Birchbox July 2013 Unboxing & Review

My first beauty subscription box of the month arrived over the weekend… BIRCHBOX!

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Birchbox is a beauty-themed monthly subscription box service featuring both well-established and budding cosmetic and skincare brands, hair care items and occasional snack items which boasts an ambitious tagline, “Discover your next EVERYTHING.”

For a flat $10 monthly fee, Birchbox promises between 5-6 items, ranging from sample sized to full-size items to help aid the discovery of your new favorite erh… everything.  After you receive your items, you can review each piece on the Birchbox site to receive 10 points per review (10 points = $1) to accumulate and use in the Birchbox store. The review feature is probably what keeps me coming back for more, since each month has at least 5 pieces for review, which drops my box price to around $5 monthly in the grand scheme of things. 🙂

Each month also has a different theme, and Birchbox often links up with magazines and TV shows (like Woman’s Health Magazine and USA’s ‘Suits’) to help support their themes.

Now Birchbox and I; we go way back. At least, we go back longer than my other subscription services: Birchbox and I have been ‘going steady’ since November 2012. And since we have a history, I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with this monthly service. I have had both STRUTS and STUMBLES with Birchbox and lately I have been feeling like this box is a bit… dull? I have felt a little short-changed by Birchbox, especially since they have developed a rather loathsome habit lately which will be discussed a bit later in this review.

On to this month’s box: Birchbox July 2013 “Power Play” Unboxed

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Looks like a good amount of stuff right? Here’s what I received in this month’s “Power Play” themed box:

Let’s start with the most offensive items in the box: Kérastase’s Bain Chroma Riche shampoo & Kérastase’s Masque Chroma Riche Treat conditioner in the LOATHSOME foil packets.

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My deep seeded hatred for foil packets has been around since my first job as a wee lass working behind a makeup counter. Clients would always ask me, “Why do you give us such puny  samples in these foil packets, don’t you know we can’t get more than one use out of them? How are we supposed to know if we really like a product?” My response was always to shove more foil packets their way as a means of appeasement, but now as a seasoned cosmetic consumer, I get it. The only thing that irks me more than a foil packet sample is a foil packet sample for hair product. Let me explain…

1) Unless the foil packet is the size of a snack-sized Ziploc, it isn’t going to be enough product for even one full use in my hair. I MIGHT be able to squeeze one use out of these particular packets, but come on Birchbox, you know I have 18ish inch hair… I took your survey plenty of times! If you are going to send me something and ask for my feedback, please at least send me enough to formulate an actual opinion about whether or not I like it…

2) These samples have NO real value. I am a member of the P&G sampling program, where (upon request) they send me FREE foil packets just like these ones, just because they want me to try out the products from their brand. I know Birchbox is only $10 a month, but putting these in the box on a monthly basis makes the box look cheap and I want to feel like I am getting value.

Fingers crossed it doesn’t happen again next month. Ok, rant over.

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The next item I pulled out of the box was a rather small (at least it wasn’t a foil packet!) sample of the BENTA BERRY G-1 Moisturizing Face Cream. I haven’t tried anything from this brand before, but as a first impression, I liked the texture of the cream and it didn’t have an off-putting aroma, so I will try it out and review it in a future post. The size looks like it is enough to get about 3 days use out of, so that should be enough to decide whether or not it is a strut or stumble.

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The next item in my box was teased in the Birchbox July Sneek Peek video: Birchbox Branded Hair Pins. These pins are cute and whimsical with the mint green pattern, so I can see myself getting some use out of them. I like it when companies send these little ‘surprise extras,’ since they give me a chance to try something new. Birchbox sent us a branded nail file a few months back as another “Beauty Extra” and it has come in handy as well. Would I have purchased printed pins like these on my own? Probably not. Will I give them a whirl? Certainly. They were a nice addition to the box and I have no harsh feelings toward Birchbox for shamelessly sending us branded product. 🙂

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When I saw another tube of product in my box, I was really hoping it wasn’t going to be just another face cream and to my surprise and delight, it wasn’t! This Pür Minerals CC Cream Broad Spectrum SPF 40 has me all kinds of excited to put it on my face. I have been looking for something a little lighter to wear on my face for the summer, and BB & CC creams are all the rage lately in cosmeticsland. The sample size is generous, so I will likely get a week’s use out of the tube and I will get a chance to really decide if I like it. The color also looks like it is on point and the texture didn’t feel the least bit greasy when I swatched the product, so Birchbox gets a high five for including this in my July box.

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Concluding this month’s Birchbox offerings was a FULL-SIZED ModelCo Party Proof Lipstick in “Get Naked.” This is the hat trick that keeps me coming back for more with Birchbox, you never know what will be in your box! This sheer nude lipstick is both lovely and functional, two of my favorite things in a cosmetic item. It glides on smoothly, has a pleasant scent and the packaging is pretty darn cute to stash inside any makeup bag. I also really like the ‘keyhole’ top of the tube that allows you to see the color of the lipstick, great for upright storage in my makeup kit where this little buddy will probably end up someday. For now, I plan to wear this and experiment with nude for a while and I will post a further review up at a later date. 🙂

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So that wraps it up for my July 2013 Birchbox unboxing! Here is a breakdown of the approximate value of each of the items in the box:

Kérastase’s Bain Chroma Riche shampoo: Value $1.90

Kérastase’s Masque Chroma Riche Treat conditioner: Value $4.58

BENTA BERRY G-1 Moisturizing Face Cream: Value $3.67

Birchbox Branded Hair Pins: Value $1.67

ModelCo Party Proof Lipstick in “Get Naked”: Value $8

Pür Minerals CC Cream Broad Spectrum SPF 40: Value $7.60

Total Value: $27.42 ($20.94 if you don’t count the stupid foil packets)

I have to say, this month’s Birchbox was a little shaky at first, but I am going to have to say they pulled it out with a STRUT in the final inning. Yes, I think the foil packets are lame, but the CC cream, hair pins and full-sized lipstick gave me a satisfactory return on my meager investment in this month’s box so I will be continuing my monthly subscription. And since I received 6 products in this box versus the usual 5 we have to review, it drops my actual sample box price to a mere $4. (happy dance) Bravo Birchbox 🙂

If you would like to join me monthly with Birchbox, please use my referral link to sign up! I get points when people use my link, so if you like my reviews, please pay it forward lovelies 🙂 Shameless, I know.

If you’re already subscribed, I would love to hear what you got in your own box! Also looking for suggestions as to which items you all would like to see reviewed, so don’t be shy and leave me a comment. 🙂

Until next time, thank you all for reading my post and I hope you’re having a wonderful day.

struts, stumbles, hugs & kisses- Nicole

Unboxing video for Birchbox July 2013!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bBX8sSS58eM&w=420&h=315]

SuperGoop! Why you smell so bad?

If you got a chance to check out my PopSugar Must Have Box unboxing video for July 2013, you got to see me lose my marbles about the Supergoop! Spf 30 Anti-Aging City Sunscreen Serum that came in the box. As promised, I wanted to share with you how I feel about the product past my first impressions and I feel the need to warn you all; it’s a doozy.

I love sunscreen, my favorite of late being the Josie Maran Argan Oil Daily Moisturizer SPF 40+. This product feels phenomenal and has yet to make me break out. It even protected me from a sunburn for a full Coachella weekend in the blazing desert sun. This product has been my ‘go to’ daily moisturizer and sunscreen for a good three months now and I really love it, but since the Supergoop! showed up in my PopSugar box this month I figured I would give it a whirl.

Here is the skinny on the Supergoop! Anti-Aging UV Damage Repair Complex:

  • Broad Spectrum SPF 30
  • Clinically Tested
  • Paraben Free
  • Fragrance Free ***
  • Oxybenzone Free
  • No Animal Testing
  • Gluten Free

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It all sounds great right? Unfortunately, this product was NOT a home run for me, which is quite the bummer.

I have to attribute the shortcomings of this product to two specific issues: the texture and the SCENT. To be fair, the texture is something I could live with, but the scent is nearly unbearable.

The texture is STICKY, which (in retrospect) may be appropriate for a product with the word ‘goop’ in it. I prefer a fluid-like texture to a thick moisturizer on my face, so perhaps someone who enjoys the latter would disagree with me that this is a misstep for this product. When I was swatching the Supergoop! I immediately noticed how sticky and stringy it was, which is a little unsettling to say the least.

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Kinda gross right? Maybe it is just me, I just get a little bit of the heebie jeebies when a moisturizer gets that stringy. But like I said, I could get past it if that was my only qualm with this product. The real issue is something that simply cannot be ignored; the stench.

My best description for what this moisturizer smells like would be a combination of body odor, rotting fruit and the byproduct of some sort of toxic chemicals in a lab if you mixed all three of those stenches together and left them in a dirty car parked in the 103 degree sun for about a week. I may be exaggerating a bit but I really find the scent ‘off-putting’ at the very least.

Maybe I am spoiled with the yummy, natural yet almost edible scent of my Josie moisturizer? I have worked for plenty of skincare brands in the past, and many of them didn’t have the best scents to their product, but for this Supergoop! item, maybe ‘fragrance-free’ wasn’t the smartest decision on their part.

In all, I did like the way the sunscreen settled in to my skin after I rubbed it in, and the odor disappeared very quickly after the product was absorbed in the skin, so I could use this product occasionally when I am out in the sun at the beach or the river or something. But as an every day moisturizer and sun protectant, I’m going to have to say no to Supergoop! on this one.

Here are the swatches of the product on my hand:

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Glad I didn’t have to shell out the $42 at Sephora to try this one out. I wouldn’t mind trying some other items from Supergoop! in the future, I just hope they get their heads together and figure the scent problem out.

For now, I am just going to have to write off the Supergoop! Spf 30 Anti-Aging City Sunscreen Serum as a STUMBLE

Have any of you every tried the Supergoop! Spf 30 Anti-Aging City Sunscreen Serum? Did I have unrealistic expectations for it? Please let me know! 🙂

struts, stumbles, hugs & kisses- Nicole

PopSugar Must Have Box July 2013

I admit it. I have a problem.

I love monthly subscription services. Like, LOVE them.

And indisputably, Popsugar’s Monthly Must Have Box is by far my favorite. Why, you ask? Because it is like Christmas in my mailbox once a month! Allow me to briefly explain. 🙂

Popsugar’s Monthly Must Have Box is a monthly subscription service featuring a variety of products and brands to make most red blooded American females like myself squeek with delight. For $35 a month plus tax, over $100 worth of products are delivered to your doorstep, all packaged up in an adorable pink and white box. It may be a stretch, but I think PopSugar arrival day is my favorite day of the month.

The July 2013 PopSugar Must Have Box didn’t disappoint. Here’s the contents of the box, I’ll be sure to post reviews as I try out each of the products 🙂

When I came home from work, I got the biggest smile on my face seeing this:

(yes I have a lawn gnome collection. it’s a long story)

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I scurried inside and tore open the box to find the monthly information card which looks like this:

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I ravaged through the contents (video below) to find this awesome assortment of products!

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First off was the Mighty Leaf Iced Tea in Ginger Peach: Value $6.25. I’m not a huge fan of peach tea, but one of my girlfriends who also got this month’s box got a Calypso Mango Tea from Mighty Leaf and agreed to swap me a bag, so now I get to try two different kinds. Aren’t friends grand?

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The next piece I found in my box was a bit of a mystery at first, but I saw it was a PINK item so no matter what it was, I knew I was going to like it. Turns out it was a pink Trovolo King Cube Ice Tray: Value $8.50. I’m intrigued by the idea of extra large ice cubes. Nobody likes a watered down beverage, so these will be fun to use for entertaining or getting my drink on at home. I also am looking forward to freezing fruit or flowers in to the cubes to make them more festive for any upcoming company I may have over. (Thanks Pinterest!!!)

I also received a bag of HannahMax Dark Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookie Chips: Value $2.50. I’m going to be honest, these are already GONE. Unfortunately, my bag was beyond smushed when I received it, so I didn’t get the whole ‘chip’ experience, it was more like a ‘shattered bits and crumbs’ experience with these, but they were delicious nevertheless and were promptly inhaled by my boyfriend and I. I would purchase them again if I can find them in stores, but I’m not sure exactly where to find them.

I was really excited to see that they included some nail polish in the box this month, the color I received was NCLA Polish in “As If”: Value $16. I have seen a lot of NCLA product floating around YouTubeLand and I am really eager to try the brand for myself. The color is an almost neon hue of a pastel purple, (yes I know those are two conflicting adjectives, just go with me on this one) which is probably my favorite color of all time. I am a huge pastel freak, probably because I am a SPRING baby, and I desperately need to get my nails and toes done this week so I am very excited to try this product.

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As soon as I saw the SuperGoop! in my box, I was both baffled and elated. I occasionally freelance in Sephora and I always see this brand there and have been eager to try it, so I’m very happy to have received in my box the Supergoop! Spf 30 Anti-Aging City Sunscreen Serum: Value $42. The packaging for this item was a bit strange, but once I moved past the misshapen box I got to the actual bottle which is FULL-SIZED and has an easy to use pump delivery system. I will definitely post a review on this as I go through it, since I am the ultimate white girl and I’m always on the hunt for a life-changing sunscreen.

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The last item in my box was a rather heavy felt bag from BaubleBar. I have seen BaubleBar’s pieces on the Ipsy site for referral rewards, but never have had a chance to check out their quality in person and after opening my piece this month, I was frankly blown away. The item I got in my box was a BaubleBar Dual Chain Rose Gold Necklace: Value $28 and it is HEAVY and gorgeous! I have never owned any rose gold accessories up until now, though I have always drooled for the hue. This necklace is chunky and beautiful and definitely a statement piece. The first time I wore it, I got a compliment from both the office receptionist AND my boss, before I even made it to my desk. Needless to say, PopSugar hit it out of the park with this piece and I am VERY impressed with BaubleBar as well.

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Here I am wearing the necklace 🙂

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So that’s it for my July 2013 PopSugar Must Have Box! I was very impressed with all the items I received and also very impressed with the value of the box, rounding out at about $103.25 worth of product for my mere $35 plus tax investment.

PopSugar has already sent out a teaser e-mail to subscribers about the August 2013 box and even revealed one of the items will be a necklace from Gorjana & Griffon, valued at $65. I have never seen a teaser for this box before, so this is a welcomed surprise. I (obviously) will be continuing my subscription and CAN’T WAIT to see the rest of the August 2013 box. If you would like to join me, I am attaching my own referral link as well as a coupon for $5 off your first box below.

Here is the $65 necklace in the August Box!

PopSugar August Necklace

To subscribe, here is my referral code: http://popsu.gr/dEiI

And a $5 off coupon: REFER5

Thank you all for checking out my post! Please ‘like’ and subscribe if you enjoyed this post and feel free to check out the whole unboxing in my video below!

Have a great day everyone 🙂

struts, stumbles, hugs & kisses- Nicole

Here is my unboxing video for PopSugar Must Have Box July 2013:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OIEBcmOxWoo&w=420&h=315]

FTC: This post is not sponsored in any way. The opinions expressed in this post are my own and I am not being paid to do this review. PopSugar Must Have Box purchased by me.