terriko: (Default)
I somehow missed reviewing August's box; I blame moving. But September's reviews are due today, so I tried out the last couple of samples!

Birchbox September 2015

The box was designed based on reader suggestions, and the result reminds me sort of an 80's sophisticate look.

Of course, what's more important is what's inside:
Birchbox September 2015

They accidentally included two 20% off coupons. I can't imagine I'll use both, so first person to ask here gets my spare one!

And now, into the products:

Rene Furterer ABSOLUE KÉRATINE Sublime Renewal Leave-in Cream


Birchbox September 2015

Love the packaging (the photo doesn't look as luxe as it does in person), and the stuff does seem to be pretty effective on the dry ends of my long hair. Unfortunately, the scent is (a) strong and (b) not for me. It smells old to me, like something that belongs on someone my grandmother's age, or like old cosmetics? And unfortunately, the smell really lingers in my hair, enough that I think I might have to wash it out if I'm going to a board game night tonight.


L'Artisan Mûre et Musc Eau de Toilette


Birchbox September 2015

I'm super excited to tell you that this didn't cause me to sneeze or make my eyes water! That's so rare in a perfume that it's worth celebrating. Now if only I was as excited about the actual scent. It smells like a more mature scent than many of the samples I get, in a good way, but it still doesn't suit me, and it's not like I wear perfume anyhow out of consideration for other people's reactions.

The one good thing is that I found out that J's mom is interested in having some scent samples for when she's visiting so she doesn't have to bring stuff on the plane, so I'll be able to pass this on to her and maybe it'll be something she enjoys, or at least enjoys trying once?

TOCCA Esfoliante da Corpo - Nourishing Body Scrub


Birchbox September 2015

This is a big thick sugar scrub. It works, smells nice, and dissolves into nothingness when you wet your face to rinse it off, so no remaining grit (which is kind of the appeal of sugar scrubs, I presume). I like it!

Birchbox September 2015: Tocca Sugar Scrub

Also, I'm amused that sugar chunks look so huge on my face after having tried all those micro-scrub things. Still works ok, just not as smooth as the finer grit. Just like sandpaper in that way.

trèStiQue Correct & Cover Concealer Crayon


Birchbox September 2015

This goes on super smooth and seems easy to blend in to your skin... but it also doesn't seem think enough to conceal much. I took some pictures but I can barely tell if it's even on:

Birchbox September 2015

Anastasia Beverly Hills Perfect Brow Pencil


Birchbox September 2015

I know generally speaking that you want a brow pencil to be subtle and not noticeable, but I'm not sure if I can even tell that I tried to use it:

Birchbox September 2015

Maybe I'm doing it wrong or the colour just isn't dark enough for my brows, but I can't say I'm excited about this product. Oh well, at least the packaging was pretty?

In summary...


Birchbox September 2015

A nice sugar scrub, but the rest of this just wasn't for me. Oh well! At least I have someone I can offer my perfume samples to now!
terriko: (Default)
July's birchbox is an eye searing art deco piece:

Birchbox July 2015

I actually love the idea, but I think they could have used better colours. (It actually looks better in the edited photo than it does in real life)

Birchbox July 2015

But enough about the box, let's talk about what's inside...

Birchbox July 2015

amika Un.Done Texture Spray

I didn't love the smell of the last amika product I got, so I wasn't too excited to receive this one. Even more so when I found out it was a "texture spray" which is completely not a thing I use or even want, since I associate "texture" with the way my hair felt when I used to wash it in hard water. Thicker and heavier are not things I want with hair whose predominant styling influence is gravity.

So perhaps I didn't give this product much of a chance. I used it lightly because it stinks and I don't love this type of product, and perhaps as a result not only does it smell but it also didn't seem to have any effect at all. (But again, the pull of gravity on my hair is rather hard to resist.)

Regardless, not a product I'm going to ever use again. I'm never sure what to do with these, so it'll likely languish in my guest bathroom. Maybe I'll get a nice bin with a note saying "free" on it to put in the bathroom and hope that visitors will take it off my hands?

Birchbox July 2015


COOLA® Classic SPF 30 Cucumber Moisturizer for Face

I do think it's a bit crappy of Birchbox to put this sample in after we just had a coola moisturizer last month, but I suppose summer is only so long. It's a product I liked enough that I wasn't too sad, anyhow. Just like last month's mango-scented offering, this manages to be light enough on the scent that it's a nice alternative to generic sunscreen. This scent is probably even easier on the nose than the mango, which I guess might make sense as it's a facial moisturizer. Given the choice, I'd probably go with the mango one, but I really like mango.

Birchbox July 2015

dr. brandt® microdermabrasion skin exfoliant

This is a fine-grained skin exfoliant that seems to work really well on my skin. I've now had a few chemical exfoliants that felt more like snake oil than effective products, but this one left my face very much scrubbed clean. It's of the variety that feels like super fine sand in moisturizer, which I guess seem to be the physical ones that work best on me. It has a very light fresh scent, maybe a little citrus-y or mint-y?

I even tried it on my lips, which were pretty chapped from being in Las Vegas (neither deserts nor air conditioning are easy on skin) and it seemed to help without actually pulling chunks of skin off. (I imagine lip balms are a better solution, but it's been days since we left and I'm tired of them being chapped so I thought I'd try a quicker method.)

I like this enough that I'd probably consider buying some when my supplies run out, but I use so little exfoliant per use, and exfoliate so irregularly now that I don't live in the desert that I anticipate that all my exfoliant needs will likely be met by birchbox samples. Probably just as well, since at nearly $80/2oz, this is a pricey one.

Birchbox July 2015

Juice Beauty® STEM CELLULAR™ CC Cream

As far as cc creams go, this is a reasonably nice once, and I am pleased that "desert glow" the colour I recieved, seems to match up well enough with my skin tone. It uses zinc oxide, so it's more of a physical sunscreen, and it leaves a little bit of a sparkle.

Unfortunately, the big down side is that I don't love the smell, which smells like like old sunscreen mixed with maybe a hint of spilled juice. Disappointing given the company name.

Happy to use it and it seems like an effective product, but the smell is off-putting enough that I'll stick to other products in the class of cc/bb/moisturizer/sunscreen.

Birchbox July 2015

stila look at me liquid lipstick trio

I chose the colour "Venezia" which is a coral colour, because I already owned "Beso" (the red) and have a decent number of lip sticks in pink.

Unfortunately, I think I chose poorly. I like my red version of this product, but the coral colour doesn't suit me, and with it being such a bold product, it's kind of awful. I have pictures somewhere, but again, I don't know where my little camera is at the moment. They're awful, anyhow.

As far as the formula goes... "stay all day" is definitely an exaggeration, since it doens't make it through a meal with me, but very few lipsticks do so I don't think it's fair to expect that of it. I'm starting to suspect that there's some art to eating in some ladylike manner that I've never learned, since only lip stains tend to make it through a meal with me. It doesn't tend to smudge on my face, though, so it stays at least in one very important respect.

It is completely unforgiving on chapped lips, highlighting any line of dry skin. They recommend you plump up with a lip balm first, which does help some, but still not a great option if you're in need of some lip repair. There's a reason I keep sticky lip balms around: they're forgiving.

I'm very sad I didn't choose the pink, as I love the little tube and get a kick out of the opaque effect, but I'm probably going to have to do some experimentation to modify this colour if I'm going to wear it. Thankfully I don't mind experimenting with lip products so this could be fun, or perhaps I'll give up and offer it up to someone with a different complexion. Or maybe I'll use it as a cheek tint?


Summary



Nothing too stand-out in this box. Liked the exfoliant and the sunscreen, turned off by the scent of the cc creme and the hair texturizer (although the latter was probably doomed to fail), and totally got the wrong colour of lipstick. Alas!
terriko: (Default)
Summer being what it is, only more so because of the move, I haven't really kept up on reviewing stuff here, so my apologies that there's going to be a bit of a review dump this evening as I see what photos I took and what hasn't gone up yet.

So, June's birchbox had a few possible options, and I got the "say yes" version:

Birchbox June 2015

I admit to disappointment with the box part of things: "say yes" is not a motto that I appreciate in the context of the overwhelming number of things I'm asked to volunteer for. Don't even get me start on the feminist critiques of this push to have women say yes to more things. Frankly, it's gotten to be one of those vapid pieces of advice that I could do without. I thought both other boxes were better, since they were on more of an adventure theme.

Crankiness about the box it came in aside, though, I was pretty pleased with the samples.

Birchbox June 2015

COOLA® SPF 50 Sport - Mango

When I heard about this product, I thought "like the world needed more obnoxious scented products you're supposed to slather on." Do you know how much sunscreen you're supposed to wear for maximal effectiveness? Adding scent to that is a landmine.

But this product won me over. The scent is light, on par intensity-wise with the usual smells that exude from my sunscreen, but way more pleasant because it's reminiscent of a delicious fruity drink rather than something I associate with sweat in my eyes and sunstroke. But beyond that, it's just a really nice sunscreen. Not too greasy, seems to work. I'd still prefer unscented when possible, but this is a nice way to change things up and make sunscreen feel like a treat rather than a chore. That actually might be enough reason to add some to my collection of go-to products.

Birchbox June 2015

Temple Spa Good Hair Day Shampoo and Temple Spa In Good Condition Conditioner

The shampoo of this set is so-so for me: it's too gentle for my hair (as in, it leaves it more oily than I prefer), and there's something about the scent that I didn't fall in love with. They claim it smells like ylang ylang, eucalyptus and patchouli. I think maybe it's the patchouli that isn't for me, but I don't know ylang ylang that well.

The conditioner, on the other hand, I absolutely love. It's much more effective for my hair than its counterpart, and the smell of peppermint, rosemary, orange and lavender smells refreshing and awesome to me.

I'm not much for buying higher end shampoos since it gets pricey with my long hair and frankly, easier to get supermarket brands like Herbal Essences or Garnier generally do me fine in both the smell and effectiveness categories.

But a bottle of conditioner lasts me a *long* time and this smell is enough of a treat that I might consider picking some up. Of course, that would mean I'd have to actually use up the many products I found languishing in corners during the move...

Birchbox June 2015

L. Erickson Narrow Grab and Go Pony

I had a good laugh when I read the accompanying card that said this would be a "bold pop of colour" -- that hair tie is pretty much exactly the colour of my hair. I guess maybe some of the colour options had more, uh, colour.

Generally speaking, I don't see the point of overpriced hair ties. I lose a lot of them, and paying more than a few cents each would just make me more sad about losing them. That said, this is a really nice hair tie. The bead doesn't catch on things, it's wide enough to wear around my wrist comfortably, and the texturing seems to help it stay in my hair without being so tight that I sigh with relief when the thing is taken out. This became my go-to hair tie as our weather turned hot, although I'm not sure where it's gotten since the move and I am, of course, actually sad about that.

Is it wrong that I kind of want more of them? They're more than a buck each even in the larger pack, but I still might spend some birchbox points on them anyhow.

Birchbox June 2015

Skyn Iceland Hydro Cool Firming Eye Gels

Somewhere I have pictures of myself wearing these, but I'm not sure where my other camera has gotten to right now so you'll have to do without. They look silly as these things generally do, but they're very nice and cool and relaxing. One set is not enough for me to decide if they're actually effective, but they were pleasant and I enjoyed using them!

Birchbox June 2015

Marcelle Mini Waterproof Eyeliner

Again, I may have pictures of me wearing this, but they must be on the other camera. Sorry!

This is my first real foray into wearing coloured eyeliner and I'm sold on the concept. As someone with fairly deepset eyes (the Japanese heritage helped with those), I find that getting eyeshadow to stay put is a pain and no one can see it at all when my eyes are open. I have some nice primer so I can play with looks when I've got time (which, honestly, is usually Saturday morning before I go to the library or Sunday before I go to the farmer's market. I live a glamorous life, let me tell you), but it's not a thing I wear daily because it's very low reward for high investment.

This blue eyeliner is rather the opposite: a few strokes of this creamy pencil along my lash line and I've got brilliant colour that people can actually see even when my eyes are open. It's fun, easy, and creates a look I was happy to wear at DEFCON or even in my office, where most technical women are pretty light on the makeup and it's only the marketing and manager types who wear much. (Dress like the career you want, and all, but I tell people makeup is part of my social engineering skills and I love hilarious face colours more than I love conformity anyhow.)

The colours are great, the effect striking but not off-putting, and my only complaint is that under some circumstances, the formula doesn't entirely stay put, so I do have to be careful about checking my eyes for little blue smears. I want to buy the little set from Marcelle that birchbox has available, and since they've got a nice offer with the Marcelle eye-makeup remover in August's box I may just go for it. But I do feel like maybe I should try offerings from other companies with different formulae too.

Conclusions



I guess you can't judge a box by its cover: despite my distaste for the packaging, this box had a lot of really great samples in it. I loved the eyeliner, the sunscreen, the hair tie and the conditioner enough to consider buying more, thoroughly enjoyed the eye mask even though I probably won't get any more of them, and only the shampoo really wasn't a product for me. Pretty good!
terriko: (Default)
The box design May's Birchbox is definitely one of the classier ones:

Birchbox May 2015

And the products inside mine were similarly svelte-looking in design:

Birchbox May 2015

Juliette Has a Gun Not a Perfume - 50 ml



Birchbox May 2015

I was intrigued by the idea of a "not a perfume" but alas, this is still too strong a scent for it to be pleasant. Apparently when they claimed it was "minimalist" they were referring to the complexity of scent, not the intensity of it. They claim it "has a single note: elegant, spicy Cetalox."

Birchbox May 2015

They aso claim that it's allergen-free, which I find interesting and also unbelievable. It doens't seem to trigger my sniffles, so that's something, but it still smells like impending headache.

Birchbox May 2015

I like the packaging, but that's about where it ends. This doesn't smell interesting or spicy to me, it smells like generic perfume and triggers my usual reaction of "you should get away from this as fast as possible before it triggers a headache."

Birchbox May 2015

I really wish birchbox would let you opt out of scents entirely, as they are not useful to me: I can't wear them to work because there are quite reasonable no-scent policies in my office building, I won't wear them around other people because I know what it's like to be allergic to someone else's perfume, and I won't wear them myself for fear of triggering headaches. So, uh, I have a small collection of these samples wrapped in plastic bags and lying around now. I can't use them. Anyone want me to mail them some?

Naobay Oxygenating Cream Moisturizer



Birchbox May 2015

This is a pleasant enough thinner moisturizer that leaves a slight residue on your skin, just enough that you can tell it was applied but not enough to feel seriously greasy. It's got a light but definitely noticeable smell, predominantly of roses.

I did try it as a makeup base, as they recommend, but didn't notice anything particularly special about it compared to other moisturizers, so I don't think I'll try it again because I prefer unscented lotion especially on my face.

Overall, it's nice and I'm happy to have the sample, since it's probably inoffensive enough to wear at work, and it's got nice clean gender-neutral black-and-white packaging. But I'm not in love with it enough to purchase this one for myself.

W3LL PEOPLE The Expressionist Mascara



Birchbox May 2015

This is a fairly light mascara. It's not hugely lengthening or thickening, so it's probably great for natural-but-enhanced looks. It's definitely the type of mascara I prefer. It even comes with my current favourite type of mascara brush, the ones that look like little spiky maces.

Birchbox May 2015 (well people mascara)

(I'm a mascara noob and find the rigid bristles easier to control so I don't leave dots on my skin and also easier to not deposit too much crud on my lashes.)

But even though it seems to have everything going for it, honestly, it might be a bit too minimalist for my tastes. Here's some before and after shots:

No mascara:
Birchbox May 2015 (no mascara)
Mascara:
Birchbox May 2015 (well people mascara)

Or again with eyes open.
No mascara:
Birchbox May 2015 (no mascara)
Mascara:
Birchbox May 2015 (well people mascara)

It's not invisible, but on my already dark and fairly long lashes, it's not exactly a big difference.

Because I wore it on some pretty hot days where I got salt in my eyes, I've rubbed it a fair bit and I can tell you that it's not completely smudge-free, but it's not going to leave you with giant marks either.

Overall: it's nice enough to use and enjoy as an option, and I'm happy to have a new mascara since they have relatively short shelf lives due to bacteria growth, but it's not standout enough to buy more.

Beauty Protector Beauty Cream Body Lotion



Birchbox May 2015

This is a thicker "body creme" moisturizer lotion that blends in pretty well leaving skin feeling kind of slick but not heavily greasy. It smells exactly like the other beauty protector products, a scent I like ok, but I think the scent in this lotion is a bit too strong to be really pleasant unless you're only applying in a very small area. So, uh, maybe if you wanted smelly elbows or heels or something? I don't think I'll be buying this one.

Macadamia Professional™ Nourishing Moisture Oil Treatment



Birchbox May 2015

This is a fairly thick scented hair oil. It worked quite nicely when I rubbed a few drops into the tips of my hair, smoothing down the rough ends and leaving it looking great. I actually quite liked the product and would probably use it for when my ends need help, except that my boyfriend is deathly allergic to nuts and rubbing nut oil into my hair seems like a rather rude and dangerous thing to do on a regular basis. (As was, I applied it before I went to work, warned him, and washed my hair when I came home that day.)

I guess I could use it when I'm traveling without him, maybe? But I should probably just pass this sample on to someone who can use it without risk.

Conclusion



I was happy to try everything in this box except the perfume, but the only product I thought was really standout could kill my boyfriend. (That's not why I liked it, promise.)

So... obviously not a winner of a box, but I feel like I got to try some nice products even if they weren't for me, and the trying part is why I have the box, so I'm not disappointed by what my $10 got me.
terriko: (Default)
Can you tell I was playing with some shaped bokeh in these shots? Sorry they're not great product photography, but look at those hearts! ;)

Birchbox April 2015

Short reviews because I'm kind of behind and haven't even photographed my May products yet...

Birchbox April 2015

Beaver professional shampoo and conditioner



Totally acceptable shampoo and conditioner as far as these things go, not too much scent and the smell was inoffensive. What was offensive is this whole "amino acids will fix your hair when applied topically" nonsense on the label. Also, it's made in China, which isn't bad in and of itself, but that seems a long way to import shampoo when it's not really anything spectacular. Overall, I'll use it, but I wouldn't buy it.

Birchbox April 2015

Hello Body Butter



I liked the body scrub with this scent, so I was kind of pleased to get this, although to me it doesn't actually smell quite the same. Still, it's a reasonable enough creme, a bit heavily scented by nicely effective without being super greasy. I have it on my desk at work, although I do worry that it's too strongly scented. (I needed something less greasy, and birchbox isn't so great at low-scent moisturizers as scent is one of few defining features for the genre.)

Birchbox April 2015

POP beauty eyeshadow trio



This is the sample I got to choose, and I'm glad I did!

This is a lovely set of eyeshadows. My sample was all neutrals, which I found a bit amusing given how loud the birchbox box itself was in comparison:

Birchbox April 2015

They go on fairly lightly unless you've got a base coat for it to stick to, but I don't think that's entirely a bad thing if you want to build up a more subtle look. Swatches below without any base coat: you can barely see anything but a sparkle, which is a fun look on eyes, I think.

Birchbox April 2015

Anyhow, they're not heavily pigmented, and I found them really nice to work with, and they worked very well with the eye primer I have. As my birchbox points build up, I'll probably be buying the full-sized one to try some of their other colours, even though I seldom wear eye sparkle. Maybe having more colours will tempt me?


Birchbox April 2015

Cynthia Rowley lip stain



I was pleasantly surprised by the formula here: a lot of lip stains seem to me to be a bit drying, but this was pleasantly moisturizing. Unfortunately, the colour of my sample was too close to my existing lip colour to be very interesting...

Birchbox April 2015

Can you even tell I'm wearing lip shade? I can't.

I'd consider trying another shade someday. Maybe several if they release a set of minis, as this is a great pocket size! Actually, to be honest, I'd buy a lot more lip products if they came in this kind of size instead of giant pen-sized. The small samples get used way more often than the big ones in my life!

Birchbox April 2015

Overall:
The eyeshadow kind of made this box, for me! But the other products are all things I will use (perhaps more than the eyeshadow, even) and good examples of their respective genres. Nice samples this month, Birchbox!

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