Birchbox August 2019 Review

Birchbox August 2019

For those who don’t know, Birchbox is a monthly beauty box subscription. Each Birchbox includes 5 selected sample products.  The cost varies depending on your subscription level.  If you have a month to month subscription it is $15, for six months it is $14 and for a 12 month commitment it is $13 per month.  All subscription levels charge monthly so you don’t need a large lump sum if you want to commit for a year. I was a subscriber when it was $10 per month, then I cancelled and was told things changed and now I am giving them a second try. I signed up for a six month commitment (June-November) figuring I could see if things had changed.

This month’s box was interesting.  There were three box options, along with a chance to choose one of your samples. Or if you didn’t want any of the boxes you could select the one full priced item they offered instead of your box.  This moth was a full sized hair detangling spray.  I’ve used it before and liked it so I was considering it as an option. Especially as this month’s theme was throwback themed.

The information sheet that came with the box this month gives the theme Old School Summertime.  And the page is not printed on heavy stock as it is made to be cut into one of those folding paper games so popular when I was in elementary and middle school.  It even has folding directions for those who have forgotten. Which was kind of neat.  The boxes also feature older designs, which I have no problem with. Truth be told, the box design has no real impact on me. I’m sure someone puts effort into it and there are people who get into the designs, I’m just not one of them.  I reuse the boxes for storing small items in my office closet.  So I can always find my extra paperclips if I need them, but other than that, the box is just a box.

Almost all of the products featured this month were offered before, with each of the three boxes containing one thing that was either new to Birchbox or something that missed me in earlier boxes. As I use this primarily as a discovery platform, I found that a little disappointing. I understand it goes with the theme and they are offering favorites, so I tried to think of which of the products offered I would like to try again and which of the few new products I most wanted to try. I even contemplated the one full sized product.

While an interesting mental challenge, it was ultimately futile.  By the time their system opened for those of my level of subscription commitment e to choose their oprion, there was only one box left available and the full sized product was sold out. So guess which one I got?


Probably not the best way to build customer excitement.

So on to the review.

The first product I received was the ARROW BOOST Color Enhancing Lip Balm – Berry Busy.  It retails for $15.00. I have gotten this many times before.  It was always super pink, too pink to wear in fact. Its color changing formula turns my lips a shade of pink that makes me look like I was caught in a pool drain while diving for pennies. ( a favorite game at our local swimming pool when I was a kid, the pennies, not the drain.) However according to the info with the product, the formula changed a bit so instead of automatically passing it on with the previous tubes, I tried this one. The Berry Busy formula is less bubblegum pink than the original, and I don’t think it is going to end up being one of my go to lipsticks, but the color is kind of growing on me. The formula is super moisturizing so I am pleased to be able to use it. So although I would really like to see some other product in my box, I wasn’t all that upset about receiving this one.

The second item in my box was the M·A·C Cosmetics In Extreme Dimension 3D Black Lash Mascara. The full size retails for $24.00. I like MAC Products.  I like MAC mascaras, they aren’t my absolute favorite, but they are good. I don’t go to the MAC counter much because last purchase I made the sales lady looked at me and said ‘you have amazing skin’ in a way that made me think she was planning to skin me and wear me as a suit Silence of the Lambs style.

But I do like their products.

Having visited the MAC counter before, I also know that this is the sample size that they tend to toss into your bag for free with your purchase. Sometimes, they chuck in more than one. Which is nice because they are small tubes and each one has only about two days’ worth of product in it at best. I’ve had a couple where it was an effort to get one day out of it. So it’s easy to go through a bunch of them. Especially if you are in a clear out the drawer mood.

Now I know Birchbox sends sample sizes with some occasional exemptions, like the full sized Arrow lip balm in this box. It does however annoy me a little to get what is essentially a counter give away in a box I paid for. If it were an extra item in a box of just samples, fine, but not when it is one of the five for the month. Especially when they have so recently increased their prices (costs went up in June and this is only August, which does not augur well).

Okay, you have survived my mini rant, if you are still reading this, thank you. It gets better, I promise. 

Next up we have the Air Repair Complexion-Boosting Moisturizer (Full size retails for $23).  The product info states:

This moisturizer instantly absorbs to repair dull, dehydrated skin. It’s great for anyone, but especially helpful while traveling when your complexion is stressed-out from climate changes.

I have tried this product before and I liked this moisturizer.  It smells like a clean cream if you stick your nose right up to it but otherwise has no real scent to it. If scents in creams bother you, then this will be right up your alley.  A little is all you need and it absorbs quickly with no greasy film on your skin. As for testing it over time, that was impossible with this sample.  Not only was the tube a small sample sized tube, but it was only filled about half way. This made it a two day sample which in my opinion is not long enough to test a skin care product. However, the sample was nice enough and the cost is low enough for a full sized bottle that I am thinking of purchasing a full sized bottle to do an actual test on it. Recently I’ve been testing skin care from the $45 -$65 range.  At $23 I think it is worth looking into, so I will mark this as ‘positive, but needs more information’ as my rating.

Now we move on to one of the products I was delighted to see make a return to Birchbox.  As far as I am concerned they can chuck a sample of this into every box they send me and I will not complain about the repeat.  The product is the Oribe Grandiose Hair Plumping Mousse.  The full sized bottle retails for $39.00 which is why I have not purchased a full sized bottle on my own and why I set the sample bottles aside for nights when I am actually going somewhere even though I would love to use it far more often. I like the other products offered by the Oribe brand, but this is the king of their product line in my opinion. I fingercomb a little dab through my hair when my hair is damp, let it dry naturally and then brush and style.  It adds volume, helps it hold curl and is still silky soft to the touch. It beats every other mousse I have tried. The price tag is just a little too steep for me to justify adding to my list of purchased beauty products, although at some point I may break down.  I keep trying to find a cheaper substitute and keep coming up empty. And with each failure, this mousse looks more and more attractive. At some point I will add up the cost of all the cheaper brands that failed me and possibly reconsider, but for now, excellent product, too high priced.

Finally we come to the last product in the August box and the only one that is new to me. It is the Vasanti® BrightenUp!® Enzymatic Face Rejuvenator, which retails for $34.00. For a long time I used the Vasanti moisturizer though, so I was excited to try something else in their product line. The claims are:

This post-cleanser treatment tackles dullness, uneven skin tone, dark spots, and wrinkles in one glow-inducing step. Plus, it helps the rest of your skincare products absorb 20% better. While skin is wet, massage a pea-sized amount in circular motions, focusing on problem areas. Rinse with warm water and pat dry. Use up to five times a week after your regular cleanser, then follow with a moisturizer and SPF.

I’m not entirely enthused about adding another step to my skin care routine, but making other products work better is something I can get behind. I can’t speak to the efficacy of combining it with other products.  It could make them 20% better or it could not, I have no real way of determining that. The product feels like very fine sand and you do not need a lot of it.  (The tube is also packed full to the brim, or at least mine was so I got a decent sized sample to work with). It is a good exfoliator.  It isn’t the best I’ve tried, but it isn’t the worst.  It didn’t really blow me away and I probably wouldn’t purchase it.  There are definitely other exfoliators that I like more. The product says you can use this three to five days a week.  Personally, it is the type of exfoliator I wouldn’t use more than twice a week.  I think any more than that could cause you to over exfoliate.  If I tried to use it five days a week, I would have some issues with over worked skin.

Despite having little choice in my selection process, which kind of annoys me (seriously if you are going to offer options make sure everyone gets options), this was a fairly decent box. My expectations started out low, which sort of helped. On a scale of one to ten though I think I would rate it a five. I’m really hoping that once their retro month is over, new products will be options instead of the same samples recurring month after month. I would be a lot happier with this subscription then. As it stands now, I am leaning towards cancelling when my six month commitment expires and looking into other discovery type subscription boxes.

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