Box Subscription Roundup: Skincare

I’ve collected a big batch of skincare samples to share with y’all!

When you’re a beauty service subscriber, you tend to build up quite a few samples. Since I review these products for my blog, I tend to go through these really quickly.

There are some products that are standouts for being really great or terrible. But a lot of the time, there are those products that didn’t make enough of an impression to warrant their own post. I still want to talk about these products, because someone may have been considering purchasing one and are looking for some feedback from other users.

Before we start looking at the samples, a refresher on my skin type.

I have normal skin with an oily t-zone (combination skin). I’m also acne prone, so I avoid certain ingredients that could trigger sensitivity.

Let’s get into some skincare!

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*The Organic Pharmacy Double Rose Rejuvenating Face Cream (USD $88.00, full size)

This was a really great moisturizer. It had beautiful brightening properties and is really hydrating, which was great for me on days when my skin felt drier. I really enjoyed using up my sample.

From the ingredients, it looks like a solid, mostly natural product. The one thing I don’t like is that it contains fragrance near the bottom of the ingredient list. I prefer my skincare to be fragrance free to avoid irritation. I’m also not a fan of the jar packaging, which could lead to delicate ingredients to break down and leave the product susceptible to bacterial growth.

Those two issues along with the high price tag make this a pass.

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Privai Aqua Gel Masque (USD $34.00, full size)

This has been a great mask. It’s hydrating while still being light weight, which is great for me because it hydrates my face without leaving my oily zones feeling heavy. A gel based hydration mask is perfect for a combination or oily skinned person.

I love that it’s fragrance free, but would prefer if it weren’t in a jar. Also, note that those with a ragweed sensitivity could experience irritation.

Still, I’m really enjoying my sample. (Kudos for a decent deluxe sample size!)

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Loverecipe Acai Berry and Aloe Masks (Sally’s Box lists them, but you can’t add them to your cart)

These are some Korean sheet masks that have been all the rage since K Beauty hit the states. They were really fun to try out, but in all honesty I didn’t see any noticeable difference when I used them. Plus, like a lot of Korean sheet masks, they had fragrance listed pretty high up on the ingredient list.

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*Tarte FRXXXTION Stick Exfoliating Cleanser (USD $22.00, full size)

This was an interesting concept for an exfoliating cleanser. However, I feel like the stick got very messy, melting all over the container in the shower. Plus, I’m not a fan of applying this directly on the face. I feel like that could be a breeding ground for bacteria.

I also didn’t get the exfoliation I desired, yet ended up with skin that felt dried out. There are charcoal based exfoliators that I prefer over this exfoliation stick. I do have to give Tarte credit for making this fragrance free.

All in all, I’m just not a fan of this product.

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*Origins Modern Friction Nature’s Gentle Dermabrasion (USD $39.50, full size)

I really enjoy products from the Origins line. My skin seems to take very well to their formulation. If you’re looking for more natural skincare that doesn’t trigger sensitivities, I think Origins is the way to go. It doesn’t hurt that they don’t break the bank!

In contrast to the Tarte stick, this is a great exfoliator. I could feel the way the rice starch exfoliated my skin, yet it didn’t leave my skin feeling dried out. It didn’t irritate my skin either and was gentle enough for daily use. I like using an exfoliating cleanser at the end of the day to remove all makeup and sweat residue. I think this could be a great daily cleanser for people with normal to oily skin, and a weekly exfoliant for those with dry skin.

This does have some lemon oil and peppermint, so if you’re sensitive to essential oils, be on the lookout.

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*Skyn Iceland Icelandic Relief Eye Pen (USD $20.00, full size)

This was an ok eye cream. It does have a nice, cooling feeling and did a decent job of hydrating my skin. However, this isn’t anything to write home about. I didn’t really see any stellar improvement in my skin to justify the $20 price.

So those are the skincare products from box subscriptions I’ve been through. Even if the majority of these didn’t work out, it’s nice to get to try something new before making any investment.

*Links marked with an asterisk (*) are affiliate links. I don’t receive any compensation for my product reviews. However, if you choose to buy products through these links, I will earn a small commission.
**Links marked with a double asterisk (**) are referral links to subscription services that any subscriber would get. If you sign up through my link, I will receive reward points but no monetary compensation.

April 2017 Boxycharm!

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An ok month for Boxycharm.

Boxycharm set the bar high for this year starting with January’s box. February’s was an even better follow up. March was still great, though not as great as the previous two.

And now, April.

April, unfortunately, is a definite downgrade from the previous boxes. That being said, there are some great items in here. It’s just that for a $20 monthly subscription, I expect to like at least the majority of the items. One dud is fine, but any more is pushing it.

The theme this month was “Boho Glow”, but there was really only one item that fit with the theme. I’m not sure what the purpose of the themes are if they’re not really going to run with it when it comes to what’s in the box.

Here’s what I got in my box:

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Keep vs. Pass

So I’m just keeping the highlighter and sponges and passing on everything else.

Even though I’m happy with what I’m keeping, it’s disappointing that I’m passing on so much.

May and June tend to be better months for Boxycharm and they’ve had much stronger boxes earlier this year, so if you want to sign up you can do so here.**

*Links marked with an asterisk (*) are affiliate links. I don’t receive any compensation for my product reviews. However, if you choose to buy products through these links, I will earn a small commission.
**Links marked with a double asterisk (**) are referral links to subscription services that any subscriber would get. If you sign up through my link, I will receive reward points but no monetary compensation.

Beauty Subscription All Star: Luxie Brushes

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Thanks to Ipsy and Bosycharm, my Luxie brush collection is steadily growing.

If you’ve been receiving beauty subscriptions within the past year, then you’ve probably noticed that a certain brush brand has been featured multiple times.

Box subscriptions are a great way for a beginner to slowly build up their brush collection. And for seasoned enthusiasts, you know you can never have too many brushes (especially if you’re lazy about cleaning them, like me). They have to be my favorite things to receive in monthly subscriptions, along with beauty sponges. Sometimes, the brushes can be poor quality. After all, it’s not like they’re sticking Wayne Goss brushes in our bags (I wish!), but most of the time they’re pretty good quality.

The brand that has been making rounds into pretty much all the beauty subscriptions is Luxie Beauty. And I’m not mad at this.

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From the first time I received a Luxie brush, I was impressed. Synthetic brushes can be hit or miss, though I personally prefer them for their affordability and low maintenance (Real Techniques, It Cosmetics, and E.L.F. being my favorites). Luxie proves that a synthetic brush can be excellent quality.

The bristles are incredibly soft and don’t shed when washing (win!). I also love the construction of the handle and barrel. Unlike some other brushes, I’ve used and abused my Luxie brushes and they haven’t fallen apart on me.

The first few brushes from them I tried were eye brushes. I have to admit, their crease and blending brushes are well loved. What I like about them is the material of their bristles works well with powder and cream shadow. I can even make them work well with ColourPop Super Shock shadows, something I can’t say about a lot of  my other brushes. Their concealer brush, a flat edge, is my absolute favorite for applying pigments on the eyelid.

The first face brush I got to try was the 514 Blush Brush. While a bit softer than my preferred blush brushes (I like applying my blush with a stiffer brush), it still works incredibly well, especially with my more pigmented blushes that need extra blending. Again, this was great quality and good beauty tool.

At this point, I’ve tried almost all the brushes Luxie has to offer from their rose gold collection. My sister actually has the 30 piece Brush Book Set (USD $350.00) and she let me play around with all the brushes offered in there. Just like everything else I’ve tried in subscriptions, these brushes were phenomenal. Some of their standouts were their duo fibre face brushes, which worked beautifully with my cream and liquid products.

Bottom Line: Priced between $12-$30, these brushes are well made and worth their price point. Their comparable, and in some cases superior to Real Techniques brushes. While not as affordable as e.l.f., if you’re in the market for well constructed synthetic brushes this is a great place to look. Of course, it needs to be asked if these brushes are constantly in subscription services, are they even worth buying?

Personally, I say yes. I’ve now got some doubles of Luxie brushes in my collection and I’m more than happy to have multiples. I constantly use them in my makeup rotation. I don’t think you’ll be bummed out if you buy a brush from them and then end up getting the same brush in a subscription box.

You can never have too many great quality brushes.

The two subscription services that have sent me Luxie brushes are Ipsy and Boxycharm. Click on their respective links if you want to subscribe to them.

Aloette Aloepure Time Repair Serum: An (Almost) Ideal Product

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I really want to love you, but…

I’m almost never on board with getting full sized skincare items in box subscriptions since they can be very hit or miss. If they’re a miss, I almost feel obligated to go through them all.

Sometimes, I’ll get something I absolutely love, but there’s an ingredient in there that keeps me from reinvesting in it. This is one of those cases.

Boxycharm included this Time Repair Serum (USD $48.00, full size), now known as the Time Repair Anti-Wrinkle Serum in one of our boxes. When I first looked into the product, I really loved what I was hearing. This is a company that basis its products in the properties of Aloe Vera leaf. I love using aloe vera in my nighttime skincare routine, since it acts as a hydrator and a natural antiseptic for the skin (aka, it’s a gentle way of preventing breakouts). Plus, it has a lot more beneficial properties that make it an excellent skincare ingredient.

Additionally, this serum kind of acts as your all in one. It has both AHA and BHA (salicylic acid) exfoliants, which are great for getting off all remnants of dead skin cells and residue that contribute to cellular breakdown and breakouts. It also has lemon extract, another great astringent, as well as lactic acid and rice bran extract, all great exfoliators.

And you know what? This worked beautifully as a serum. My skin did look fresher as I used it. I liked it enough that I also used up my sister’s bottle, which she was looking to pass on. So that was roughly six months that I had using this product.

When I finally scraped out the last of the serum, I started looking into buying it. That’s how much I liked it.

Here I was totally ready to purchase this when I took a deeper look at the ingredients. Everything was great until I found the number one offender in skincare.

Fragrance.

Yes, it’s near the bottom of the ingredient list, but why on earth would I spend almost $50 on great skincare ingredients when they also come with one of the most sneakily damaging ingredients?

This was about to be a real winner, especially for people who want to invest in good skin exfoliants, but can’t afford to buy a mix of Sunday Riley and Drunk Elephant products. You get all that you really need from one product.

But with fragrance included, I just can’t get on board.

Verdict: If Aloette were to get rid of the fragrance in their formula, this could be a huge winner for affordable skincare. It may not seem so with the $48 price point, but this serum is packed with a lot of ingredients that would cover you on almost all basis when it comes to exfoliants. (I would just suggest adding benzoyl peroxide if you’re very acne prone.) But until they get rid of that pesky ingredient, I sadly won’t be purchasing this.

March 2017 Boxycharm!

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Boxycharm is on a roll!

It’s time to unbox my favorite beauty subscription! Boxycharm has been setting the bar high for 2017 from the get go. January: amazing. February: even better. March couldn’t possibly be as good.

Oh, just you wait.

I was excited for March from the first sneak peak. (Are you one of those people who needs the sneak peaks? I’m so nosy and love how My Subscription Addiction gives out spoilers.) The theme for this month is Creepy Cute. Boxycharm has finally had themes that correlate with the items in the box. However, this box didn’t exactly have items I would associate with “Creepy Cute”. I think more pastels or outlandish and adventurous colors or bolder choices in makeup items. Aside from one item, this isn’t exactly what was in the box. Still, it was a pretty beautiful selection.

Let’s take a look.

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A palette for someone building up their bolder colors.

Naked Cosmetics Urban Rustic Trio Pressed Eyeshadow Palette (USD $39.99)

Naked Cosmetics is really making a comeback in the beauty space. Their pigments use to be the hype of YouTube back in the old days, and now they’re creeping back into subscription boxes.

And I’m not mad. Their loose pigments are really great. These pressed pigment colors look really great on first impression. Granted, you can’t really use these together, but I think they’re meant to be complemented by a matte, neutral palette or colors. I do think these colors are great for people just dipping their toes into non neutral colors. You have an olive green, a rusty orange, and a reddish purple, all with a metallic/shimmery finish.

I think this palette may put off some people, but for a makeup enthusiast like me, I love getting something so exciting, yet wearable, to add to my collection.

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An interesting tool I’ve been dying to try.

Crown Brush SS023 Deluxe Fan Brush (USD $18.99)

You know how much I love my beauty tools! And a complexion one? YES.

I’ve seen this jumbo kabuki style fan brush floating around the internet and have been intrigued. While I like using more precise brushes for highlight (I only use traditional fan brushes for really strong formulas), I think it could be great for applying and blending contour and bronzer.

Crown brushes aren’t my favorite in quality, but this one appears to be made well with soft bristles.

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A cult classic.

Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer (USD $16.00, travel size)

This is the OG dimethicone pore filling primer. This stuff is really good, though like any pore filling primer, I have to use it sparingly or I start getting small breakouts. Still, I’ve used it many times in the past and it’s a really great smoothing primer. I’m glad to have this deluxe size back in my collection. It will definitely get used.

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And even more, beautiful neutral lip colors.

Real Her Lady Love Matte Liquid Lipstick (USD $15.00) and Expert Advice Lip Liner (USD $12.50)

I really loved the traditional lipstick from Real Her I got in last month’s Boxycharm. So I was super stoked to see more lip products from this brand in March’s box. I received a set in nude colors, which are gorgeous. The liner will absolutely work on my skin tone, but I’m a little scared that the liquid lipstick will be too light on its own. However, I think blending it with the liner will make it more wearable on me. Still, I’m so excited to see Boxycharm actually offering nude and neutral lip shades!

Over all, Boxycharm continues to prove itself to be one of the best beauty subscription services currently on the market. I’m so excited for each item! Not a single one is a throwaway.

Also, I’ve noticed on Boxycharm’s website that they’ve added a profile quiz where you can tell them about your appearance and preferences. Hopefully, this will lead to better product and color matches for subscribers.

If you’d like to subscribe to Boxycharm, follow the link!

February 2017 Beauty Subscriptions!

Late again, but only because my Play! By Sephora box took so long to get here! I’ve been dying to talk about the February boxes for a few weeks now. Guys, it’s so good, which is so surprising because February usually sucks. Each subscription had a majority of products that I’m excited to try. Let’s get into it.

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Probably the best February Birchbox I’ve ever gotten.

Right when I’m ready to say good-bye I get sucked back in. While I did downgrade my subscription from year round to monthly, I am going to stick it out with Birchbox. From emails and surveys I’ve been getting from them, it looks like they’ve noticed the customer dissatisfaction with the changes (and shadiness) and are going to do something to address it. What exactly? I’m not sure. Plus, Birchbox is now carrying MAC cosmetics. I’d like to see what MAC samples pop up in our boxes.

Anyway, let’s look at what I got in February. I opted for the preselected box this round since there were more items I wanted to try.

  • Bumble & Bumble Repair Blow Dry. This is a styling cream that’s a throwaway sample for me. I love Bumble & Bumble but since I have short hair right now I avoid using a lot of styling cream to keep my hair from being weighed down. Still, I’ve used this in the past when I had longer hair and it’s an excellent product that does a good job of helping the hair to be styled and heat protected.
  • The Beauty Crop PBJ Smoothie Stick. Keeping it 100, this sample is why I went for the box. I was so bummed when last spring I was sent a color of this that was totally unwearable on my skin tone. This time around I got the shade Saucy Marsala, which is a beautiful brownish brick red — which is exactly how I like my red lipsticks. And it’s full sized. So pumped!
  • CLEAN Reserve Amber Saffron. You may notice this sample is missing. It’s because Birchbox failed and only sent me the cardboard holder of the perfume sample without the actual perfume. Of course, the fragrances are never my favorite, but I do like a lot of CLEAN’s scents and have been wanting to try this one for a while. Bummer, but at least Birchbox gifted me 50 reward points for the missing sample.
  • Acure Organics Purifying Fruit Peel. This was the second reason I went for the pre selected box. I love a lot of Acure’s skin treatments and this peel has been on my wishlist for a while.
  • Vasanti Eye Wonder 2.0 Super Powered Eye Cream with Ceramic Tip. Talk about a mouthful! Geez, what a name. Vasanti’s skincare isn’t my favorite (I much prefer their makeup tools), but I’m always down for trying a high end eye cream. I have yet to find one that tempts me away from my affordable and awesome Cerave Eye Cream.

Excited about three out of the five samples, I’m happy with this Birchbox. I’m also glad they replaced the missing samples with reward points that amount to $5 in their shop. It’s good customer service. The pre selected box for March wasn’t as exciting and had a lot of repeat products that I’ve already sampled, but here’s hoping their generator picks some good stuff at random.

If Birchbox seems like something you’d like to try, you can sign up here.

Moving on to Ipsy.

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They just keep killing it.

The physical bag itself is nothing to write home about. It reminds me of the denim + bright orange trend that was around when I was in middle school. I have a feeling 13 year old me would have been very into this bag (even though I only wore eyeliner, lip gloss, and a shit ton of glitter. Pretty sure I have some still embedded in my skin from the glitter explosion that was the early 2000s.). Bag aside, this was a great roundup of samples from Ipsy:

  • Briogeo Rosarco Blow Dry Perfection Heat Protectant Creme. I’d be excited to get this if Boxycharm hadn’t just sent a full sized version! Of course, since a lot of the same brands send their products to the different subscription services, this was bound to happen. I’m going to set this aside to give away since I don’t use blow dry cremes anyway. Briogeo products are legit tho. I love their moisture mask and volumizing spray.
  • NYX Butter Lipstick in Ripe Berry. Another lip product in the same month? Yes please! And it’s a berry shade, which is totally up my alley. I love NYX’s lipsticks, though I haven’t tried the butter formula. I’ll definitely get some use out of this.
  • Seraphine Botanicals Luminude in Primrose. I’ve been really into liquid illuminators, especially under my BB cream for a luminous look. I’ve swatched this and am pretty impressed with the shade and finish. On initial swatch, it also looks like this formula might be great for those with more oily skin.
  • Hikari Cosmetics Cream Pigmented Eyeshadow in Latte. I love getting individual shadow pans to fill up my Z Palette! This is a really pretty bronzed copper shade, which is perfect for the more natural, bronzy looks I’ve been into.
  • Luxie Beauty Rose Gold Blush Brush 514. I love brushes in subscriptions, especially complexion brushes. And ones from Luxie just make it extra special. Holy smokes, I’m so happy this was in my bag and that Ipsy listened to my feedback for more complexion beauty tools!

Yeah, this was an amazing Ipsy. I’m excited to use each sample, and the sample I’m passing on isn’t even bad. It’s just something I don’t use, but I know whoever gets it will love it.

Ipsy is definitely on the up and up, so if you want to try it out you can subscribe here.

The last of the $10 subscriptions I get is Play! By Sephora (which took its sweet time getting here).

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Great theme and product selections that are growing on me…

Now that it’s bigger, Play! is doing more box variations. Great, because they can be customized to our beauty profiles. Not so great, because sometimes there are items I really wanted but didn’t get. I absolutely loved February’s theme, which is about the softer, more neutral side of makeup (all about those nudes, y’all). Overall, I’m happy with it, though I’m left wanting one sample in particular.

  • TARTE Rainforest of the Sea Quench Lip Rescue in Nude. This is a great sample from Tarte of one of their tinted lip balms. I’m happy with the nude shade, but I’m more into full coverage lip products. I really wanted the Bite Beauty Multi Stick that some other subscribers got. Still, I’ll give this a chance.
  • Prada CANDY. The perfume sample was a bit of a miss for me this time around. I know some people absolutely adore this sent but it’s a bit too sweet for me. Luckily, my sister wanted the sample so I passed it on to her.
  • Clinique Pep Start Hydro Blur. I’ve been really curious about this moisturizer, especially since it’s the gel formula that I prefer. My sister just gifted me a deluxe size that didn’t work for her (she has drier skin), so I’ll use that first before deciding whether or not I want to open this sample.
  • Origins GinZing Refreshing Eye Cream. Again, I love trying high end eye creams. My mom swears by this one, which has some light reflecting particles to brighten the undereye. I love a lot of Origins products and am happy I get to try this one.
  • Too Faced Lip Injection Gloss in Milkshake. Y’all know I’m not about the Lip Injection formula. I got a sample of the clear gloss in an Ipsy and was not a fan of the allergic reaction look it left behind. (But man, I love the scent that reminds me of Children’s Motrin Liquid — my fave medicine as a kid.) I’m tempted to just put this aside unopened, but the shade is a really, really pretty nude that’s right up my alley. Maybe I’ll give it a go and then pass it. Or maybe I’ll force myself to like it? Maybe the formula won’t be as strong as the clear??? Man, I wish this wasn’t lip plumping!…Or that I’d gotten the Bite Multi Stick in place of the gloss. #NeverGonnaBeOverIt
  • Sephora Lash Craft Length & Volume Mascara. Lord, Sephora continues giving out the dinkiest sample sizes for their in-house brand! C’mon, Sephora, you really need to step it up and at least give a size comparable to the Urban Decay or Too Faced sample sizes. I don’t believe you when you say the sample is worth $12…lies…

While I’ve gotten a little snarky with Sephora, this month was still good. I’m happy to have four out of the six samples, though I do wish there was a way to opt out of lip plumping products. Still, they’ve given a great box for $10.

I can’t refer y’all to Play, but check out Sephora’s website to see if it’s available in your area. If it is, I highly recommend getting on the waitlist. Once you subscribe, you can also earn reward points towards VIB/VIB Rouge status for what you pay for the subscription.

So we’ve looked at the $10 subscriptions. Now let’s look at $21/month Boxycharm.

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Yes, yes, and YES!!!

Boxycharm is setting the bar HIGH right out of the gate in 2017. I was expecting the box to be a little more lackluster after such a great January box. But I was so wrong. Boxycharm already outdid January and I’m so happy!

  • Realher Moisturizing Lipstick in I Define Beauty Myself (Mauve). Oh my god, Boxycharm actually sent me a neutral nude shade lipstick that can work on my skin tone. I’m PUMPED. Out of all the lip variations, this is the one I was hoping to get! The company also seems to have a great philosophy of empowering girls. I hope the formula is as great as their company philosophy.
  • Makeup Geek Eyeshadow Pans. Two eyeshadows from MUG again!!! I hope this becomes a regular thing, because I’m loving this trend. Honestly, they could include any products from MUG and I’d be happy. I got the shades Bitten (earthy maroon) and Desert Sands (medium caramel brown with yellow undertones).
  • Royal & Langnickel OMNIA Eye Kit. You know I love my brushes in subscription boxes! These feel soft and super well made. I cannot wait to put them to the test.
  • Z Palette (small). Despite the recent poor decisions Z Palette made in their PR department (pro tip: don’t insult your customers on social media, even if they’re giving you negative feedback), Z palette still makes an amazing product. I’m glad to get this travel size small palette, which is perfect when I want to take a few of my individual pans to compliment a palette I take on vacation or a business trip. It also pair very well with the two MUG shadows for those subscribers who don’t have an empty magnetic palette in their collection.
  • Dr. Brandt Microdermabrasion. When I saw we were getting the full size version of this, I was surprised. I’d gotten sample sizes in past subscriptions and in Sephora rewards, but the full size? Wow. I say this because it retails for $79. That’s not an inflated price that you can then use an affiliate link to get a “discount” that reflects the real price. It’s really almost $80. That’s impressive, Boxycharm.

What did I tell you? An AMAZING Boxycharm. If they’re performing so well at the start of the year, I can only imagine what’s in store. If you want to subscribe, you can do so here.

With several lip products (my fave), great brushes, and some good skincare, I’m absolutely floored by February’s subscription services. How did your subscriptions leave you feeling?

January 2017 Beauty Subscriptions

Posting this a little late, but my subscriptions didn’t trickle in until the end of the month.

It’s a new year and we have 12 months of beauty subscriptions to look forward to! And these days, I could use as many little joys as I can get. January isn’t always the most exciting month for subscriptions. I feel like companies are tired from the holiday offerings, so January can be a little lack luster. I try not to set my expectations too high.

True to form, January’s beauty samples were a mix of good and ok. Though, there were some that surprised me.

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A good mix from Birchbox.

Man, the box is super cute this month. It helps that I’m a yoga and workout enthusiast. I’ll definitely be hanging on to this one. The contents of the box were a mix.

  • Juliette Has a Gun Mmm…: “Mmm…” is right. Yet another perfume sample that I hate. The scent is just way too sweet and sickly for my taste. Birchbox does a pretty terrible job of picking perfume samples. They also feel like such a waste of a sample, since I almost never use them. I have my profile set to limit my perfume samples to five times a year, though I wish I could opt out of them all together.
  • R+Co OBLIVION Clarifying Gel and Restorative Conditioner: I don’t mind shampoo samples in my boxes, and I love clarifying shampoo as I’m a heavy texturizing spray and dry shampoo user. I need something to get all the residue out of my hair when I finally wash it, so I can really appreciate this sample. I know the conditioner is in there as a bonus sample, but I wish I either wouldn’t get it at all (I prefer using hair masks) or getting it in a non foil packet. Even a smaller bottle would be better.
  • ARROW ENDURE Waterproof Mascara: I was about to roll my eyes at a mascara sample, but this one was really generous. Plus, (spoiler alert) the formula of this mascara pleasantly surprised me.
  • Sunday Riley Good Genes All-In-One Lactic Acid Treatment: This is the sample I picked out, and I’m really happy with my choice. Sunday Riley is a really expensive brand with a great reputation. I’ve been wanting to incorporate some of their products into my skincare, but they come with a hefty price tag. Good Genes alone is $105 for the full size. Of course, the sample size is super tiny, but you don’t need to use much of this.
  • Avene Soothing Moisture Mask: I want to like Avene products because they mesh well with my skin. But….that mineral oil and fragrance in the ingredients keeps me from doing so. Yet again, like in their other Hydrance line products, this has both of these offenders. It’s really too bad.

Overall, three products I want to try, one that I want to like but already know I hate the ingredients, and one that’s a complete throwaway. Three out of five isn’t bad, but in my opinion 90% of the samples should be good to justify a $10 subscription.

My Birchbox subscription is up for renewal in March, and I’m still on the fence about quitting. I’ve been with them so long and the loyalty is holding me back from cutting ties. But then again, the sample offerings haven’t been as varied or good as the other subscription services. At this point, especially after getting my January Box, I’m leaning towards changing my subscription to a monthly payment basis and seeing where they go. If the boxes don’t pick up, I’ll cancel.

Still, if Birchbox seems to speak to you, you can subscribe here.

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Ipsy’s starting off the year strong.

The bag itself wasn’t anything super exciting, which is too bad because there were some super cute bags last year. Still, the bags aren’t always eye pleasers. This one isn’t ugly, but I’ll probably be passing it on.

Now, the samples are another story.

  • Sally’s Box Loverecipe AcaiBerry and Aloe Masks: I love trying sheet masks, especially those from K-Beauty brands. Ipsy is always generous about including two sheet masks whenever they put it in a bag. Aloe masks have actually become some of my favorite for their anti inflammatory properties. I cannot wait to try these.
  • Manna Kadar Paradise Blush: I love Manna Kadar, and this blush is a beautiful warm tone that I’ve really been favoring in my blushes these days. The sample is generous, but  packaging was hell to open. I finally figured it out, but geez! They definitely need to choose better packaging.
  • SLMissGlam Blend Beauty Brush L34: You know I love my brushes in subscriptions! SLMissGlam is the newest in trending internet brands on Youtube, so I’m glad Ipsy is giving us a chance to sample the brand. This is the second brush I’ve gotten from the brand and so far I’m really enjoying them.
  • TEMPTU Base Smooth and Matte Primer: I’m not a fan of receiving Temptu samples, because their makeup is made to work with an airbrush. So while you can absolutely use their makeup on its own, it’s kind of a bummer because you can’t test it to its full effect. Also, this is a dimethicone based primer, which I don’t like to use all over the face because I inevitably get blackheads and small breakouts. Though I have discovered that using a little in my under eye area keeps my concealer from creasing. I’ll find a use for this.
  • Naked Cosmetics Mica Pigment in Desert Sunset: Loose eyeshadow pigments aren’t my favorite because of how messy they can get. The pro is that they tend to be more vividly pigmented than pressed shadows. This is great for makeup artists, but personally I’d rather sacrifice a little color impact for the convenience of a pressed shadow. Still, this shimmery light gold shade is really stunning and I will definitely play with it.

While not my favorite Ipsy bag (January’s never is), there are some great things in here. I love the two sheet masks, the blush, and adding another brush to my ever growing collection. I would have passed on the primer.

If you’d like to sign up for Ipsy, you can do so here.

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Even Sephora succumbed to the “meh” January trend.

Play! by Sephora is still, hands down, my favorite $10 subscription box. While this month was good, it definitely wasn’t as good as prior months. I do like that they changed the bag’s appearance and material to reflect the fitness theme for the month.

  • Tory Burch Love Relentlessly: Sephora always includes a sixth fragrance sample. Where is mine pictured? Well, mine arrived shattered. I’m not mad at this, as it was just a perfume sample and a scent that isn’t my favorite. Still, it’s always a bummer when a sample is lost in transit. I didn’t ask for a replacement because it was the fragrance sample, so I haven’t had to contact customer service yet.
  • Tarte FRXXTION Stick Exfoliating Cleanser: While Tarte’s makeup offerings haven’t been impressing me, I have really been enjoying the Maracuja Oil sample I got in a subscription box and am happy to try something else from their skincare line. I’m a huge fan of exfoliators, since I use them at least twice a week.
  • Clinique Almost Lipstick in Black Honey: This is one of those “color changing” lipsticks that has light coverage. I personally prefer a fully pigmented lipstick, but I’ll give it a try. Plus, I’ve been wanting to try out something from Clinique’s honey collection.
  • Farmacy Honey Potion Renewing Mask Antioxidant Mask: I love a good mask! I’ve actually been eyeing a value kit from this line, so I’m glad I get to try one of the products before deciding to purchase the kit.
  • OUAI Treatment Mask: I’ve been loving everything I’ve tried from the OUAI line, so this was a welcomed addition to my bathroom counter. I’ve basically forgone conditioner in favor of hair masks since I only wash my hair twice a week.
  • Amore Pacific Color Control Cushion Compact: This is the sample I’m not in love with. When I saw I was getting a cushion foundation compact, I was really hoping it would be a mini cushion compact. Instead, it’s two single use pods with mini saturated cushions and one application sponge. That’s disappointing. I would much rather have a mini compact. Kind of a throwaway, which I’ve never really gotten from Sephora, but oh well!

No referrals for Sephora Play. You’ll need to sign up for the wait list and see if they’re available in your area.

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Boxycharm wins January!

And now for the $21 subscription. Boxycharm did an extraordinary job in January. While there was one product in the box that disappointed, overall this is an impressive job for what is usually a lackluster month. And yet again, they actually matched the products to this month’s theme of awards season! All of these products are perfect for being “red carpet ready”. I hope Boxycharm keeps this up!

  • Gorge Konjac Sponge: I’ve been dying to try this exfoliating sponge! My sister use to swear by it before she invested in a Foreo Luna 2. I do need some light exfoliation at the end of the day to keep my skin clear, and a facial sponge seems like a good option. I didn’t see this in any of the online spoilers, so I was happy to see it in my box!
  • So Susan Fan Brush: With a highlight in the box, it was perfect to pair it with a fan brush. While fan brushes aren’t my favorite way to apply highlight, I do like using them when I want a certain level of intensity. Absolutely perfect.
  • PUR Mineral Glow Bronzer. I love PUR cosmetics. Their bronzer was one of my OG favorites when I was in my “no makeup” makeup phase back in the day. I’m happy to see it again!
  • Vintage Highlighter Double: We got a warmer/peachier highlight from this line in a previous box. While the formula is a bit more sparkly than I like, it’s still a really good highlight. It was great to get two more cool toned shades from this line. I actually prefer to wear cooler tones in the winter.
  • English Laundry Pour Femme Deluxe Roller Ball: You guessed it. This was the dud product in the box. This perfume is too sweet and too mature at the same time. Not a good combination. It will definitely be passed on to someone who enjoys this more.

Despite the dud fragrance, I loved everything else in the box. Granted, this is just a first impression, but Boxycharm did a great job.

If you’d like to subscribe to Boxycharm, you can sign up here.

Boxycharm aside, January was an ok start to 2017. There are definitely some great samples in the mix, but there are just enough duds to take down my excitement a couple of notches. Hopefully, things will start picking up in February. (Though really, they don’t until March.)