Saturday, January 28, 2012

Birchbox One Year Later. Is Birchbox Really Worth It?


I signed up for Birchbox at the end of December 2010, having had some experience with a beauty-program-delivered-to-your-door from years ago.  

Because I blog and do videos for YouTube, I decided to take the plunge and share my experience with my viewers.  For me, $10 per month is not going to break the bank and part of the appeal was that I could cancel at any time.  I also liked the fact that I could rate products and accumulate points towards future purchases.  

I whipped out my debit card, filled out my Beauty Profile and I eagerly awaited my first Birchbox. I expected to receive a mix of the following samples each month - hair care, skin care, cosmetics, fragrance and maybe one miscellaneous item from (mostly) different companies, based upon my hair color, eye color, and skin type.  The miscellaneous item is in there because I selected that option in my Beauty Profile.  I don't mind getting something that is not beauty related - but more on that later.  

It is important to remember that the idea behind Birchbox is that it is a sample program.  Try it and buy it, or try it and toss it.  It's that simple.  You usually get around 5, (supposedly deluxe) samples a month or, around 60 samples per year.  You are paying $2 per sample. And I can guarantee that you are not going to like all 60 samples, and most certainly not every sample is "deluxe".

My Birchbox year started off with a bump, accelerated like a rocket, and ended on a whimper.

Some months definitely tried my patience and after August something seemed to go awry and I felt like the team at Birchbox were ignoring our Beauty Profiles and just dumping anything into some of our boxes.  

By December 2011, my Birchbox videos had been viewed over 100,000 times, and I got so much feedback from my viewers about Birchbox that I decided to blog about the realities of Birchbox.  And many of my viewers had become disillusioned with Birchbox and canceled their subscriptions in favor of other hot, new beauty sample programs.  But many more have chosen to stay with Birchbox - for the time being at least.

January 2011 Birchbox

Ahava - Dermud Intensive Nourishing Hand Cream
Dr. Dennis Gross - Alpha Beta Peel (skin peel)
MyFaceWorks - Sheet Mask (face mask)
Oscar Blandi - Olio Jasmine Hair Serum
Birchbox Treat - Zhena's Gypsy Tea - Coconut Chai Black Tea


I ended up giving away the tea because no one in my house would drink it and I gave away the Ahava hand cream because I couldn't stand the scent of it.  These are not bad products, but they were just not for me.  The other products were good but I have not purchased them, which means I probably never will.

This was my first Birchbox and it was kind of ho-hum.  Nothing earth-shattering here.

RATING: 3 out of 5

February 2011 Birchbox

Bare Escentuals - Flawless Definition Volumizing Mascara
Befine - Exfoliating Brown Sugar Cleanser
NARS - Orgasm Illuminator
Pomega5 - Green Tea Mattifying Moisturizer
Birchbox Treat - Sweetriot - Chocolate-Covered Cacao Nibs


This Birchbox was so good and undoubtedly one of the years best - that it prompted many of my viewers to subscribe to Birchbox!  It was truly as advertised - filled with deluxe samples.  

I still have a good amount of the divine NARS Orgasm Illuminator left because you only need a small amount of product and it was truly a deluxe sample!  I had never tried this product before, and it prompted me to revisit NARS (after years of abstinence) and I ended up spending far too much $$ on NARS in 2011!

I was introduced to the company Befine and their incredible Brown Sugar Sweet Almond & Oats Exfoliating Cleanser which leaves your skin super-soft.  Even my mother and sister now use Befine products because of this one sample. 

I loved the Pomega5 Green Tea Mattifying Moisturizer, but the scent was overwhelming to me, which is a pity because the product itself is so good.  But if you like the scent of green tea, try this product - it's really good.

My husband nibbled the Sweetriot nibs and really enjoyed them (I'm not keen on coffee).  I have had more Sweetriot chocolate since this Birchbox and if I see it I'll buy it.

RATING: 5 out of 5

March 2011 Birchbox

Blow - Thickening Mist
Marvis - Classic Mint Toothpaste
Pangea Organics - Lip Balm
Birchbox Extra - Pangea Organics - Egyptian Geranium Scrub
Pomega5 - Daily Revitalizing Concentrate
Birchbox Treat - Brow Brush


I like the Blow Thickening Mist, but I have only used it a few times I still have a lot left.  Nothing earth shattering for me here and I would not purchase this again.

I love the idea of organic toothpaste because regular toothpaste contains so many nasty chemicals, but Marvis didn't do it for me. Quite a few of my viewers didn't care to get the toothpaste, but I think that dental health is essential and I'm open to sample many more.  I just think that Marvis didn't do the job well enough and I would not purchase it.

Pangea Organics? Yes to both the facial scrub and the lip balm!  I did not purchase any full size Pangea Organics in 2011 products but I will in the future.  Pangea is on my shopping list.

As for the Pomega5 Daily Revitalizing Concentrate - it is a repeat brand for the second month in a row, but this product is good and I would purchase it.

The Birchbox treat was the little spoolie wand.  It's cute and compact, but I've never used it.  There were complaints about this item - one of which was that this wand appeared to be from the Dollar Store - but I don't mind it.  I have just forgotten to use it for the past 11 months...


Unfortunately, from this point on Birchbox started including multiple Pangea Orgranics (and multiple Ahava products) in some of the Birchboxes and many for many viewers this became annoying after receiving Pangea and Ahava products for the umpteenth time!  While I don't mind receiving about two products from the same company within a year, I don't want 4 products from Ahava, thank you very much!  Ditto the response from many of my viewers and this became a touchy subject leading to Birchbox cancelations.  

RATING: 4 out of 6

April 2011 Birchbox

Juice Beauty - Green Apple Peel
Juice Beauty - Stem Cellular Repair Eye Cream
LIV GRN - Earth de Parfum
Weleda - Wild Rose Smoothing Facial Lotion
Zoya - Nail Polish in Caitlin
Bloomin - Seed Paper


With this Birchbox I was introduced to one of my all time favorite brands - Zoya!  Since April I have purchased at least 10 Zoya nail polishes, and other Zoya products like scrubs and nail polish remover.  I wore Zoya nail polish in Shay and it lasted 10 whole days with only one teeny chip!  This is incredible for a nail polish -  although not all Zoya polish lasts that long, I find they do last longer than almost any other nail polishes.  In the scheme of the year, Zoya was one of my favorites!

I loved Juice Beauty's Green Apple Peel and Stem Cellular Repair Eye Cream, and Weleda's Wild Rose Smoothing Facial Lotion.  But would I buy them?  I'm not sure.  Great products but I kind of forgot all about them until I started writing this blog post.  So, nothing wrong with the products, but out of sight, out of mind...

The LIV GRN Earth de Parfum is pleasant, but I haven't actually worn the sample and I wouldn't buy it.  It reminded me a little of the Donna Karan Be Delicious scent.  Very pleasant but I wouldn't buy that either.

I had every good intention of planting the Bloomin Seed Paper and growing a garden full of heavenly flowers, but the reality is that the seed paper is still in a drawer in my kitchen...

By April, Birchbox was on a roll and this was the third really good box I had received in a row.  Absolutely worth the $10.  

But lets face it - the Juice Beauty Stem Cellular Repair Eye Cream is NOT a deluxe sample!

And from my viewers, I heard rumblings about the fragrance being less than deluxe (although I disagree on this point as this particular vial of perfume is larger than your average perfume sample). 

RATING: 6 out of 6

May 2011 Birchbox

Stila - Black Cat Eye Shadow
Bulgari - Mon Jasmin Noir
Erno Laszlo - Transphuse Night Serum
Archipelago - Pomegranate Soap
Birchbox Treat - Tiny Prints Card
Birchbox Extra - Oribe Beautiful Color Shampoo and Conditioner


In May, the magic continued!  

This Birchbox included one of my all time favorite makeup brands, Stila!  I was already familiar with their finely milled, high quality eye shadows and I didn't have one in the color Black Cat.  I did buy many Stila items 2011, including a their fabulous In the Light Palette.  Love, love, love!

And then there was Mon Jasmin Noir.  I fell in love with this sexy fragrance and promptly purchased a full size bottle.

A surprising addition was the Erno Laszlo - Transphuse Night Serum.  A favorite brand of Marilyn Monroe and always beyond my budget, this really was a treat.  I enjoyed it but the sample was too small for me to determine if it was worth spending $190 (shudder!) on a single product.  Simply because of the price, I doubt I'll be purchasing this serum - ever.

The Archipelago Pomegranate Soap was pleasant enough, but nothing I'd buy.

A big disappointment was the Oribe Shampoo/Conditioner combo.  I really wanted to like this product but it dried out my hair, leaving it feeling like straw!  I hated this!

The "treat" was a Tiny Prints card with a cute but retro card with 1970's linoleum style print.  Would I buy this?  Never.

RATING: 4 out of 6

Birchbox June 2011

Kate Spade - Twirl
Laura Geller - Baked Blush n' Brighten
Shu Uemura - Essence Absolute Nourishing Protective Oil
Sircuit Cosmeceuticals - Molecular Mist
Deborah Lippmann - Stripper to Go Nail Lacquer Removers


I was more than a little surprised this month I received a full size Laura Geller - Baked Blush n' Brighten blush and highlighter combo worth $29.50!  I loved it but my mom loved it even more and liberated it from me!

Next up, Kate Spade Twirl.  Reminiscent of Yvresse By Yves Saint Laurent, a classic fragrance, I was enthralled with the sweet champagne-like scent of Twirl and I did purchase a full size bottle.

Shu Uemura - Essence Absolute Nourishing Protective Oil was fabulous, and it set me off on a Shu Uemura buying spree!  I now own Shu Uemura cosmetics and makeup brushes - and all because of Birchbox!

I took Sircuit Cosmeceuticals Molecular Mist to the beach, spritzed it in my face and had a coughing fit!  It definitely hydrated my skin on that scorching hot day so it is a good product, but the coconut scent was overwhelming and it felt as if someone threw a piña colada in my face!

The Deborah Lippmann Stripper to Go Nail Lacquer Removers proved to be more than a little convenient when I had unexpected and unwanted chips in my nail polish at the office.  I bought a different brand of these to try as a comparison, and there really is no comparison at all.  This product is a must-have and it led to me purchase several Deborah Lippmann nail polishes.  

RATING: 4 out of 5

$60 later, I liked 26 out of 33 products.  So is it worth it?  Yes!  Birchbox introduced me to many brands I had never heard of, and I would never have found all of these brands on my own.

Unfortunately, in the next six months the Birchbox's were not always as stellar as these.  

If you want to sign up for Birchbox for $10 a month.

Check out the Birchbox site here:

Take care,
- The Sassi Wench


Sue said...

I started my subscription at the same time and ended it after the Laura Gellar powder, really glad I did that because I've seen reviews of the boxes since and at no point did I regret my decision to cancel. I have not joined any other beauty related subscription service, well, other than Julep, loving the polishes !

BooBooNinja said...

Hey Sassi, I'm popping in to say that I liked your post. Great review! I'm not eligible to get Birchbox, but I've been encountering beauty boxes in my area that are erratic in content. Cheers!

N-i-c-o-l-e said...

Hi Sassi! I'm a new follower. I love your blog!!!!! I signed up for Birchbox back in October and for me it has been worth the $10.00 per month. I have had at least 2 items per box that I have loved. Right now I'm just trying to save up my points to cut down on the cost of purchasing the ones I absolutely loved.

Anonymous said...

THis month I got the Stripper to GO Pads
Erno Laszlo soap
Juicy Couture perfume sample
Stila eyeshadow sample card
Yube some japanese skin cream

prakash sharma said...

Aqua Mineral are offering our client an excellent quality Health Skin Care Products.

Anonymous said...

I joined Birchbox 3 months ago and I love it! For $10/month it is definitely worth it. For anyone on the fence about trying it out, I highly recommend giving it a shot. If anyone is interested in getting their first month free here is a referral link
Thanks! ;-)
P.S. You can cancel at anytime so why not try it out for a month FREE?

Anonymous said...

I think the Birchbox quality must have gone down A LOT since you posted this. I just got my first Birchbox and I was SO disappointed.

Everything was TINY, so tiny as to be single use. It consisted of:

1. A Dr. Lipp tube which exploded when I squeezed it very gently to get the product out. This was the best sample, but I had to throw it out because the tiny tube busted.

2. Catherine Malandrino Romance de Provence Eau de Parfum that made me want to throw up. It was a cheap-o drug store old lady perfume that was totally inappropriate for someone my age and with my beauty routine (I'm an all natural girl and this was a super chemical-y and overpowering older lady scent). It was also only single use.

3. Soap & Paper Factory Shea Butter Hand Cream- AKA a cheap hand cream that gave me a rash. It was just drug store lotion with a bad overpowering pre-teen scent. I threw it out after one use, which I quickly washed off my hands.

4. An Eiko eyeliner made specifically for a thick and dramatic cat eye look. This wasn't a bad product, but I'm not in my 20's anymore. I'm a working woman who only gets a few days a year when it would be appropriate to wear cat eye eyeliner. Once you reach your 30's, most women keep it classic and classy because they have jobs with responsibility and kids to take care of, which leaves little room for trendy experimental makeup. If you choose "trendy" on the profile, OK, but otherwise, it just stands to reason that super dramatic cat eyeliner of the type you wear to the club probably isn't going to be as relevant to your lifestyle.

5. Beauty Protector Protect & Detangle. I just let me hair dry naturally, which was in my profile. This is sitting in my drawer and I've never used it.

I wish that they would target their samples better. Everything was just so inappropriate for my age group and preferences. It was also all pretty cheap quality and packed with overpowering chemical scents.

Additionally, unless you get larger sizes (like the ones in your photos, which seemed much much bigger than anything I received), what's the point of paying for it? Everything I got was on par with free samples they give away for free at cosmetics counters in department stores.

I feel like they're making YOU pay to be a guinea pig in THEIR marketing research. Shouldn't it be the other way around?

Cherokee Madrid said...

I think birchbox has improved A LOT in the past year or so. In my most recent box everyone got a sample of benefits new & improved Gimme Brow. If you use my link when you sign up me & you both will get 5 dollars (50 points) to spend in the birchbox shop!! 😘💖😏

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