Subscription Box Insanity: Birchbox Doubleheader (Sep. & Oct. ’14)

Birchbox monthly

Birchbox monthly

Birchbox is a pretty popular box and since it has such a low price point, I figured it was worth a shot to try it out. I was actually turned on to it because I saw their limited edition Fall Fete box and purchased this monthly box alongside it.

As you’ve probably noticed, I am sort of up to my ears in subscription boxes lately so that was one of the reasons I opted to do a Birchbox doubleheader and review September and October’s boxes at the same time.

The other reason was that for most of these boxes, I’m giving them about three months to demonstrate their value to me. So I figured actually looking at several month’s worth in the same post might help you and I both figure out if it’s a “do” or a “dud”!

THE DETAILS: The normal women’s Birchbox subscription goes for $10 a month and you get mostly mini-samples and deluxe samples of items. The full size versions are available for sale on their site. They also have a men’s version that goes for $20, and while the hubs and I are currently in the market for a box for him, he’s a 3 product kind of guy so I don’t think he’d get much use out of a bunch of minis.

Full-size items that you purchase on Birchbox are returnable within 90 days for free. The subscription boxes are not. Boxes can be shipped throughout the U.S. and its territories, unless it contains hazardous materials (some cosmetic products) in which case there are limitations. Birchbox also has a points system whereby you get points for ordering full-size products, referrals, and for reviewing your Birchbox samples. Points can later be used towards more full-size products.

SEPTEMBER BOX

Another pretty package!

September box

Inspirational note and item list.

Inspirational note and item list.

When I opened up the packaging I found another pretty box awaiting me. Like the Fall Fete box, it was sturdy and I almost felt bad recycling it. Even the messages and item list are nice!

First look

First look

Here’s the first look for September’s box. Looks like all the items are deluxe samples which is a bit of a let down. Still, best to keep an open mind.

Shaving cream

Shaving cream

The first item I gravitated towards was this deluxe sample of Whish’s shaving cream in Acai-Grapefruit. A full size retails for $20 so retail value for this is $3. I actually have been eye-ing this line at Nordstrom for awhile, so I was very excited to see this mini and to test it out. It is very low/no-lather and the scent was great; I may actually purchase more and am starting to feel a bit better about this box.

Bonus item

Bonus item

The next item I pull out is also a full size…dual-ended chapstick? Yes, that’s exactly what it is; one for day and one for night. It’s an interesting concept but as I normally keep a chapstick in a purse, it would require me to remember to take it out and have it by the bed at night in order to fulfill it’s dual purpose. That’s probably going to be a rarity for me with my poor “remembering” skills. This is a bonus item that was sent to customers to test out, it being new to the market. Retail value for this is $2.99.

Highlighter

Highlighter

Ok. This TEMPTU S/B Highlighter in Champagne Shimmer is tiny! And the bottle is very hard plastic so I can’t even imagine how one is actually supposed to get much use of of this product even to test. I’m starting to feel a bit deflated again. A full-size version retails for $27.50 and this is 0.1 fl. oz. so I’m pegging it at about $1.

Vasanti microdermabrasion cream

Vasanti microdermabrasion cream

Here’s a deluxe sample of Vasanti Cosmetics’ BrightenUp! Enzymatic Face Rejuvenator. The item card notes that it mimics the effects of a microdermabrasion. Since it doesn’t have any silicones I’ve opted to keep it as my skin benefits a lot from regular exfoliation. One use resulted in a feeling of warmth and tingling for awhile after I washed it off. So we shall see if I can handle prolonged use. Estimated retail value for this is $5.70.

Mini sleeve

Mini sleeve

The final item I pulled out was this green, cardboard mini-sleeve.

BB cream

BB cream

Caudalie Divine Oil

Caudalie Divine Oil

Upon opening it, I found a sample of this Caudalie Divine Oil and a deluxe sample of the Dr. Jart+ BB Black Label Detox. The Caudalie sample was a small vial that I’m estimating to have a value of about $2. A full-size version goes for $49 which is pricey, but Caudalie also uses a lot of natural ingredients such as grapeseed and sesame oil . The Dr. Jart+ scrub has a retail value of about $2 as well.

That makes the total value for this box $16.69. Considering I paid $10 for this box, that’s not horrible. Also, I got a deluxe sample of an item that I have been wanting to try for awhile, so I feel okay about the intangible value of this box.

OCTOBER BOX

October Box

October Box

This month’s box packaging is very simple and earthy. I don’t mind that, but it is a pretty big change from the box from September which I considered keeping for future use.

First look

First look

Here’s the first look. There are three deluxe samples that I can see right away. I’m guessing there are an additional one or two items in the purple sleeve, per the last box. An interesting packaging twist that I guess both helps take up space in the box and extend the mystery a bit more.

Leave-in Conditioner

Leave-in Conditioner

First up is this leave-in conditioner by Beauty Protector. A full-size retails for $21.95 so I’m estimating this at about a quarter of that, or $5.49. I looked at the ingredient list and it includes silicones, which means I’ll be swapping this since I’m allergic. That’s kind of a bummer because I could really use a good leave-in conditioner!

Pores No More

Pores No More

Next up is this Dr. Brandt. Pores No More Vacuum Cleaner mask. I stumbled upon this product by chance and love it! So super excited to get more, especially because a full size version will run you $45! I’ll probably keep this mini in my travel kit. Retail value for this sample is $11.25.

Wonder Eye Cream

Wonder Eye Cream

I didn’t realize until I was researching this Balance Me Wonder Eye Cream that it was from a British skincare line. A full-size retails for about $32.18, so this deluxe sample has a value of about $15.02. I’m torn because I’ve been in the market for a good eye cream and have been trying out one by Korres with some mixed results. (The eye area is just so delicate…at least mine is!) But I’m not sure I want to wed myself to a product that I can only get on Birchbox or from overseas. Hrmh.

Mini eyeshadow: Ballerina

Mini eyeshadow: Ballerina

This is a palette “sampler” by Coastal Scents, which means that it only includes four of the twenty colors that a full-size palette includes. I have a full-size palette that includes similar colors so this is also going in the swap pile. The full size version is currently retailing for $19.95, so this four-piece one has a value of about $3.99.

Full-size lipstick: Kitten

Full-size lipstick: Kitty

Last but not least is a full-size product! This item is by ModelCo and is their Party Proof Lipstick in Kitty. It is retailing on their site for $16.95.

That makes the total value for this box $52.70. That’s huge! And a huge increase in value from the first box. As well, there were some great deluxe samples, including a brand I already know and love, and one full-size product.

FINAL VERDICT: So with two boxes under my belt, I have mixed feelings about Birchbox. For $10, I feel like the curation and value you get is probably pretty good. I guess mine is a dilemma focused more on the reality that about a year and a half ago, I started taking the aging process much more seriously. This resulted in me spending a lot of time and money to find make-up and skincare products that best suited me. I actually almost wish I had discovered Birchbox two or three years ago so I could have tested a variety of items at once, at the low price point that is Birchbox’s strength. But now that I do have a routine and brand loyalty, I find that I’m a bit at a loss as to what to do with all these minis and samples. I guess we’ll see how month three goes and then I will decide whether this subscription box is for me.

 

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