Birchbox September 2018

This one isn’t so late because I’ve been busy! This one is late because Birchbox is maybe the most boring subscription I’ve ever had. Actually, I’ve had two because I’m a reasonable person. Birchbox is definitely the most boring. Proof: I haven’t even opened my October box yet. It’s here. I have it. I just don’t care enough to open it.

I didn’t select anything special for this month. I think I looked. For October I didn’t even look at the email. November is my last box. I’m really glad that I’m not locked into a full year. I’ll probably take two or three months off from subscriptions to use up some products, then try Sephora play. I might be a masochist.

My birchbox products sitting on top of the September box. This box is dark blue and has some geometric shapes on it.

This month I took my pictures on my art table under my nice drawing lamp. I didn’t need to white balance anything. I think they came out better, considering I’m still using my cell phone for them. Unfortunately, Baker can’t get up on this table. I’ll find a way to sneak you guys some more pictures of him in another post.

What’s in my box?

Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish™ Hot Cloth Cleanser

Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser. It comes in a mint colored bottle. I love mint colored things.

Guys, we’re fancy. This came with it’s own cloth! Your washrags at home are too impure for your face, okay? You need this special 100% pure cotton cloth.

Oh, and the “Hot Cloth” part? It’s not a warming face wash. You use hot water to remove it. I’m glad it’s not warming, because that sounds awful for your face. I think some people were surprised about that, though.

A white cloth with mint trim. Fancy.

The border matches the bottle! It was more crisp when I first got it, but it bunched up after I washed it. You’re getting the reality pictures here.

I actually really like the product. It’s moisturizing and doesn’t feel like it strips my skin. I like the eucalyptus smell. It doesn’t irritate my eyes and removes my scary waterproof mascara very well. And it makes my skin feel so soft!

I don’t like how many times Birchbox used the word “pure” for them. That kind of skeeves me out. Usually excessive claims of purity have a tinge of “chemicals are scary!” or racism. I’m not here for either of those things. And they recommend throwing away each rag I mean, cloth after each bottle of cleanser. That’s wasteful. It’s a cloth. If you wash it, it’s fine.

Purchase or pass: I have to use up my current cleanser stash. Then I think I’ll try Pond’s cold cream. This is a fancy 5x the price version of that. If Pond’s isn’t as good, I would consider buying this.

Chella Eyebrow Pencil in Tantalizing Taupe

Chella eyebrow pencil. It's a little twist up pencil in a plastic tube. This picture is a little blurry, so if you're relying on captions please know that you REALLY aren't missing much.

TANTALIZING TAUPE. Taupe is never tantalizing, but okay. I’ve been using this pencil every day. I think at the beginning it was giving me more crisp lines, but I’ve worn the edge down. It’s hard to get it back because it’s such a small area. Oh well. My usual problem with brow pencils is that black is too dark for my hair, but the browns are orange. This one isn’t! I swatched for you, but don’t have a picture of it it in my brows. I need to shape them. Apparently that’s where my line for dignity is right now.

Chella eyebrow pencil swatched on my wrist. It doesn't quite draw smoothly. There are some darker, grittier parts. I don't have a problem with this because my eyebrows are so thick. If yours are thinner or lighter it may not look great.

Purchase or pass: It has microplastics in it. That’s a pass.

Number 4™ Jour d’automne Smoothing Balm

Number 4 Jour d'automne Smoothing Balm. It's just a white bottle. Minimalism means high quality, right? They've got a little cartoon bird with a snorkel on here. I'm not sure why.

Birchbox sent me a leave in conditioner type thing from Number 4 last month. This is technically a different product and works a little better for my hair. I’m still mad. I didn’t have my husband buy me a subscription (lol) to get repeats.

Purchase or pass: It’s so boring. I use it once a week and can only say that it doesn’t do anything detrimental. Pass.

M·A·C Cosmetics In Extreme Dimension 3D Black Lash Mascara

MAC Extreme Dimension 3D Black Lash. They sent this in a little squeezy tube instead of a normal bottle. It's black (surprise) with white letters.

This is my first MAC product! I was so excited! It’s another mascara that barely shows up on my lashes. Oh well. Here’s a brush picture because I know some of you are Very Into that.

The brush for the MAC mascara. It has A TON of skinny bristles. Maybe the most dense I've used.

I’m assuming it’s the same as the real product even though the sample packaging is that terrible pouch form that I hate.

Purchase or pass: Nah.

[ comfort zone ] Hydramemory Cream Gel

[ comfort zone ] Hydramemory cream gel. Yes, they insist on those awful brackets. This tube boasts 24 hr "double hydration", whatever that is. The color of the tube is great, though. A light purple that isn't lavender. I've been really into the millennial pastels trending lately.

I’ve kept this empty tube around for three weeks so that I could take faux unboxing pictures for you. Please compliment my blogging dedication.

The moisturizer was fine. I needed to use it twice a day, so the 24 hour claim on the bottle is a lie. My favorite part of it was the smell. It’s HEAVILY scented, but I was into it. It reminded me of a lot of k-beauty things I’ve tried.

Purchase or pass: I was fine with this as a mediocre entry level moisturizer, but this is $64. That’s hilarious. I am absolutely never buying it.

I mean..at least Birchbox isn’t making me angry, right? It’s a little weird to have mediocre products sent to your door every month, though. Is anyone else having this experience with Birchbox?

BioRepublic Lost Baggage Eye Mask Review

I noticed when writing my year of ipsy post that I hadn’t reviewed these eye mask from February. I found the pictures that I took for that review! I’m not sure why I didn’t write it up until now. February/March was the peak of finishing my class and looking for a new job, so maybe that’s why it fell through the cracks.

My photo editing app refused to open or save these guys, so read this review knowing that both past me AND my current phone do not want this review to see the light of day. The universe must think this is particularly controversial.

It’s not, really. Eye masks barely work. We’ve established this fact, right? If they do anything its plumping up the area around the edge of your eye bag so there’s a less prominent crease. This is also how current plastic surgery (fillers) options go. They don’t suck things out, they plump the rest up.

Anyway. The product:
Image of the front packaging for BioRepublic's Lost Baggage Under Eye Emergency Repair masks. They show a stylized winking face wearing their masks. Their description: A pair of biocellulose under eye masks with a restorative serum containing Hylaluronic Acid, Rose Water, and Syn-Tacks (Peptide Blend)

I picked it as a points sample because I like masks and The BioRepublic ones I previously got from ipsy didn’t feel like rubbing battery acid on my face.

I looked up Syn-Tacks(TM) because I genuinely love figuring out what these weird proprietary things are. I love that it has the word “tack” in it. Doesn’t the word “tack” just make you want to put this on the delicate area under your eye? Please hire a naming consultant.

The official science word on Syn-Tacks is that after two months of use, skin is 23% more compact. There’s a cool electron microscope image from a study on my link in the above paragraph.

I didn’t wear these eye masks for two months, so they didn’t do anything.

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Weird* that the packaging doesn’t tell you that their star ingredient only works after two months.

*Not weird at all.

Here’s my before face. Note that I’ve clearly slept more since the last time I tried eye masks for the blog.

Picture of my bare face. Groundbreaking.

And wearing the BioRepublic masks:
Selfie of me wearing the BioRepublic Lost Baggage Eye Masks. They're little white fat banana shaped pads.
I’m pulling a face because they’re very slippery. I had to move them back up for this photo.

Or is the face because I’ve just noticed this?
The masks are actually a stack of individual sheets. Here's one.

Each mask is actually a little stack of individual sheets. Maybe this keeps them so moist? If I had known that before I was using them, I would have tried to pull them apart and get more uses out of them. Unfortunately, the thinner eye didn’t do a much better job of staying up.

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I took them off and gave up after this. They wouldn’t stay put for much longer than 30 seconds.

I would only recommend masks like this for the relaxation factor, and these don’t even manage that.

Clinique Moisture Surge Intense Skin Fortifying Hydrator Review

This lotion has a NAME. Surge! Intense! It’s making some claims. And it should for $40.

I didn’t pay $40 for a lotion, don’t worry. I got a sample using ipsy points back in May.

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You might remember that I wasn’t initially impressed with it. I didn’t think that it was moisturizing nearly as well as my CeraVe. A bunch of you yelled at me to really give it a chance because you love it.

And you were right. I just wasn’t using enough.

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I had to hurry to take pictures before I used it all.

A 7 mL sample lasted me for a month of once daily use. I still used my CeraVe at night. Why only once a day? This lotion doesn’t make my sunscreen pill up. I was rationing it. The pill life is real, but I refuse to try new sunscreen when I have so much left of what I’m using.

It hydrates well when you slather it on and dries pretty quickly. It doesn’t have any added fragrance, but does smell faintly of alcohol. Butylene glycol (an alcohol) is the fourth ingredient. My organic chemistry classes didn’t teach me to identify alcohols based on smell, but I think that might be it.

So, am I going to start budgeting for an annual fund of $80 on morning moisturizer alone? I was pretty tempted. It’s good. BUT it contains some of the micro-plastics that I’m trying to avoid in my skincare. Environmentalism has saved my wallet.

I think that the major ingredient my daily CeraVe doesn’t have is squalane. I’m going to try adding a squalane serum to my routine and continue to pray for a sunscreen that doesn’t pill with my current set up.

Any squalane recommendations for me?

Stuff I liked: July/August 2018

Yeah, we missed July’s wrap up the first time around. July was the longest month of my life. Buying a house is no joke. We’re completely moved out of the apartment now. Settling and unpacking takes a bit longer. I’m working on a “what we did in our first month” post, as well. Sometimes it’s hard to feel like you’re making progress when there’s so much to do.

I have some post card paintings to mail out and more to work on. I don’t have a good set up for painting as of yet. I kind of, uh, threw a lot of stuff away in the move. Like my office chair. I figured it would make me buy a new one quickly. I needed a new one.

I have not bought one.

ICYMI/Blog Stuff

Meg Cosmetics Good Night PM Mask
9 Apps That Help Me Organize My Life
Ipsy, A Year In Review
Aritaum Ginger Sugar Overnight Lip Mask
My Birchbox Free Gift
eShakti Review
Birchbox July 2018
Maybelline Lip Studio Color Blur Lipstick in Orange Ya Glad (uncharacteristically for Grumpy Skin, I LIKE this one!)
Valjean Labs Facial Mist in Clarify
We bought a house!
The Chok Chok Green Tea Watery Mask Sheet by Tonymoly

I’m almost caught up on my reader. I’m actually writing posts (like this one!) instead of relying on my queue. We’re getting back to normal.

I’m low on media recommendations for you guys. Next month!
Stick your best blog post of the past two months in my comments so I make sure I don’t miss it.

Birchbox July 2018

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My first Birchbox is here! Birchbox is a subscription box a lot like ipsy. For $10 a month they send you an assortment of makeup, skincare, and hair products. Birchbox is a little different from ipsy in that you get more choices for the box that you receive each month. You can choose a curated box, where you know all of the products ahead of time, or you can choose a product from a short list and have the rest of the box remain a mystery. I think you can also choose nothing and let the algorithm gods decide your box. There’s a lot of options here.

I chose the curated box. It had things that I wanted to try.

What’s in my box
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Kiehl’s Rare Earth Deep Pore Daily Cleanser
People really like Kiehl’s. My skin generally likes clay. There’s one weird thing. This smells exactly like coleslaw. I like coleslaw, so I’m going to use the whole tube. But it doesn’t scream “CLEAN FACE” to me. The combination of clay and salicylic acid is a bit too drying for my tastes, AND it’s inexplicably got microplastics in it. So I wont be buying it. Also..that cole slaw smell.

Purchase or pass: Nope. I can only use it two or so times a week before my skin starts crying for moisture.

MakeupDrop Original
I thought I’d get on the silicone applicator train. I do love reusable items.

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It’s hilariously small. I thought for sure this was a baby size that they were sending out as samples, but it looks like this is their full $20 applicator. Um. Okay. You could buy a silicone cooking mat and cut it into fun shapes for less money.

It also, uh, doesn’t work. You can’t blend with it. Maybe you could use it for certain highlighters, but I’ll just keep using my fingers. It’s not worth the hassle. I also happened to drop it down the sink the first time I used it and had to get Mr. Grumpyskin to pull out a pipe to retrieve it. It’s that small.

I was going to ask if anyone wants it, but I don’t expect any bites now that you know it’s been down my sink drain. (Silicone is easy to sterilize!)

Purchase or pass: I will literally give this to you for free. Someone out there has to straight up spackle their face.

Benefit Cosmetics The POREfessional Face Primer

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I got a sample of Benefit’s Watts Up highlighter a while back and LOVED it. This, not so much.

So let’s take a close up look of my foundation over this primer. It looks like it definitely filled in my pores. It’s somehow making the foundation settle into my pores in a very not cute look. It did have staying power, because I had to bust out the face wash to get it to wash off.

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Purchase or pass: Some people swear by this. I am not those people. Nope.

W3LL PEOPLE Expressionist Mascara
Do you KNOW how hard it is to find mascara without microplastics in it? I’m surprised that this exists. It works..okay. I don’t know. My eyelashes are pretty intense. This doesn’t clump or flake, but it also doesn’t add much of anything. It is probably nice for people who have light lashes who want to go for a natural look. For $21 on my eyelashes..I probably just wouldn’t wear mascara.

Seriously, I’m not negative just to be negative. I’ve curled both eyelashes and am wearing THREE COATS of this mascara on only one eye. I even wiggled the brush during application. I tried. Tell me which eye in the comments.

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Sometimes I forget that I put this on in the morning and when I wash my face at night am momentarily terrified because something black is coming off my face.

Purchase or pass: This is $20. No.

Bumble and bumble. Don’t Blow It (H)air Styler
Is this a sign that not using a blow dryer is finally going to become cool? I feel like hairdressers give me shit all of the time for hating them. I haven’t personally used a blow dryer in actual years.

This just makes my thick and straight hair very fluffy. I spend most of my hair effort trying to make it more sleek. This is going into the giveaway pile.

Purchase or pass: Pass.

All in all, this wasn’t a great first box. The mascara is the only truly usable item, and that might be because I literally cannot tell that I’m wearing it. I think a lot of people were disappointed by this month’s box. I’m not angry yet, so I’ll toss in my referral code: I get $5 to use in their store if you sign up with my link.

My Birchbox Free Gift

Mr. Grumpyskin reads the blog. That’s not really news. What was is that he reads the blog enough to know that I was thinking about getting Birchbox next.

I mean, we also talk. But this showed up on my birthday shortly after I posted the poll for which subscription I should try next.

Picture of my free gift Birchbox + contents (listed below).

My first official Birchbox didn’t arrive until a few days ago. In the interim they sent me a box of their fan-favorite items, along with a sample of micellar water as a free gift.

What’s in my box

Davine’s OI All in One Milk, Shampoo, and Conditioner
We’ll talk about the milk first, because it’s a multi use item. I like it a lot. It has a nice spray cap, doesn’t require half the bottle for my thick hair, and smooths my hair without making it feel greasy. I feel like I have to wash my hair less when I use this. I’m not sure how it’s doing that, but I wont complain. The fragrance is REALLY strong, though. Like, it’s the third ingredient strong.

I do have a request. Can we stop calling things “milk” that aren’t milk? I don’t like thinking about what nipple created this. I have a biology degree so that is exactly what I go to. And I don’t mean like “let’s make the FDA regulate it” because they have more important things to do. I want a cultural milk shift.

Purchase or pass: I’m considering it. I need to see how long it lasts first. Buying a $32 bottle of hair milk every month isn’t in the budget, money or plastic bottle-wise. The sample is still going strong a month later, though it’s hard to tell exactly how much I have left because the bottle is so dark.

The shampoo and conditioner are also both good, though they have the same strong smell and the shampoo has microplastics in it.

Jouer Cosmetics Lip Enhancer
This is okay? I’m not sure that it’s performing any better than Chapstick would. Birchbox says that its tinted pink, but it’s definitely not. It’s more milky. I know, I used the “m” word. It was descriptive!

Purchase or pass: Pass. It’s got polyethylene in it. Boo, microplastics.

NUFace Prep-N-Glow Cloths
Confession time: I’ve never used a proper makeup remover wipe. I haven’t been missing out. It takes your makeup off, sure. I don’t think its a good substitute for washing your face.

Purchase or pass: I don’t buy single use items. My apartment is so small that I can handle walking over to the bathroom.

Stila Cosmetics Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner
Birchbox insists that this does not budge. They’re right. I wore this on my oily eyelids with no primer on the sweatiest day in recent memory. This is after about 10 hours, and twenty solid minutes of soaking sweat:

Close up of my eyes with little baby winged eyeliner. It's crispt and hasn't smudged at all.

Purchase or pass: Does anyone with a beauty subscription actually buy black eyeliner anymore? It’s also got microplastics in it, surprise. I think microplastics might be a component of most long wearing makeup.

Sunday Riley CEO Rapid Flash Brightening Serum
Every vitamin C cream smells EXACTLY the same. Apparently costing nearly $100 (full sized is $85) means that it still smells like a CVS vitamin C supplement. I don’t mind it, but I expected money to smell differently. It’s a decent lotion, if a little greasy. I definitely felt like it gave me a little glow that I’ve started to associate with skincare items that contain microplastics. I’m not sure if my theory is correct, but I do wonder if the plastics are added as a thickener because they can sort of sit on top of your skin and hold shine there.

I know they say it’s a serum, but it’s a creamy lotion consistency.
After about a week of use it started to break me out.

Purchase or pass: lol no.

Bioderma Sensibio H2O
I’m not sold on micellar water yet. It’s a cool idea. In theory it works exactly like, you know, soap. I can’t use this with my konjac sponge and refuse to buy cotton rounds. It’s not super impressive with a rag. Doesn’t touch the eyeliner that’s close to my eyelashes, but scrubbing my eyes with my sponge does.

Purchase or pass: Eh.

Malin + Goetz Vitamin E Face Moisturizer
This stuff is my Cerave on steroids. It was awesome. Moisturizing but not greasy, didn’t pill with my sunscreen. I’m glad it has microplastics in it, because I was trying to figure out how to budget for a $50 lotion.

Purchase or pass: My wallet has been saved by my commitment to the ocean.

I’m considering buying something on the first box! Birchbox is looking like a better decision. I have a referral link if you’re looking to join. I get $5 to use in their store if you do.

Ipsy, A Year In Review

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Look at all these bags! Yes, I know there are 11. I gave one away with some products that I didn’t want. I can’t remember what month’s bag it was or what it looked like. That’s how useless these are.

I considered selling them on Ebay for a minute, but after shipping and post office time costs it’s definitely not worth it. If you like one and are an IRL friend, please lay claim to it. Otherwise they’re being offered up for Allston Christmas. I’m probably keeping the Gudetama (egg) one. It’s hilarious.

The Final Verdict

Is ipsy worth it? You know that I hated it. I still feel like I should give an official statement. I read SO MANY reviews before I paid for a year of this subscription. Technically, I got my money’s worth. I used at least $110 of product. Monetarily, it was worth it. Would I have had more fun if I had just spent $110 on products I had selected myself? Absolutely. The things that I used were not all necessarily things that I enjoyed. Sometimes they were things that burned my face. Sometimes they broke me out. Because it was a subscription box, I couldn’t ask for my money back for those items.

Did I discover any new brands to try? Not nearly at the rate that I expected to. I think there’s one item I’m planning on repurchasing. It was that food-smelling hand cream. Not exactly a discovery that was worth $110.

We all had fun with it, but guys, don’t do ipsy. They mostly send you trash. Things arrive broken. They are clearly mailing out colors that don’t sell well for the brands. Like, yes, I got to try Colourpop. Except it was yellow eye shadow, so no I didn’t. I got lipstick that was the color of my concealer. My skin is a universally unflattering lip shade.

I’m happy to be done with them and 100% do not recommend.

Memory Lane

If you have some time and want to look back on the lols, here are all of my ipsy posts. I’ve gone through and added links to products that I wrote full reviews for. There are a few more in the queue. I love the queue. The ipsy fun is still going for at least two months in the queue.

July 2017 I had no idea what I was getting into.

August 2017 Ohh, this was the bag that I got rid of. That makes sense. I ended up giving the concealer away, but use the Crown brush almost daily. This post marks my first use of “infuriated” in regards to an ipsy product. TWO MONTHS IN I WAS INFURIATED.

September 2017 I do wear the blush as a highlight and have come around on the primer. It makes me look less shiny now that I’ve gotten my skincare under control.

October 2017 I haven’t worn the pencil eyeliner once. I should go see if I’ve thrown it away yet. I never reviewed the sheet masks. I think I remember them being fine.

November 2017 I still haven’t thrown out the yellow eye shadow or the glitter lipstick. Someone tell me to. I need to.

December 2017 All I wanted from ipsy was red lipstick. They sent me exactly one. I threw it away.

January 2018 My first concealer colored lipstick, aww. This is the month that they sent me that weird pumice mask, which is why I ended up buying a domain name. There was a brief period in time when my review of that product was more highly ranked than the Amazon page for it. I bet the company was thrilled.

February 2018 Probably my favorite bad ipsy bag + review. I know that I took pictures for the eye masks, but don’t think I wrote anything up. I’ll try to find them and do a post. If not: They slid all over the place and were unusable. Spoiler alert.

March 2018 This bag wasn’t terrible. Weird.

April 2018 I sorted out the lipstick application for the NYX stuff that you all raved about. I think mine had just settled weird. Other than the nail polish, I think this was the most usable bag that ipsy ever sent me.

May 2018 The leave in conditioner had three uses in it, so we’ll never know how good it is long term. I’ve already forgotten about the lipstick. I’ll have to go see if I still have it.

June 2018 And my final month.

Again: fun but not worth it.
I’ve got another subscription lined up for July. We’ll see if it’s any better.