Throughout March and April I’ve been testing out subscription boxes, like Ipsy, Birchbox, and Sephora Play. These are low-priced little monthly splurges at $10 a pop, and I’ve already eliminated one from my diet (the salty Birchbox). But as I was doing idly internet researching about these subscriptions and their followers, another tier of boxes started to emerge.
Hey, girl. You want some real beauty box shit? You’ve gotta move up to the $21 full-size subs.
The Alexander Hamilton boxes largely feature miniature samples to give you a taste of what the product does and whether you’re going to cough up cash for a life-size version. You know. A SAMPLE. Every so often you’ll get a full-size lipstick or liner pencil tossed in just to keep you from thinking you’re getting ripped off by companies that pay little to nothing for trial sizes of different brands they ship out, but it’s not the norm.
But these pricier boxes promise full-size samples on a monthly basis, along with more luxe and valuable products like brushes and tools.
That sounds cool, I thought in whatever drunken/sleep deprived state that found me, several weeks ago, forking over my credit card digits to BoxyCharm and Glossybox.
After an almost two week journey passing my house no less than 3 times (thanks, FedEx “Smart”Post), my BoxyCharm box was delivered yesterday. I liked the cute social media flap, because I am dumb and easy to please and I’ve already established how I feel about well-conceived boxes.
The first thing to roll out of the package was this set of Easter egg makeup sponges. I haven’t used a makeup sponge since my early twenties, when I bought them in giant bricks at Target where you tore off a Swiss cheese wedge of makeup application after your last one grew too scuzzy. I graduated into the snobby world of Makeup Brushes and didn’t look back. These look like the yoni eggs that Gwyneth Paltrow wants you to shove inside your v. According to the accompanying reference card, these retail for $35. This made my beauty bullshitometer explode. This looks like a quirky addition I’d pick up for someone’s spa-themed gift basket at Marshall’s for $6.99.
But, whatever. It might be worth a try to see if I’m missing out on a miracle of application technology.
Next up, a giant bottle of shampoo. I had to photograph it in my hand to emphasize the fact that this is a real bottle of shampoo.
All the other little shampoos and sprays from Ipsy, Birchbox, and Sephora? I could put them in the hand of my Kirsten American Girl doll and it would be life-sized. This is good, I thought. Emergency shampoo is a blessing.
Then, a giant full-sized compact full of highlighter.
This is the kind of compact that would last me two years, like my last little MAC disk of blush. I felt overwhelmed with commitment…I could see the life of this compact in my makeup bag in this year, and the next, and up until the impending apocalypse. It would get cracked and covered in that nasty flecky dust that permeates every makeup bag and I’d never throw it away because it wasn’t empty, but I’d never asked for it in the first place.
Next, this entire tube of lip gloss in a shade that is 25 swatches away from anything I’d ever be able to wear.
This is where I realized, I don’t want random tons of makeup showing up at my house every month. I want tiny bites to try out. I want a chance to say “oh this is great and I’m going to buy this and love it forever and suggest it to all those I know and love” or to say “nahh” and not feel bad for tossing it out because it’s just a freaking little sample. I am, when it comes down to it, picky. I know what lipstick is going to work for me and which ones are going to look like flaming trash. I have learned that purple shampoo is the only kind that is safe for peroxide-pummeled hair. I am in love with my brushes and I’m too damn old to be learning The Ways of The Sponge. These big-ass boxes are too damn much. They’re a front-door assault. They are an imposition. They don’t ask for permission to maybe, someday, if you’re both ready and in love, to become part of your beauty and makeup regimen. They dive bomb in screaming BUCKLE UP, BUTTERCUP!!!! like an estranged relative on Facebook and insist you find a spot in your rotation, or give them away.
I brought the impossible lip gloss, along with a confounding palette of concealers, to my office. I sent out an email promising FREE MAKEUP!! to anyone who’d come by my desk. Only one person took me up on it. My coworkers are, obviously, a lot smarter than I am. At the same time, I clicked the Cancel My Subscription button on BoxyCharm, along with the half-dozen subsequent “Are You Sure?” buttons.
And it felt unexpectedly good. Not just knowing I’d be saving myself $21 a month (although depriving myself of a hundred dollars worth of value, allegedly), but knowing that I knew myself well enough to realize I don’t just like makeup. I like a look that I’ve designed to look right on my face, and is relatively painless to apply on weekday mornings, and doesn’t aggravate my ridiculously sensitive skin, and won’t look laughably trendy when I come across pictures of myself ten years from now (I’m looking at you, frosty eyeshadow of 2007). It’s the realization of knowing what you want; when everything else becomes white noise.