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.

June 2018 Ipsy Bag — LAST IPSY BAG!

This is my last ipsy bag EVER! I’m kind of upset that I’ve so clearly loathed them this year. I don’t get to act like I’m rage-quitting because they got a little TERFy this month.

Ipsy just finds another way every month to make me more disappointed. You would think that I’d be numb to them by now. But no, they post a video where one of their ~collaborators~ refers to cisgender women as ‘authentic women’ and then delete a bunch of people’s Facebook comments telling them that isn’t cool. It’s PRIDE MONTH. They are also working with transgender people. Multiple people had to okay this video. No one thought that might be a terrible phrase? Come on, ipsy.

What’s in my bag?
Picutre of my June 2018 ipsy bag and contents.

My least favorite color is yellow so OF COURSE I get that bag.

PACIFICA Mineral 5 Eyeshadow Palette in Tomboy Vibe
Image of Pacifica's Tomboy Vibe palette.
Someone please tell me what this green is. Is it for when I cosplay as kitchen appliances from the 70s? It’s so bad. It’s so bad that on its page ipsy tells you how to do an eyeshadow look that uses every color but the green. Pacifica is fully aware of what they did and named the color “1970”. I am dead.

Ipsy says that the dark brown is matte. It’s not really. Swatches aren’t labelled because I immediately threw away the box with the color names. Boxes are a waste.
Pacifica Tomboy Vibes palette finger swatches without flash.
Pacifica Tomboy Vibes palette finger swatches with flash.
The formula of these actually seems okay. I haven’t tried them beyond the initial swatches because a friend offered to trade me some skincare stuff for it.

Purchase or pass: This palette has the unforgivable green, but Pacifica’s website doesn’t seem so bad.

M·A·C Prep + Prime Skin
Aww, Grumpy Skin’s first MAC product! I thought the foundation that I bought sucked, but it was this primer. My Hard Candy primer that I bought actual years ago works a lot better. Both primers are silicone based, so it’s not a water vs silicone issue.

Purchase or pass: It’s got microplastics in it. It doesn’t play well with my makeup. No thanks.

BIOBELLE #UnicornGlow Perfect Radiance Tencel Facial Mask
Ipsy has heard me yelling about single use items and sent me a biodegradable sheet mask! Maybe one day we’ll get biodegradable packaging so that’s not completely useless.

Purchase or pass: Despite no longer buying sheet masks, I still have an awfully big backlog of ones to try. I’ll get to these.

HEY HONEY Come Clean: Propolis & Minerals Facial Scrub
I actually like this SO MUCH. I suspect that it’s breaking me out. BUT — It smells delicious and is scrubby without feeling abrasive. It’s also got microplastics in it. And, you know, its basically just rubbing salt on your face.

Purchase or pass: I would say “womp womp”, but that’s apparently for Nazis now.

FINDING FERDINAND Mini Lip Stick in Flaming Fuchsia
Finding Ferdinand mini lipstick in Flaming Fuchsia. SO MANY F'S.

I laughed at how small this tube is. They didn’t even bother with a design! Just stuck their name on it.

Finding Ferdinand mini lipstick in Flaming Fuchsia. SO MANY F'S. They've got their logo stamped on the lipstick. A nice touch.

Full face shot of me wearing Finding Ferdinand's Flaming Fuchsia. It's very bright but not awful on my skin tone. I've got raccoon eyes from trying to wash my mascara off.
Purchase or pass: This formula seems not terrible. You can customize colors on their website. *heavy breathing*

And with that, I am freed.

 

What Subscription Box Should I Try Next?

June marks my last ipsy bag. Freedom!!

I wont be renewing the subscription, but I do really enjoy the idea of getting something in the mail every month. What do you guys think should be next for me? I’m leaning towards Birchbox. I’m going to pass on the sheet masks because of the waste. They’re in the poll because I acknowledge these boxes exist.

Descriptions of the options I’ve mapped out are below.

Birchbox – $10/month. Subscribers get a monthly box of makeup, skincare, and hair products. I’m leaning most towards this one.

Sephora Play – $10/month. Subscribers get a monthly box of makeup, skincare, and hair products. Reviews indicate that repeat items happen fairly often.

Facetory – $5.95/month + shipping for four masks or $15.95/month for seven. I think the price is a little steep for what it is, but sheet masks.

Glossybox – $17.50/month if you buy the year upfront. I don’t learn from my subscription mistakes, so I would. Subscribers get beauty products.

Mask Time – $51.85/month for 8-10 masks. A nice idea at a ridiculous price. Probably a better option for people in the UK.

Boxycharm – $19.25/month if you buy the year upfront. The draw of Boxycharm is that they do full sized beauty products. This is my current second choice.

BeautyFIX – $24.95/month. I don’t know as much about BeautyFIX. Is anyone getting them?

Feel free to leave your own suggestions in the comments!

May 2018 Ipsy Bag

Ipsy is a monthly makeup subscription that I stupidly bought an entire year of up front. I have not been enjoying it.

IT’S MY PENULTIMATE BAG. I’m almost free!
This month’s theme is Go There. I kind of like the idea of a travel bag covered in passport stamps. I might keep this one.

Not that I’ve done anything with the old bags. What would I do with them? I only leave the house so often. Someone please come take them from me.

What’s in my bag
May 2018 ipsy bag and contents. The bag is a light yellow with an orange-y red passport stamp pattern.

BRIOGEO HAIR CARE Rosarco Milk™ Reparative Leave-In Conditioning Spray
I’ve been wanting leave in conditioner and have held off on buying some because I knew that this was coming. Hair products from ipsy have worked decently in the past. A shocker, I know. You can only mess up so much by putting oil in frizzy hair.

Purchase or pass: Preemptively going to pass. I’m not crazy about the smell. It’s not going to last long, either. My hair is too thick for the formula.

CLINIQUE Moisture Surge Intense Skin Fortifying Hydrator
I cashed in points for this, so I have no complaints about the fact that I got it. I’ve been wanting to see how my skin reacts to squalane. Any benefits are going to be attributed to that.

Purchase or pass: It’s a $40 lotion. It’s a $40 lotion that doesn’t seem particularly hydrating. I shouldn’t want to layer my CeraVe over a $40 lotion.

Swatch time? Swatch time. This one is without flash:

Swatches on my arm with no flash. You can't see the tarte cosmetics finishing powder.

This one is with:

Swatches on my arm with no flash. You CAN see the tarte cosmetics finishing powder. They insist there's no flashback, but okay.

TOUCH IN SOL Style Sepia Gel-Liner in Jardin
Image of the touch in sol style sepia eyeliner. It's a sample size, but otherwise looks normal.

I’m only a little disappointed it’s not made from cuttlefish ink. I’d love to have makeup made of cuttlefish rage.

Top view of the touch in sol eye liner. Upon further inspection, the sample appears to be a tiny cone of eye liner sitting on a big stick rather than a true pencil.

Wait a second.
This whole pencil is plastic. Do I sharpen the plastic? Did they make an entire plastic stick to just put a little cone of eyeliner at the top? I can’t get anything to twist. Are they this stingy? I think they’re this stingy.

Purchase or pass: Pass. It’s got polyethylene as an ingredient. Polyethylene was banned as a microbead, but cosmetic companies are still allowed to use it more dispersed. Our Earth Day kick is in full swing at grumpyskin. Not sorry.

OFRA COSMETICS Liquid Lipstick in ipsy Unzipped
I was pretty okay with not getting this lipstick back in February. I’m not feeling AT ALL like ipsy realized they had a case of these left over and didn’t know what to do with them, so they tossed them to some of us three months later. That was sarcasm. Offer it as a bonus instead of an actual item, jfc ipsy.

Having said that, the color is more berry than nude. I don’t hate it.
Lip swatch of the ofra lipstick in unzipped. Nothing weird here. It's a "nude berry" color.

Purchase or pass: We’ll see how it wears.

TARTE COSMETICS Smooth Operator Amazonian Clay Finishing Powder
I’m sick of getting tarte items. I think this is my third one. Their blush is nice, but their bronzer breaks me out. We’ll see how my skin reacts to this.

Swatching it wasn’t a good experience, though. I HATED how the swatch felt. I have to work up to covering my face in it. Do you know how two layers of tissue paper feel when they slip up against each other? That’s what my skin felt like.

Purchase or pass: Pass.

I’m only going to call them out for using talc here because they make a point of saying that there are no parabens so “it’s good for you”. Do you guys think tarte sources their talc from distributors that test for asbestos or nah? I emailed them to ask, but for some reason cosmetics companies don’t like answering my emails. #nevergonnabesponsored

My dream cosmetics company would tell you exactly where every ingredient comes from and post their quality and safety testing data. Let me know if they ever exist.

BEAUTE BASICS Eyeshadow in Satin Taupe
A perfectly acceptable shimmery brown eyeshadow. The eyeliner is in this image, too.
My closed eyes wearing the eye shadow and eyeliner. Both have a subtle shimmer to them.

But in the interest of dragging ipsy:
The beaute basics palette arrived shattered. Bummer.

Purchase or pass: Pass.Their website is so bad that I don’t think I’d be emotionally capable of giving them money.

What do you guys think ipsy will sent me for my last month? I’m thinking a plastic set of pastel themed makeup that are all cracked, a sheet mask that accidentally lights on fire, and a final eff you black felt eyeliner.


 

April 2018 Ipsy Bag

The situation: You give ipsy $10 a month. Ipsy sends you a “curated” bag of makeup samples. Mostly I hate it.

This month’s theme is “social butterfly”. They’re mocking me. I like going to bed early and reading books. I refuse to go to an event if there are more than three people there. Show of hands, how many times have you personally asked me to go to something and I’ve told you that I don’t want to? They even sent a little card with this bag telling me to say yes to everything this month.

No.

What’s in my bag
Picture of my April 2018 ipsy bag and contents. Baker (my cat) came over to nuzzle things because he can't stand not being the center of attention. This month's bag is white and covered in pink/purple butterflies with pink foil corners.

Baker would not let me take a fancy flat lay picture.

Swatches without flash (left) and with flash (right):

PRETTY WOMAN Nail Polish in Girl Boss
We’re going to ignore that lavender nail polish tends to look weird with my skin and go straight to the formula. I swatched this without a base or top coat to get a look at the color. This is the fastest drying nail polish that I’ve ever seen in my life. I actually watched the solvent evaporate.

The first coat was pretty weird and patchy. It looks kind of like a golf ball. There are dents everywhere from how quickly it dried.
Pretty Woman nail polish in Girl Boss on my thumb nail. It's a very light lavender color.

I thought for sure the second coat would be even weirder, but it mostly evened out.

Purchase or pass: Other than the color, it’s pretty nice. I might consider another one of their colors after my next big nail polish purge.

TRIFLE COSMETICS Sugar Bunny Lip Scrub

Image of the Trifle Cosmetics Sugar Bunny lip scrub container. It's white, with a mosaic of white bunnies in black dresses.Some of the Trifle Cosmetics lip scrub on my index finger. It's light green and grainy.

Oh hey, a full sized product! That’s awesome because I’d never spend $18 on a sugar scrub. It smells exactly like watermelon Jolly Ranchers. It does not taste like watermelon Jolly Ranchers. I checked.

Purchase or pass: Pass. It works well, but I could dump some sugar in literally any lip balm and it would do the same thing for less than $18. However, I’m eyeing their Lip Parfait in Summer Cone. It’s the same price, but you don’t immediately wipe it off.

NYX PROFESSIONAL MAKEUP Soft Matte Lip Cream in Milan
Have you ever wanted to coat your lips in silicone face primer? Because that’s the exact texture of this lip cream. Applying it was an experience. Once you get it down into a thin layer it’s okay. Getting to that thin layer is the issue. Just check out that chunk!
NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream in Milan on my lips. I've got a chunk on my cupids bow from the applicator not holding product well.
It’s so thick and clumpy on the applicator. I’m not sure if my tube has started to dry out or if the texture is just terrible. Once it mostly dries you can’t tell that you’re wearing anything.
NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream in Milan on my lips. I've cleaned up the chunky bit and it looks nice.
Purchase or pass: I’m torn. I think it’s a pass based on the trauma of the application.

DELECTABLE BY CAKE BEAUTY Ultra Nourishing Hand Cream in Sweet Mint
It’s a hand cream that smells like mint chocolate chip ice cream. I was going to fuss at it for being expensive, but it’s actually not. It’s just a solid hand cream that smells a little bit too much like dessert. Seriously, my hands are making me hungry.

Purchase or pass: I found a $15 off affiliate link (you get $15, I get $15). They’ve got a box set of half sized hand creams for $9 and I want it.

NOMAD COSMETICS Illuminating Highlighter in Midnight Sun
Nomad Cosmetics Illuminating Highlighter in Midnight Sun. It's a tiny little pan.

I’m cranky about how tiny this highlighter is. It came in a little carboard box that I had to rip in half because physics didn’t intend for packaging that small to be able to open.

Having said that, this highlighter packs a pretty hard punch. It’s a nice champagne color without looking yellow. I’m not a fan of the mica concentration, but I’ve started to feel that all powder highlights are too much light straight glitter for me.

Purchase or pass: Their website auto-plays music. Hard pass. (I also couldn’t find this product on their website, but mostly the auto-play is a sin.)

Wow, I think that everything in this month’s bag was usable! It must be because I finally cancelled my subscription. But never fear, I’m getting bags until June and picking a new subscription for July.

I don’t learn from my mistakes.

March 2018 Ipsy Bag

The situation: You give ipsy $10 a month. Ipsy sends you a “curated” bag of makeup samples. Mostly I hate it.

This month seems genuinely good? I don’t understand. My whole thing is that I’m locked into a year long subscription and everyone thinks it’s fun to watch me suffer.

This month’s theme is “create”. I’m not going to color the bag, but I have no snark for it.
I’m so suspicious.

What’s in my bag
Image of the March 2018 ipsy bag and contents. I've done a flat lay on my messy watercolor palette to keep with the theme. This month's bag is a black and white drawing of women. They sent two markers so I could color it in. I didn't.

And the swatches. Top to bottom: City Color cream highlighter (finger swatched), City Color powder highlighter (finger swatched), Stud lip pencil, and then the City Color powder highlighter brush swatched with the fan brush they sent me. You can see it if you squint.

ROYAL & LANGNICKEL Prismatic Ombre Fan Brush

I was unenthusiastic about this originally. I like my highlighter heavy handed and think the bright colors make this brush look cheap. HOWEVER, ipsy sent me highlighter that is basically bronzer when applied with anything else that I own. This brush lets me subtly apply the sparkles without so much of the pigment. You win, ipsy.

Purchase or pass: I’m probably never going to buy a makeup brush with the rate that subscription boxes send them out, lets be honest.

CONTOUR COSMETICS Lip Kit Pencil in Stud
We can all rest easy. I think this is awful. Crumbly, applies patchy, and rubbed off as soon as I pursed my lips. The tip immediately broke off when I tried to use it. It would be asking too much of ipsy to have them send me a usable lip color product. Balance is restored to the universe.

Purchase or pass: Direct to trash. I have two lip liners that I like all ready, I don’t need to settle for this one.

GLOSSIER Balm Dotcom in Original
Ipsy sent me something that I was planning on buying! It’s lip balm. I don’t know what other description you want from me.

Purchase or pass: It’s basically lanolin and Vaseline. It’s not so overpriced that I wont order it from their website at least once. Do you guys recommend anything else from Glossier? I’ll be trying Boy Brow at some point.

CITY COLOR COSMETICS Glow Duo
Image of the City Color Glow Duo highlighter kit. The left side is a light shimmery cream, while the right is a bronzey powder.
I think this is my third month in a row getting something from City Color. Ipsy needs to lay off of them and highlighter. I can only glow so much. BUT, let’s be honest, I’m going to use it.

Purchase or pass: Pass. I’ll use it until it dies, but the cream side dries a little flaky. It’s not nearly as good as Watts Up or the highlighter in the Maybelline Master Camo palette. The powder side sits on my skin better but is so dark that I can only use a little at a time.

MEG COSMETICS Good Night PM Mask
I’m training them to mail me sheet masks and it is GLORIOUS. I did google the fancy plant they’re bragging that this is made of, camellia sinensis. It’s fucking tea. Drop the pretentiousness.

Purchase or pass: You guys know by now that this will be getting it’s own post, right? Stay tuned to see if it burns my skin off or is normal. There is no in between.

I’m only trashing one thing this month and nothing emotionally traumatized me! Do you think ipsy is turning things around? Or do they realize that we’re nearing the end of my subscription and just want me to renew?