Wednesday, February 25, 2015

February 2015 Birchbox - Friendship - Unboxing and Review!

Hello! Hope you're having a great day! Let's not mince words here and get right on into things. Also, I want to try just going right to the topic of my posts and not spending so much time on introductions (which I think I've tried to do before, but always felt weird about not including a greeting...I'm writing a bog post, not a letter, dangit!).

For this post, I want to share with you guys my February 2015 Birchbox! Birchbox is a $10 a month subscription service where you get about five beauty/lifestyle samples (I don't think you can get less than five, but I've gotten up to seven samples before). Unlike other subscription services, most things in Birchbox are going to be sample-sized, but it's the rewards system that makes it stand out as one of my favorites. I've heard people describe Birchbox as a kind of "beauty savings account", and I think that is very accurate; every month you can review the items you got in your box and earn points (at least 50, I've earned up to 70). There are also ways to earn points, such a referring someone (might as well throw my referral link in here...) or making purchases from the Birchbox store. For every 100 points you have, you get $10 to spend on anything you want in the Birchbox store. Which means every box basically costs you $5 (shipping included) as long as you promise to spend $5 in the store. Which is super easy to do since they carry a bunch of awesome brands and products, they constantly have discount codes available, and if a product/brand was featured in the box that month you get free shipping on it. Awesome.

How cute is this month's box?
The boxes are normally a kraft paper kind of brown, but I think Birchbox said that they're all going to be different designs and are collectible (or something...I don't pay attention to a lot of these things) this year.
Hmm, my camera wasn't very happy with the bright neon colors of the February 2015 box and that was the best I could do with color balancing in Photoshop. Fun fact: I'm not the best at editing. You've probably already noticed...
My box is pretty standard looking for this month; three deluxe/travel sized products and then two smaller products in the pillow pack. I think part of the reason why they include the pillow packs is that they provide some padding for the bigger items in the box, which makes sense.
Not sure how readable the info card is going to be, but this month's theme is Friendship! I think it's a nice idea for a February box, though I do like the lovey-dovey-chocolate themes I've seen in other boxes this month. Also, the theme generally doesn't matter with regards to type of products included in the box.
One nice thing about Birchbox is that the info card is truly an info card because it contains, well, info! It lists all the products you received in that month's box along with the price of the full sized item and short "what" and "how" descriptions. The only thing that would make these cards better is if they included the size of the full sized product as well. I'm also impressed that Birchbox includes so much info on these cards since there are a bunch of different variations of boxes created each month.
We also got a card advertising Benefits new Roller Lash curling mascara. I'm actually really excited to give this mascara a try since I am super lazy and never curl my lashes and am interested to see what kind of effect the brush will have.
There is a coupon code (BENEFITGIFT) that you can use to get a deluxe mini of the Roller Lash with any full sized Benefit product purchase that is valid until 2/26. I believe the full size will be available to purchase starting 2/27 (though Sephora VIBs and Ulta Platinum members were allowed to purchase it for two days earlier this month. Talk about hype!), but everyone and their mom are offering the deluxe minis for free right now with varying conditions (Sephora has it with any $25+ purchase, Ulta had it with any purchase, which is the offer I took advantage of. I just haven't tried it yet).
Let's start with the sample I chose this month! I do like being able to pick my sample (though you might not be able to get the sample you want if you're not fast enough when they send out the e-mail. I've been able to get all my first choices since I'm generally able to pick within an hour or two after being notified) since I know there will be at least one item in the box I will like/use. This month there was a mascara (which I do not need more of) and a makeup remover (which I also do not need more of) along with this Moisturizing Sea Salt Spray.

They kept the brand of this product secret and I thought it would be like a new drugstore product or something, but it's actually from PARLOR by Jeff Chastain, which I believe is Birchbox exclusive. I do like sea salt sprays since they work well with my already textured hair, but I'm kind of over the beachy smell and drying formula that most have. I was intrigued when they said this would be a moisturizing sea salt spray and that it would have a different, more fresh scent. It has sweet almond and algae extracts for moisture and the scent is a mixture of ripe peach, fresh-cut grass, and white woods. It's a very green, very fresh scent, but I think the soft sweetness from the peach helps keep it from smelling like laundry. It is safe to use on the color-treated hair and, like most sea salt sprays, you can use it on damp or dry hair. The full size of this product is $24 for 4.9fl oz, making this 1fl oz worth about $4.90.
This is Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant. I'm pretty sure I've used this product before (I think I got a sample of it in a Blush Mystery Beauty Box many moons ago) and, at the time, I wasn't too impressed with it. I've heard really good things about the Paula's Choice skincare line (Allura Beauty on Youtube highly recommends it based on performance and ingredients), so I'm willing to give this another go, especially since I better understand my skin and it's issues now. BHA is basically another name for salicylic acid and this exfoliant is for blemish-prone skin. It also has ingredients to help calm redness, which is handy in an acne-fighting product. You use it once or twice daily in the same way you'd use a toner. Salicylic acid doesn't seem to do much for my skin/acne since it's caused more by stress and hormones than oiliness and blocked pores and I much prefer to use benzoyl peroxide-based products since they actually seem to help.(my favorite being the Murad Acne Spot Fast Fix). The full size is 4fl oz for $26, so this 1fl oz sample is worth $6.50.
 Now we get to the first disappointment in my February box... this is the London Collection Shower Gel from Gilchrist & Soames. I'm not a fan of shower gels in general since I don't like to use them (I prefer bar soap) and Gilchrist & Soames is basically a hotel-supplier brand. Meaning you can get this product for free when you stay in a fancy hotel. Boring. This shower gel has red tea, soy, gingko biloba, grape seed, milk thistle, glycerin, honey extract, and brassica plant. It smells alright; it's a fairly generic fresh soapy kind of smell and, again, it's pretty boring. I'm not sure if I'm going to keep this and just use it as a shave gel or if I'm going to give it to my mom. The full size is 8fl oz for $16, making this 1fl oz sample worth $2.
Pillow pack time!
And the other disappointing item...this is the second fragrance I've gotten (in a row, too!) this year. There is an option in your profile where you can select to recieve as few fragrance samples as possible, with a max of four a year. Which I have selected. So. We're at two now and it's only February.
This is the new Juicy Couture scent, Hollywood Royal. I actually don't mind the Juicy Couture fragrance line (even though they made velor tracksuits an acceptable thing to wear...); they're generally sweet/floral scents and are pretty nice and not overpowering. The notes in Hollywood Royal are candied apple, juicy pear, jasmine, gardenia, marshmallow, and vanilla. I'm not sure if it's the candied apple or the juicy pear that I don't like (I'm not a fan of either notes in perfume), but if it wasn't for that, I'd like this. The full-sized bottle is pretty cool looking, too. The full size is 2.5fl oz for $72, so this 0.05fl oz sample is worth about $1.44.
Finally, I got another theBalm sample! I don't have many theBalm products, but I've always been interested in giving the brand a try, so I'm more than happy to get more! This is another lip product; this is the Read My Lips lip gloss in the color BAM! (all the colors in this line are in all caps and have an exclamation point; I find it amusing). BAM! is described as a rose pink shade and it's supposed to have vivid pigment and shine without feeling tacky.
This is a pretty heavy swatch, but it's a nice opaque gloss. Not sure how it performs in regards to stickiness or wear-time, but I do like the color and the formula (at least when I swatched it). It has a sweet, fruity scent, but it's not too strong (though I would have preferred a more vanilla-based scent); it's almost like watermelon Jolly Ranchers. It's also infused with ginseng for antioxidant benefits. The full size is $15 for 0.3fl oz, so this 0.08fl oz sample is worth $4.

Overall, I got five products in my February 2015 Birchbox; four of them were deluxe-sized samples (I'm actually happy with the sizes of those four samples) and one was a fragrance sample (which is stupidly easy to get for free from just about everywhere so I'm not sure if that really counts as a deluxe sample size). The value of my box was $18.84 and I earned 50 points to spend in the Birchbox store.

While the overall values of my Birchboxes tend to be on the lower side, I've never seen anyone get less than $10 worth of products. Along with the 50 points (which is $5 to spend in the Birchbox store), I think Birchbox is definitely worth it, especially if you're interested in trying a beauty subscription box but don't want to spend too much on products that you're not sure you'll like. If you're more interested in getting full-sized products and potentially higher box values (which are not always accurate; there are a lot of companies out there that severely inflate the values of products), this might not be the service for you. Even though this is probably one of the more disappointing boxes I've gotten, I still feel like it worth getting to be able to sample some new products/brands and to get the $5 to spend in the store.

Thank you for reading! <3

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