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.

April 2017 Birchbox vs. Ipsy vs. Play! by Sephora

Are we really almost through April? This year is already flying by!

With another month comes another round up of beauty subscriptions. 2017 started off strong, but March was a definitely slow down. April is another hit or miss month (May’s the same), in my experience. And as you’ll see below, this year’s April offerings were a definite miss for me.

Granted, you may look at what I got and think it’s not really so bad. Fair point, but you also have to remember that I’ve been getting beauty subscriptions for four years. And for some subscriptions, you can clearly tell that they’re beginning to exhaust their sample bank.

Let’s dive in.

Everyone who’s in the loop on beauty subscriptions knows that it’s been a real struggle bus for Birchbox since major changes were made to the subscription service/online beauty retailer last July. The quality of the samples have been downgraded, with Birchbox failing to enlarge their brand pool. Plus, that beloved and amazing reward points system was taken away. And yes, Birhcbox, we old timers never forget and will probably never be over it.

They’re trying to address these issues, to their credit. For “Aces”, the most loyal group of Birchbox subscribers, Birchbox is now giving back 1.3 reward points for every dollar spent (including subscription billing) instead of the 1 point for everyone else. Here’s the thing, I still have to spend money to get that extra third of a point in rewards. This in no way makes up for no longer being able to earn rewards through sample reviews. Really, Birchbox would do better just offering 1 or 2 reward points through reviews.

The next thing they’re doing is trying a new beta program. For $12/month versus $10, you have five ways to choose your samples for the following month:

  • The standard for everyone: do nothing and be surprised; choose one of your samples beforehand with the other four being random; or picking a pre curated feature box where you’ll know all your samples beforehand.
  • A specialty box that focuses on one area of samples (aka, a whole box of SPF, or products for dry skin, etc.).
  • Pick one, skip one: Pick one category you absolutely want in your box and tell Birchbox not to include the other.
  • Skip the month completely and receive rewards points for the box value.

Almost all of the individual sample choices and the samples in the feature box were products I’ve tried before. I wasn’t tempted by any of it, but I wanted to see how this new algorithm would work so I decided to try out one of the newer options.

Again, none of the specialty boxes appealed to me because they were all things I’ve sampled in the past. Granted, if there was a specialty box that had a ton of my faves, I would absolutely go for it, regardless of repeat product. You can’t have too much of something you love.

So, I went with the pick one, skip one option. I asked for Birchbox to include a makeup product (this month’s category was a lip product) and to please leave out any hair styling creams.

Right off the bat, I wish Birchbox would let you eliminate a category entirely instead of having to pick a specific type of product. I really wanted to tell Birchbox to not include any hair products at all, because I’m so overwhelmed with them. I hope this pops up as an option next month,

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Birchbox’s first attempt at the new beta option didn’t work out for the best.

The box I got as a result of my pick one, skip one wasn’t impressive. Somehow, I ended up with two hair products so you can see why I would want an option to eliminate a whole category. The rest of the box was ok.

  • *Michael Todd Blue Green Algae Antibacterial Toner: This was the one sample I’m excited to try. I’ve been eyeing some of Michael Todd’s products for a while, so I’m glad this came in my box. The sample is a little on the small side, but there’s a good amount of uses in there.
  • *R+Co. High Dive Moisture and Shine Cream: I have way too many samples of moisture and shine creams in my stash. So many that I decluttered a bunch and set them aside for donation and friends. I have no clue why Birchbox included this, especially when I specifically told them I did not want a styling cream. I think it was included because technically the option was a “blow out” cream, which is very sneaky.
  • *Benefit Cosmetics They’re Real! Double the Lip in Pink Thrills: First of all, from following the online beauty community I already know this product is a dud. Second, I’m really not a fan of true pink lipsticks. Birchbox should know this from my beauty profile and should have sent a different color from this line (or a different brand).
  • *Vasanti Brighten Up! New Skin Amplifying Moisturizer: I’m not a huge fan of Vasanti’s skincare, which I’ve told Birchbox in sample feedback. Really, if I’m going to get excited over a moisturizer, it needs to be from a brand I like or from one I’ve been wanting to try.
  • *Number 4 Jour d’automne Sugar Texturizing Spray: This is an interesting product. I do use texturizing spray regularly and I’m intrigued by the fact that they use sugar instead of sea salt or powder. But, I’m also overwhelmed with hair product and am trying to pair down what I have. For now, this will be sitting in my donation bag, though I may take it out of there if I make my way through some product before heading down to the shelter.

First impression: As you can tell, I was not impressed with Birchbox’s first attempt at this new beta option. Somehow, I ended up paying slightly more for a box I didn’t like. In hindsight, I wish I’d just skip the month entirely for the reward points.

However, if you’re looking at my April box and it seems like something you’d like, you can sign up for Birchbox here.**

May’s sample choices look to be a bit better than April’s, so maybe Birchbox will be able to redeem itself.

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Ipsy also failed to impress in April.

Up next is Ipsy. Ipsy has been killing it since last fall. March was a little less impressive, but April has set the bar for bad glam bag in 2017. Again, the products just failed to excite me, were too small, or products I didn’t want.

  • *Tarte Tarteist Quick Dry Matte Lip Paint in Delish: I’m one of those people who loved the first generation of Tarte’s liquid lipstick because it was more of a satin formula that didn’t dry out the lips. I was bummed to see that they were phasing that formula out for this more matte formula. I do love a good liquid lipstick, though, so I’m willing to try out this new version. I’m a wee bit worried about the shade, because it might lean more pink on my skin tone. Also, Tarte could be more generous with their sample size. That’s one tiny tube.
  • Elizabeth Mott Show Me Your Glow Shimmer Shadow and Highlighter: This is a pretty shimmer shade, but a little light for my complexion. On top of that, the sample is really tiny, so getting a highlighter brush in there is annoying. Into the pass on pile you go!
  • Glamour Dolls x Lisa Frank Angle Blush Brush: Ok, this brush is really cute for nostalgia purposes. And of course, I love getting tools in subscription bags. But if I’m being perfectly honest, this blush brush doesn’t feel very well made. The lightweight and construction makes me feel like I’m using one of those kid’s makeup brushes from the toy store. I’ll still try it out, but I may pass this along to one of my young cousins.
  • Theorie Marula Oil Transforming Hair Serum: I have too many hair oils. I don’t need another. Bye, girl.
  • Dream by PS Cosmeceutical Infused Nail Lacquer in Southern Sand: This is a really pretty nude nail color, which I’m happy to see Ipsy include in their bags. However, I do own similar polish colors and tones, so I’ll be passing this along to someone else.

First impression: Overall, this bag is a dud for me. Again, not bad products but nothing exciting. Ipsy was just a little off this month.

Ipsy tends to do better in the summer months, so if you’d like to get on the waitlist you can sign up here.**

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I knew it would happen eventually.

And finally, we have the first dud box from Play! by Sephora. I knew it would happen eventually, but it’s still sad to see that even what is arguably the best $10 beauty subscription can’t escape bad box months.

  • *Make Up For Ever Aqua XL Eyeliner: To be fair, this is suppose to be a great eyeliner formula. Unfortunately, Sephora opted to send a black liner, which I have way too many of. I don’t need another one and will be setting this aside for donation.
  • *Sephora Collection Waterproof Eye Makeup Remover: I really do like this makeup remover and go through my supply like candy. Perfectly happy to have another one on hand.
  • *Philosophy Purity Made Simple: Both Ulta and Sephora keep trying to push this cleanser on me. Honestly, I’m not a fan because I find it strips my skin too much. I think this is more for people with truly oily skin.
  • *Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer: Why, yes, this was already in a subscription box last month. While I like this primer, I don’t need so many samples lying around. Setting aside for donation.
  • *Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Hyaluronic Cloud Cream: I’m excited to try this. My skin loves hyaluronic acid, so I’d love to see how this moisturizer works out.
  • *Miu Miu L’Eau Bleue: This fragrance just didn’t work out for me. The scent is just a bit off and way too “fresh” smelling. I wonder if Sephora is really taking what we name as our preferences in our profile quizzes.

First Impression: Yeah, this is a dud box. Luckily, there are two samples I’m happy to have, but the majority of the box just didn’t hit home. However, I believe future boxes will go back to being the great quality they’ve been in the past.

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Keep vs. Pass On

So as you can see, I’m keeping six samples and passing on 10. Not a great month.

If you’re thinking about starting a beauty subscription, in my experience March through May are the worst months, sample wise. I would hold off until the June subscriptions to get a good feel for what beauty subscription services have to offer.

*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!

March 2017: Birchbox vs. Ipsy vs. Play! By Sephora

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These $10 subscriptions can be a lot of fun.

It’s time again for battle of the $10 subscription boxes! I’ve decided to change up my unboxings and try out this style. Boxycharm is really in a category all it’s own, since it’s twice the amount of these other subscriptions.

So were there any clear winners this month? Let’s find out!

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Contemplating whether Birchbox downgraded my boxes since I changed my subscription plan…

First up is the OG beauty box. Y’all know about my rollercoaster with Birchbox. The last two boxes got me hoping they were on the uptick. Unfortunately, it seems that it’s “a two steps forward, one step back” situation.

I wasn’t impressed with any of the sample choices or pre selected box for March. And,  yes, what I got were old, tired recycled samples and brands.

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I mean, it could be good for a new subscriber…

I do love that they did a collab with Reese Witherspoon’s company, Draper James. The box itself is absolutely adorable. The samples didn’t leave me excited, though.

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Cleansers, cleansers. I don’t really want you in my boxes.

Real Chemistry Fresh Start Foaming Cleanser (USD $24.00, full size)

I like what I’ve tried from Real Chemistry, but I’m not in the market for a new every day cleanser. I’ll probably keep this on hand for travel, but it’s a bit of a miss for me.

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A hair product I might use.

Beauty Protector Protect + Volume Spray (USD $23.50, full size)

I do like this brand, and volume is something I deal with, though mainly at the roots with second and third day hair. This could possibly fit into my routine, but I’m so overwhelmed with hair care products at the moment. It’s going to be a while before I can try this. Or maybe I’ll use it once and if it’s not impressive enough declutter it out of my collection.

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Please stop.

TOCCA Emelia Eau de Parfum (USD $72.00, full size)

Ah, how Birchbox loves throwing in perfume samples into non-pre selected boxes. This isn’t the worst I’ve gotten from Birchbox, but it’s nowhere near close to what my profile indicates I would like. A bit too fresh smelling, since I prefer warmer fragrances. It’s a waste of a sample on me.

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A repeat, but worse.

Coastal Scents Revealed Smoky Palette (USD $19.95, full size — and NOT a $40 value, as they claim)

Yes, Coastal Scents has come back to haunt me again. I decluttered this palette, which Boxycharm sent two years ago, out of my collection and now have two dinky shadow samples back in my possession. My beef with brands like Coastal Scents is that they just try to dupe high end brands instead of putting out unique palette. I don’t need a cheaper take on an Urban Decay Naked palette. Into the donation bin you go!

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A potential winner?

ARROW Enhance Waterproof Liner + Brightener (USD $16.00, full size)

This is what I picked for the box. I have other brightening nude liners in my collection, so I wasn’t excited when I picked it. However, now that I looked at it, I’m intrigued. My other nude liners are a very true nude, which does brighten my eyes but sometimes is too much of a stark contrast (aka, they give me the crazy eyes). I wonder if this more pinky formula would work better. Color me surprised, but I’m really interested in trying this out.

Verdict: Birchbox was a definite miss for me. This tends to happen in February/March, but this was particularly disappointing because of the improvement in my January and February boxes. I hope they do better, because if not I will nix by subscription.

Maybe you’re looking at my box and actually think it’s pretty great. Hey, why not give it a shot? If Birchbox appeals to you, you can sign up here.

Up next, is Ipsy.

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When you’re slightly more excited about the bag than the samples.

Ok, ok. That’s a bit of an exaggeration. But I am in love with this blush tone bag. It’s really cute for spring and the color is incredibly on trend. Plus, this is one of Ipsy’s bigger bags, so I’ll be able to stick a couple of more things in there when I travel.

The samples weren’t bad. I’m just not really enthused on first impression. If anything, I feel much better about this bag than I do what Birchbox sent.

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Great affordable brand. Not my favorite form of concealer.

City Color Photo Chic Dark Spot Corrector (USD $3.99, full size)

Ipsy got the tone of this color collector just right, since I wear peachy correctors on my tan complexion to even out dark spots (especially in the under eye area). City Color is one of my favorite affordable makeup brands. However, I just don’t like cream concealers that come in compacts. It gets way too messy and unsanitary.

I’ll be adding this to the donation bin.

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This poor company doesn’t have the most English language friendly name

Doucce Freematic Eyeshadow (USD $10.00, single or $35.00 if you build your own quad)

Doucce is one of those brands that you see all over the beauty subscription box market. I’ve tried some mascaras from them. Some I liked, others not so much. I’ve yet to try their eyeshadows, though. I was sent a wee single pan in the shade Marissa.

This is totally something I would wear. I also like that the pan is magnetized, so I can stick it in a magnetic palette. If the formula works out, this could be a great little addition to my eyeshadow collection!

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When you’re not so sure about that blush color.

OFRA Pressed Blush in Peach (USD $15.00, full size)

Man, do I love getting Ofra products in my bag. I’ve heard great things about their blushes, so I was pumped when I saw I was getting one. This peach shade looks incredibly pretty.

However…

I’m not sure if that tone will show up on me. If it has enough pigmentation, I think it’ll be fine. But with peachy shades, I need a saturated blush for it to work. Still, I’m a big fan of Ofra and am glad to at least try out the formula.

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My favorite type of skincare to get in subscriptions!

MUDMASKY Facial Detox Purifying Recovery Mask (USD $75.00*, full size)

*Wow, I did not see that high price tag coming!

I love getting masks for pampering in my subscription boxes. Of course, the majority of the time they don’t make any real difference, but they’re still fun to try. The ingredients look good for this mask, minus the inclusion of fragrance. I really don’t understand skincare brands’ desire to add so much fragrance to facial skincare. Body stuff, I get. But the skin on our face is so sensitive and the majority of the time we want ingredients that will fight inflammation and treat skin.

Anyway, this will still be fun to try.

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Tools in subscriptions are the way to my heart.

Elizabeth Mott Blending Brush (USD $15.00)

I can always use a blending brush, especially since I get lazy about cleaning my brushes. (Don’t worry, I do wash them. But it’s still such a pain in the ass.) This one from Elizabeth Mott is a nice, synthetic brush that’s soft and seems well made. I prefer synthetic brushes for the type of eyeshadow I use. I also love the aesthetic of the brush. The Tiffany Blue is a nice touch.

Verdict: Ipsy did a solid job. Again, this isn’t my favorite bag, but they’re still doing a good job of matching up products with my profile and feedback. In theory, all of these should be a hit with me, but there are some personal preferences that just don’t line up with a few of the samples. Still, I love the eyeshadow, brush, and the mask. Plus, this is probably the prettiest bag I’ve every gotten from Ipsy. It’s nice enough that you could probably get away with using it as a party clutch.

Ipsy really does get better with each feedback I give them. I think they’re doing a great job of offering a variety of samples so each month it really feels like you’re getting new things. Birchbox could learn a thing or two from Ipsy. If you want to try them out, you can sign up here.

Now, we have Play! by Sephora:

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Probably not your favorite box if you’re a fan of the matte look.

It was all about the glow over at Sephora this month. Personally, I love the theme because they’re showing how to achieve the radiant, glowy look without having to resort solely to glittery or shimmery highlighter.

I have to say, though, now that Sephora is doing box variations, I was a little disappointed with some of the products I received in my box. They’re not bad, but not as good as what was previewed for some boxes.

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You’ve got that multi purpose highlight.

Josie Maran Surreal Skin Argan Finishing Balm (USD $36.00, full size)

Apparently, this can be used as both an illuminating primer or a cream highlighter. I don’t think I would use this quite as an illuminating primer because Josie Maran’s products tend to be slightly too oily to go all over my skin. Still, I’ve been loving using cream highlighters lately under powder to boost the glow.

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And the priming, glowing moisturizer.

GLAMGLOW GLOWSTARTER Mega Illuminating Moisturizer in Nude Glow (USD $49.00, full size)

I haven’t had much luck with GlamGlow masks in the past (I just don’t see anything to justify the price), but maybe I’ll have better luck with this. I do love using an illuminating primer under matte foundation. The combination gives a beautiful finish to my skin without leaving me looking to oily. I’m excited to try this.

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Good cult classic, but…

Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion (USD $20.00, full size)

This is where I give Sephora the side-eye. Yes, Urban Decay Primer Potion is a cult classic, which is great for makeup newbies to try. (Though personally, I prefer Milani’s formula.) But, the other option in box variations was a Bobbi Brown shadow stick.

I’d much rather get the Bobbi Brown product. This is the original formula, and not even one of the new primers that have come out. I just think if you’re going to offer this as an alternate to Bobbi Brown, at least make it one of the newer launches.

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Hair oil. I have so much of this.

VERB Ghost Oil (USD $14.00, full size)

Another hair oil to add to my growing stash. The other variation was a texturizing spray, which I go through like candy and would gladly welcome.

Yeah, I’ll probably go through this eventually. But now that there are box variations, I wish  there was a way to let Sephora know that there are certain products we’d prefer in out boxes.

Or just don’t do as many variations.

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And the traditional cream highlight.

Benefit Cosmetics Watts Up! (USD $30.00, full size)

I’ve never tried this highlighter, but I’ve heard good things. Stick highlighters aren’t my favorite, but maybe this cream to powder formula will be more in line with what I like.

 

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A nice, citrusy scent.

Atelier Cologne Clementine California (USD $75.00 for 1 oz.)

I really like what I’ve sampled from Atelier Cologne. It’s a pricey fragrance brand, but if you’re a citrus lover you should really take a look at what they have to offer.

This isn’t my absolute favorite of their citrus scents, but it still smells really good. It’s a great fragrance to include in the box as we hop into spring. Very season appropriate.

Verdict: Sephora did a great job with this theme, with the exception of the variations that don’t really act as good alternates to some of the products in the other boxes. Still, there are some really interesting products in here. Sephora continues to offer a strong beauty subscription.

Sign up for the waitlist as soon as it’s available in your area. This beauty subscription is absolutely worth it.

So out of the three, were there any clear winners this month?

Honestly, Birchbox was the worst but both Ipsy and Sephora were good, though not terribly exciting. If I had to pick one, I’d give it to Sephora this month for having a few more samples that I’m enthusiastic to have. Not really a stand out, but not a bad month for subscriptions either.