beauty, subscriptions

November 2016 Birchbox

Hi guys! I’m back with this month’s Birchbox! And guess what? It was actually TWO DAYS EARLY after months of receiving my box at least three days late.

The subscription box service:

Every month, you get sent five hair, skincare, makeup, body, and perfume samples. Each month’s selection is curated for you based on things like skin and hair type, coloring, etc. You can review samples and earn up to $5.00 worth of points in the Birchbox shop to buy full-sized items, themed kits, lifestyle items, etc. Birchbox also offers a men’s box and shop. It’s available in several countries, and you can sign up here.

The price:

$10.00 a month.

The mailer:

This isn’t really a big difference or anything, but I’d like to point out that Birchbox changed their mailers! The original ones were very streamlined and seemed to use very little cardboard, but this new one has a couple tear-off tabs and creates a lid that can be opened or closed. If you find that the monthly boxes aren’t strong enough for storing something, you may want to give the mailer a try! You also don’t have the problem of cutting into your monthly box when opening the box like the original. Also, I like the change from hot pink to this lighter peachy shade, and the fun text addition.100_4530

The theme:

The Finishing Touch. I’m not crazy over this, mainly because it’s a pretty vague theme and I don’t know what they mean. It can mean something different to everyone, and has different contexts – the finishing touch to a hairstyle or skincare routine is different than the finishing touch to a look and outfit for an event. You could probably make the case that any product could be a finishing touch to something.

Quick disclaimer: Birchbox never seems to curate all items specifically for a month’s theme. You can usually notice some sort of theme with the sample choice and maybe another sample or two, but that’s it. Remember, these items are curated more for your preferences than solely for the theme. It can still feel a bit annoying, but I prefer

The box:

I really like this design. It has a good color palette perfect for the cooler months ahead and a symmetric, repetitive design that’s interesting but not overwhelming. The mascara wands, eyeliners, and lipsticks mixed in with the florals are super fun!100_4534

The goodies:

Marcelle New Age Lumi Power 3-in-1 Moisturizer
The Organic Pharmacy Purifying Seaweed Clay Mask
Oribe Superfine Hairspray
JUARA Candlenut Body Creme
Chella Eyebrow Pencil in Tantalizing Taupe

The Marcelle moisturizer:

This says it can be a day, night, or eye cream. I first find that a bit strange – most people either know the differences between these and so use different products to get certain results, or don’t really bother with the differences. I also have the mindset where a multitasker is a “jack of all trades, master of none” type product or only good at one primary use and less-than-stellar with others, so I didn’t expect this to be amazing.

When squeezed out of the tube, it’s a thicker gel like a heavier night cream/mask or eye cream, but once on it felt more lightweight like a day cream and didn’t give as much moisture as I’d expect from something so thick. It seemed okay but nothing special. If you’re looking for an everyday cream, for day and/or night, or really don’t need any help for your eyes (this has anti-aging properties but doesn’t seem to mention dark circles, puffiness, etc), this could work, but I have products I like more.

The Organic Pharmacy mask:

This is a small size for a mask -I’ll probably be lucky to get two full uses. Seaweed is one of those things I’ve heard about but didn’t feel the need to try right away. What struck me was that aloe was the third ingredient, after water and kaolin clay. I got sick the day after getting my box and so was looking for purifying and hydrating properties, meaning this was better than my normal clay masks! My skin felt very refreshed, soft, and clean afterwards. I really enjoyed the mask!

The Oribe hairspray:

I saw the word superfine and thought this wouldn’t be for me because my hair is very thick and long, and something for fine hair wouldn’t work well for me. Superfine may refer to something else, like keeping hair feeling soft and smooth instead of rock hard. It says it has medium hold. I normally don’t use a lot of products in my hair, especially hairspray. I’ve had the same bottle of hairspray for nearly three years (can hairspray expire like other beauty products?) and honestly have used it more as a makeshift art fixative than for my hair. I’m not sure if I’ll keep and use this yet (and medium hold isn’t strong enough for art use).

The JUARA body cream:

I really like this scent. It smells familiar, kind of like shea or almond or something along those lines, but I can’t say for sure. The cream sinks into the skin easily with the tiniest bit of greasy residue on the skin. It does leave the skin nicely hydrated and soft. Again, my only complaint is that this sample is small.

The Chella brow pencil:

I’m not sure if this is a deluxe sample in nearly-full-size packaging, or if it is full-size, which Birchbox usually doesn’t give out in boxes.┬áIt’s short and thin enough that the weight feels off. It’s a retractable pencil, but comes completely flat and the tip is wider than most other retractable brow tips I’ve seen. The shade is lighter than I normally use and, despite the name taupe, was a little bit too orange and warm for my liking. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a packaging error and I received the blonde shade. I can use it for a lighter, more natural look, although I do have to really press down more and darken the color. I could see using this mainly to fill in the arch area a bit and then go in with a brow gel over everything, which is something I do a lot.

I’m going to show you this product in action and compare it to the Benefit Precisely My Brow Pencil in shade 4, which is the slightest bit dark for me. You can see from the first picture (my natural, completely untouched brow state) that my brows are pretty big and straight but that there’s some patchiness around my arch, especially on top, so that’s the area that I focus on a bit more. I just brushed through my brows to get to the second image, and then added the Chella pencil to the brow on the right in the third picture and the Benefit pencil on the left in the fourth. The edge along the top right around/in front of my arch just didn’t get defined well enough with the Chella pencil.chella-brow-pencil-use

The verdict:

A decent box. It seems that the products I liked best were the smallest two, which is a shame, but at least I not only really liked multiple products, I also got an extra, sturdier box AND got my Birchbox early! For the past four months or so, I’ve been complaining about Birchbox going downhill in terms of service and quality, but while the box itself didn’t really wow me, the other stuff gave me a really positive experience.

-xo, Andi

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