Saturday, January 31, 2015

Birchbox Man January 2015

Birchbox Men January 2015 

As I said in my initial introduction, Birchbox was how I got into Subsciption Boxes. This was the second box I subscribed to and ordered it for my boyfriend, K. He really likes it! He's in medical school so the sample size items are great for throwing in an overnight bag for long shifts. It's also helped him keep his skin care routine up. He was definitely skeptical at first, but considering he's gotten things like 2 pairs of black socks, a wooden tie pin, a regular tie, headphones, a pocket square, and every kind of shaving cream you can imagine. He did have a complaint that while always having an extra shaving cream around was great, they only lasted one shave or so and were usually not any better than what he got at the store.

Typically, Birchbox Man includes 5-6 deluxe size samples and usually some kind of full-size lifestyle accessory (see the examples above). Items they send range from haircare, shaving needs, skin care, bath and body, lifestyle, the occasional food item (usually a protein or snack bar), and fragrances. Most items are high end brands or up-and-coming companies (usually the lifestyle products). This is K's fifth box and we've yet to have a repeat item. They personalize the items that you receive based on your "grooming profile", which can be updated as your needs change, so that guys with no beards don't get beard products, etc. they so far seem to do a great job with this. Also, sometimes they send and email allowing you to choose one of three of the full-size lifestyle items to go in your box, so you get to pick the one you want the most. Each box includes a description of the product and how to use it. 

Birchbox Man is $20/month or $195/year. Shipping is free to the U.S. They also can ship to France, Spain, the UK, and Canada, but they use different websites for these countries (click on the name of the country for their link), except Canada. Cannot ship to other countries. Sales tax may apply in NY, NJ, MA, TN, VA, and WA.  The box typically ships around the 20th and usually arrives before the end of the month. Monthly subscriptions bill on the 15th of the month. 
Cancel at any time before the next month has been billed. Yearly subscriptions can only be cancelled within the first month. Birchbox has a store that you can purchase items you love in as well as other items and specialty boxes, usually that have a theme. You can return any product you are not satisfied with within 90 days for a full refund and shipping is free of charge. They will honor any promotional codes on items purchased within 3 days of the promotion release date by contacting customer service.  Only one promotional code can be used at a time.

Birchbox's customer service phone line is great about answering questions and replacing missing or damaged items. With my women's box, I once had an item come damaged, got sent a replacement sample that was also damaged, so they sent me a full-size version for free and gave me extra points! (I'll get to the points in a second).

Birch box points program. You receive points that can be redeemed for dollars to spend in the Birchbox store. For every dollar you spend in the store you get 1 point. If you refer a friend through the Birchbox Refer-A-Friend Program and they sign up you will receive 50 points. Signing up for a monthly subscription gets you 20 points and 195 points for a yearly subscription. You can also review items that were in your box for 10 points a piece (up to 50 points per box). Points expire after one year. Birchbox also has a program called Birchbox Aces, which is their VIP program. You must earn 500 points within a calendar year (and do so each year) to qualify. Once you become a Birchbox Ace you get free shipping on all qualifying orders of $100 or more on full-size products. You also receive concierge service from their team of discovery specialist, exclusive and early access to special offers, Aces anniversary gifts, and more surprises. My Birchbox Women and Birchbox Men are on the same account so thats another good way to rack up points faster!

Now for the January 2015 review!
BTW, this box was one that allowed you to pick one of the items you received from three choices. Birchbox Man and Woman do this on occasion. The choice in this case was between the organizer trio (cord keepers, bungee cords), Explorer's kit (which showed a vague picture and little explanation), and a quick connect duo (description given: plug in anywhere with space to space). K chose the organizer trio and found the other two hard to even figure out what they were 

Item #1: Quirky Wrapster Earbud Cord Wrap in white. Full Size. Value: $1.99
This item is pretty neat. It keeps your headphones from getting tangled in your purse, backpack, pocket, etc. It also has an awesome price point of only $1.99! This was definitely an awesome item to include and it's something I'm considering getting myself, since this is K's box! 

Item #2: Quirky Cordies in green. Full Size. Value: $4.99
Really neat desktop product that keeps all your cords neat and untangled. It makes it a lot easier to find the one you want to unplug or plug in easier. This is the "quirky" kind of neat gadget I probably would buy for myself or a friend (I could see this making an awesome stocking stuffer!)

Item #3: Ernest Supplies Protective Matte Moisturizer. Sample Size. 0.3 fl oz Value: $3
First off, I really like the packaging, which is very guy friendly. Second, this seems to be a great product as well. It does not have much, if any, of a scent, it doesn't leave residue, it is not too greasy, but it does leave skin feeling moisturized. The "matte" part is definitely the key word here, as it does not leave dudes looking shiny. It would also appear a little goes a long way, which means this should last K a little while.

Item #4: Brickell Purifying Charcoal Face Wash. Deluxe Size. 1 oz. Value: $3.12
Two face washes (and a soap, below) in one box kinda stinks, but the three neat accessories seam to make up for it. It is charcoal based, so the texture is not that of your typical face wash. Overall opinion, it gets your face clean, but nothing special. K still loves his Clinique. 

Item #5: Proper Bar Soap Elderflower with Lychee, Pear, Jojoba, and Aloe. Travel size. 1 oz. Value: $2.56
K hasn't actually used this yet, as he wants to save it for when he needs to take it somewhere on a trip as a travel size. His general opinion is soap is soap, so less than excited about this. 

Item #6: Quirky Hook Up Carabandits 6 pack of small, medium, and large. Full Size. $7.99
This is really neat. Just looking at the used on the packaging is pretty fun. Basically, this is one of the more useful items K has gotten in a Birchbox. He bikes and owns a Jeep so these will definitely come in handy. Another thing I can see adding to stockings next year!

Overall, I would say this Birchbox Man for January was a success! K liked a lot of the items (especially the Quirky items) and he also has some back up travel samples, which is always good. Rating 4/5. 

If you would like to Subscribe to Birchbox Man (or the Female Version) please click HERE
Coupon Code for Birchbox Men for $10 off through 02/15/15 "BBM10BACK"

Love and Boxes,

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Beauty Box 5 January 2015

My First Review!!!!

Beauty Box 5 is a beauty products subscription box that sends 5 deluxe or full size samples of items selected by their style team. They can be anything from pharmacy brands to luxury brands and can include hair products, makeup, hygiene products, accessories, skincare, nail care, and bath products. The boxes are typically as identical as possible. They do not do any kind of personalization of the products you get, but they try not to send items that are skin tone or hair type specific. You can purchase full-sized versions of the products they send you from their online shop.

It's a monthly service that costs $12/month but it is cheaper to pay for a quarterly ($30) or yearly ($99) subscription. Shipping is free in the US and $3 to Canada. Texas residents are charged sales tax. They currently cannot ship to AK, HI, APO, or elsewhere. The box usually ships on the 8th and is billed the 1st of the month. They do provide tracking numbers.

Subscriptions can be cancelled at any time but you will receive all of the boxes that you paid for. (So if you subscribed for a year and cancel 6 months in, you will still receive the other 6 months worth of boxes). You must cancel before the 1st of the month to keep from getting billed for the next months box if you subscribe monthly. 

This is my first box from Beauty Box 5. Of the 13 new subscriptions I signed up for, this was the first one I received and they shipped it very quickly. According to their website, as long as you subscribe by the 21st of the month, you will get the box for that month.

Their customer service department will replace any damaged or missing, they will replace them free of charge. They also will honor any new promotions for items you bought in the store within 3 days of the start of the promotion if you contact them with the order number and information. They have a customer service email that you can use for any issues. I did have a problem logging in on their website and got a quick response from their help email, so I will give their customer service a thumbs up too!

Their referral program is currently in development.

On to the January 2015 box (I have a years subscription, so this will be a monthly review!)

The box came with 5 products, a coupon, a guide to the products included, and a promo code for the website

Item #1: Dove Deep Moisture Body Wash 1.8 fl oz (Travel Size) Value: $1.49
Not much really to say about this one, it is a familiar brand that a lot of people use. I will definitely keep this on hand for when I travel, but it would not be a product that I would buy from Beauty Box 5 unless it was cheaper than at Walmart, Target, or a pharmacy. I've used this product before though and its great for people with sensitive skin. Was I excited to find it in my box? no. Will I use it? probably at some point. 

Item #2: Nicka K New York Eyelight Crayon (No color name specified but its a glimmer olive green-see the picture below of it on my eyes). Full Size item. Value: $4.49
The product went on easily and smoothly. The color is pretty and not too bold, so it is very wearable on an everyday basis. I almost missed the coolest part though, because I did not read the product description card completely. The bottom of the eyeshadow crayon comes off and is a mini-sharpener that can be used to sharpen the crayon to use as an eyeliner. Kinda neat. I had never heard of this brand before. I probably wouldn't purchase it, just because I have eyeshadows this color already and this one didn't just blow me away with "I gotta have it". 

The Eyelight Crayon on my eyes (lids only). Pretty color! 

Item # 3: HASK Macadamia Revitalizing Shine Oil Full Size item. 5/8 fl oz Value: $2.99
Ok, normally hair products like this get me excited. I'm actually have used a ton of Sephora points on stuff like this and eventually bought the full sized versions from them, so this is one I was excited about. Except that the only thing I ended up liking about it was the smell, which is really great. However, unless you have SUPER dry hair, this product is probably equivalent to putting olive oil in your hair. It's super greasy feeling. Liz (my roommate, who will no longer be known as L!) and I both tried it and thought that it was way too greasy and oily. Liz actually didn't like how it felt on her fingers! The directions recommend putting a coin size amount in your hair. I cannot imagine how greasy my hair would look if I did that. It did absorb in my hair a little better than I expected based on feeling it on my fingers, but I think that this is a product that could ruin a hair day because you put a little bit too much in your hair and you know look like you didn't wash it. BTW...I have fairly damaged hair from heat and color, but my hair does tend to be on the oily side so this may be a product thats just not for me.  

 Item # 4 Laura Ashley Sweet Peony Body Butter 1.75 oz (usually comes in a pack of 6 for $20, but this is full size for the ones in the package) Value: $3.50
When I first opened my box and was writing down what I thought about each item, Liz (again, my roommate/best friend) got home and picked this up and said "Ooh, Laura Ashley." So the brand name is definitely a plus. It smells really good as well, but isn't to strong. The container is a little hard to close, but overall it felt good on and I think its a nice product. I don't usually buy scented body lotions because of the perfume I use (Bond No. 9 Saks Fifth Ave is a little to pricey to put Sweet Peony notes underneath), but I will be giving this to Liz, who is less of a perfume person and will really enjoy it. I think there are a lot of people who will really like this item and possibly buy it. 

Item #5: DenTek Floss Picks + Case (4 picks and the case). Full Size. Value: $2.96 plus $1 off coupon. Another one that I don't have much to say about except that I will probably keep this around for travel. Also, the coupon made me think they don't expect you to purchase the item from their store anyway. 

Overall, I feel like this box was a like taking a random trip to the pharmacy where you buy a few items that maybe you weren't planning on getting. I don't know. So far the $14.96+$1 coupon value to the $12 box doesn't excite me too much. Useable products are great, don't get me wrong, but the price of these are so low that I can also just buy them if I need them. So...I give this a 2/5 rating. We will see how the rest of the Beauty Box 5 boxes turn out.

Subscribe to Beauty Box 5 coupon code: "HALFOFF" for 50% off through February 28th, 2015. Or try "FREEBOX1" to get the previous month's box for free!

Love and Boxes,

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Subscriptions, Subscriptions...

My name is Rachel, obviously, from the title. Some stuff about me to start with...I am 28 years-old. I'm a virgo. I got my bachelor's degree in Evolutionary Biology and a minor in Chemistry (so please forgive the run-ons and less than stellar writing style, its also been a while since I tried to write formally). I am a sales associate for a large diamond company. I sell loose diamonds, engagement rings, colored stones, and fine diamond and gemstone jewelry almost every day for nearly three years now. I love my job! My co-workers are like having another little family! I also have two Silver Shaded Persian Cats named Layla (she's 8) and Mrs Fluffington (or Janie Lou who is 1 1/2). I have a German Shepherd named Echo that is 4, but she lives with my dad since I live in an apartment. I live in Birmingham, Alabama in the middle of two of the "fancier" suburbs in a two-bedroom apartment with my best friend, who we shall call L in the blog, unless she gives me permission to use her name. I have an amazing boyfriend, who is about to graduate from medical school. We will refer to him as K for now. I host a trivia night once a month at a local bar. Trivia has probably been my biggest hobby for the past year. I also am a member of The Junior Board for The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, where I have been working to help in the prevention of suicide and awareness for the past year and was involved in the Foundation's Out of the Darkness Walks in the two years prior. I have raised over $5000 in those two years, which has been a big accomplishment that I am very proud of. Other than that, a few things I love (and this will come in handy later, I promise): reading, stargazer lilies, apple products, diamonds and jewelry (of course), Taylor Swift, peacocks, Eric Clapton, Vinyl records, Bond No 9 perfume/cologne, painting, sketching, playing guitar and ukulele, yoga, shopping (especially for clothes and makeup), Express (the store), Sephora, the beach, pinot noir, the occasional margarita (rocks, no salt), thai food, Grey's Anatomy, Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Auburn football, cooking, pajamas, board and card games, traveling, massages, and pens that write well.

I'm not really a blogger, but I'm going to attempt to be one. This is going to be one of the more winded ones too since I am explaining myself and what I'm blogging about, so try and hang in there! So why am I attempting to be a blogger? There's a couple of reasons for this, one, it gives me something to do (new hobby!), and two, it lets me buy things (old hobby). The second part I really enjoy doing! So what exactly am I buying and blogging about? Subscription Boxes

Subscription Boxes are something that people used to get as bad Christmas gifts, like the cheese or fruit of the month club. Now they are a craze that has really caught on. Subscription boxes are exactly what they sound like. You pay a fee to subscribe to a service (it may be monthly, bimonthly, quarterly, etc) and they send you something (in this case in the mail). In this case, they send you a box, or bag, of products typically based on a common theme, determined by preferences you set. The products are typically a surprise, which makes it a lot of fun to open. It is like getting a little present in the mail, filled with goodies from a source or category you enjoy! Well, almost, you are paying for it. So it is technically a present to yourself, but it is still a lot of fun to get and open!

Here is an example: Birchbox (by the way this will sub as a good portion of my Birchbox review and in the future I will mainly just show the contents of the box each month so I'm not repeating myself)
Most people have heard about Birchbox, which is a beauty subscription box that sends 5-6 samples and some full size products for their subscribers to try for $10/month. You fill out a "beauty profile" for them on their website and they tailor the samples to your style and beauty needs. You can then buy any of products you liked from Birchbox's website. It is great if you just want to try out new things before you buy them, just like samples (I love having the small sizes around for traveling), or are really into beauty products. When I first signed up for Birchbox, I actually did not think I would ever purchase anything based on my Birchbox samples, because I really was just in it for the samples. I was very wrong. Birchbox introduced me to Caudalie, which is my go-to, hands-down, favorite skin care line. I started using Caudalie's VinoSource face cream when I got it in my first Birchbox, which led me to trying Caudalie's other, more expensive products. I am now completely dependent on Caudalie's highest end line, "Premier Cru." Which means that by Caudalie providing Birchbox with that one sample for their boxes, it resulted in me spending hundreds of dollars on their skincare products. (See how this works for the companies that provide the samples now? All it takes in one person to love one of their products and they buy more of it or try other products by the same company....and so on).  I've also purchased an eye-liner and a lip care product after loving the samples I got in my Birchbox. These were one time buys, but they still got me to buy a full-size and full-price item by sending me a sample. I think Birchbox's curators tend to keep some larger or "deluxe" samples and full size items in each box to keep people from unsubscribing, since not every box is going to have something in it that you want to pay full price for. These items (at least in my box, which remember, is geared towards me) are often hand lotions, lip glosses, and half-size mascaras, which I find having these to throw in my purse or keep at work really convenient.   Sounds pretty great, right? It is! So when Birchbox released the male version, I signed my boyfriend, K, up immediately. To my surprise (and his), he loves his Birchboxes! He was surprised by how useful the products that he received were and actually enjoyed trying them out. Since he is in medical school and on the go all the time, the travel sizes were great for him. It's also really helped him with maintaining his skin care routine. So, I deemed the Birchbox Men experiment pretty successful.

So why am I going on and on about Birchbox? Because that seems like how this subscription box craze all started. Now there are subscription boxes for anything and everything you can imagine! Seriously, you can get boxes full of things for your dog or cat, vegan-friendly foods, adult "toys," jewelry, socks, underwear, coffee, crafting supplies, kids items, yoga gear, fishing gear...the list goes on and on. If you can think of something you would like delivered to your door on a reoccurring basis (for a special price) then its probably out there.

Where do I come in?
I really get into things that I like or enjoy. In a way, I guess you could say that I have an addictive personality when it comes to "stuff" (not drugs!). Once I get hooked on a product, clothing item, brand, etc...I tend to acquire it in large quantities. Currently, my fixation has been on contouring makeup, really soft pajamas, knee socks, cooking stuff, and subscription boxes.  So in order to at least somewhat justify one of my current obsessions, I am going to blog about it. This first entry has been really long-winded (I'm more than aware!), so I am going try and keep the rest to a minimum. Below are the first 15 boxes I've subscribed to (including Birchbox Women and Birchbox Men). These are the ones I'm going to initially blog about. I may cancel some later on in order to try some different boxes (especially if I am not impressed) and because I don't want to be spending a fortune (I got a lot of them at a discounted rate for the first one with a coupon, with the option to cancel!) After this entry, I will post a new entry when I get a new box (Maybe one or two about other boxes out there if there is interest). The first review of a box I received yesterday will be within the next day or two.

Each Review will entail: Not All Subscription Boxes are Created Equal!
I will tell you all about that subscription box service-
the name of the subscription box, the type of products/service it is, price per box and pricing discounts if you subscribe for longer periods at a time, shipping price (most are free), how often you receive a box, how they decide what you receive (and if they conform the box based on what you like), whats suppose to be in it, what I actually got in it (complete with photos of the box and each item), the value of each individual item and overall value of the box I received vs the price of the box, a little review of the contents and the subscription service in general (with a rating system), any perks you get as a member (for referrals, reviews, etc), a link to subscribe, any coupons or promotional discount codes I may have for that subscription box. Again, they won't be nearly this long...I hope...

I listed the boxes that I have subscribed to (with links)
A brief summary from their description of their box (paraphrased in some instances for space)
The price for each box with no discount (I used a lot of discounts!!!)
  1. Birchbox-Women (hand-curated, high-end, brand-name, and premium beauty, makeup, grooming and lifestyle samples and accessories)- $10/monthly
  2. Birchbox-Men (hand-curated, high-end, brand-name, and premium, grooming, skincare, lifestyle samples and accessories for men)- $20/monthly
  3. Ipsy-(A personalized "glambag" of samples and full-sized beauty products based on stylist recommendations)-$10/monthly
  4. Glossy box (Exclusive and Top Beauty, Makeup, Skincare, Haircare products from the best, well-known, luxury brands and up-and-coming niche brands )-$21/monthly
  5. Wantable: Intimates (3-4 premium intimate essentials (underwear, PJS, socks, lingerie, pantyhose, leggings) hand-picked by your in-house stylist)-$36/monthly (can be returned if you don't like the items for a full refund)-This company has three other "categories" of boxes as well, I just started with this one.
  6. Splendies (3 pairs of quality underwear delivered discreetly to your door with dozens of brands, styles, and colors)-$13.99/monthly (although the website says its now $9.99/month? not sure because I had a coupon for a free box)
  7. Beauty Box 5 (A mix of makeup, hair products, beauty accessories, skincare, body, nail, and frangrance that we can't get enough of from luxury, drugstore, eco-concious, niche, and even vegan-brands)-$12/monthly
  8. Allure Sample Society (Highlights of Allure's editors rigorous products research and testing of hair, makeup, skin products, and fragrances along with a mini-Allure Magazine)-$15/monthly
  9. FABFITFUN (Seasonal box full of full-size, premium products related to fitness, beauty, home decor, accessories, nutrition, and fashion for women aimed at making you feel good from the inside out)-$49.99/quarterly
  10. POPSUGAR Must Have ($100 worth of fashion, beauty, food, home decor, and fitness products from new and upcoming brands as well as tried and true essentials)-$39.95/monthly
  11. Conscious Box (We scour the world to bring you the absolute best ethical, Non-GMO, natural, and sustainable everyday products such as food, cleaning products, beauty products and household necessities from hundreds of natural goods)-$17.95/monthly-There are three versions of this box as well including regular, gluten-free, and vegan (mine is the regular) there is also a "taster" box that has fewer items for $7.95/month, I chose the "plus" version since my coupon required me to. 
  12. Splendies LUXE (A subscription service that brings you 3 pairs of some of the finest underwear on the market today and is the premium version of the "splendid" box. Comes in a ribbon-tied keepsake box)-$45/month (yet again the site says $35 and I used a different discount code for more off...also this will probably be one I only keep for a month since they are basically the same thing, just one is fancier...and pricier...)
  13. Meow Box (In each box your cat will receive a $35-45 value combination of tasty treats, tantalizing toys, grooming aids, and innovative gadgets designed to make your cat's life happier)-$25/monthly (This is not the same Meoxbox that the company that makes Barkbox makes). 
  14. Little Lace Box (Themed, designer, hard to find, hand curated, high-end, and brand name beauty, lifestyle, and home products and samples)-$39.99/monthly (I'm really excited to see what is in this box because they have special themes (one was Downton Abbey) and the boxes are often jam packed with really neat stuff that isn't makeup!!! (yay!) and I had to sit on a waiting list for a week in order to get on their list because they sell out so fast!)
  15. Goodebox (A trial and discovery providing expertly curated, healthy beauty products, non-toxic cosmetics, natural cosmetics, and personal care products, along with occasional samples of organic and natural health and wellness products.)

Wow, that one post took a lot longer to write than I thought it would!!! I hope you enjoyed reading it. Sorry it was so long. The rest will be shorter and full of pictures! I will post my Beauty Box 5 January 2015 box later this week, so stay tuned!

Love and Boxes,