Sunday, February 2, 2014

December 2013 Birchbox

Good morning world!  I've decided that today is going to be a day of playing catch up. Catching up on my TV shows. Catching up on my ironing. And most importantly, catching up on my subscription box reviews. Even though today is February 2nd, it just feels wrong to totally skip over my December Birchbox and Glambag posts. I've been working on these as well as my January reviews, so expect to see all four in the very near future.

To kick things off, here's a look at what I got in my December Birchbox. The theme for the 2013 holiday season was Sparkle & Shine, and even our boxes were dressed for the occasion. I always hate admitting when I'm bummed out by the contents of my box, because I do love Birchbox and their service as a whole, but I was a bit let down for this much anticipated holiday version.

The Skinny on Birchbox

Birchbox is a beauty and lifestyle subscription service that sends a personalized box of of 5 deluxe samples to your doorstep every month.

What it costs: $10 monthly

Why it's special: After completing your in-depth beauty profile, Birchbox will send you a specially curated box of samples that they think you might love to try. It's the perfect way to discover new brands, or products you might not have thought to try yourself! Birchbox will also occasionally throw in an extra lifestyle goodie like a granola bar, tea, or hair tie to your box as well.

What you get back: Birchbox gives you the opportunity to review each of the samples in your monthly box for 10 Birchbox points a piece. 100 points is worth $10 in the Birchbox shop, which is full of everything from makeup and skincare, to adorable stationary, to jewelry and more. Since each Birchbox has at least 5 samples, you can easily earn 100 points every two months you're subscribed!

Want to know more? You can read about all of the awesome perks of Birchbox here. You can also view all of my previous Birchbox reviews here.

Interested in becoming a subscriber? Use my referral link to join and let Birchbox know I sent you their way!

I just wasn't very much in love or excited by any of the samples that I got this month, which happens sometimes. Every box can't be a winner. Regardless, here's the lowdown on what I got for the month of December.

This natural hydrator from the eco-friendly line softens with honey and organic chamomile.

Full Size (8 oz), $15
Sample Value, $1.88

I was pleasantly surprised to see this little lotion in my box. I had actually stumbled upon the BeeKind line several years ago when I was on vacation in Maine with my mom. The bed and breakfast we were staying at offered BeeKind Shampoo and Conditioner as their complimentary toiletries, and I totally fell in love with their lemon verbena fragrance. So seeing this lotion in my Birchbox was a happy blast from the past. This lotion is formulated to be free of parabens, phthalates, petrol-derived ingredients, mineral oil, urea, DEA, TEA, and propylene glycol, and totes much healthier alternatives of honey and chamomile extracts instead. It's very lightweight, so it might not offer enough hydration in these extra dry winter months, but it would certainly be a lovely summertime moisturizer.

Keratin-infused styling lotion that seals the hair cuticle to tame frizz and add shine.

Full size (4 oz), $17.50
Sample Value, $4.38

I'm not going to lie, I'm often super lazy with styling my hair. I guess I've only made it a habit because I'm blessed with stick straight hair that doesn't require a ton of effort to look decent. If I want to have a great hair day I'll go through the trouble of blow drying, but more often than not I'm okay with its air dried appearance. Therefore, heat shields and smoothing products don't often find much use in my day-to-day beauty regimen. I tried using this styling lotion a few times, and it did make my hair soft and smooth, although it doesn't really need any help in the straight department. If air drying I found this to be a little too heavy, but I think it's really meant to act as a heat shield before straight ironing your hair. Perhaps I will pass this along to one of my curly haired friends that may benefit more from using this type of product.

Exclusive to Birchbox, this pearly lotion creates a dewy, fresh-from-the-spa glow.

Full Size (1 oz), $29
Sample Value, $7.83

I do love a good highlighting product. They can really add dimension to your features and brighten up the look of your face as a whole. With the lotion-type highlighters I often like to mix them into my foundation to add a subtle all-over glow. I can't say that I noticed a huge difference when adding this to my daily BB cream, but perhaps it made my skin look a bit dewy-er? In the end I think I much prefer highlighting powders or pencils that allow for application to precise areas. Aka, I'm still too in love with my Ambient Lighting Powder Palette to fully appreciate anything else.

This gentle scrub balances oil levels and brightens skin with ground apricot seeds.

Full Size (30 mls), $16
Sample Value, $1.60

Facial exfoliators are always so much fun to use, especially at this time of year when your skin is extra flaky and parched. I was a bit disappointed by how itty bitty this particular sample was. I felt like I could maybe get two solid uses out of this tube before it'd be gone, which to me isn't really enough uses to properly review a product. It has a pleasant, fruity smell, and the finely ground apricot seeds offer a nice, gentle exfoliation. Overall it's a pretty solid exfoliator, but nothing that wow-ed me. I've got plenty of alternatives lined up in my bathroom cabinet, so I think I'm going to pass on investing in the full-size of this for now.

Colorful snag-free bands to keep hair secure-without leaving telltale creases.

$12 for 6 bands
Sample Value, $2

Ahh, the Twistband. I remember being extra excited about these when I first realized they existed. Compared to the regular old hair tie, these are extra pretty and come in a wide range of patterns and colors. Unfortunately, now that I've invested in quite a few Twistbands and their copycats, I can't say that I'm as in love as I want to be. They are the cutest everyday hair accessories I own, but as a hair tie they often frustrate me a bit. They claim to not leave creases in your hair, which may be the case if I left my ponytail loose enough that it didn't feel secure. Perhaps that is my biggest gripe, which may just be the result of the texture and thickness of hair I've got. I often feel like I need three twists to make my hair feel secure, and Twistbands (especially new ones) don't seem to want to be stretched past two. Still, they look awfully pretty around your wrist (which is where my hair ties often are).

So there you have it, folks. It may be a few months late, but better that than no review at all! Even though this box was a bit of a let down for me (both value-wise and in terms of the types of products I got), my January box (which I will be posting about soon) totally made up for it. If you're interested in learning more about Birchbox and how you can sign up to be a subscriber, check out my detailed run-down here.

Total Value: $17.69