters--that month.)

The general theme for the month was travel. Here's what I received:

A bright pink tili quart bag. For travel, well, you all probably know that the TSA won't let you by unless it's a clear bag, and sometimes, they stop people who have a bag that's smaller than quart size, or one with a zipper, or whatever. I wouldn't buy this size for travel--they're expensive, and no matter how hard I try to edit, I end up with a couple of gallon-sized bags for those things that just don't come in travel size (and if they don't, I don't necessarily care to pack a travel amount in smaller containers). If I were doing something fun that needed more room, I guess these bags come in gallon size, and they're cute enough for a giveaway or something like that.

Some false eyelashes. These have some more organic glue and are designed to be more reusable. I'm looking forward to playing with them; I've occasionally bought very cheap eyelashes, but I haven't had any success in getting them on.

A lip/cheek stain sample from Stainiac. I'm at a neutral point on this one. I've tried Benefit Benetint and it didn't look so great--it was patchy and uneven, even on smooth lips. This one is water-based and goes on evenly, but since I (have to) wear foundation, I think I just look like I've been eating popsicles. Without the benefit of eating a popsicle. That said, I think this is a nice product if you don't like the feel of lipstick or lipgloss, because it doesn't feel like anything once it's dry, and it's subtle enough for a natural look with a little bit of a "made up" pop.

Some "eco-friendly" face wipes. I got two and I've used them both--and I liked them very much (but perhaps not enough to pay that much for them). I use pre-moistened face wipes every night because that's the only habit I've been able to stick with for getting the makeup off, and there are some products I use that don't seem to come off any other way (or if there is another way, I can't use it).

The last item was a travel size volumizing shampoo. I regifted it immediately! My profile says that I have fine hair, so I assume that's why I got it; however, my most recent discovery, from trying to have shorter hair for about a year, is thinning scissors. I ask my stylist to have a good hack with them, and I still have more hair than I know what to do with, and volumizing shampoo isn't something I'd even think of unless I had waist-length hair again. I updated my profile. :))

 Overall, it's what I expected--some stuff I liked, some stuff that wasn't a match.

Birchbox ships to the US/territories/APO boxes; there are similar companies set up who ship elsewhere (usually, within a country or region--I imagine this is the most favorable way to have such a business, because cosmetic sales regulations vary widely from country to country) and other options in the US. There's a waiting list to get or gift a subscription. I have a referral code to give out; I don't know if it gets you in sooner, and I believe I get some points toward money off full-size products or something if you use it (so, beware, I guess).

Do any of you get a subscription from Birchbox or one of the other companies doing this? How do you like it? 

1. I am aware of the arguments and analyses for and against makeup. Whatever. I still enjoy using it.

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