Tuesday, February 9, 2016

January 2016 Birchbox - On Trend: Korean Beauty - Unboxing and Review!

Hello! Hope you're staying warm this winter (or cool if you live in the southern hemisphere and it's summer)! For this post, I want to share with you the special Korean Beauty-themed box that Birchbox released in January 2016.
During sample choice, you could have opted to get this box instead of your normal, semi-mystery Birchbox. I actually went with my normal, semi-mystery box since I really wanted to try one of the other sample choices (which I'll talk about in a subsequent post), but Birchbox put this curated box up for sale at a special price of $10 with free shipping for subscribers (it was $15 plus shipping for non-subscribers). I had $10 worth of points saved up (which is not hard to do), so I essentially got this box for free!
Since this technically isn't my Birchbox box for January, I won't do a run down of the subscription service. I will say, though, I was not able to review the products in this box and earn any reward points, which I would have been able to do had I picked this box during the sample choice window. I was able to review the products I got in in my actual box, so I didn't actually lose out on any points.
The box itself is made out of the same cardboard as all the other Birchboxes and is a lime green/citron color (the lid is more yellow, the bottom is more green) with sketches of plants in blue.
Along with the info card, there was a special advertisement for The Little Book of Skincare, a book about Korean skincare. The author, Charlotte Cho, helped curate this box and you can get 50% off of her book here with the promo code BEAUTY20
The info card has the same design and color-scheme as the box (it matches the citron of the lid) and it talks about how totally rad K-Beauty products are.
There are technically seven different products in this box: five samples and two bonus packets. Since this wasn't my Birchbox for January I can't say for certain, but I'm pretty sure if you had picked this box you would have been able to review and get points for all seven products. Which is 70 points. Which is basically $7 to use in the Birchbox store. Nice!
I'm a big fan of K-Beauty, and I like to think that I am fairly knowledgeable about it, but this first product is from a brand that I'm not familiar with; this is the Bio Fresh Mask with Real Calming Herbs by RE:P. This is a pretty standard kaolin clay mask formulated with herbs to help clean pores. I really like that this mask isn't charcoal-based, unlike a lot of kaolin clay masks out there. The full size is 130g for $41, so this 2g sample is worth about $6.30. Even for being just 2g, you get a lot of product, so I assume the full size will last you a very long time.
This next brand is one that I have heard of and have seen around, but I don't think I've ever tried anything from it. This is the Flash Cream Radiant Primer by IPKN. K-Beauty is all about having a dewy and fresh complexion, so a lot of makeup products focus on that. I have to be careful since I have combination skin and dewy products look great at first when my skin is dry, but I can get oily fairly quickly. I really like that this primer has SPF15; it's not a lot of sun protection, but it helps provide another layer since you should be wearing sunscreen anyways. The full size is $28 for 1.35oz, making this 0.24oz worth about $4.98.
Possibly one of the most prolific Korean beauty brands available in the United States right now: TonyMoly! I've seen a lot of skincare products from TonyMoly around, but I haven't seen too much makeup (I assume it will make it's way into stores soon; Urban Outfitters carries the lip glosses and Ulta carries the Cat's Wink compacts). This is a sample of the TonyMoly Delight Tony Tiny (Tony Tint Delight?) in #2 Red.
This is in-between a gloss and a lip mousse; it;s more opaque and less shiny than a gloss, but it's a lot more sheer than a mousse lip color (like the NYX Soft Matte Lip Creams). One thing I've noticed about Korean cosmetics is that there is a lot less focus on pigmentation and bold looks; it's more about looking natural, healthy, and youthful. I think that's one of the reasons why color cosmetics from Korean have been slower coming to the U.S. than skincare; people think it's of lower quality since it's not pigmented. This is a pretty flush of color when you want to wear red, but you don't want wear anything strong or eye-catching. The full size is $6 for 8.2mL, but I have no idea how big this sample is, so I don't know how much it's worth (my best guess is $2 or less).
Besides BB creams, one of the most popular K-Beauty products are sheet masks! I love sheet masks; they're super easy to thrown on, and you just take them off when you're done. There's not rinsing or peeling or anything time-consuming. This is a Beauty Planner Cucumber Soothing + Moisturizing mask by Manefit and it's the only full size (sort of) item in this box (Birchbox isn't known for giving out full sized products, so it's not unexpected to get one or none full size products). I say "sort of" since Birchbox sells these in sets of 5 for $10 (though the mask itself is an individual, single-use item), making this mask worth $2.
The last deluxe sized sample in this box is the Waterest First Essence by Goodal. Goodal is another brand that I am aware of, but that I have never tried anything from. I believe this brand is also available from Ulta now, which is kind of weird (Ulta is a little late jumping on the K-Beauty bandwagon, but they carry a lot of stuff now). Essences are slowly catching on in the U.S.; it's like a step between your toner and serum. They're very water serums that you tap into your skin to add another layer of hydration/skin care ingredients. This essence has hyaluronic acid and fermented lotus flower to significantly boost hydration. The full size is 150mL for $30, so this 6mL sample is worth about $1.20.
As a bonus, there were two more foil packet samples from Goodal. Birchbox won't give you foil packets as part of your five deluxe samples, but they sometimes throw them in as extras (you also get to review them most of time, so they mean more Birchbox points for you!). This is a sample of the Yerba Mate Bubble Peeling and Yerba Mate Cleansing Foam. I haven't seen Yerba Mate used in skincare, but I love drinking Yerba Mate tea (it's a natural energy booster). I didn't calculate the values of these samples because they're so small and they're a bonus product anyways, so they shouldn't count towards the box value.

Overall, I got four deluxe samples, one (kind of) full size sample, and two bonus foil packet samples for a total value of about $14.48 (this does not include the value of the Tony Tint since I have no idea how much it's worth). This is a low value box, even by Birchbox standards, but the products are so interesting that I actually like it more than my actual Birchbox (though if I hadn't gotten my January Birchbox, I might have been more disappointed in this box since I wouldn't have had anything to compare it to).

Thanks for reading! <3

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