today i received my july birchbox, something i have not yet reviewed. birchbox was my intro to beauty subscription boxes, and is so far the only one i have stuck with the entire time. while i get tired and bored of others, something about birchbox just keeps me coming back for more. perhaps it's the fact that it's only $10 a month, compared to other subscriptions that can be a bit pricier. or perhaps it's the fact that i generally find myself getting to try a decently wide variety of products with birchbox, and despite the fact that everyone loves getting full sizes, it's actually kind of a relief that you can only fit so much in a birchbox that it can't add too much to my ever-growing hoard of unused products. or perhaps, and most likely, i LOVE the point system. basically, you get 4-5 products (sometimes more) every month, and you get 10 points, equivalent to $1 credit in the birchbox shop. so as long as i do these super quick and easy reviews (really just ratings), i get to enjoy a fun surprise every month, try new beauty products constantly, and ultimately it only costs me about $5 a month. pretty freakin' awesome if i do say so myself. on top of which, the point system incentivizes me to actually use the products every month so i can get my points, whereas i have to admit that with other boxes, i sometimes excitedly collect my new products, then shelve them away for the "right time" to use them, only to forget about them while they clutter up my room.
anyways, onto the july box! this month since i got my box before the 10th, i managed to go spoiler free, which hasn't happened in a long time. it reminded me how fun it is to be totally surprised. note to self: stop checking spoilers already... in fact, this month birchbox let us choose one sample (or rather, we could choose between two samples, and then choose the color of whichever we picked). i, however, being careless with my emails, apparently deleted that email without even looking at it, so i didn't even know which one of those i'd be getting. in any case, here's the box:
from left to right (clockwise) we have:
1. Cynthia Rowley Beauty Creamy Lip Stain in Valentine (full size is $20)
this is one samples we could have chosen - it was between the lip stain (two colors) and the Ruffian nail polish (three colors). at first i wanted the nail polish since i don't use lip stains often, but i'm intrigued by the texture of this. it's creamier than other, gel or liquid based lip stains of tried (benefit and theBalm, in particular). perhaps because of the texture, it doesn't dry as fast as the benetints which makes it easier to blend, and it also seems less drying.
this is birchbox's representation of the color, although honestly i think it's more true pink and less orange than that picture looks too. in any case, it's a fun summer color that's not too bright but can undoubtedly be layered on for even more color, and in an initial swatch on my lips, it does seem less drying than other lip stains, although as someone who is dependent on lip balm, i would definitely layer some balm over this for additional comfort.
as you can see it blends pretty far without leaving stain lines, which i'm pleased with! also the more you blend the more sheer it is, so you can see i blended this a decent amount beyond the initial application and it's still definitely noticeable, but you could easily build up more color with no trouble.
2. Real Chemistry Luminous 3-Minute Peel ($48 for full size)
3. NAOBAY Body Radiance Lotion (full size is $24)
to be perfectly honest, i'm always pretty unimpressed and unexcited about getting body lotion in subscription boxes. i rarely need body lotion on anything but my hands, and even then, i'm rarely impressed with lotion. best case, it gets the job done. worst case, it's too greasy, too watery, too powdery, or smells funky. so i don't have much to say about this one. the description says it has olive oil and avocado to naturally hydrate and soften the skin. this one isn't thick and greasy, which i like, but it's also nothing special for me. it doesn't seem more hydrating than other lotions i've tried, and i'm not a huge fan of the smell. it's not bad per se (unless i stick my hand right under my nose, in which case i don't really like it at all. it's not really sweet or floral. i'm not sure it smells like avocado or olive oil either, but it does lean more to the savory side of scents, if that makes any sense...). it doesn't seem to extend far though - i can only smell it when i press my hand right up against my nose. ultimately, not a win for me, but that's ok. lotions never are.
4. Ofra Universal Eyebrow Pencil (full size! $13)
even if i got no points for this box, this pencil would make up for the entire price of the box, so everything else is basically a freebie (or sweet gwp). that being said, i have to admit i wasn't giddy with excitement over seeing an eyebrow pencil, since i rarely do anything to my eyebrows besides pluck them, but i actually really like this. the shade is supposedly "universally flattering" (see pic below - it almost looks a little greenish on my screen, but rest assured it's brown). i can't say if that's true or not, but it definitely worked well with my eyebrows (which are very dark brown). it went on smoothly and is apparently waterproof, which i guess is good next time i want to go swimming with well defined brows... it says to gently smudge with a small brush, which i feel like kind of defeats the purpose of having a convenient pencil (at least for someone who doesn't really have a real brush set or carry around brushes). thankfully i discovered it works just as well to just smudge it a bit with my finger (and somehow my finger even came away pretty clean!) minimal effort, and my brows actually looked much improved, to my surprise. given how easy it was and the difference it made, i will probably continue using this regularly (hooray for it being full sized!)
UPDATE: as requested, i've uploaded a photo of my brows with and without the Ofra pencil. the picture on the top is my untouched brows, and the picture on the bottom is with a few swipes of the pencil blended (not very well.. i may have been late to work) by finger. still looks completely natural, but more defined and less haphazard. i'm also about as far from being an expert as you could get so it would probably look better in the hands of someone more experienced :)
5. 100% Pure honey cream wash gingerade Shower Gel (full size is $15)
last but not least, we have our "beauty extra" (i.e. what is supposed to be an extra that doesn't count as one of your 4-5 samples). sometimes these are a bit different than the other samples (e.g. we've gotten pens, drugstore finds, notecards, etc.). this one is pretty in line with normal birchbox samples (i've gotten tons of body washes, and another month i got two identically sized packets of lotion). body wash is another thing i really do not get excited about. if it cleans me and doesn't dry or break me out (which is true for basically every body wash i've ever tried) and doesn't smell bad, it's fine with me. i don't get a kick out of using fancier or nicer body washes. that being said, "honey cream gingerade" sounds like it could be delicious! i'm not even taking a shower until tomorrow morning but i couldn't resist tearing this open just a tad to see how it smells. verdict - it smells pretty good. nothing mindblowing that would make me buy it, but pretty good. it also looks slightly liquidy for shower gel, but i'll get a better sense of that when i actually use it.
UPDATE: ok, this shower gel is in fact super liquidy. the information card describes it as a "richly foaming cleanser" and tells you to use sparingly. that is about as far off from my experience as you could get. first, i put it onto a spongy-type loofah thing i use, and it basically disappeared. it soaked right in and i basically felt like i was scratching myself. there was no lather whatsoever. so then i used the second packet (i.e. not sparingly) with my hands, and that gave me no lather either, so i basically spread it around until it washed away. on top of that, the smell? eh. nothing special.
anyway, that's my july birchbox for you! if you have any desire to try out birchbox, you can sign up here (warning: referral link). you won't regret it!