Wednesday, January 18, 2012

January Birchbox: Instant Reviews

Birchbox is a tiny bundle of monthly love made with beauty junkies in mind. For $10 a month you receive a package filled with 4-5 samples, many of which are deluxe size, with the occasional full-size product thrown in. Deluxe size samples are plenty big enough get a good feel for the instant effects, but maybe not quite enough to judge long-term results. Instant reviews are just that- my instant impressions on the products. These installments will be based on my initial testing, swatching and, of course (you know me) a peek at the ingredients.

Archipelago Pomegranate Body Soap
Sample Size: 1.8oz
Retail Size: 6.8oz for $12.50
Sample Value: $3.31

It's a little bar of soap, what can I say? I like the crisp, slightly citrusy, pomegranate scent, and the pretty etching on the soap itself. I also think the concave shape on the other side is rather ingenious as it keeps the bar from sitting in a puddle of water, but I have no idea if this shape is featured in the full-size or not.

The lather was nice and rich, though the scent didn't seem to carry into the bubbles. It rinsed away without leaving a film behind, but did leave my skin dry and noticeably rough across the knuckles. As far as the claims that this is better than drug-store bars, or that the botanicals in the soap can provide an anti-oxidant boost, I'm skeptical. I've never found a bar soap that wasn't drying, and though things like white tea, cranberry and pomegranate do have antioxidant properties, I suspect they'd do very little in the short amount of time it takes to wash your hands (or body).

Juicy Couture Eau de Parfum Spray
Sample Size: .05oz
Retail Size: 3.4oz for $89
Sample Value: $1.31

First, I have to say, I think Birchbox needs to lay-off the fragrance samples. Sure, trying new scents is great, but I can walk into any department store or Sephora and get these for free- it seems kind of shady to even say they have monetary value!

I'd call this a fruity floral, leaning heavily toward the floral side. The rose, lily and tuberose undertones all but dominate the fruity top notes of watermelon, mandarin and passion fruit. Even with a trained nose, I can barely pull out the green apple accord that's supposed to lighten up the scent, which just stops short of being cloying. Not a bad scent, especially if your style is "sweetly romantic" but it seems a bit...familiar- especially for such a high price tag!

LĂ„RABAR Mini Bar in Carrot Cake
Sample Size: .78 oz (1 mini bar)
Retail Size: $14.95 for 12 (Carrot Cake not available in mini)
Sample Value: $1.25

In short: $1.25 for a two-bite, 100 calorie nugget? No thanks. It didn't even taste all that good- definitely an "energy bar" flavor & texture. Having said that, I do like the little nommy treats that Birchbox includes from time to time, so even though this wouldn't be a "repurchase" for me, it still gets a thumbs-up!

Origins Checks And Balances Frothy Face Wash
Sample Size: 1oz
Retail Size: 5oz for $19.50
Sample Value: $3.90

Smells like Origins! Which is to say, lightly pepperminty with an ever-so-subtle herbal undertone. I love the scent, but knowing that mint extracts are skin irritants gives me pause- a peek at the ingredient list shows more worrisome ingredients (bergamot, lavender, and linalool). According to Origins, these additives "add pleasure to the process" but irritation isn't exactly my idea of pleasing.

Upon using it, I found the foamy cream very concentrated- a pea sized dollop will do your entire face. It rinses away well, with maybe a tiny bit of a filmy feel. Despite Origins' claims, I did feel some tightness after toweling off, but I have dry skin so that's normal for me with any sudsing or foaming cleanser. Origins says this is for all skin-types, though I think oily and normal skin-types would find it most comfortable. Having said that, the potential irritants in the formula would probably keep me from recommending it to anyone.

Stila Smudge Stick Waterproof Eye Liner in Lionfish
Sample Size: Full Size (.01oz/28g)
Sample Value: $20

This liner is right down my alley- as the name suggests, it's smudgeable, which is a must for me with any pencil liner. My preferred method for applying pencil is to line the outer 1/2 of my upper lid, then use a smudger brush to soften the line & pull color closer to the inside corner. Ideally, I can then use the "leftover" pigment on the brush to smudge a soft line under my bottom lashes. The problem I run into is often liners that are soft enough to smudge either wipe right away or never set. Smudge Stick blends well as long as you work relatively quickly. The liner does set pretty quickly, so I'd suggest doing one eye at a time if smudging is your preference.

Lionfish is a chocolatety-bronze shade with shimmer, and while browns aren't my choice for every-day use (I prefer a reddish-plum to highlight my green eyes) I'm sure I'll get plenty of use out of this.


Though there was nothing in my box this month that I was unconditionally in love with, I still consider this box a win. The samples were items I was happy to try, all good sizes, and of course the inclusion of a full-sized product goes a long way to sway my favor. As I mentioned, I also like it when I get an "eat me now" treat in my box- even if I do have to share it with a curious little 4-year-old!

How about you guys? Are any of this month's samples on your favorites lists?


fashionchicsta said...

I got the soap too. Oh yeah and in April '11 too! lolzz

lalaG said...

you got a great box!
that bar. ew. i hated mine. that was the second time i got one in a box of some sort and it was so ew.

Staci said...

I had the same box. And I agree about the perfume samples!!! I liked the origins cleansers, but I can see how those ingredients could irritate the skin for some.

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