As a beauty blogger, a lot of samples cross my desk and I'm constantly trying (and writing about) new products risk-free. But what if you're not a blogger or editor and you want to do the same? That's where subscription boxes such as Birchbox come in: For a nominal monthly fee, Birchbox sends a box of samples to subscribers each month, allowing them to try before they buy the full size. Aside from the risk-free appeal, the fun also lies in the surprise—you never know what will be in next month's box.
Birchbox has been on my radar for a while, so when they contacted me a couple weeks ago and offered to set me up with a trial subscription for editorial consideration as a possible holiday gift idea, my answer was a wholehearted yes. After all, what better present for a beauty lover than one that keeps giving, delighting, and surprising for months after the holiday season ends?
Inside December's Birchbox
My silver Fair Isle-embossed Birchbox arrived at my doorstep safe and sound with 5 trial-size goodies inside. The enclosed card detailed each item and its full-size price should I decide to purchase it later.
Aside from recognizable names, Birchbox also carries exclusive in-house brands like LOC Vibrant Matte Lipstick, shown here in 'Glam Life' (full size $10). The twist-up lip crayon is a cinch to apply and goes on creamy, pigmented, and matte. Vampy shades can be intimidating, but I like how with the inclusion of the trial-sized lip crayon, Birchbox lets you experiment with minimal commitment.
How cute is this mini version of amika Perk Up Dry Shampoo (full size $26.50)? Perfect size for travel or stashing in a gym bag. The formula refreshes locks with a light scent and less grittiness than other dry shampoos I've tried.
Of all the products in my Birchbox, I was probably most disappointed by the Kate Spade Live Colorfully fragrance (full size $90-$115). The packaging is cute and colourful and trial-size spritzes can last a long time, it's true, but I felt like this was the sort of free perfume sample you can get at any department store counter and therefore not a great value add to the Birchbox. What's more, I'm not a fan of the fragrance: it's too saccharine with its blend of mandarin and Tahitian vanilla.
I'm kind of ridiculously excited to try Sunday Riley Good Genes Treatment (full size $110) after a late night holiday party with one too many cocktails: the miracle skin formula can be used like a serum or mask, and it promises to brighten, exfoliate, plump up lines, even hyperpigmentation, and increase circulation. Voilà, instant skin SOS!
Juara Coconut Illipe Hand & Nail Balm (full size $26) can be used around cuticles or as a hand cream, and it absorbs quickly and has the most incredible coconut scent. (Consider it a form of aromatherapy escapism as the scent whisks you away from winter and reminds you of summer days.) The tube is no bigger than my finger, which I'd consider a tad small under normal circumstances, but with holiday parties coming up I'm thinking it's the perfect size for stashing inside tiny clutches and minaudières.
What I like about Birchbox
There are other beauty subscription box services, but in my view, what sets Birchbox apart is:
The boxes themselves are beautiful. Birchbox often collaborates with artists, bloggers, and the like on limited-edition boxes in lovely designs; you'll want to hang onto them and use them for storage long after the samples run out.
The samples are tailored to your user profile. When you first sign up, you take a survey about your hair, skin, and makeup preferences. The samples you receive will be randomly selected, but always targeted to your specific needs.
The samples are a good size and the products are of decent quality. Each sample has enough product for you to test and enjoy for at least a couple weeks.
You can shop the full-size versions straight from the Birchbox site. Plus, if you review the product, you receive a 50-point credit (worth $5) towards your purchase.
Gifting Birchbox to yourself or others
Subscriptions are available for 3-months, 6-months, or 12-months at a cost of $10/month plus $4.95 shipping and handling/month. Here are the key dates to know:
To gift someone a subscription and have their first Birchbox arrive by December 24th, the cut-off date for orders is December 8th.
To gift someone a subscription and have their first Birchbox arrive in January 2016, the cut-off date for orders is December 10th.
Would you try Birchbox or gift a subscription to someone you know?