December 2012 Birchbox review

Just received the December 2012 Birchbox in the mail today and feeling full of holiday cheer. This is my third box, and it’s easily the best yet. There are some great products in here and for the first time, I think I received a box where I’ll actually use every last item.

I signed up for Birchbox over the summer when I discovered them while doing some research for my Pinterest book. If you aren’t familiar with the concept, it’s a monthly subscription service where you pay $10 to receive a box of high end personal care, makeup and lifestyle samples each month based on a customer profile you fill out.

While I’m not a total makeup and fashion snob…actually, I barely even qualify as an aficionado… I do like to use nice things when I’m able. That generally meant things like stopping by the Clinique counter a few times a year or picking up a favorite fragrance like Be Delicious or Tommy Hilfiger for women when I saw them on sale or they had a gift with purchase while I was shopping the Macy’s clearance racks.

When we radically changed our lifestyle to have Mr W join my business and we cut our household income in half, we both made the choice to give up pretty much every single “luxury” item in our budget.  When I discovered the Birchbox concept, Mr W and I agreed that the $10 a month the service cost was well worth it for the happy thrill I get each month in a box of goodies and treats just for me. 🙂

My first box came in September and was so-so. My November box was much better and included several products I’ve loved, including a full size mascara with a built in mirror and fibers in the mascara itself that made my lashes look incredible! At $28 for a full size mascara, the inclusion of the item alone more than made the cost of the box worth it.

So when my December box showed up today, I was pretty excited…even more so as I started reading over the list of what was included.

Two things caught my eye on the list…the atomizer and the dry shampoo.

Up first, the atomizer

Looking like a shiny silver bullet, the atomizer caught my eye as soon as I opened up the package. I expected it to be a lipstick or a collapsing brush to be honest. Pulling off the top reveals a small spritzer. Unscrewing the bottom of the container reveals a small container with a sort of funnel opening for adding in your favorite scent.

This is a brilliant idea…but I have to be honest…I can’t understand why I would want to go buy the full size version. There’s no world in which I use so much perfume on one trip away from my house that I need anything larger than the 3″ tall atomizer they gave me as a sample.  Plus it will fit perfectly into the small cosmetic bag I keep in my purse.

The next thing I took a look at was the Klorane Dry Shampoo.

It’s not that I’m lazy, it’s that washing, drying and styling my hair is a 2-3 hour process. (I swear to you, I have enough hair for five adult women…when I was a kid, it took THREE perm solutions and a piggyback rolled perm to get my curls. As an adult, it takes well over an hour just to apply my highlights.) So in general, I only wash my hair twice a week.

Thankfully, I am blessed with hair that is not oily and not dry. For the most part, if I’ve straightened it or curled it, I can go four days EASILY with it looking wonderful. The problem rolls in when I fail to plan properly and find myself having to squeak out a fifth day. My roots get a little oily looking and my volume vanishes, causing the weight of my hair to drag it down and make it look…well…blah.

I learned the baby powder trick back in college and to this day, keep a bottle of it in my bathroom for emergency fix-ups. When I first heard about dry shampoo, I picked a bottle up at my salon. I loved how it worked, but to be honest, they’re so expensive I just can’t justify it. The great thing about this one is it’s travel size. That means I can throw it in my travel bag and use it for emergency fixes on the road. (Who hasn’t accidentally slept too late while on the road?) This bottle will probably last me a full year.

Up next? The sample size bottle of Harvey Prince’s Hello.

I LOVE perfume…which is kind of funny because I don’t wear it that often. It’s one of those things I get on kicks about. I’ll wear it every day for a month and then forget about it for another month. That said, I love sample size packs because it gives me a chance to try things out beyond a little spritz in the store.

The kicker on this sample is two-fold. One, it’s not just the little wet wipe or even the little glass tube of liquid. It’s got a spritzer on the end of it. Woot! That makes it perfect for using to apply the right amount. It also makes it great for tucking into my purse. The other kicker is the scent.

I LOVE this scent. It’s fresh, light and mildly fruity without being too sweet. It doesn’t smell like a fancy date perfume…but it does smell like a great “we’re headed out to a picnic or to browse the shops in a small seaside town kind of scent. I gave it a try and had Mr W and Thing Three check it out and they declared it “WONDERFUL!”

Next up was “Hot Mama” from theBalm.

I adore good packaging and this sample has it in spades. It’s about the size of a matchbox and opens up like a book to reveal the shade inside. A small magnet embedded in the lid keeps it closed until/unless you decide to open it.

I’ll admit, it took me a second or two to figure out what the heck it even was. With a name like “the Balm” and puckery little lips on it, I assumed it was a lipstick. But when I opened it up, it looked more like eye shadow. A quick double check of the description card told me it was actually blush.

Doh. Silly me, as I’d already given it a go as eye shadow.

It was initially a little pink for my tastes, but it blended in VERY nicely with a brush and looked pretty good. While I get that it’s supposed to be blush, I’m pretty darn pale and the color is just too intense for my cheeks…so as far as I’m concerned, it’s staying in the eye shadow bin to be mixed up with some other colors I like. I don’t think I’d purchase this one again, but that’s mostly because it’s a $20 blush and I would never spend that much on a single eye shadow color.

Last up was an eye cream from it’s potent! (just to note…I’m not THAT excited…the ! is part of the name…)

I’ll be honest, I’m always a little skeptical of eye creams. They’re insanely expensive, they come in thimble size packaging and I’ve only stumbled across one or two that even do a portion of what they claim to.  (Clinique’s All About Eyes roller Serum is about the only one I can think of that’s worthwhile and to be honest, I pick up the sample sizes a few times a year as part of my Clinique bonus and that’s enough to keep me supplied.)

The packaging on this is adorable…but that’s probably because I’m a sucker for anything reproduced in tiny size. That said, I figured I’d give it a go this morning. The cream is thick and lustrous…which is good, because that means you barely need any. And by barely any, I mean I literally touched the top of the cream with my fingertip and came away with more than enough for both eyes. This tiny little sample would probably last me 3-4 weeks’ worth of daily usage.

I put it on about an hour ago before tossing on a mineral powder and a bit of eye liner and I have to admit, the dark circles that perpetually plague my eyes look far lighter than usual. Would I drop $32 on the full size container of it? Probably not…but that’s more because I’m cheap (err…fiscally responsible) than anything else. If you’re the type who does use good eye cream on a daily basis, this one is probably worth checking out.

There was also a $50 gift card included for Rent the Runway. Which, assuming they’d let me use alongside their $50 off a first rental discount would pretty much get me my first rental for free. Probably not something I’d use, but I might pass it along to Hair or her sister to see if they want to check out the service.

Overall, this was absolutely the best Birchbox I’ve received yet.

The box’s contents were ALL something I’ll use and enjoy and the cost of the items far surpassed the $10 I’d spent on the box. And with a new box showing up each month, I feel a little bit like I did back in the day when we had the money for me to spoil myself a bit now and then.

Know someone else who would enjoy a Birchbox? You can gift memberships. At $10 a month, you could easily do a 3, 6 or 12 month membership depending on how much you like someone. 😉 Thinking about signing yourself up? There’s no commitment, you can literally cancel your boxes at any time…so it’s easy enough for just try it out for a month or two and see what you think of the service. There’s a wait list though, so expect to wait a month or two before you get in.

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