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October's Birchbox was pink in recognition of breast cancer.

Birchbox October 2015

I've become suspicious of pink things in recognition of breast cancer, since it's come out that often very little or no money goes to cancer research. Thankfully, this "awareness" does indeed come with a more tangible donation: $104k to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF) which will apparently fund a year's work in a lab. I presume that's for a single person and materials, not the whole lab, given what I know of the costs of breast cancer research from a friend who used to work in the field.

So maybe not earth-shattering, but at least it's tangible!

Birchbox October 2015

Let's talk about what's inside:

Birchbox October 2015

CLEAN White Woods



This perfume didn't trigger a migraine and smells vaguely like babies and not at all like woods. I actually like it despite myself, although it's not something I plan to buy as I cannot wear perfume at work or in much of my private life.

It still irks me that even when I tell birchbox I don't do perfume, the option is "no more than 6 times a year" which means half of my boxes contain perfume. But at least I can pass it on to someone who might like it.

Birchbox October 2015

Lollia by Margot Elena Shea Butter Handcreme



I love shea butter, and this is no exception -- it leaves my hands feeling super soft for ages. The name is "sugarared pastille" (a candy or throat lozenge) but I think it smells more like generic hand lotion to me. The scent isn't too heavy or noticeable, anyhow.

Birchbox October 2015

I do particularly like the retro packaging and little metal tube with the bees in the design. It's a little thing, but in the sea of hand cremes I've tried since I started birchbox, it's hard to stand out, and I think this one will just because it's got this classic pretty vibe going.

Of course, it also stands out in that it's got macadamia nut in it, which means it's an allergen for my boyfriend. It won't kill him if I use it, but he definitely shouldn't use it himself, and I can't really buy more once this sample runs out. Good thing Birchbox has basically removed any need for me to buy hand creme again anyhow. ;)

Birchbox October 2015

Acure Organics Cell Stimulating Facial Mask



Directions: Apply evenly over the face until you look like a green sea-monster.


Now these are the kind of directions I want to see on products I sample! ;) This comes out dark green, and you smell like a sea monster (with a hint of mint) as you put it on. I know you all want to know exactly what it looks like, so here's what I look like with half a tube of the sample on my face:

Birchbox October 2015

Sea monster indeed! Might also double for zombie makeup. Made me want to put on an episode of Arrow while I matched the green theme of the superhero.

It doesn't harden too much as it dries so I wasn't itching (literally or figuratively) to get it off. I was surprised to discover that when you attack it with a warm wet washcloth, it actually foams up. It doesn't *look* like it has permanently stained my washcloth either, although I suspect I should dump it in with tonight's laundry to be sure.

It left my face feeling clean and soft but perhaps a bit dry, so I followed up with a bit of moisturizer. I found it amusing and pleasant even with the seaweed-mint smell.

Incidentally, I think the whole stem cell and growth factor stuff is probably crap pseudoscience, because most things about makeup seem to be, but I haven't bothered to look up the details yet. If anyone knows, comments welcomed!

Birchbox October 2015

Number 4™ Texture Styling Crème



Why does this have a bunny on it? Is it cruelty-free, or specifically tested on bunnies? Do bunnies have styling cream secrets I need to know about? I do wish they'd said something about it on the sample.

I'm not a big user of styling creme on account of my default hair style being basically "long flowing hippie folk singer-songwriter" but I *had* wanted to try a waterfall braid and failed because after messing up a few times my hair had become so static-y that I couldn't get it to stay sectioned. So this arrived at the right time! I don't love the smell and it basically makes my hair feel a teensy bit slimy, but it *does* make styling easier, and I finally managed the motions to make the waterfall braid work.

I wish this product came in an unscented version, but it does do what it purports to do, and I'll probably make use of it again as I learn to perfect the waterfall braid!

Birchbox October 2015

Eyeko Black Magic Mascara



I was kind of disappointed to receive this, because it wasn't the sample that I'd chosen for this month's box! Thankfully, Birchbox customer support was apologetic and supposedly the correct sample is in the mail (I'll probably review it with some future box).

That said, this is a very nice mascara. Significant length, not too clumpy or thickening. It makes my eyelashes absurdly long without making them thicker or particularly heavier. Here's a photo (sorry about the weird angle, but it was the best way to show the lashes):

Birchbox October 2015

You can compare with the sea monster pic above if you're not sure what my lashes look like normally. But yeah, it works nicely, and I'm not sad to have gotten it after all!

Birchbox October 2015

Summary



This was one of the most consistently good boxes I've had in a while! I liked all the products. (Shockingly, even the perfume) My birchbox subscription keeps me stocked in all these product categories so I don't think I'll buy more when these samples run out, but I'll use all of these myself except for the perfume, and at least I know someone who will likely enjoy the perfume sample!
terriko: (Default)
The Birchbox for August started with disappointment:

Birchbox August 2015

One of the samples, the Laqa lip pencil, had come uncapped and gotten all over the box. Yuck. Apparently I was so underwhelmed with this that I didn't take pictures of the outside of the box after it arrived, which is a shame 'cause it's actually one of the nicer ones, so I took a couple today:
Birchbox August 2015

I like the "dive in!" detail on the side:
Birchbox August 2015

Anyhow, on to the products. My apologies for the sort of mediocre photo quality; these were taken shortly after the move and the experiment I tried with the light and sparkly backdrop since I didn't have my usual setups available really didn't work out.

Air Repair Complexion Boosting Moisturizer


Birchbox August 2015

This is a nice moisturizer that smells kind of fresh and herbal. I don't think it does anything for my complexion that isn't done by other moisturizers, but it's pleasant. I've stuck it into my travel kit to be used on the road.

Balance Me Congested Skin Serum


Birchbox August 2015

Another plant-y moisturizer thing. Maybe the theme for August was recovering from too much sun? This one's stronger scented, I think the eucalyptus dominates but there's a lot of scents in there. I enjoy using it because it's kind of soothing so it's still out on my counter, but it didn't seem to actually help with the bit of acne I had on my chin.

R+Co DEATH VALLEY Dry Shampoo


Birchbox August 2015

Like most dry shampoos, I found this one didn't do enough to make my hair feel clean, so instead I felt like I had 80's hair, a bit too covered in product for my tastes. It does change the texture of the hair, so I can see how it would be used in styling. Overall, it's pretty nice for a dry shampoo, with a decent scent and nicer packaging, and I'm glad to have tried it, but I probably won't buy more.

Supergoop!® Forever Young Hand Cream with Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 40


Birchbox August 2015

Three moisturizer-things in a single box, Birchbox? You should be ashamed. This one smells the prettiest, sort of like berries, and it's probably the most useful with the SPF taken into account. Pity the sample is so tiny that you can barely use it for anything.

LAQA & Co. Charm School Kit


Birchbox August 2015

This was just fail: it gooped all over my box, the colour looks atrocious on me, and the formula somehow highlights every line on my lips to give kind of a horrible dehydrated zombie effect. I can't see using this except for a zombie costume on my lips. It might get some use as a cheek colour, but I certainly won't be buying more of this.


In summary...


Birchbox August 2015

This was a pleasant but uninteresting box other than the lip colour disaster. I did enjoy all the moisturizer-y things, but I would have liked a box with some more variety!
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!

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