If you’re wanting to feel as though you’re in on an exclusive membership, the Union Club of small mailbox-sized shipping containers jangling with moderately sized samples of moderately priced beauty products, then you may as well pass over Birchbox. Of the four monthly subscriptions I attempted to join (Birchbox, Sephora Play, Ipsy, BoxyCharm), Birchbox was the only one that allowed me to sign up and immediately receive a shipment. The other three dumped me onto their Wait Lists, with Ipsy offering me the chance to bypass the arbitrary line by spamming the shit out of my friends and loose acquaintances on Facebook. I continue to resist the urge, and they continue to send me emails promising they’re really really trying to squeeze me in. BoxyCharm hasn’t sent me a thing, and Sephora relented after about a month.
But! There’s something to be said for almost-instant gratification, so if you want to try out a beauty box for a low-stakes $10 buy-in that even gives you the option of picking one of your samples or opting for their entire Spoiler-Alert “Curated” collection, and don’t want to wait until the company has decided you’re probably not going to hand over your social media access, place your bets with Birchbox.
I have to say, right out of the waterproof USPS mailing package, Birchbox was a little jankier than the tidy lines and immaculate packaging of Sephora Play. I mean, yes…blank caveat sticker? What’s that about? YE………?
The packaging was pretty, but whatever was inside was too big to actually fit inside of it, so there were no satisfying neat edges that define a perfect box. This may sound petty. This may sound inconsequential. Why, Tabitha, are you spending so much time obsessing over a container that you’re going to throw into the recycling in 20 minutes?
Because. They have ONE GODDAMN JOB and BOX is in the fucking company NAME and the whole reason I’m signing up for this gimmicky bullshit instead of going to Ulta and wandering around on my lunch hour semi-consciously slipping crap into my shopping basket as I watch the minutes whittle down on my cell phone to the point in time at which I must go back to my desk and babysit a spreadsheet for another 3 hours is because I like lovely, perfect things arriving in a manner in which is designed to feel special and personal. When you can’t get the lid to fit on the box right and you’re just like “whatever, enjoy your 20 cents worth of moisturizer, bitch,” it sends that suspension of reality our consumer/beauty startup relies upon.
But. I digress.
I’ve joined in the month of Draper James, Reese Witherspoon’s southern lifestyle brand that’s basically Goop in spurs.
I feel like every negative thinkpiece I read about the Women’s March hinges on this patronizing letter.
Sorry, they’re opening Oregon’s first Cracker Barrel next to my office and I’ve been a little tense about southern crap recently.
Okay, here’s something neat about Birchbox! When you’re a new member you can usually find a code either on the website or on a Facebook banner near you with a promo code that will get you a free full-sized treat with your first box. Mine was a Smith’s Cult lip gloss in a shade that layers nicely over my MAC Crosswires lipstick, and sells on Amazon for $22. Not bad.
As for actual samples, the first label to catch my eye is this R&Co “Dallas” Blowout Spray (Get it? Because SOUTH!!!). First because I was sold a $30 full-sized bottle of R&Co hairspray at a fancy salon, only to get it home and have it do absolutely nothing to my baby-fine, lifeless hair. Which made me wish there was some place you could donate all of your gently used beauty products to that didn’t think your gesture was gross or bizarre, but just that you had $29.37 worth of hairspray left and it should really go to a good home. I guess what I’m saying is, does anyone in the southern Willamette Valley need some styling spray?
Anyway, TRYING that expensive stuff first is fantastic and this spray? Is awesome. It adds that desperately needed body to my hair without making it crusty or greasy, which is a tough balance to strike. I think I may have a full-size purchase love here.
In what’s turning out to be a hair-centric time, this box also included Davine’s All-In-One Milk, along with one-time usage packets of their shampoo and conditioner. I’ve been too busy with R&Co Dallas to notice what the milk can do to my hair, but the shampoo/conditioner was wonderful and smelled so good, my husband Matt wanted to know what I’d suddenly started using. But now, it’s gone. Oh the cruel tease of the box!
Moving on, I lucked out with another full-size item, an Arrow Moisturizing Pre-Lipstick. Basically a moisturizer, it does seem to work better than Burt’s Bees before applying lipstick or stain. which tends to get clumpy and greasy and gross when serious color is added. It’s much like the MAC Lip Primer I used to buy, but doesn’t smell so much like rancid coconuts and isn’t as thin and breakable. Look at you, Birchbox, already luring me away from my cult brand loyalty.
Next up, some no fuss, basic Clarin’s moisturizer. It’s clean and scentless like my favorite Kiehl’s everyday moisturizer. They are correct, hydration is essential. Can’t complain about this…although it’s hard to be that interesting about it, either. But you can’t have a cake without vanilla extract!
Ooo eee, more Benefit. I still keep using that Watt’s Up stick from Sephora Play waiting for color to actually appear and to be proven wrong about this brand, but I’m still just correct.
My pores have not vanished as of this writing. I will add an update if the situation changes.
According to MySubscriptionAddiction, the value of this box is $42, not including that nifty first month free gift that came this time. The samples are fairly generous and quality, so if they can get their box presentation skills down, this subscription won’t end up on the Chopping Block with a kaffir lime ice cream that didn’t set.