Birchbox: August 2016

My August 2016 Birchbox arrived a couple days ago but it’s taken me a little time to actually sit down and write about it. This month’s box design is not my favorite but it’s still pretty cute, with a sort of 80’s retro feel (so hot right now, what with Stranger Things and all!).

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This month is “all about hair,” which is not very exciting to me. For the August sample choice, subscribers could pick one of three hair care products or a curated box. The curated box didn’t appeal to me so I selected the R+Co BADLANDS Dry Shampoo Paste. Though I’m pretty over dry shampoo samples I had never heard of a dry shampoo paste, so I figured I might as well give it a whirl.

When I opened my box and read my sample card I found that they had sent not one, but two hair care samples. Yippee? The rest of the items listed on my sample card looked pretty promising, though:

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And now, for my August 2016 Birchbox sample reveal:

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My sample choice for this month, the R+Co BADLANDS Dry Shampoo Paste (full-size, $28), came in a cute travel-friendly pot.

R+Co BADLANDS Dry Shampoo Paste | Birchbox sample

I do love the brand’s graphic design!

I have to say I’m always a little afraid of flying with the aerosol cans that traditional dry shampoos come in. I feel like aerosol cans exploding on airplanes was A Thing when I was younger. The can design has probably been updated to minimize issues, but my paranoia lingers.  😛  Anyway, so yeah, this would be a good product to fly with.

R+Co BADLANDS Dry Shampoo Paste | Birchbox sample

The dry shampoo paste smells just like the R+Co DEATH VALLEY Dry Shampoo  that I received in my August 2015 Birchbox. The paste contains Hawaiian volcanic ash to keep your scalp clean and zeolite powder to absorb excess oil. To use it, you rub a small amount of paste between your fingers and then apply it to second-day hair. Seeing as how my fine hair doesn’t do well when weighed down with product, I only used a teeny tiny bit of this paste—I’m talking not even pea-sized, probably more like half of a pea—and rubbed it into my roots at the crown of my head. This stuff felt STIFF in my hair. I really, really hate the feeling of stiff hair, so if I use this product going forward I will use even less of it than I did the first time. The paste did gave me some volume at the roots, so that’s a definite plus! Seeing as how I only need a minuscule amount of the paste at a time, this small pot will last me forever so I won’t be buying it full sized.

On to hair care sample number two: Oribe Après Beach Wave and Shine Spray (full-size, $22-39).  Birchbox must have recently brought Oribe on board, because this is the third month in a row that I’ve received a sample from the brand. There’s nothing about the previous Oribe samples that have truly wowed me, and I feel the same way about this spray. It’s perfectly functional and it smells okay, but it’s not a holy grail product for me. When I run my fingers through my hair after using this spray, I get that “ew, product” feeling that I really don’t like. With those considerations in mind along with the price, this isn’t something I’d buy full sized.

Oribe Après Beach Wave and Shine Spray | Birchbox sample

Next up: Acure Organics Coconut & Argan Oil Cleansing Towelettes (full-size, $6.99). I have not tried these yet because I already have an open pack of face wipes and I don’t want to open this one until I’ve used the others up. But, I was excited to receive this sample pack because 1) a dozen towelettes is a generous sample and 2) I use Acure products regularly and I like them. Acure is a very affordable, ingredient-conscious line of beauty products, so I’m looking forward to trying out these wipes!

Acure Organics Coconut & Argan Oil Cleansing Towelettes | Birchbox sample

I was happy to see a Coola sample in this month’s box: the Coola Mineral SPF 30 Daydream Makeup Primer (full-size, $42). Birchbox introduced me to this brand in my very first box, and I’ve purchased a couple of full sized Coola products since then. This SPF primer is a fairly new addition to the Coola line:

Coola Mineral SPF 30 Daydream Makeup Primer | Birchbox sample

Unfortunately, when I removed the seal from the tube and tried to squeeze some product out I found that the tube was nearly empty. Below is a crappy photo that gives you a sense of how little product was in my sample tube:

Coola

Seriously, the tube was nearly empty. I looked at the product reviews on Birchbox’s website and a ton of subscribers said that their sample was practically empty as well. My tube arrived with what amounted to about one use—basically the same amount you’d get in a single-use foil packet, not in a deluxe sample that Birchbox claims to send in boxes. So I emailed Birchbox customer service about the issue and included the above photo. They replied to apologize and say that they’re mailing me a replacement sample, and I appreciate that they’re doing so. It’s obviously not Birchbox’s fault that Coola totally skimped on filling their sample tubes, but someone in quality control at Birchbox should have noticed that some of these sample tubes were incredibly light. (Side note: I love the “reviews” where people merely say things like, “I’m so mad, my sample was empty, I didn’t even get to try it.” First, a review should be about what you think of the product, not about the fact that you couldn’t use it. Second, how about emailing customer service for a replacement instead of whining on the website? Customer service exists for a reason!)

Anyway—what product I did manage to squeeze out of the Coola tube and apply to my face had a similar feel to the brand’s Mineral Face SPF 30 Unscented Matte Tint, which I use pretty regularly. The primer went on very smoothly and I always appreciate a facial product with SPF! The one thing I didn’t like was that this primer has glitter in it. It doesn’t contain big 90’s-style flecks of glitter, but the flecks are too large to be considered mere shimmer. I would be fine with a shimmery primer, but a glittery primer? No thanks. I’ll definitely use my replacement sample, but given the glitter I likely wouldn’t buy it full sized.

Speaking of glitter, my next sample is a highlighter and bronzer duo from The Day Dream Palette by Manna Kadar Cosmetics (full-size, $25). I’m a little over highlighter samples from Birchbox, as this is probably the sixth one I’ve received since I started my subscription and they’ve been mostly MEH. I get the sense that this product isn’t great quality, because there was product fallout inside the palette before I even opened it:

The Day Dream Palette by Manna Kadar Cosmetics | Birchbox sample

The highlighter color itself is pretty good on my skin tone, but the bronzer is a bit dark for my taste. I don’t use bronzer much anyway—maybe I have the wrong shade for my skin tone or I’m just bad at applying it, but every time I do use bronzer I feel like it looks really obvious that I’m wearing it and then I get all self-conscious. That’s just me being a weirdo.  😛  Anyway, here’s what the two shades look like swatched on my arm:

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Highlighter on the left, bronzer on the right.

The Manna Kadar products are just okay, but I wouldn’t say they’re anything new, different, or unique from all the other highlighters and bronzers out there. Considering the amount of fallout from these powders, I wouldn’t buy the full sized palette.

Want to see how my samples actually look on me?

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In the above pic I’m wearing four out of five of this month’s Birchbox samples, along with a few other products:

  • Coola Mineral Primer sample underneath my Coola Matte Tint.
  • R+Co dry shampoo paste AND the Oribe spray in my hair, which resulted in a bit of volume and wave. You probably can’t tell that it’s more voluminous than usual, but I can.  😛
  • Manna Kadar highlighter along the tops of my cheekbones and down the bridge of my nose. I also swiped it lightly on my eyelids.
  • Manna Kadar bronzer in the crease of my eyelids for some depth. I  also applied it along my temples and around the edges and high points of my face where the sun would hit.
  • Max Factor Colour Elixir Lipstick in Maroon Dust on my lips. I don’t love how peachy this lipstick is on me—it looked more “my lips but better” in the tube.
  • Tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes 4-in-1 Mascara on my lashes

So that’s it for my August 2016 Birchbox sample review! I’d call this box average. There weren’t any products that I absolutely loved, but there also wasn’t anything awful. The one thing I wish Birchbox would change would be to allow for more customization—like, I’d love to specify “shampoo and conditioner but no hair styling products” or even just “skin care and makeup samples only.” I’m sure that less customization is vastly easier on their end, but from a customer perspective a more personalized box would make for a more exciting experience.

How did you fare with your August 2016 Birchbox?

You can browse through my previous Birchbox reviews here.

What is Birchbox?

Birchbox is a $10/month subscription box that includes five sample sized products based on your preferences (makeup, skin care, hair care, fragrance, etc.). They also have an online store filled with full sized versions of all the products they include in their monthly subscription boxes, so if you fall in love with a sample they sent you, you can go back to their site and buy it full sized. You can also earn 1 point per $1 you spend at Birchbox.com and earn points for referring friends, then use those points toward future purchases. Use my referral link to sign up for your own subscription!

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