Saturday, February 6, 2016

January 2016 Birchbox

Hello there beautiful people! I am absolutely the worst when it comes to posting my subscription box reviews in an even remotely timely fashion. I do not know why I fail so hard, but I hope you all will still love me regardless. I have more faith in your being understanding than I do in my ever posting things in the actual month that I'm supposed to. ANYWAY, moving on to the topic of today's lovely post! A brand new year is here, and with it the first of many cheerful boxes full of beauty-related joy.

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 really appreciate it <3

For the first box of 2016, Birchbox has challenged each of us to pick an intention to start our year out with, complete with inspirational word stickers that we can proudly display on the covers of our boxes. As someone who generally stays within the cushy bounds of my comfort zone, I decided that the best intention I could set for the year ahead was fearlessness (as I proudly shared on my Instagram feed a few weeks back). Someone once asked me, if you could strip yourself of all of your fears and anxieties, would you be living your life any differently than you are now? And it really got me to thinking about all the ways I've held myself back from potentially wonderful experiences because I was scared. I've never travelled outside of the US because I'm generally terrified of airplanes. I've never lived outside of Connecticut because I've been afraid to start over somewhere new. I live in New England and I've never skiied because I'm scared I'm going to break myself trying.

There are countless big and little ways that my life has been shaped by fear, and I've decided that I'd rather my days ahead be shaped by what excites and interests me than by what makes me anxious or uncomfortable. Yes, fear is natural, and we're all going to be afraid of things sometimes. But I've realized that in the end, what really matters is having faith in yourself and the universe. Knowing that you are strong enough to get through things, and that the risk you take by facing your fears head on is often worth the reward. So here's to being a little bit more brave in 2016 and to taking chances I normally wouldn't take!

Fortunately, when it comes to beauty products, I think I've already got a leg up on my new goal. I'll try just about anything once, and am often pleasantly surprised by things that are a little more adventurous. My January box is the perfect example, with a few products that definitely make a statement. So let's jump right in and take a look at everything I got!

Lightweight, superpigmented lip stain that dries quickly for a sheer, matte finish that wont budge all day.

Sample Size, 3ml ? ($2.17)
Full Size, 8.3 ml ($6)

This product was the one I picked as my sample choice for the month. I don't think I was entirely paying attention when I was listening to the sneak peek video that Birchbox posted, because I assumed this product would be an alternative to Benefits Benetint or theBalm's Staniac. Alas, this product is not marketed as a lip and cheek tint, and rather is suggested for use only on the lips. I suppose there is nothing stopping you from putting this on your cheeks, but I will warn that it is VERY pigmented. Just the tiniest dab contains an insane amount of color, and being a stain, it has incredible staying power. So yes, this would be incredibly long wearing and vibrant on the cheeks, but you need to be very careful with your application so you don't end up looking like a clown. As a lip product, this is also kind of equally unforgiving. The formula is gel based, and dries down matte, but is not opaque like a liquid lipstick. That being said, if the surface of your lips is at all uneven or chapped, the stain will cling to those areas, making your lips look patchy and uneven. Ultimately I'm not head-over-heels in love with this product, but mostly because I just don't think this kind of formulation is my favorite. However, if you are a fan of red lip stains, this one is very affordable and long wearing.

This eyeliner deliveres the same smudgeproof, rich color in a thicker, bolder line than the original skinny liner.

Full Size, 3.5g ($16)

You can never go wrong with black liquid liner in my book. However, I've already got so many of them in use that I've decided not to crack this one open yet. I've used Eyeko's Skinny Eyeliner before, and the formula on it was pretty amazing, so I have faith that this one will be great as well. The only thing I'm not 100% sure about is the "fat" applicator tip. Maybe it will make lining my eyes super quick and easy, or maybe it will be chunky and difficult to control. Either way, when I finally get around to trying this I will give you guys an update! I should also mention that this eyeliner is full sized, which is totally amazing to see in a subscription box.

Made with 30 percent aloe vera, this foaming wash cleans, calms, and rebalances skin.

Sample Size, 1 oz ($2.83)
Full Size, 6 oz ($17)

This is the second product I've sampled from Key West Aloe through Birchbox, and generally I've formed a pretty positive opinion of the brand. Aloe does amazing things for your skin, so I'm all for it being one of the primary ingredients in this cleanser. It lathers really well and gets your skin clean without being overly drying. I'm still on the fence of how great a job this does of removing makeup on its own, but it definitely is a solid second step after a micellar water or other makeup remover. I'm also a bit iffy on the scent. It's citrusy, which I am usually all about, but there is something vaguely artificial about the smell that sort of gets to me. It's not incredibly offensive, but it's not addictive either.

This scent has top notes of bergamot and spearmint and base notes of amber, french vanilla, and a hint of oakmoss.

Sample Size, 3ml ? ($4.80)
Full Size, 50 ml ($80)

Speaking of addictive scents, I AM ADDICTED TO THIS FRAGRANCE. Usually I feel sort of neutral about perfume samples in subscription boxes (they don't irritate me, but they don't excite me either), but I am really happy to have received this one. Something about the way that this blends with my body chemistry is absolutely perfect, and I just can't get enough of it. It's warm, yet fresh, and totally lovely. The full sized bottle is hella pricey, but maybe with a discount code and some points I'd be willing to make the splurge.

This polish has an ergonomically-designed bottle, flawless finish brush, and amazingly pigmented, long-lasting color.

Sample Size, 5 ml ($5.56)
Full Size, 13.5 ml ($15)

I have a bit of love/hate relationship with this polish. In the bottle I absolutely LOVE the way that it looks. I think the combination of colors and glitter is incredibly unique and makes for a perfect statement shade. However, the finish on this polish makes me kind of grumbly. Because it's so packed with glitter particles, it has a very rough, sandpaper-y texture that I just don't like. Even sealed with a thick, shiny topcoat it still maintains the same appearance. If I could just keep this same polish, and have a smooth, gel like finish instead I would be all over it.

And there you have it! Better late than never, right? My total box value adds up to about $31, which is a very respectable number. There was no information about the amount of product on some of my samples, so I had to guestimate a little. Still, getting a full-sized eyeliner worth $16 makes my $10 subscription fee totally worth it. Plus, I also earned $5 back in Birchbox points by reviewing my samples online. Ain't nothing wrong with that!

Are you a Birchbox subscriber? What did you get in your January box?