I'm not much of a makeup wearer, so it may surprise you to hear that I've signed up for a makeup subscription. But I promise you, it makes perfect sense! Little samples are enough for my sporadic and costume needs, and they're consumable so I can have the fun of a surprise subscription box without wondering where I'm going to put everything.
Plus, makeup is a social engineering tool that I haven't perfected, and being a security geek, how could I pass up the excuse to play around?
So... makeup box! I first heard of these through Brightest Bulb In the Box: Beauty for Critical Minds
which is smart and not afraid to apply science to beauty claims. Flipping through some of her posts about what she'd gotten, I decided Birchbox was the one for me: $10/month, points system for discounts if I like anything, and no full-sized samples that I'd never finish. Plus, my sister said she was considering trying one of the other boxes available, so this way we'd be able to trade notes.
I got my first box at the end of September:
My first thought was "Rather pink, isn't it?" They also have a men's box which I presume comes in blue. You can't really tell how big it is because I didn't think to put anything in for context, but this is a pretty small box. Think small enough to fit perfectly and comfortably into a mail slot or thin group mailbox thingamy.
Inside, there's a classy little brown box:
And inside that is the good stuff with some pretty packaging details. Here's what I got in September:
Left to right: a card detailing all the things, a slightly smug and self-congratulatory card congratulating me on my brilliant purchasing choices, vegan shampoo and conditioner, orange nail polish, a face "peel" and lip & nipple balm.
Product #1-2: Beauty Protector: Protect & Shampoo
and Beauty Protector: Protect & Condition
These are nice, vegan shampoos. Being not a serious devotee of all things vegan (I'm more of a sporadic "that's cool" level of caring), I don't know if vegan shampoo and conditioner are usually hard to come by or tend towards being ineffective or weird or smelly or anything. It's possible that these are exceptional for vegan hair products. But I can only compare this to regular shampoo and conditioner, and by that standard all I can say is that they're nice. They smell nice enough, they clean well. But they're not nice enough that I'd want to splurge on them myself as a treat, so at $20/8oz I don't think I'll be buying more. Still, if I'm ever looking for shampoo for a vegan friend, I'll remember this one.
Product #3: RUFFIAN Nail Lacquer: Fox Hunt
I might have been underwhelmed by this colour, which is very orange, if it had arrived at any other time of the year. But just before October is clearly the perfect time to have orange nails, so I got to revel in these quite a bit.
The colour is a fun orange with a hint of pink and sparkle. I dressed mine up with a nail sticker because I had just gotten some and wanted to play. You might be able to tell if you look closely at the photo that it does have a tendency to chip around the edge, but a top coat got that mostly under control, and since I prefer topcoats most of the time, that's not a dealbreaker for me.
What I really love about this is the bottle, though. It is just amazingly pleasant to open with that big round head on it, especially if you're used to skinny, slick, tall bottle handles. I realize those are probably better for applying nail polish if you're used to working with sticks, but I am not a devotee of sticks for all fine control tasks, so I found this bottle's lid surprisingly satisfying. I'd consider buying more nail polish from RUFFIAN, but none of their other colours has grabbed me enough to justify an order by itself. I'm kind of hoping they'll do some little sample-size packs sometime; that would be fun.
Product #4: Juice Beauty: Green Apple Peel Sensitive
Okay, right off the bat, I have to admit I had no idea what a face peel was. It sounded horrible to me, which is probably a sign that I Do Not Care Enough About Beauty Regimens. But I'm ok with that. And I got this box to learn, right?
My first guess was that this this might be one of those peel-off face masks, which are at least amusing in that "peeling glue off your fingers" kind of way. But no, apparently this is magical acid goo that is somehow good for your face. I felt rather like I might need some facepalm photos for this review:
I put it on my face for the first time today. It made it look shiny and smell vaguely like... milk candy? I can't really explain that from the ingredients. It did hurt where it touched a small cut I had on my face, so, uh, don't try this stuff if you've got one.
This stuff has a warning that says it will make you more vulnerable to sunlight (and thus, more of the wrinkles and blemishes it purports to remove. And probably also skin cancer.), so it's just as well I waited 'till the Portland rains had started before I tried it out, and it's just as well I already got that facepalm meme out of the way. Good for me that my entire morning "makeup routine" is "apply moisturizer with sunscreen" (a habit that came out of living in Albuquerque, since high altitude desert makes both sunscreen and moisturizer good habits to get into) since they recommend I do that for a week while my skin recovers from this beauty treatment.
Incidentally, they also recommend doing this once a week. I wonder if that's because applying chemicals that make you more vulnerable to sun more frequently would be problematic in an over-the-counter beauty product? Or because it would hurt? Or because burning your face with acid shouldn't be done too often lest you cause permanent damage? I've certainly only seen the sun vulnerability on prescription medical creams before. I may have to look that up.
Does it do anything for my face besides make it vulnerable to sunlight? I suppose maybe it feels a bit softer, but I could have accomplished that with moisturizer. Maybe I need more time to encourage it to banish my wrinkles. Or maybe I need to care about banishing wrinkles enough to risk sun damage? I guess I can try it a few more times since there's lots left and the Portlandians tell me I shouldn't expect to see the sun for months anyhow, but I'm betting I'm not going to be particularly more impressed. Certainly not enough to spend $40 on a full-sized product. And now I'm creeped out by the knowledge that there may be a whole industry based around women wanting to peel layers off their face with chemicals. Yuck. I guess exfoliating is exfoliating and I shouldn't judge, but I can't help but imagine the cautionary sci-fi short story that could be written starting with this face goo.
Product #5: Dr. Lipp Original Nipple Balm for Lips
This stuff was apparently developed for nursing moms, hence the name. It's thick and I love it, especially in the teensy tiny sample size, which fits perfectly in the little coin pocket of my jeans. (Although I *do* wish there were more in the sample: the tube is mostly air with a small dab of product in it.) It leaves a heavy sticky goo on my lips for ages afterwards, which is pretty effective, but be warned: it's heavier than Vasoline or any lip balm I've ever tried before. Having gotten this while my lips were still recovering from Albuquerque, though, this seemed like a win to me.
I'm not sure if it's really worth it given that Vasoline is nearly as effective and costs practically nothing, but I may buy more in part because the name makes me laugh. I'd consider buying it as a present due to the intersection of effective and hilarious, which probably tells you more about me as a gift-giver than it does about the product. (I am the sort of person who buys Hot Guys and Baby Animals
the book instead of a card, because it was on sale and was funnier than any of the birthday cards I saw in Powell's that day.)
So that's September's box! Two products I loved enough to consider buying more, two that were pleasant to try even if I don't think I'll be splurging on them, and one product which I find to be an entirely questionable part of anyone's beauty routine and got to make fun of on the internet. I'd say I got my $10 worth for September.