With that slightly ominous beginning, let's take a look at my July 2016 Birchbox! After getting the announcement that Birchbox was reworking their reward point system, I was curious if there were going to be any changes to the subscription service. As you can see, things are slightly different, and I'm not sure if it's for the better. ...which sounds just as ominous as my beginning. Hmm.
Quick Run-Down: $10 a month beauty/makeup subscription service; since there have been some changes to this service, I can't say anything for certain, but it looks like we might be getting less deluxe/travel/full size products and more foil packets (before, we got five deluxe/travel/full size products and then maybe a foil packet as an extra, for July I got only four deluxe size products and two foil packets); more likely to get higher-end products, but the samples are smaller than in other $10-$15 subscription services; my favorite part of the Birchbox service was the rewards program since it was an easy way to get discounts on products that you might not otherwise be able to, but now you no longer can review products for points, you only earn them for referrals and purchases (granted, they did change the way you redeem them so 10 points equal $1 off instead of having to wait until you earn 100 points for $10 off, but it will still be more difficult for the average user to earn them).
It looks like Birchbox is going to continue with coming out with unique box designs every month; to the best of my knowledge, they never did have a contest or anything where you had to collect all the unique boxes from last year, so I'm not sure where that rumor came from. I haven't heard anything like it this year, so I think Birchbox is creating the unique boxes mostly to compete with Ipsy (since they have a unique bag each month).
The theme for July is My Morning Routine, which is a pretty easy theme to adhere to. I think Birchbox did a good job this month with my product selection in regards to the theme.
If this was any other month, I'd be excited to have six samples since I would earn an extra 10 reward points (I would have 60 instead of 50), but starting in July, you will no longer be able to earn points for reviewing your samples. Birchbox allowed subscribers to earn up to 50 points for reviewing the products in their July boxes and, after that, they will be unable to earn any more (by reviewing; everyone can still earn points from referrals and purchases).
Even though I have a ton of similar products, I'm happy to receive another sunscreen/makeup spray hybrid since they're easy to apply and are particularly good for reapplication of sunscreen throughout the day. This is the Coola SPF 30 Organic Makeup Setting Spray and it is essentially the same as the Supergoop! sunscreen/makeup spray. It dries down to a matte finish and has a cooling effect right after application, but it smells significantly worse (and I thought I disliked how the Supergoop! spray smelled...). I'm not sure if I just got a bad one (it was sealed when I got it, so I don't think it was tampered with) or if this is how it's supposed to smell, but it's very off-putting and makes me not want to use it, especially on my face. The full size is 1.7 fl oz for $36, making this 0.34 fl oz sample worth about $7.20.
Klorane is such a hit-and-miss brand for me. I love the dry shampoo with oat milk, but I dislike all of their shampoos and conditioners. So it's unfortunate that my next sample is a small bottle of their Shampoo with Chamomile for blonde hair. This shampoo claims to help prevent brassiness, which I'm sure it does (chamomile tea is a well-known as a good rinse to help with blonde hair), but it also has SLS, which can be drying, especially if you have chemically processed hair. It doesn't have any added colorant, which is a big issue I've had with other shampoos from Klorane, but I still think I'm going to pass this sample on without trying it since I have a lot of other shampoos I'd rather use. The full size is $15 for 200ml (the info card says that the full size is $20, but it was only $15 on the Birchbox site when I looked), so this 25ml sample is worth about $1.88.
Next is a deluxe sample of the Marcelle Xtension Plus Curl mascara and this is the sample I chose for this month! All the samples for the July Sample Choice were mascaras (Smashbox X-Rated, Benefit They're Real, and Marcelle Xtension Plus), and I went with this one since it's the only mascara out of the three that I don't already own a sample of (even though it was the least 'valuable'). Like the Coola spray, this sample also came sealed, which I especially appreciate in a mascara since it's less likely to dry out before I can use it. The only downside to leaving it sealed is that I can't look at the wand, but according to the picture on Birchbox, it's curved, which I tend to prefer since it's hard for me to get all of my outside lashes with a straight brush (I have long lashes and deep set eyes). The full size of this product is 8.5ml for $14, so this 4.5ml sample is worth about $7.41.
Not going to lie, I was pretty excited to see this sample in my box. Shiseido is a high-end skincare brand from Japan (it was founded in Japan, though I think most of the products in the US are made here, including this one) that tends to be effective, but on the pricey side; they're also known for their Facial Cotton squares, which are magical. This is a deluxe sample of the Ultimune Power Infusing Concentrate, an essence (it's the step before serum but after toner) that includes botanical ingredients like Ginkgo Biloba leaf, Japanese Shiso leaf, and Wild Thyme (among other neat things, like yeast). It is scented, but it's light and pleasant; this is going to sound weird, but it reminds me of Girl Scout camp. I think it smells like a natural bug repellent that I used as a kid, but in a good way. I've used a few Shiseido Concentrates in the past and really liked them (always samples, the full sizes are a little out of my price range), so I'm happy to give this one a try as well. The full size is 30ml for $67, so this 10ml sample is worth about $22.33. Nice.
Instead of a fifth deluxe sample, I got two foil packets. If the old reward point system still applied, I'd be slightly less disappointed since I would have earned an extra 10 points since I could review six samples instead of five, but as it stands, I'm not too happy about trading a deluxe sample for foil packets. I also always hate it when I get a bigger sample of a shampoo than the matching conditioner since I go through conditioner a lot faster, so this is a double-whammy of disappointment. These are packets of the Klorane Conditioner with Chamomile for blonde hair and the Shiseido Ultimune Eye Power Infusing Eye Concentrate; I'm going to use the eye concentrate because I'm always looking for new eye products and I trust Shiseido, but I'm not even going to bother with the Klorane conditioner. Unlike the shampoo, the conditioner does include added dye, which can discolor platinum blonde hair (my stylist strongly advised me to avoid anything with added color, except blue/purple toning shampoos and conditioners). Normally I don't calculate values for foil packets since they're extras, but since these count as my fifth sample, I did! The Klorane conditioner retails for $20 for 200ml so this 10ml packet is worth about $1 and the Shiseido Eye Concentrate is $65 for 15ml, making this 1ml packet worth about $4.33.
Overall I got four deluxe sized sample and two foil packets with a total value of $44.15. Not bad, especially for Birchbox, but the Shiseido sample alone is half of that value. I did get 50 reward points for reviewing my samples this month, but now I won't be able to earn any more through reviewing. I'm not ready to unsubscribe based on this box alone, but I'm definitely curious to see what the August box brings. Just can't get away from being ominous I guess...
Thanks for reading! <3