Thursday, January 7, 2016

December 2015 Allure Beauty Box - Unboxing & Review!

Hello! I hope you all had a happy holiday season and are having a great start to the new year! Per usual, I am running a little behind on my blog posts, and things are piling up on my desk, so it's time to go on a posting spree.
Let's get the ball rolling with my December 2015 Allure Beauty Box!
Quick rundown about the Allure Beauty Box: it is a monthly subscription service by Allure, the beauty magazine. I'm not sure exactly how much Allure really has to do with this box besides the name, but in the little info booklets we get each month, there's a "Letter From The Editor" section and the booklet itself is formatted in a manner similar to the Allure magazine. It is $15 a month, plus tax, which makes this box cost about $16.50 for me; I subscribed to this box because the September 2015 box was so amazing and I was hoping that a sightly more expensive box would include slightly more value in samples (I've very cautious of any boxes more expensive; I've been subscribed to pricier boxes and I wasn't all that satisfied). Unfortunately, the October and November 2015 boxes were on the iffy side; Allure did offer me a chance to take a survey about my experience with the box and I was honest about my dissatisfaction with the service. I think they did listen since the December box is a step up, and the January box is even better (...I am pretty far behind on posting). One thing the Allure Beauty Box has going for it is that the info booklet is super informative; even including the size and prices of the full size items. On the other hand, there's not place where you can look at the samples you got (like your Glam Room with Ipsy) and there's no rewards program.

On to the box! Along with the info booklet this month, we got two extra cards.
One is the normal one that offers Beauty Box subscribers the chance to win makeup and beauty things (I never enter these; they don't really interest me) and the other is a special info card about a bonus sample we got this month (hint: it's from ChapStick).
Not really sure what the difference is between a sample product and a sponsored product; I always assumed that all the samples in these boxes were from companies as a means to promote their brand and products or to create hype for new things. I wonder if ChapStick paid Allure to put their sample in the December 2015 box. Hmm.
The sample we got is a full size Total Hydration lip balm in the flavor Soothing Vanilla. I was actually kind of excited to get this product, but then I saw that it has Aragan Oil so. Hopes and dreams crushed. If I remember right, Birchbox included this product as a bonus sample forever ago, so I'm not sure why Allure is doing it now. Except that ChapStick paid them to. Not a bad sample, but one that was already included in a cheaper subscription service and one that I can't even use due to allergies.
I don't know why, but I always assume that December subscription boxes are going to be the ones with the highest values. While this is a better box than the previous two months, it's still pretty underwhelming (my Ipsy and Birchbox were also pretty blah this month; the only subscription service that really wowed me was my Glamour Doll Eyes Of The Month). The Letter From The Editor this month is about gifting, ending with all of Patricia's friends and family getting the contents of this box. Cute idea in theory, but none of these products really felt special.
The very first product is one I've received at least three times now. This is the Klorane Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk.
I really like this dry shampoo; in fact, it's one of the best one's I've used. It's just becoming a little tiresome to keep getting the same sample over and over again. When I need more, I will happily buy more, and it would have been nice to get something I might not have been familiar with instead. This is a 50mL sample and it's worth about $6.67.
In terms of product quality, this is the most disappointing product in this box. I'm not a fan of Pop Beauty to begin with, and this pencil really brings down my opinion of the brand.
This is a sharpen-able kajal eye liner in the color Inky Purple. It also has a smudger on one end since kajal pencils are meant to be creamy and smudgy.
However! Even the info booklet acknowledges that this pencil performs in the exact opposite way from a traditional kajal pencil. This is another instance where the info booklet, in the part where it's supposed to explain why this is such a great product, actually makes excuses for its faults. The pencil is hard, so hard that you have to use a lot of pressure to "have much impact at all". The smudger was "basically an eraser" and they suggest using your fingertip instead, and the caps on the ends don't stay on well so you don't want to keep this in your purse or anything. I appreciate Allure's honesty, but then why even include this product if it's so bad?
The color is nice, but the quality is just so bad, especially compared with all the other eyeliners I own, that I know I will never, ever use this. This is a full size item, and it does sell for $10 at retail, but this exact same pencil has been on sale for as cheap as $5 on various websites.
Yeah. This sample again. This is the Smashbox Photo Finish Oil-Free Foundation Primer.
I really don't have much to say about it; everyone who's interested in makeup knows what this is and probably has a sample of it laying around. I know a lot of people do like this primer and would be happy to get another tube of it, but it just doesn't work well with my skin. It's pretty much just silicone, and silicone makes my skin blotchy and irritated. This 0.25fl oz sample size is worth about $9. Which is kind of ridiculous.
Now this product is exciting! I've started checking for spoilers before the 1st of the month to see if the box is going to be worth it or not, and when I saw that the SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic was going to be sampled, I knew I had to stay subscribed for at least one more box. I've heard a lot of really good things about this product, but it's way out of my price range, especially without knowing if I even like it or not.
I knew it was going to be a small sample since this is such a pricey product, but it ended up being bigger than I expected! Since this is a serum, you only need a drop or two at a time so it will last a long time. It's a highly potent antioxidant blend, and it's very well renowned for its impressive results when it comes to improving the signs of photodamage (wrinkles and fine lines caused by the sun).
While this product was the one mentioned in the spoilers, it turned out that you would get one of four different SkinCeutical producst; besides the C E Ferulic, you could have gotten Resveratol BE, Hydrating B5 Gel, or Blemish + Age Defense. All of the products are good, but none have the cult following that the C E Ferulic does. The C E Ferulic is also the most expensive, making the sample of it worth more. I guessed that the size of my sample was about 5mL (it's about the same size as another 5mL bottle of serum I have and I couldn't find a measurement on the bottle or booklet), making it worth about $27. Even if this sample is only 3mL (about $16.20), it's still worth more than the entire Allure Beauty Box.
I really like the brand Eau Thermale Avene. I especially like their spa water; it's not very expensive and it's very effective. When I saw that we were getting this product in the December 2015 box, I was pretty excited. Then I got it and saw that the first ingredient is mineral oil. Not quite as excited.
Recently, I've come to terms with the fact that some of the ingredients that have been demonized by the beauty community are in fact not all that bad. Parabens is the biggest one; I used to be incredibly against parabens since everyone else was. The more I've researched, however, the more I realize that they are safe to use and, in fact, can be much safer than the alternatives. Parabens are some of the most widely researched and most effective preservatives out there. Using anything else puts you at risk since it might not be known how quickly a different preservative will breakdown nor how effective it is against things like bacteria and mold. Mineral oil is one of those ingredients I've been told to always avoid, and it makes sense since it's not an organic oil (it's made from petroleum) and thus might not play well with my skin. I have zero science to back this up and will have to research more. I do know that mineral oil is incredibly cheap and is used as a filler, much like talc, so this doesn't feel like a very high end product and it seems to be way to expensive for what it is. This 50mL sample is worth $6.50.
After the C E Ferulic serum, this was the product I liked the most this month. And it's a candle! ...I think it says something when the product you like the most in a beauty sample box is not technically a beauty product. This is a travel-sized Blackberry Absinthe candle tin from Illume.
The scent is very strong and unique; I really like it. It's fruity, but there's a smokey, incense kind of note to it. Even so, it's clean and bright and not overwhelming. I don't like open flames so I don't want to light it, but I keep it open on my desk and it scents the room quite nicely. If you do want to burn it, you can get about 5 hours burn time from this tin, which isn't too bad. I also thought it was pretty cool that Illume is based in Minneapolis, MN. Based on the size of the candle Allure used for the picture and full size, this candle sample is worth about $3.10.

Overall, in my December 2015 Allure Beauty Box I got five deluxe sized samples, one full sized product, and one full size bonus sponsored sample. The total value of my box (minus the bonus sample and calculating the C E Ferulic sample as being worth $27), was about $62.27. Compared to the last two boxes, this box was definitely closer value-wise to what I expect from a $15 a month box, but, with the exception of two, the products didn't really interest me and will most likely end up with my mom or a friend.

Thanks for reading! <3

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