It’s the end of the year and the final beauty subscriptions of 2016 have rolled in! December can be a hit or miss month for beauty subscriptions. I think this happens because they’ve had a year to set the bar, and November tends to be a stellar month for most subscription services. Last year’s offerings weren’t my favorite, but this year I’ve noticed a huge over all improvement in what’s being sent.
First, the $10 subscriptions.
Birchbox has finished off a rough year with a decent box. Is it anything stellar? No, but there are some good samples in here. I opted for the pre curated box, since I wasn’t ecstatic about any of the individual sample choices. Inside the box:
- Rene Furterer Lucia Shampoo and Conditioner. These types of samples aren’t my favorite, since shampoo can be such a finicky choice for most people. I don’t mind collecting samples for trips or emergency cases where I run out of my usual products. I’m a little disappointed by the sample sizes. On the one hand, if I hate them then I won’t feel bad throwing away the rest. On the other, I’m not sure if I can get enough uses to decide whether or not I’d want to buy the full size.
- IPKN Radiant Cream Primer with SPF 15. I’ve already received this in a prior box and really enjoyed it! I don’t stray away too much from my Jouer Anti Blemish Matte Primer, but especially in the drier months I like to have a luminous primer on hand whenever my skin needs the added boost. Still, I’m bumping into the repeated samples problem with Birchbox.
- The Organic Pharmacy Double Rose Rejuvenating Face Cream. I’ve been wanting to try this brand for a while now, so I was glad this sample was in the box! It’s a little on the heavy side, so I’ll definitely be using this as a nighttime moisturizer. I do wish that sample size was bigger. Moisturizing samples do last me a good bit, but I’d appreciate a quarter or half an ounce more.
- LOC One and Done Shadow Stick in Rock Steady. I like the formula of this in-house brand shadow stick, and I don’t have anything like this smoky greige color, so this is a happy addition to my growing shadow stick collection!
- We also got a little hand mirror, which was a cute bonus.
Again, my biggest beef with Birchbox (besides axing the rewards system) is the fact that there are so many repeated samples! This is yet another month where I’ve gotten repeats. Granted, they were repeats I enjoy, and I don’t mind getting repeated makeup formulas I like in different shades. But the main reason I like subscription services is to sample things I haven’t tried before. Yet again, in the January sample choice preview I saw a ton of products I’ve already gotten in the past. This, plus the fact that I’ll lose an Ace Status I won’t ever regain because I can’t earn points with reviews has me leaning towards canceling my subscription in March. That means just two more Birchboxes ever left for me.
Still, you may see what I’m getting and think you’d like to try out Birchbox. If so, you can sign up here.
Ipsy’s December bag faired much better than last year’s. The bag itself isn’t as fun as October or November’s. The mohair fabric is an interesting choice that I can see a lot of people loving. But I live in a cat dominated household, so cat hair is already clinging to this bag. Luckily, the contents are much better!
- Royal & Langnickel MODA Angler Shading Brush. I’ve gotten brushes from this brand in Boxycharm before and really enjoyed them. I’m definitely happy to see another brush from them in the bag. The only thing is that I received an angled shader brush in last month’s bag and have told Ipsy in my monthly feedback that I’d like to see less eyeshadow brushes and more face makeup tools in my bag. Normally, their algorithm does a good job of catching these things but it definitely didn’t this time. I’ve given the same feedback again to see if they’ll take it into account in January.
- Smashbox Insta Matte Lipstick Transformer. This is a sample I’m glad I got because ever since this came out I’ve been wanting to see if it’s worth the hype. I love a good matte lip and do have some creamy/satin lipsticks I’d love to see in a matte finish. After looking at the ingredients, I have to wonder if using a silicone based makeup primer would give me the same effect…
- NYX Prismatic Eyeshadow in Fireball. I already love this eyeshadow line from NYX and am happy to get a color I don’t already own. Normally, I don’t wear a lot of reddish shades, but this one is just so pretty! I’ll definitely play around with it.
- City Color Cosmetics Be Matte Blush Trio. City Color is one of my favorite affordable brands. And when I say “affordable” I mean it. This brand is in Wet n Wild pricing territory. Not everything is a hit, but they can knock it out of the park occasionally. The blushes in this trio are really pretty and all three colors I would wear.
- Privai Aqua Gel Mask. I love the size and packaging of this sample! Granted, I’m not huge on jar packaging for skincare, but it’s still a really cute jar. I enjoy a good hydrating mask, especially in the winter and will definitely get some use out of this.
Overall, a great Ipsy bag to end an over all great year of subscriptions from them. I’m more than happy to stick with Ipsy in 2017. If you’d like to give Ipsy a try, you can sign up here.
Sephora Play did it again with another great subscription bag. While not as amazing as November or October’s boxes, it’s still filled with some great goodies. I also love how they jazzed up the duster with a gold and black finish for the holidays.
- Lancome Hypnose Drama Mascara. This is a newer mascara to the Lancome line. (I believe it launched a few months ago.) I’d already had a sample of this that I got as a bonus from either Ulta or Sephora, but I really enjoy this mascara. I’ll give my full thoughts on it in another post, but this is a good one to get in the box.
- Sephora Cream Lip Stain in Always Red. A great liquid lipstick color choice for a winter box. However, Sephora continues their tradition of having the dinkiest sized samples for their house brand! Seriously, look at how tiny that is. It’s not even the same size are the mascara bottle! I don’t mind trying samples from the Sephora brand, but they really need to step up their sample size.
- Make Up For Ever Step 1 Skin Equalizer Primer. Yet another product that launched in 2016 that I’ve been wanting to try. I’ve heard some hype around these primers, so I’m glad I have my hands on a sample to try before investing in a high end primer.
- Urban Decay All Nighter Long-Lasting Makeup Setting Spray. A cult classic that’s already a top favorite of mine. I’m a long time user of this setting spray, though right now I’m trying out a couple of drugstore brands to see if I can find a good affordable alternative. I’m happy to keep this around for traveling and such.
- Drybar Detox Dry Shampoo. As a girl who can only wash her hair two or three times a week, dry shampoo has been a lifesaver. I’ve heard rave reviews about Dry Bar’s formulation and cannot wait to try it out!
- Elizabeth and James Nirvana Rose. I love Black and Bourbon, but Rose was a miss for me in the fragrance department. It’s just too heavy on the floral side for my personal taste. I can see how this could smell wonderful on the right person. However, this just wasn’t a good fit. But at least Sephora sends this as a sixth sample, instead of replacing another beauty sample with fragrance!
Sephora has really upped the bar for the $10 monthly beauty subscription. Get on the wait list if it isn’t in your area yet. You’ll absolutely want it once you can get your hands on it. It makes me wonder if competitors like Ulta will be getting on on the beauty subscription game in the coming year…
Now, for the $20 subscription.
Talk about hit and miss for December, Boxycharm definitely falls into that category. Last December was pretty good. I think I received an Ofra liquid lipstick in that box, which I’ve been using frequently. November was so great, I just wasn’t sure Boxycharm could beat it. However, it did come pretty close! I have to commend Boxycharm on actually having the products in the box match the theme! This month, it was “On Pointe”, referencing ballet dancing. With The Nutcracker being such classic Christmas ballet, there was a definite sugar plum, magical holiday vibe in the box that went so well with the theme.
- OFRA Metallic Liquid Lipstick in Napa Valley. This is a phenomenal example of the more on trend makeup I like seeing in subscription boxes. I already love OFRA’s matte liquid lipstick formula and am so happy Boxycharm included one of their newer metallic liquid lipsticks in the box! This shade is a very vampy, deep, yet still holiday appropriate purple shade. I know this might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I for one am stoked to see it in the box!
- IBY Beauty Lip Liner. We received an eyeshadow trio in October from them, and it was okay. I think a lot of people loved the neutrals, but for me it wasn’t anything outstanding, though the formula was decent. I still like trying things from brands I don’t really know, even if a prior product wasn’t a hit. I think people got various shades of this lip pencil, but I’m super happy I got one that actually pairs with the liquid lipstick in the shade plum.
- ButterLONDON Nail Lacquer in Ruby Murray. I love ButterLONDON Polishes, so I was stoked to get another one. I know I just finished complaining about repeat products, but again, I don’t repeats of certain makeup formulas if it’s something I love. The color Ruby Murray goes perfectly with the sugar plum “On Pointe” theme, as it’s a deep plum color that’s perfect for the holidays.
- Makeup Eraser Mini. I’ve been wanting to try the cult Makeup Eraser towel for a while now! With such a makeup dominating box, this is a great item to have to take everything off after playing with all the products. I wonder if this microfiber towel will live up to the hype.
- Pure Cosmetics Eyeshadow Palette – Buff Collection. Alright, this is probably the item I’m least excited about. Yes, it’s another full size eyeshadow palette. Yes, the colors in this palette, rose cool toned shades, go very well with the rest of the makeup included and the box theme. I should be jumping for joy. However, I’m a wee bit tired of seeing indie brand companies put out these Urban Decay Naked Dupes that are sent in subscription boxes. Just looking at the packaging, you can tell somebody was trying to copy the Naked 3 palette while claiming it’s worth $50. That’s just $4 cheaper than the Urban Decay originals, so why would you go for a copy? I’m a little salty about this because Boxycharm did this last year with Coastal Scents Naked Palette dupe attempts and it’s always disappointing because the quality just isn’t there. I know that a lot of people might like getting these dupes because they can’t afford to splurge on a Naked Palette and you’re getting similar colors in your $20 subscription box. But personally, I’d rather see palettes that are unique offerings from Indie brands instead of dupes.
Despite my rant on the palette, this was a great way for Boxycharm to end the year. They really have stepped up their game and grown tremendously throughout 2016. Now that they’re growing, they are starting to do more variations in their boxes, which is great. Though I do have to admit I wish I’d have gotten a Makeup Geek Eyeliner. Still, I hope this means they’ll soon be able to tailor their boxes more to customer beauty profiles in the future. I can’t wait to see what they have to offer in the coming year.
If you want to try Boxycharm in 2017, you can sign up here.
So who won in December? Mmm, that’s a little hard to say. Excluding Birchbox, I think the beauty subscriptions all hit some great high notes and had a few misses. I’m pretty happy with what I got in December.
What about you guys? Did your subscriptions fair better or worse than mine? And what will happen to Birchbox next year? It seems in the beauty world we have a lot to look forward to in the new year.