I was in San Francisco when my box came this month, and mistaking it for something else, Joel cracked it open before I got home. Such a bummer!
The Birchbox experience definitely starts with receiving the package in the mail, seeing what kind of outer box they’ve used – it was gold for Christmas, is sometimes pink – and then cutting it open. I’m a bit of a design geek, and I love the care that has been put into the way the shipping box unfolds to display the gift box inside. I often recommend Birchbox to women who aren’t even that into health and beauty, and describe the unboxing as something that is a fun treat each month regardless of what’s inside.
This month, however, I am thrilled about what was inside my box. No random foodstuffs, no lotions that tickle my nose, no “I guess I could maybe use this one day if the right occasion arose” products. Everything in the box is something that fills an immediate need or is something I’ve been wanting to try:
- Bain de Terre Color Preserving Shampoo and Conditioner in passion flower. I’ve been out of shampoo for awhile and have been using an Aveda for Men product of Joel’s. I actually LOVE the Aveda product – can you believe Aveda is a Minneapolis-based company? – but it’s probably not the best thing for my hair. Red is the worst color for fading, and even though I try to only wash every couple of days, I like to treat it gently. I’ve used this Bain de Terre product all week, and my hair has been extremely soft and non-frizzy. It’s very well priced at $12 for the shampoo and $13.50 for the conditioner – I’m used to paying double that for stuff I’ve used in the past – so I’m definitely going to be getting the full-sized products. (NOTE: I got the Bain de Terre Macademia Oil products in my first Birchbox, and didn’t love them.)
- StriVectin Advanced Retinol Eye Treatment. I’ve been eyeing – HA! – the StriVectin products for the last couple of years, scared to buy the full-sized tubes in case it wasn’t any better than the Olay eye treatment I’m using now. I’m a total sucker for the lists they print in beauty magazines, and I’ve been told over and over again that a lot of the drugstore products are just as good as the fancy stuff. In fact, that’s how I found the Olay product in the first place. That doesn’t mean I’m not curious about the fancy stuff! I’ve only been using this for a week, so who knows what the long-term benefits will be, but I can tell you that this product is so light and creamy that it makes my Olay product seem greasy by comparison. It absorbs immediately, and completely erases the teeny-tiny lines caused by my dry skin. I’ll be using the entire tube, that’s for sure, and may even be convinced to pony up the big bucks when it’s gone.
- Previse HydroMilk. I talked last month about how the Minneapolis weather has been destroying my skin, and along comes this product, designed to combat just that! The first thing I noticed about this is that it smells heavenly, just a hint of lavender, which is not usually the case in a moisturizer. I actually want to put it on my face. I’ve been using it for the last couple of days, and the jury is still out. My skin is a bit breakout prone, and I’m definitely seeing some spotiness on my chin. It might go away after my skin adjusts, but there might not be enough in the sample for me to get that far. It also might be a little heavy for me. My skin is textbook combination, but some products just make me oilier than others. I’m going to keep using it until it’s gone, and see what happens.
- Miracle Skin Transformer Face Spotlight. I’m not very savvy about the different categories of skin care, so I’m a wee bit confused about what this is supposed to be. At first glance, I mistook it for a dark-circle brightener, which is something I would definitely use, and I guess it sort of is? Is it a tinted moisturizer? Is it a foundation? Should I put it over something like the HydroMilk? All of the above? Yes? Products like this make me feel a little silly and uneducated, and the marketing babble on their website doesn’t do much to help. From the reviews, however, it seems most people are using it as a foundation replacement. What I do know is that the texture is incredible. It’s silky smooth and I can’t feel it on my face once it’s been applied. It gives me a nice glow and does seem to smooth my skin tones just a bit, though it’s possible I’m using too thin a layer. The truth, though, is that aside from the weightlessness, it doesn’t treat me much different than the Aveeno tinted moisturizer I’ve been using. I’ll give it another shot or two, but probably wouldn’t fork out $48 for the full-size option.
Another thing I appreciate about Birchbox – aside from the pretty wrapping – is the mix of products I get each month. There’s always something basic, like a daily-use shampoo or straight-up eye cream. And then there’s always something in the WTF category that I would never in a million years choose on my own, like the Paula’s Choice SUPER BOOSTER from last month that I am still mixing with my anti-aging serum at night. (It feels so good, I’m almost a convert, but am not sure what’s it’s doing.) Since joining Birchbox, my skin care routine has gotten a little Frankensteinian, with all the new stuff I try each month. That’s okay, right? It is, after all the whole point.