It’s time for the monthly beauty box subscription review! This month I tried Birchbox, which is one of the original monthly beauty boxes, and has remained one of the more popular subscriptions. At $10 a month (or less if you subscribe for the year), it’s a really affordable way to sample new products.
From what I can tell, they usually offer an additional gift as part of a signing bonus, plus they have a really good loyalty program: you earn one point for every dollar you spend, and 10 points equals $1 credit, which is 10% cash back, basically. A great deal!
I think it's best if I break down my overall impression of Birchbox into pros and cons.
- Great value for the price. I got five premium-sized samples which I will get a good amount of use from.
- They seemed to listen to my style profile, and sent me items that matched my personal preferences and concerns. Dry skin, damaged hair, and natural beauty were all taken care of in this box.
- Loved my bonus gift, a Smashbox eyeshadow duo. I'll go over that below.
- At first I thought that the packaging was minimal because the shipping box was so small. But then I opened it and found another box, so I feel like that was a bit wasteful. However, there are lots of cute upcycle ideas on Pinterest, so it might not be that bad.
- I would have liked to see some more recognizable brands. My bonus Smashbox eyeshadow was the most recognizable brand in the whole box, and it wasn't even part of my actual Birchbox. While I can appreciate new brands, I would like to see a better mix of well-known and new.
- The variety of types of product was a bit limited. I got two hair products (one styling and one hair care), two makeup products (three if you count my bonus), and one skincare product. It would have been nice to see a fragrance or nail polish. And the skincare product I wasn't impressed with (which I'll explain below).
On to the product reviews!
NOTE: Both the product headlines and images are clickable links so you can purchase them through Birchbox, should you so desire.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means, at no extra cost to you, I receive a small commission when you click on certain links below, or if you make purchases as a result of visiting the retailers directly from my website. Please note, I only recommend products that I truly love and think that my readers will also love.
This was probably my favorite item in my whole box, and it was the bonus item, haha. However, I am an eyeshadow junkie, so I might be a bit biased. Here's my notes on this one:
- GORGEOUS color. Soft gold-toned pink and a medium warm brown (Turned On and Psyched). I've actually been wanting to grab a pink eyeshadow like this, so it was great timing for me!
- The texture was so silky-soft and loaded onto my brush easily. It also applied really well with a fingertip, which I do often, because I'm super lazy.
- Color payoff was excellent. I might like a little more foil/metallic finish, but this is just my individual preference. It was also very blendable.
- Compact came with a mirror, which you don't see very often on a sample eyeshadow.
- I'm definitely curious to try the full palette (with six additional shades), which you can grab here.
I hadn't heard of this brand before, so I wasn't sure what to expect at first, but I was pleasantly surprised! I usually shower at night and use an Argan oil treatment, then let my hair dry overnight. I used this leave-in conditioner in place of my Argan oil, and here's what I found:
- It's got a really nice vanilla-sugar scent.
- It detangled my hair very easily.
- In the morning, my hair was super silky soft, and I didn't have any frizz, even though I air-dried.
- My hairstyle was actually better than it normally is when air-drying overnight. I woke up with perfect beachy waves. I'll definitely put this one on my must-have haircare list.
- I haven't yet tried it before blow-drying, but I'll be sure to update this post once I do!
- I looked at reviews from other Birchbox subscribers on their website, and this brand has a lot of really good feedback, not just on this detangler, but on their other products as well.
This one, I'm not going to lie, was kind of B.S., and I was pretty disappointed after reading reviews and actually looking at the ingredient list. It is called "Miracle Balm," but it is literally just lanolin.
If you're not a mama, or you haven't breastfed, lanolin is wool wax from sheep, which is what we use to treat sore/cracked nipples from breastfeeding (you can also use it as a general intensive moisturizer for other areas). That said, lanolin really is kind of a "miracle balm," but to give it a fancy name and charge twice the usual amount for it is just plain shitty, IMO.
Guys, this stuff is $16.50 for just 15ml. That's ridiculous. I've included the link above in case you're curious, but I would really recommend grabbing the Medela or Lanisoh brands (which you can find at Target, or almost any other drug store, grocery store, or baby retailer) if you really want to get some lanolin.
Here's what I like to use lanolin for:
- Chapped Lips
- Dry Cuticles
- Sore Boobies when Breastfeeding
Unfortunately, I was also a little disappointed with this one. I used this the day after I used the Beauty Protector leave-in conditioner, and it actually made my strands feel more dry, and kind of messed up my perfect beachy waves (sad face). Here are my notes:
- The texture that it gave me wasn't that great. It made my hair feel drier than my usual spray (John Frieda Beach Blonde Sea Waves). It was also almost sticky, compared to other texturizers that I've used.
- Wasn’t a fan of the scent. It wasn't awful, it just smelled like soap and hairspray put together, which left me feeling kind of... meh.
- The packaging turned me off. This might seem kind of silly, but I fully believe in the power of product packaging, and this bland bottle just did not do it for me. It felt really cheap, so I wasn't impressed.
I really liked this one. It has a pale, opalescent pink tint, which is supposed to help you look more awake (which, let's be real, we all need that). I tried it just on my waterline, as well as on the inner corners of my eyes, and on my brow bone, which are the three different ways that Birchbox suggests to use it. Here's what I found:
- My eyes looked brighter, and less tired after applying - yay, it does what it's supposed to!
- I found that the inner corners provided a more subtle effect than the waterline application, which I preferred.
- It does seem to be pretty budge-proof, although the waterline application was a little more susceptible to wearing off. I first tried a swatch on the back of my hand, and noticed that it immediately stuck in place, so I was really impressed with that.
- Despite being waterproof, it glides on very easily and blends well. I love this formula.
- A little goes a long way, so I can see getting a lot of use out of this liner for the price.
- They also offer a dual-ended stick with this color and a basic black, which I am really curious to try, since this product applied and lasted so well. You can find the dual-ended version here.
Birchbox sent me this lipgloss in the Coffee Glaze shade, which is unfortunately sold out as of right now. The good news is, they have three other really nice shades to choose from.
As I've mentioned in previous posts, I'm not really a lipgloss kind of gal, just because it's not really practical for me. But these beauty box companies keep sending them to me, so I'll keep trying them!
That being said, I actually really liked this gloss. I used it both on its own, and layered over a matte red lipstick, and it was phe-no-me-nal. I'll definitely be getting some use out of this one. Here's my notes:
- The texture was great - not sticky at all. It applied very easily, as well.
- The color is gorgeous either on its own, or layered over another color. By itself, it would be great if you're going for a really beachy, sun-kissed look - perfect for summer!
- Has a nice vanilla scent.
- My only complaint is that it didn't last too long, but it is a gloss, so I don't think that's totally unreasonable, especially for the non-sticky formula.
That's it for my Birchbox review! Overall, I was a bit neutral on this box, but it wasn't bad. I had some really great products, as well as some pretty lame products in this box. However, they have a really great rewards program, which is a big benefit.
Apparently I have the option to choose some (or all) of my products for my next box, so I am going to give it another go in June, and we'll see how that comes out! Then we'll move on to another service, yay!
What are your thoughts on this one? Do you think Birchbox did a great job? And which products are you itching to try? Let me know in the comments, and be sure to share this post on Pinterest!