This is a dream column for us: a biweekly review of subscription beauty boxes. Which ones are worth it? Which ones are full of junk? Reader Brandi Kirchgessner will guide us through this world of mystery treats. Here's what she's received recently.
Glossybox, $21 per month
Glossybox really knocked it out of the park again! This month, they gave us another high value box with some fabulous products.
Here's what was in the March Glossybox:
- So Susan Cosmetics Concealer Quad (full size, worth $30.95)
- Bellápierre Cosmetics Cheek and Lip Stain in Pink (full size, worth $19.99)
- Model Co More Brows Eyebrow Thickening Gel in Medium/Dark (full size, worth $18.00)
- Ouidad Color Sense Color Preserving Shampoo (travel size, worth $10.00)
- Ouidad Color Sense Color Preserving Conditioner (travel size, worth $10.00)
- Orogold Cosmetics 24k Multi-Vitamin Day Moisturizer (two mini pots, worth about $46, full size costs $118.00)
If my estimate of the Orogold value is right (more on that below), this box is worth $134.94. That's a really high value for a $21 box.
I was first introduced to So Susan in the November Glossybox. I got their amazing blush and absolutely loved it, so I was happy to see another one of their products in this shipment. With the concealer quad, there is a pure white, a medium peach, a slightly darker peach, and a medium brown color. The colors look a little off in the picture above because of the lighting. It could definitely be used for highlighting and contouring in addition to concealing. You can mix the colors to make an appropriate color for your skin tone, but those of us who have skin colors darker than a medium brown won't be able to find an exact match here. Concealer is generally for color correction, though, and I put foundation over it, so an exact match isn't usually necessary. This is a dry formula, so it might not be appropriate for those with very dry skin. For people with oily or combination skin, it's a good choice. It offers medium coverage, so it's great for covering up dark spots, redness, and maybe a small blemish. If you have a huge, bright red pimple, though, you're going to need something a little heavier. Overall, this is a really versatile product that is going to get some heavy use from me.
I think I've gotten a Bellápierre product or two from every beauty box subscription at this point, so I wasn't quite as excited to see that brand in this box. Surprisingly, though, I really liked this lip and cheek stain. It gives my cheeks a rosy pink glow; subtle, but pretty and natural. If you want a deeper color, you can definitely layer it but I prefer something a little softer. I won't use it on my lips as I am quite attached to the lip products I use, but this will be a great everyday blush for me. It's a dryish cream and a little goes a long way. I never once got blush in a beauty box until November and now I'm getting them all the time! I'm pretty new to using blush regularly, so I like trying out different colors and formulas to figure out what works best for me. This one will make it into my blush rotation.
The darker, thicker eyebrow has really made a comeback! I've always had thick, dark brows, so I'm glad my eyebrows are finally in style. The only thing I've ever done to my eyebrows is pluck the stray hairs underneath them. I've never had them waxed or threaded. I don't have any patchy areas in my eyebrows, so I wasn't sure if the Model Co brow gel would do anything for my brows. I got the Medium/Dark shade, which was appropriate for my brow color. The gel itself is almost black and made my eyebrows look slightly darker. I have a few weird hairs that stick straight up on the inner side of my left eyebrow, and I was happy to find that this gel was able to keep them in line with the other hairs. This is the first brow gel I've gotten in a beauty box, so I don't have any others to compare it to, but I like this one and will use it.
The Ouidad Color Sense shampoo and conditioner are meant for curly, color-treated hair, and I have straight hair that is not dyed. My wife, Amanda, as I mentioned last time, has curly hair, but she doesn't dye her hair either. I tried it even though it wasn't quite meant for my hair type. My hair wasn't as soft as usual, but it was shinier and the adorable little flip at the bottom of my hair looked better than usual. It was difficult to get Amanda to try these products. She fell in love with the Unwash Bio-Cleansing Conditioner in the last Glossybox and was loath to try any other product. I convinced her to try it for my readers. She did not like the Ouidad as much as the Unwash, but the Ouidad would probably be a great choice for curly haired people with color-treated hair.
I had some commenters asking about Amanda's curly hair and which products she finds work best. Amanda wanted me to let all her fellow curly-haired people know that Unwash was a miracle product for her. Her hair used to be vaguely curlyish and she would always keep it up in a hair clip. After using Unwash this past month, she has some lustrous, well-defined curls that she is proud to let down. With all our beauty box subscriptions, we often have ten (or more!) of any category of beauty, hair, and skincare product. We rarely like a particular product enough to go out and buy more of it instead of using up our little stockpile, so when we find a product like that, we want to let you know. Unwash is one of those products. Amanda would rather spend money on more Unwash than use one of our many shampoo and conditioner samples we have cluttering our bathroom.
I liked that there were two small pots of the Orogold day cream. The pots had nothing indicating how much product was in them, but my good friend Emma and I estimated that each pot was approximately 0.333 oz, which is how I calculated the approximate value. It was pretty light, but still very moisturizing, and had a delicate floral scent. I liked it, but I could never justify paying $118 for 50 mL of moisturizer. The price is so high because it contains gold, but that seems a little gimmicky to me. Maybe gold is great for my skin, I really have no idea, but it isn't so great that I would spend that much on it. Part of the fun of beauty boxes is getting to try the really expensive stuff that you would never actually buy yourself, so no complaints here.
Another great month for Glossybox! I love this subscription more and more each month.
Birchbox, $10 per month
Nothing in my Birchbox was a surprise this month. Each month, they offer subscribers the option of a curated box. They often have an outside person or company select the contents of this box, but this month, they just had the theme "Beauty Solutions." You know exactly what you are getting when you pick the curated box, so it takes a little bit of the fun out of opening it. It is nice, though, knowing you are definitely getting a box with products you are interested in. I've also noticed that they send the curated boxes out first, so there's the added bonus of getting your box earlier in the month.
Here's what was in the "Beauty Solutions" Birchbox:
- Dear Clark Volumizing Tonic (small sample, worth $4.33, full size $26)
- derma e Evenly Radiant Brightening Day Creme SPF 15 (deluxe sample, worth $7.49, full size $29.95)
- Laura Geller Beauty Baked Blush-n-Brighten in Pink Grapefruit (deluxe sample, worth $8.06, full size $27.50)
- Supergoop! Advanced SPF 37 Anti-Aging Eye Cream (teeny sample, worth $6, full size $45)
- Whish Three Whishes Body Butter in Almond (small sample, worth $3.53, full size $24)
I'm feeling a lot better about Birchbox this month. The entire box was worth $29.41 , which really isn't bad for $10. The samples were smaller than I would have liked, but that is always my complaint about Birchbox. Really, with the millions of samples I have, I shouldn't be upset by small samples because it is impossible to use everything up. I usually celebrate whenever I do use up all of a particular product. I'm just afraid I'll get a really good sample that I love and then I will be sad when it is all gone.
I chose to go with the curated box mostly because I saw the Laura Geller blush and really wanted it. I'm pale and adding a little color to my cheeks does a lot to my appearance. If I put on a dramatic lip color when I am not wearing blush, it kind of makes me look dead. Add a little blush, though, and it really completes the look and makes it so I can pull off the darkest of lip colors (OCC Black Dahlia and Black Metal Dahlia being favorites). Anyway, I wanted the blush and thought that all the other products in the curated box were acceptable, so that's what I went with.
The blush is so pretty. It's shimmery and has swirly pink and peach colors. I was so excited to try it on! Unfortunately, it's not really the color for me. The formula is great, I love the shimmer, and it lasts all day, but the peach does not complement my cool skin tone. It's good I did not get the peach blush I so desperately wanted in last month's Ipsy! I will wear the Laura Geller blush and might buy it in a color that suits me more, so it's not a total fail, but it's not all I was hoping for. I think it would be a great choice for all you women out there with warm skin tones.
I knew that I would not be able to use the Dear Clark Volumizing Tonic because my hair is just so thick that I really need to stay away from volumizing products. I end up looking like a puffball whenever I put anything like that in my hair. Not a good look. Amanda has thin hair, though, and is always looking to up the volume, so I knew it would be a great product for her. She tried it and initially liked the volume it gave her, but found her hair fell flat a few hours into the day.
The derma e creme was nice enough, but not something I would buy again. It's thicker than most day cremes and it took more time than I would have liked to get it thoroughly absorbed so I could put on my makeup. It's nice that it has some sun protection, though, and I should note that derma e is a company that makes only vegan products.
The Supergoop! eye cream sample was just about microscopic at 2 milliliters. The full size is only half an ounce and retails for $45, so I won't be buying this product. It's supposed to be used for anti-aging purposes but it also says that it can help hide your lack of sleep. I've tried it for a couple of days and haven't noticed it making me look any more well-rested, but perhaps I haven't used it long enough? It would be hard to see any results with a sample this small.
I saved the best for last: the Whish body butter smells sooo good. The almond scent is just amazing and I want to use it all the time. I will definitely be buying this! I haven't tried the other scents Whish makes, but I don't even want to bother trying them because I love the almond so much. I have to say, though, that it seems really thin for a body butter. I think of it more as a lotion. I've always found body butters to be thicker so I was surprised with how thin this was. I'm okay with that, though. I'm perfectly happy to use it as hand lotion.
Overall, this was an exceptional month for Birchbox. I missed the surprise aspect a little bit with my curated box, but I don't think I would have gotten such great products if I had left my box to chance. I'm eagerly awaiting the next sample choice video from Birchbox so I can see what is in store for next month.
Boxycharm, $21 per month
Another okay month from Boxycharm. Every month, they have something I like just enough to keep subscribing, but they are always right on the edge for me. I might trade this out for another subscription soon.
In this month's Boxycharm, I got:
- Oscar Blandi Pronto Dry Shampoo Spray (travel size, worth $11, full size costs $23)
- Ofra Eyeliner in navy (full size, worth $13)
- LVX nail polish in Lemondrop (full size, worth $16)
- Tarte Cosmetics LipSurgence lip tint in Charmed (full size, worth $24)
- Previse Nutrify Skin Type 1-6 Universal Tonic (full size, worth $48)
This box is worth $112! Not bad for $21 a month. I'm just not all that wowed by it. I was excited when I saw the spoilers, but now that I have the actual box in front of me, I'm not that into it.
I've gotten a number of dry shampoos from my beauty boxes, so I wasn't too thrilled to get yet another. The Oscar Blandi dry shampoo does work well and doesn't leave that chalky white mess in your hair that other dry shampoos leave, so if you are in the market for a dry shampoo, this one is worth checking out.
I've gotten Ofra eyeliners in other beauty boxes. This is probably the product I'm least excited about, as I almost never use eyeliner. Beauty boxes love to send eyeliner, so I have more eyeliner than one person could possibly use over the course of her life. I'm glad it's navy because it's nice to get something other than black, but I still have very little use for it. The Ofra pencils aren't bad, but I think that there are other eyeliners at a similar price that are better.
I had never heard of LVX nail polish before. The formula is thin and fast drying, and I love the pastel yellow color. I like getting a yellow nail polish instead of the usual pinks and reds. It definitely requires two to three coats. It's a nice pastel for spring and I will get some use out of it. I'm not a big nail polish person, but I love playing around with the nail polish I get in my beauty boxes.
I'm a fan of Tarte Cosmetics, so I'm always excited when I receive a Tarte product in one of my boxes. I'm pretty committed to my OCC lip tar, though, so I almost never use the lip products I get. The "Charmed" color is a medium pink and doesn't really show up on my lips. I've always loved the formula of Tarte LipSurgence products and find they have some serious staying power, so this might be a better color for someone whose lips are much darker or lighter than mine. I usually use Tarte lip products when I am traveling or having a busy day because I find they need less upkeep than my OCC lip tar.
I was excited to try the Previse tonic. It's a high value item and I love skincare products. Even though I had seen the spoiler for it, I wasn't entirely sure what it was. I thought I would figure it out once I got it. I'm still not entirely sure what it does. The instructions on the bottle are a mile long and it recommends you use the tonic in conjunction with two other Previse products. According to the Previse website, it is supposed to hydrate your skin, keep your skin matte, form a barrier between your skin and harmful ingredients in your makeup, and help eliminate free radicals and irritants. Whether it actually does all of this, I really can't tell you. I would probably need to use this product for quite some time before I would be able to determine if it made any difference. I want to like this product, but I am just not sure if this is something I really need. Also, I can't say I want to add yet another item to my skincare regimen.
Does anyone have any experience with this product? Is this something you can't live without? I would love to hear anything anyone has to say about it because I have to say I'm a little skeptical about all its supposed benefits. I tried it once and afterward I felt like I had a thin layer of glue all over my face, so I doubt I will use this regularly enough to tell you whether there are any benefits to using it.
Glossybox wins this round. I'd love to hear your thoughts on your beauty boxes this month! Come back in two weeks for my review of the March PopSugar Must Have, Petit Vour, and Ipsy beauty subscriptions.
Brandi Kirchgessner has always loved getting mail and wearing makeup, so she was ecstatic to discover beauty boxes. She lives with her very understanding wife, three dogs, and five cats.
Illustration by Tara Jacoby.