subscription review

I Tried Birchbox (So You Don't Have To) | April 2019

I Tried Birchbox (So You Don't Have To) | April 2019 | Writing Between Pauses

I love a beauty subscription. As you probably know, I’ve been an Ipsy subscriber for months (although we’ve been on a break recently) and have been looking for other beauty boxes to review and use each month. There is something to a beauty box, isn’t there? It’s like a special little treat.

I told Danny that the reason I love them is because it gives me the option of trying new things every single month… without spending a ton of money. To try a new moisturizer might cost $15+, depending on the brand—but I can get a deluxe sample of a moisturizer in a subscription box that I can use throughout the month, as well as other things to try, all for around $10-15 depending on the subscription.

That’s incredibly valuable to me! I love trying new things, but I hate spending money.

A few weeks ago, I was approached by Birchbox to review their beauty box subscription and to share with my readers. Of course, I said yes immediately!

Birchbox is the first beauty subscription box I ever remember hearing about: they really changed the game when they came on the scene! They are a tried-and-true brand with a ton of fans, so I was honored to be able to work with them.

I received my first beauty box this month and wanted to share everything I received, what I loved about Birchbox, and what I didn’t.

What Do You Get in a Birchbox

What I Got

Here’s everything I received:

  • Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray

  • Number 4 Lumiere d’Hiver Clarifying Shampoo

  • Marcell City Tinted Cream

  • Sunday Riley Luna Night Sleeping Oil

  • 100% Pure Green Tea Concentrate Cream

  • Number 4 Lumiere d’Hiver Reconstructing Masque

  • Love of Color Liquid Shimmer Eyeshadow (not pictured)

That’s $10 for 7 samples. Unlike Ipsy, there is no set number of samples every month. However, some of the samples in Birchbox are quite small; the clarifying shampoo and hair masque are both from the brand Number 4 Lumiere d’Hiver, but the shampoo is 1 fluid ounce in a travel size tube, while the mask is simply a packet (and much less than 1 fluid ounce). For that reason, it’s a lot more difficult to put a value on these products because you do receive a significantly smaller amount!

A prime example is that a full-size tube of the Oribe Texturizing Spray has 8.5 ounces and costs $46; the sample tube I received has 1 ounce. So, it would be valued at about 1/8 of $46: $5.75. However, not everything splits up quite that easily.

That’s ok though! I think even without strict numbers, we can talk about how valuable something feels: even though the tube of Sunday Riley’s Luna oil is quite small, a full-size bottle is only a little over an ounce and costs $105.

You read that correctly: full size is 1 ounce for $105. So receiving a sample tube, no matter the size, is going to be pretty valuable in terms of testing it out!

Birchbox costs between $10-15 a month to receive, depending on the status if your subscription. (You can learn more about Birchbox’s updated payment system here.) You can buy subscriptions in 6- and 12-month packages as well, which can help reduce your cost (and you can often get full-size gifts when you sign up. Score!)

Is Birthbox Worth It?

What I Liked

One of the great things about Birchbox, compared to Ipsy, is that you don’t just receive 5 samples: you get a variety and often 5+ things. In my first box alone, I got 7 samples, some of them bigger than others. I’d say everything except the hair mask, I can use for at least 3 weeks, potentially more. That gives me a ton of product to experience with.

I also like that Birchbox gave me options when it came to selecting my samples. As with Ipsy, the more you review the things you receive, the better the products will be suited to you. However, with Birchbox, you can receive a sneak peek of samples starting the month before; at the end of March, I was able to choose either one sample I definitely wanted in my box, or I could have chosen two curated boxes to receive. That meant that no matter what, I got to choose something to try—which is really, really fun!

I liked all of the products I received, except perhaps the clarifying shampoo (it made my scalp itch, which is 100% a “my scalp” problem!) and the CC cream (it didn’t match my skintone, but I did like the texture).

My favorite product is probably the 100% Pure Green Tea Concentrate Cream; I thought for sure I would love the Sunday Riley Luna oil, which I do, but it doesn’t wow me as much as I thought. What did wow me was the Green Tea Concentrate Cream! It smells amazing and feels beautiful on my skin; I love wearing it under my makeup. It’s one of those things that I would have never looked for, but thanks to Birchbox, I’ll probably be buying a fullsize tube!

Reliable Birchbox Reviews

Things You Need to Know

What are a few things I would want to know about signing up for Birchbox?

Firstly, I think you need to remember that these are samples: not necessarily even deluxe size samples, in some cases. I don’t think that’s necessarily a draw back, but I do think it is important to have realistic expectations of what you’re going to receive.

Secondly, you can earn points on Birchbox by reviewing items; these points can then be used to purchase full size items. That’s pretty amazing!

Lastly, Birchbox is not like ipsy. They are both beauty-focused subscriptions and while I’ve compared and contrasted them here, ultimately they serve two different purposes. Birchbox focuses a little more on tried-and-true skincare products; Ipsy is much more trendy and makeup focused. What you choose depends entirely on what you want to receive! Looking to find a skincare routine that changes your life? Birchbox would be the best choice. Want to experiment with makeup? Ipsy is your best bet.

If you’d like to sign up for Birchbox, you can do so by clicking here**.

Have you received Birchbox? What did you think?

Beauty Review: My January Ipsy Bag

Beauty Review: My January Ipsy Bag | Writing Between Pauses

Can you believe it's time for another Ipsy bag review? Since I wrote my December review late, it feels like these are happening back to back! If you'd like to see my past Ipsy bag reviews, click here

This month's Ipsy bag had a work out theme (herumph) because it's January, after all. I'm quite happy with the things I received, except for the bag. I'll get to that in a minute. First, let's list these products, shall we? 

1. So Susan Liquid Matte in Raisin Flesh 

This is a full-size liquid lipstick that retails for $14.00 and comes in 6 shades. You can visit So Susan here. This liquid lip promises "brilliant moisture without the stickiness and long-lasting colour without the flakiness." These are lies. Absolute, bald-faced lies. This liquid lip is gorgeous; I love the color Raisin Flesh (a deep, rich, pink-mauve), but on the lips it wears... really oddly. If you apply too much (like, the normal amount you'd put on), it doesn't dry down and basically shellacs your lips together. I put it on when I first opened my Ipsy bag and then drove home; I had to pull over halfway home, grab a baby wipe, and scrub my mouth. I couldn't part my lips it was so sticky! When I rewore it later, I applied a super thin layer and it dried down better; but this lipstick does that thing where it wears off only in the middle, leaving me with a super attractive halo every single time I popped into the bathroom. 

Needless to say, this isn't something I would recommend to wear all day; good for a single event, perhaps, where I won't be eating or drinking, but it is not long-wearing and the texture is super odd. 

2. Vasanti Cosmetics Kajal Waterline Eyeliner in Intense Black

This full-size eyeliner retails for $19.00. You can view it here. I have to be honest, this was an item I knew was going to be disappointed to me. As a personal point, I do not tightline my eyes; to me, this is a trend that ages you... to around 2005, when everyone was walking around looking like a raccoon! I haven't tightlined my eyes since I was probably 19 years old and I'm not looking to start again. It makes my eyes look smaller. Period, end of story, I don't want to talk about it anymore. 

That being said, this is a decent pencil; it's creamy and quite pigmented. It's just not my thing. I could see myself using it on my top lashline, but absolutely not my waterline. 

3. Preventative Measures 101 After Hours Lip Balm

This lip balm retails for $8 and is available here. I love a good lip balm and this is another one. It smells, lightly, of papayas and goes on pretty smooth. It doesn't have any ingredients that cause irritation or dryness (looking at you, Burt's Bees with peppermint oil!). It is, however, just a lip balm. 

4. Purlisse Beauty Blue Lotus Seed Mud Mask

This mask retails for $48 (!!!!!) for a full-size and is available here

I have to say: I wasn't sure about this mask when I saw I would be receiving it, but I quite like it. When I first applied it, I started to grumble because it felt like it had walnut shells in it. But after reading the ingredients more closely, I realized it is crunched up blue lotus seeds--still a little intense for an exfoliant (they are much too rough), but for a mask every 1-2 weeks, not bad. I did like the smell and feel of this mask and it made my skin feel good and my pores look small. 

5. The Balm Cosmetics Mary Lou-Minizer 

The full-size version of this retails for $24 and is available here. I expected to be disappointed by this as I'm not a huge fan of the Balm... but this highlight is pretty nice. It's not chalky and goes on pretty smooth. It also makes a great eyeshadow color. It's pretty smooth and pigmented, but blends in nicely. I really love it! I wish the size they'd sent to us was larger; it's the size of a small eyeshadow pan, as opposed to the larger compact. 

The Verdict

This bag is perhaps the ugliest bag I have ever received from Ipsy. I've been struggling not to be like, "I love this product, but did you SEE this UGLY BAG?" while writing this entire review! The bag is heinous! It's going into my donate bin, alongside the liquid lip and eyeliner. (Both sterilized, I promise.) 

Per usual, let's add up the cost of this bag if you purchased each separate item. The total is $113, but that uses the prices for full-size and I received 2 trial size products. And while $113 value for a $10 purchase is quite big, I was disappointed by both of the full-size objects I received. 

Not every Ipsy bag will be a winner! I left feedback regarding these items on my Ipsy account, so I'm hoping for a better month next month! If you want to try Ipsy for just $10 a month, click here to sign up using my referral code