Birchbox for three months now and can honestly say that I'm addicted both to the product and the concept. It's marketing genuis and I'm only sorry that I didn't think of it first. You pay $10 per month and a box of four to five (and this month six) high end large samples arrive in your mailbox on the 10th of each month. Basically, I look at the fee as shipping cost and the samples are mostly free. It's kind of like when a drug dealer gives you a free sample and gets you hooked so you keep coming back for more. I love it because they are generally products that are expensive enough that I would be apprehensive about trying them without sampling first. In addition to hooking you with the product itself, they offer free shipping on items in your box and you can earn points toward discounts by reviewing the products. Here is my take on the things that came in my box this month:
Annick Goutal "Eau d'Hadrien":
I am familiar with this brand from time spent in France and can honestly say that I have not tried anything by them that I truly didn't like. They are, however, a bit pricey and while this one was a bit different (lemon, grapefruit and green mandarin notes), the scent did not seem to last a long time. My husband really doesn't like perfume, so I have to be careful how much I wear and how often. A sample will last me quite a while and once it's gone, I will probably be on to something else so it is unlikely that I would buy a bottle.
Cost: Full size $85
Color Club Nail Polish "He Loves Me":
This was the only true dud for me in the box. I am a total sucker for packaging and this just didn't do it for me, nor did the color which is sort of an odd medium pink. I tend to go for either Chanel or OPI nail polish and it has to be either a real neutral or nice bright pink for toes in the summer. This one was somewhere in between and just didn't make me happy when I looked at it.
Eve Lom TLC Radiance Cream:
Ok, I'm having a serious love/hate relationship with this product. My skin is CRAZY oily and breaks out (I am almost 40 and it hasn't stopped yet) so I am forced to use a Proactiv type product (that really, really works). I use Algenist cream at night to keep wrinkles at bay, but almost never a moisturizer during the day. I just don't need it and my skin feels awful if I do. Serums over the Proactiv tend to work much better with a nice primer. My neck, however, is a completely different story. Thanks to a bad burn in a tanning bed when I was much younger and dumber, the skin on my neck is dry, scaly and horrible. I have tried everything I can get my hands on (including La Mer) and while some products seem to work ok, I still haven't found the silver bullet. This cult British facialist's cream is intensely hydrating and feels better on my neck than most other things I have tried. The scent, on the other hand, is another thing altogether. It is very strong and distinctive. After over a week of using it, I cannot decide if I love or hate it. Either way, it is very powerful and when it's on your face or neck you can smell it and continue to be able to long after applying it.
Cost: Full Size $68
Koh Gen Do Cleansing Water Cloth:
This is an interesting product. Falling in line with other incredibly environmentally unfriendly single use over packaged products, this Japanese brand boasts a lot of things. Made with mineral-rich spring waters, it is supposed to wipe away a day's worth of dirt and makeup in seconds. Ok, now since one of my jobs is a High Performance Driving Instructor, I spend a lot of time on hot, dusty racetracks wearing a helmet and usually end up having to mop myself up in the bathroom at the end of the day with whatever paper towels and soap I can find. This product would not be used every day for me, but would come in handy at the track. So I tried it instead of washing my face at the end of a typical workday to see how effective it was. Upon opening the plastic pack, I could tell that the cloth had a really nice clean scent and the cloth itself had a texture not unlike a moist paper towel. After scrubbing at my Chanel NON waterproof mascara for some time, I still looked like a raccoon. The rest of my face felt reasonably clean but not the deeper clean I get from my Cetaphil. I gave up and re-washed my face as usual and as soon as I wet my eyes, the mascara ran enough to let me know that I hadn't even come close to removing all of it with the cloth. Bottom line, this is not a good makeup remover, but I can use the other sample on a non-makeup day as a refresher and alternative to public bathroom soap and towels. The pricing I found to be way over the top for what the product does.
Cost: 3 packs of 10: $39
Traditions by Nick Chavez Yucca Root Shampooing Cream:
At first glance, I was not wowed by this product for two reasons: one, the packaging is boring, and two, I wasn't crazy about the scent. It's ok, but not an "OMG, I can't wait to smear this on my head" kind of smell. Then I tried it. Yeah, it's real good. Seriously, I am a harsh critic of shampoo and here's why: my hair is completely schitzophrenic. It has no idea what it wants to be. Very fine and unbelievably thick (fine, but there is a TON of it), curly at the crown and nape and perfectly straight in the front. Oh yeah, and as if that weren't challenging enough, it's color treated--not damaged per se, but tends to be a little dry. One of my biggest pet peeves with shampoo is that it doesn't have enough slip so that I can easily work my fingers through it. This one does--in spades. It isn't really bubbly and sudsy and I have a water softener, so if you have hard water it would be even less so, but it has tons of slip. While I was rinsing it out, it felt like silk. I followed up with my regular conditioner and it did a fantastic job. The only negatives that I could see are that it does contain sulfates (an ingredient I would rather not have) and the price. It is heavily concentrated, so an 8 oz bottle would last a while.
Cost: Full size 8oz $20
Tea Forte: Skin Smart Teas:
Birchbox will often add a "Lifestyle Extra" which is usually a food item of some sort. This is one of my favorite parts of the box because it's always unexpected and usually something interesting. This time it was three Tea Forte tea bags that are supposed to contain antioxidants that will improve the appearance of your skin. I just love it when products claim to do things like this because, how the heck can you tell? The tea tasted good (I often drink herbal tea at night with no sugar to try to keep myself from snacking on things before bed) and I enjoyed these, plus Tea Forte gets an A+ for packaging and presentation! I received three flavors: Cherry Marzipan, Cucumber Mint and Honey Yuzu. I think the Cucumber Mint was my favorite and had the best "naked" flavor (no sugar).
Cost: 16 tea bags $6