Sunday, March 30, 2014

BirchBox March 2014

Box: BirchBox

Cost: $10 monthly (includes shipping)

How it Works: BirchBox sends you several products each month based on your answers to your "Profile" which you can fill out prior to joining (or just leave blank if you want the luck of the draw!). You can change your profile at any time, but it may be a month or so before you see any changes.

Shipping Schedule: Begins shipping approximately on the 10th. You can also see spoilers for your box on the website.

Rewards System: BirchBox has a wonderful points system! You earn points for signing up (10) plus you get 10 points for each item from your box that you review. Every 10 points equals $1 you can use in the store. So every month, you are really only paying around $4-$6 per box when taking into account the points earned from reviews. Points can be used in the store for full size products of sample items from previous and current boxes.

Refunds: Contact CS if any issues occur with the bag or items. Their CS is pretty amazing, and if they can't solve your problem with a replacement, they will usually credit your account with points.

Cancellation: Very easy. Just use the cancellation option on the website or call.

My Experience
Once again I ordered two boxes! Those subscription codes that give you an automatic $10 to use in the store are just too tempting to resist! The above picture is from my main account and that is the one I used for this review. 

Keims - Cleanshine Energizing Shampoo ($1.90)
I am always up for trying out a new shampoo! I'm generally not a fan of peppermint scented things, but maybe I will love it in my hair! Quite a generous sample and the full size is only $9.50.

Air Repair - Rescue Balm ($2.00?)
This balm is for use on extremely dry skin. I don't really have that problem since I use lots of lotions to keep my skin moisturized, but my husband has dry patches on his elbows that we have yet to find a good product for. Passing this on to him and hopefully it works! The size isn't specified on the sample so I am guessing at the value.

Control Corrective - Cucumber Bead Cleanser ($.53)
 Oil-Free Healing Lotion ($1.42)
Again, BirchBox just knows what I love! Trying out new skin care products is part of what keeps me in this subscription. Not too sure how much I will like these particular products though. I don't generally use exfoliators with "beads" in them as I feel they are too harsh on my skin, and oil-free facial moisturizers almost always leave my skin feeling dryer than I like. 

Vasanti Cosmetics - Brighten Up! Enzymatic Face Rejuvinator ($5.67)
Another exfoliator! This one claims to mimic the effects of microdermabrasion which would be amazing! The instructions say to use a pea size amount a few times a week, so this sample should last for quite a while!

Coola - Tinted Matte SPF 30 for Face ($3.60)
Ugh. I actually got this sample in a previous box for this account. You aren't supposed to receive duplicates on the same account, but their CS made it right by awarding points to my account for the mistake. I didn't like this product the last time I got it either so to the trade pile it goes!

Total Value: $15.12

Final Thoughts
Really good box for me, even though the total value was not as high as I have had before! I am excited to try every item, except of course the Coola SPF. This was a skincare heavy box, with one hair care item thrown in and I love it! Another win for BirchBox!

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Rainbow Honey March 2014

Cost: $10 (plus shipping)

How it Works:
Rainbow Honey is not a subscription, but an independent nail polish and perfume company. They offer a Mystery Bag for $10 every month, or free with a purchase of $65 in their shop.

My Experience
I first heard about this bag over on /r/beautyboxes and as soon as I saw the swatches I knew I had to get one! This bag is the same for every who orders it, so once you have seen one you've seen them all. From what I have seen, they stay in stock until they run out and the March bag is still available!

All My Stars (Clear Base, Various Blue Glitters) - $5.00
Nail Honey Cuticle Oil - ??
The Soiree (Clear base, Pastel Square and Star Glitters) - $5.00

The cuticle oil smells really nice! It's not available on their site, and the card says it's a new item for them so I would expect it to be available in the near future. 

The polishes go on very smoothly with plenty of glitter. I didn't have to dig around to get the coverage that I wanted. Both swatches are two coats. Neither of these are available for individual sale on the site. From the information card, it sounds like The Soiree may be in a collection later this year, and All My Stars was a special polish in the mystery bag to celebrate Rainbow Honey's anniversary.

Lavandula Mini Rollerball - $1.50
This is an adorable little perfume sample! I am terrible at discerning and describing scents, so here is what they say about it on their websiteHerbaceous French Lavender brightened with sun-filled citrus notes of Lime, Yuzu, and Sweet Orange. I'm not really crazy about the it myself, but I'll wear it and keep the container for de-potting perfume samples in the future!

Nail Honey Hand Cream Sample (??)
A good cream is essential to keeping your cuticles in shape during the winter. This product doesn't seem to be on their website, so I am unsure how much this cream sample would be worth. I don't particularly like the packaging because lotions stored in foils tend to dry out really quickly. I will have to de-pot it into something else more suitable so I can use it without drying it out.

Total Value: $11.50 
(not including Cuticle Oil or Hand Cream sample)

Final Thoughts
Such cute little polishes! And I love that they sent out more than just the polishes as well! The extra items really added to the overall value of the box for me. Looking forward to the Rainbow Honey April Mystery Bag! 

Lip Factory March 2014

Box: Lip Factory 

Cost: $22 (includes shipping)

How it Works:
 Lip Factory is a monthly makeup subscription box, and contrary to what you might think, it isn't just lip products! Each month they send around 5-6 items, and the products themselves don't tend to vary from box to box, but the colors will based on your profile. Every 3 months they release an "All Lips" box with only lip products. 

Shipping Schedule: 
Shipping begins approximately on the 10th 

No returns accepted

Through email or ceasing Paypal payments.

My Experience
This is sadly my last Lip Factory! I tried it for three months, and deliberately waited until the "All About the Lips" March box before making my decision of whether I would continue with it or not. I just feel like there are other boxes I want to explore for now, but this is a pretty good one, and I know I will drool over other peoples un-boxings in the months to come.

I would like to note that apparently some people receive a "Welcome" gift in their first box, but I never did. This seems to be a sporadic thing, and not at all consistent among subscribers. I didn't ask their CS about it since this was my last month, but you might want to if you are just beginning your subscription.

My profile: 
Eyes: Blue
Hair: Dark Brown
Which best describes you? Keep it Neutral
Complexion: Light

Jesse's Girl Vitamin E Treatment ($3.00 - Full Size!)
Ellovi - Lip Butter ($5.00 - Full Size!)
Bluuugh. So boring. I would have been fine with just one lip balm, because it is a decent item that I will use, but TWO? Lip Factory, go home. You're drunk. 

The description for the Jesse's Girl lip balm calls it a "lipstick", but in my opinion there would have to be some pigment present in order to try calling it that. So I'm calling BS on that one, Jesse's Girl. Just call it a dang "Vitamin E" stick and move on. I have a stick of lip balm at several strategic places (work desk, purse, bed stand, vanity, etc), so I will use these. But I don't have to like it.

The Ellovi Lip Butter has a strange smell and I can't pin it down. It's not totally pleasant though. The ingredients are all natural which is great, and I will enjoy trying it out if only for that reason.

Jesse's Girl - Lip Liner in Naked ($1.99 - Full Size!)
This was an ok item for me because I have been wanting to experiment with using lip liners. This one is a bit dark for me, and I found the name to be a misnomer since I would expect "Naked" to be a nude color. But it will get some use, and I like the little built in sharpener.

Cargo Cosmetics - Lip Quad in South Beach ($24.00 - Full Size!)
YAWN. These glosses are a nice formula, but they are in a tin meaning that I can't travel with them since I would need a brush to use them. It's just easier to use a tube gloss. And these glosses are just barely pigmented. See those swatches? That isn't just a picture of my hand in a moment of shine-time. No, it's a picture all four glosses swatched! They don't look much different on your lips.The little indentation in the top pink color is from me hitting it when opening the packaging, so as you can see they are creamy as opposed to hard in texture.

Mirenesse - Lip Bomb in #16 ( #34.90 - Full Size!)
Oh boy. This thing is just a goop-tastic mess.The top picture shows the true color (more nude) but in certain lights it can turn more pink like in the bottom picture. The formula is just terrible. It's crazy thick and you have to use a super thin layer to avoid your lips sticking together. There is so much shine to it that this particular color looks a bit off. But then I feel like adding a ton of shine to a nude lip color is defeating the purpose a bit. There is no way I would ever pay full price for this product considering it's only positive point is the packaging.

Total Value: $68.89

Final Thoughts
This box was a pretty big fail for me. It was really just boring, which is the exact opposite of what these boxes usually are, especially the All About the Lips boxes! Such a bad note to end my Lip Factory subscription on, but I may be back one day if Ipsy stops fulfilling that makeup-sub-box sized hole in my life.

All that being said, all the items in this box were full size! So if I had been excited about the items, this would have been an incredible box! 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Ipsy Glam Bag March 2014

Cost: $10 monthly (includes shipping)

How it Works: Ipsy sends you 4-5 products each month based on your answers to your "Beauty Quiz" which you fill out prior to joining. You can change your Quiz answers at any time.

Shipping Schedule: Begins shipping approximately on the 10th. 
This is also the day you can see your "Glam Room"

Rewards System: Ipsy is not a bag you join for the rewards system. You earn points by joining (100pts), referrals (250pts), reviewing each item you receive (10pts each), and several Facebook interactions (varies). The points expire a year from the date of earning them. Ipsy doesn't have a "store", just three items that each cost 1000 points. These items change as they go in and out of stock. 

Refunds: Contact CS if any issues occur with the bag or items and they are usually pretty good about either replacing individual items or the entire bag.

Cancellation: Very easy. Just use the cancellation option on the website or email CS. There is no phone number listed to call.

My Quiz Answers: 
Personal Style: Classic, Professional, Retro, Natural, Simple
Comfort Level: Very Comfortable
Adventurous: Very Adventurous
Makeup Products: BB Cream/Primer, Eyeliner, Blush/Bronzer, Eye shadow, Brushes, Tools
Skin Care Products: Cleanser, Moisturizer, Treatment, Masks, Nail Colors
Skin Tone: Light
Skin Concerns: Redness, Oiliness, Acne

Bare Minerals - Marvelous Moxie Lipstick in Get Ready ($7.00?)

This is a lovely pink lipstick that goes on super smooth! I really, really like it which surprised me since I wouldn't necessarily expect Bare Minerals to make sure a good lipstick. When I think of Bare Minerals, powders come to mind due to using their mineral makeup for years. This mini is the perfect size to throw in your bag too! This was a great sample for me, which I think makes it the first sample I have gotten from Ipsy that made me truly happy!

Chella - Pen Eyeliner in Indigo Blue ($24.00 - Full Size!)

Let's follow up the star sample of the bag with the dud sample - A bright blue eyeliner pen. I saw I was getting this when my Glam Room updated and was so disappointed. There is no time I would wear this, outside of a costume. Other Ipsters seemed excited about it though, so I'm tossing it in the ol' trade pile for someone else to enjoy.

NYX - Love In Rio Palette in No Tan Lines Allowed ($6.00 - Full Size!)

I was so excited about this sample I could wait for the picture before swatching it out! When looking over the options for these palettes, I was really hoping I would get one with a shimmery medium brown, and I'm so glad I did! The highlight is practically not there at all, but the medium and dark browns are quite lovely. I think these colors will work well for work. Can't wait to try this out!

Pixi Beauty - Flawless Beauty Primer ($9.00)

Can we say "shimmer bomb". I might try to use this as a highlighter, but I'm not so sure about using it as a primer. Most primers I like are very silicone based (hence the slick velvet feeling), but this one just feels like a typical liquid. I also generally use primers to blurr out pores, and this one seems like it would do the exact opposite. I'll try it though!

Total Value: $46.00

Final Thoughts
Even with guessing the lipstick value, this bag is worth just under $50! Disappointed that there were only 4 items in the Ipsy bag this month, but the items I got were pretty stellar! The eye shadows and lipstick will become part of every day looks for me, and I am looking forward to experimenting with the Pixi primer. The eyeliner was a total fail, but hey, you're not going to love everything.

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Monday, March 24, 2014

Blush Mystery Beauty Box February 2014


$24.95 when subscribed, 34.95 for one-time purchase (includes shipping)

How it Works
The Blush Mystery Beauty Box is put together by the people at Blush.Com. It includes full and sample size beauty products that are worth up to at least $100. The monthly products come in a black tie-up bag, and a random free gift is always added. 

Shipping Schedule
Shipping is generally around the beginning of the month.

No returns accepted. 

You can call their 1-800 number or email support to cancel. 

My Experience
I actually received the February Blush Mystery Beauty Box in the middle of March because I used a promo code to sign up. The fine print of the promo had said I would  be getting the March box as well, but when I never got a confirmation for the March box shipping I contacted their CS through email. They told me that you can only get one box mailed to you per month so to get the March box I would need to make a separate order. None of that made sense to me, but that's what I ended up doing. 

Can't say their email support is very good. The response I received to my first email asking about the March box was a confirmation from them that they had canceled my account.And it didn't get much better from there. I would highly recommend calling them instead if you have any issues.

Featured Curator Top Pick
Bioxidea - Miracle 48 Excellence Gold Face and Body Treatment ($24.67)
I love face masks, yes I do! And this isn't just a face mask. According to the little pictorial on the back (see below) you apparently use this on your face then thrown it in your bath to soak in! Essence everywhere! Doesn't that sounds like the best mask you've every heard of? Seriously cannot wait to try it out!

DHC - Deep Cleansing Oil ($5.50)
Another item I am super excited to try out! The Oil Cleaning Method (OCM) of facial cleansing has interested me for a while, but I haven't taken the plunge due to uncertainty in which oils to try. This one smells a lot like olive oil, and when I checked the ingredients it turned out that was the main one. Glad I can finally jump into the whole OCM thing without buying a full size product.

NYX - Are You DeprEYEved of Long and Full Lashes Mascara Serum in Jet Black ($13.00 - Full Size!)
vbeaute - Rub Off Gentle Facial Exfoliator ($3.53)

Blah. I don't use mascara so this will probably find it's way to my trade pile.

I am not generally a fan of physical exfoliator gels, so I'm not terribly excited about this vbeaute product either. They tend to feel a bit too rough on my skin. This one contains coconut and rosemary extracts which seems like a bit of a weird combination to be, but I'll patch test before I try it on my face.

Klorane - Dry Shampoo with Nettle ($19.50 - Full Size!)
NCLA - Nail Wraps in Pizzo ($16.00 - Full Size!)

The dry shampoo I am currently using has been a bit of a dud, so I'm glad I'll have a new one to try out as soon as it's empty. I like the idea of nettle extracts being sprayed into my hair!

The NCLA nail wraps are not really my thing. I have never been able to get wraps to work correctly, but I would be willing to give these a try on a few accent fingers to practice. 

Elizabeth Arden - Untold Eau de Parfum ($5.90)
I always groan and die a little inside when I see perfumes in subscription boxes. I almost always dislike them. The packaging for this Elizabeth Arden scent is so cute though. And it isn't totally offense either! Wouldn't say I love it, but it's ok.

Total Value: $88.10

Final Thoughts
The website and card stated that the value of this box was over $100, and that was not the total value I totaled up, even using the product costs on their website. It's not that far off, so I don't want to sound whiny, but their advertising it definitely off if the total value isn't reflected. This box was about half-and-half for me, but it is still a great value.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Meme Box 5th Global Edition

Box: Meme Box

Cost: $23 (plus shipping)

How it Works: Each Meme Box is bought separately and includes several full and deluxe sample size items from well-liked Korean brands. There are no set times or days that new boxes are released, but they tend to have at least one item in stock at all times. 

Shipping Schedule: Varies by box.

Returns: As far as I can tell, you cannot return a box, but if there are any issues you can contact their customer service and they are pretty good about compensating and working with you.

Cancellation: This isn't an actual subscription, so you just don't buy another box.

My Experience
Blugh. So after 3 amazeballs boxes I should have known a dud was coming. This box was pretty close to a massive fail for me. I was only really interested in one product, although that doesn't mean I won't get some use out of the rest of it. This whole box was just... BLAH. 

Derma:B - Daily Moisture Body Lotion ($4.00)
Unexciting Items #1: Plain old boring body lotion. This stuff doesn't seem any different from the usual St. Ives products I use on a daily basis, and has a bit of a funky odor to it. Not a bad smell necessarily, just not what I'm used to. Granted, this is a very generous sample at 100ml (full size is 400ml). I'll use it, but it is a very "meh" item. 

Nuganic Customize - Pore Control Essence ($46.00 - Full Size!)
Another essence! We were sent a facial sunscreen by Nuganic Customize in the 3rd Edition box, and I wasn't a big fan, but this item is definitely calling my name. It used the magic phrase "pore control". Ah, if only we could truly control our pores. More than willing to try this out. This was the most exciting product in the box to me, and it is full size!

CNP Laboratory - Cleansing Perfecta ($7.67)
Unexciting Item #2: Makeup remover. Don't get me wrong, we all need a decent makeup remover in our lives, but I have several that I like and use regularly. This one will have to wait it's turn.

Aromatica - Tasteless Aroma Therapy Roll On
I might have been more interested in this item had it not smelled exactly like armpits. You know that sharp, sweaty smell? Apparently that's the patchouli, which means that I finally know if I like that smell. Answer: I don't. This roll-on is apparently supposed to suppress appetite, and one can only assume it does this by making you want to constantly gag. 

Lipozone - Body Ampoule ($11.43)
Now this is interesting! I have seen products like this all over the place, but never would have bought a pack. The serum in the ampules is supposed to reduce cellulite and fat cells. Sign me up for that! Too bad I have a feeling it doesn't work. I mean, if it did, everyone would be using it, right? Wish I could figure out how those picture directions are supposed to help at all. Maybe they are exercises to to while using the serum? That sure seems like cheating if so!

Sella - Organic Soap ($3.60)
Unexciting Item #3: Another facial soap. This cleanser is small, so I could probably use it up pretty quickly, but it's claims of anti-aging and pore-minimizing properties seem a bit inflated. Or maybe my bad mood miasma regarding this box is making me cynical about this poor defenseless soap.

Espoir - Lip Gloss in Passion Plum ($15.00 - Full Size!)
I like to call this color "Woah, 'dats pink!". Cause that is a for-real pink lip gloss we've got here. Good thing I like hot pink lips! This was a random color choice of three. I wish we could customize these boxes a little more regarding color preferences. It says the full size of this lippie is 37 grams which I really hope is a typo, because that would be huge. This feels like a full size to me, so that is the price I am going with. 

Physiogel Samples: Cleanser, Cream, and Intensive Repair Cream
Leaders Samples: CC Cream and UV Moist Sun Gel
Dear Jane Samples: Touch the Silk Velvet Primer and Glam on your Shimmer Bomb
Ugh, foils! No! Bad Meme Box! I didn't buy this box for foil samples! I'll use them... But I won't like it.

Total Value:

Final Thoughts:
Which this less than interesting box isn't enough to make me stop ordering Meme Boxes, it does make me stop and think about the service. Pre-ordering these things for months in advance is risky, and who knows what you may be getting, or what direction the company may decide to head in with little-to-no notice. That being said, I will get use out of these products... I just wouldn't have bought this box had I already known what was in it.

Meme Box 4th Global Edition

Box: Meme Box

Cost: $21 (plus shipping)

How it Works: Each Meme Box is bought separately and includes several full and deluxe sample size items from well-liked Korean brands. There are no set times or days that new boxes are released, but they tend to have at least one item in stock at all times. 

Shipping Schedule: Varies by box.

Returns: As far as I can tell, you cannot return a box, but if there are any issues you can contact their customer service and they are pretty good about compensating and working with you.

Cancellation: This isn't an actual subscription, so you just don't buy another box.

My Experience
When this box arrived, I immediately noticed the size difference. In the picture above, the bottom box is 4th edition and the top box is 3rd. Much bigger! And there were a total of 10 items in this box, which is the most ever in a Meme Box!

LJH - Dr's Care Vita Propolis Ampoule ($8.67)
I was wondering when bee products were going to make their Meme Box debut! This oil is supposed to "bring out the natural, healthy luminosity of your face" and I am not entirely sure what that means. I guess I'm going to literally "glow" after using it? We shall see! This bottle is only 5ml, but is still 1/3 of the full size which is 15ml. Since you are supposed to only add a drop or two to your moisturizer I imagine it will go a long way.

Goodal - Repair Plus Essential Oil ($7.20)
The Shampoo Plus - Natural Waterless Shampoo ($5.00 - Full Size!)
And another skin oil! This one seems to be more general in use though because it suggests using it on hair and cuticles as well as you face. 
The shampoo is really interesting! Instead of being a "dry", aerosol shampoo like I'm used to seeing, it is a "foam" shampoo. The idea looks to be the same though. I have read that a lot of people were turned off by the oregano smell of the foam, but it didn't seem very strong at all to me, especially considering that normal dry shampoos smell like pure chemicals.

Lanoa - Natural Soap Sulfur ($12.00 - Full Size!)
This soap is surfactant, artificial fragrance, and preservative free, and the I can pronounce most of the ingredients! Sulfur is great for clearing up blemishy skin , so I'm pretty pumped to get to try this. And such pretty packaging!

Clio - VF 21 Water BB ($6.00)
Another BB cream! This one looks a bit orange on me, which was a bit surprising since the full name of this product includes the phrase "Vampire Face". First of all, finally! Just what I always wanted to look like! Secondly, I hope the person in charge of naming this cream was given a spectacular bonus. Thirdly, what vampire would have an orange face? Or am I thinking too much into that?

IOPE - Bio Essence Intensive Conditioning ($6.43)
I was so excited to see this! This essence claims to clear, smooth, and enhance your skins texture and complexion.  Lots of reviews have been popping up for this product online, and this trial kit is the perfect size for checking it out! It even came with cotton pads for each use, and measuring marks on the bottle to tell you how much to use each time! 

Laneige - Snow Crystal Pure Lip Gloss ($12)
Peripera - Peri's Tint Mini Madarin Juice ($2.69)
Both of these items made me sad, but for different reasons. 
The Laneige gloss is just totally boring, and the packaging was deceiving. When you look at it in the light, it's obvious that there was only enough product to fill the tube a quarter of the way. 
The Peripera tint leaked (see the orange stain above) and there was barely any left in the tube. Quite disappointing since I generally love orange tints. I did write to Meme Box about this leak and they offered a new product or points added to my account! Great CS!

T.E.N. - Cremorlab Mineral Treatment Essence ($13.33)
Danahan - Bon Yeon Jin Essence ($16.32)
More essences! I've got this section of my skincare routine on lock now! The Cremorlab (doesn't that sound a bit too close to cremate?) essence claims to do... just about everything. "Hydrate, tighten pores, brighten, and even skin complexion". Isn't the packaging pretty!
The Danahan essence is targeted at winkles. Don't have a problem with those yet, but once you do, you can't go back, so prevention is the name of the game. It says to apply to both face and neck, so I'm sure my neck will enjoy the attention. Since I tend to totally ignore it.

Total Value: $89.64

Final Thoughts
Overall, there wasn't really an item form this box that stands out and excites me, except for the IOPE sample. Having said that, I know I will have fun trying out all these products and seeing if they make good on any of their claims. Because, let's be honest: Some of the items make some pretty bold assertions about what they will do for you.