Birchbox Review: December 2014

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Birchbox is a monthly beauty box starting at $10 a month. It features samples of makeup, skincare, and perfume. My friend Kathleen got me a subscription for my birthday and I love it!

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Each box is beautifully packaged and contains a card detailing this month’s selections. Major kudos to Birchbox for all cruelty free products this month! This month also came with $10 to spend at the Gap.

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Number Four is a French haircare company specializing in luxury vegan products. I was able to smell the shampoo without even opening it – it smelled very Parisian!

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I’m not in love with my current hairspray, so I’m happy to replace it with this Rusk spray instead. Birchbox gives you an option of choosing one sample a month. Mine was the Manna Kadar lip stain, which turned out to be even prettier in person.

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It even has a jewel on the lid!

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I’m still not entirely sure what this serum is, but apparently there are a million different ways of using it, so I look forward to playing around with it. And hello holiday parties… meet this gorgeous sparkly eyeliner!

Verdict: Cruelty free is what really does it for me, and I’m especially impressed that a box that doesn’t bill itself as such would go out of its way to pick all cruelty free products. And they’re great products; I’ll use all of them!

Referral: Use my link to sign up for Birchbox and I’ll receive a $5 credit towards full-size products.

Handmade Beauty Box Review: December 2014

It’s here! The first-ever edition of the Handmade Beauty Box.

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When my mom, a soapmaker from NC,  visited Seattle, we made a stop in Bellingham to visit the Brambleberry soap supply store. We accidentally went to their headquarters instead of the store and met Anne-Marie Faiola, the Soap Queen. She was incredibly kind and gracious, and, in addition to giving us directions to the actual store, told us she’d soon be offering a subscription box.

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I ended up buying a full year subscription on Kickstarter. Handmade Beauty Box starts at $31.50 per month. Each box contains supplies for a DIY beauty project. I was thrilled with the first box!

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Its project is a “Sunny Herbal Garden Loofah Soap,” and it contains nearly all the ingredients you need, from the molds to the soap base and loofah, even beautiful labels!

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It comes with easy to use instructions too.

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The scent smells just like walking into an herb garden drenched in sunshine. It’s fresh and gender-neutral.

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I can’t wait to get started making soap. I’ll also be attending the Handmade Beauty Box launch party next Tuesday (we get to learn how to make our own salt scrub!) and will be sure to post plenty of pictures from the event.

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Verdict: A promising start to a highly-anticipated new subscription box. Now I know what I’ll be making my friends for Christmas…!

Birchbox Review: Intro Box

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Birchbox is a monthly beauty subscription box starting at $10 a month. You can customize your profile and get to choose one sample per month; the rest are skin or hair care, makeup, or perfume surprises.

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My soul sister Kathleen got me a Birchbox subscription for my birthday. My first box arrived just a few days after; I was giddy to open it.

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Kathleen got me the Trendy intro box (aw yeah); the other two options are Classic and Customer Favorites.

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A card is included with details on each sample, including if they’re cruelty and paraben free – I was surprised and impressed by how many were!

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This perfume smells delicious, like juicy candy. And the eyeliner is a dark green with gold flecks: perfect for my hazel eyes. The lip and cheek stain wasn’t kidding – it stuck around all day and was a sweet, pretty pink.

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Here they are swatched.

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I can never have too many cleansers, especially the exfoliating kind. With winter in Seattle approaching I need all the brightening up I can get! The only item I’m not able to use is the shaving cream. I’m a loyalist to my Schick Intuition razor. It seems quite luxurious though, and I’m hoping to find a good home for it!

Verdict: The intro box promises good things to come, especially cruelty free ones! I can’t wait for my next box (and to try out that eyeliner).

Referral: Sign up for Birchbox using my link and I’ll receive points to use in their store.

Holiday Gift Subscriptions

I get (and love being) asked a lot for advice on buying subscription boxes. They make excellent gifts for the holidays – your lucky giftee gets to look forward to months of delightful surprises in their mailbox! Here, in no particular order, are some of my favorites:

For Your Mom

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Petit Vour: Luxurious, cruelty-free samples of makeup and skincare starting at $15 a month

Runner-up: Yuzen

For The Guys

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Bespoke Post: Hand-curated themed collections of high quality goods (including the best. umbrella. ever.) starting at $45 a month

Runner-up: Dollar Shave Club

For The Geeks

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Loot Crate: Monthly box of nerdy swag starting at $13.37 a month

Runner-up: Arcade Block

For The Fashionable

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Golden Tote: buy a gift card – she can pick 1-2 favorite clothing pieces and be surprised with 1-5 more, starting at $49 per tote

Runner-up: Le Tote

For The Fit (or those who want to be)

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Bulu Box Weight Loss: fitness, wellness, and weight loss-related samples starting at $10 a month

Runner-up: Graze

For The Crafty

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Handmade Beauty Box: a different project each month, including soaps, scrubs, and more, starting at $32 a month

For The Animal Lovers

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BarkBox: one of the original subscription boxes for dogs with 10% of profits donated to charity – starts at $19 a month

Runner-up: PurrPacks

For The World Travelers

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Escape Monthly: travel to a new destination each month without ever leaving home, starting at $50 a month

Runners-up: MunchPak, Kawaii Box, MemeBox

For Yourself

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My Subscription Addiction: the subscription box from the expert on subscription boxes featuring little luxuries made with natural ingredients, starting at $40 per quarter

Referrals: I earn $25 if you use my link to sign up for Bespoke Post. I will receive a $10 credit if you order a Golden Tote. If you sign up for Le Tote, I get a free month. I earn $5 if you sign up for Bulu Box. Sign up for Graze with referral code SEASON39P and receive two boxes free; I get $1. I receive 5% commission on MemeBox purchases.

My Subscription Addiction: MSA01 Review

Welcome to my new favorite-ever subscription box. If you’ve considered subscribing to a box, make it the My Subscription Addiction Box.

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I just can’t help but totally lose my cool and spend this entire review gushing like a giddy fangirl. You have been warned. My Subscription Addiction is the utmost authority on all things subscription box. When I heard Liz, the site’s owner, was making her own box, I signed up immediately for the $50/quarter subscription and waited with bated breath. Not only does Liz know what makes a box a good value (quality products, large sizes, unique curation, color variations, and leak-proof packaging), she and I share the same cruelty-free sensibilities and we delight in a little bit of luxury. I knew this box would be good.

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I was not disappointed.

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The box opened to reveal a personal, detailed letter from Liz on the box’s theme (fall), why she chose each and every item, and discount codes for some of the products.

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First off, let’s just get this out of the way, the lip gloss was the only miss for me. I love the taste, texture, and brand, but the color was a little too brown and I found it didn’t stick around on my lips for very long. I like when boxes send out random color variations but unfortunately this one didn’t work in my favor. As for my favorite item in the box: this face wash is $65. I now own a $65 face wash. From a $50 subscription box. I mean, how does that even work? I don’t understand. But I don’t want to question it. Because this magic $65 face wash turns into the softest, creamiest, slather-all-over-your-face ambrosia that makes my skin glow. I know I will never, ever, justify spending that much on a face wash on my own, so I’ve been hoarding it in a special corner of my shower, bringing it out only on those not-so-good days where I need to cover my face in luxury. My… precious…

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I’ve been saving this candle too, though I will probably break it out for my housewarming party. It smells like all the best parts of fall: chai, cider, leaves, pumpkins. Both the candle and its packaging are made from all-natural materials. And oh, this scrub. What a delight. I may not drink coffee but I sure adore the smell of it. This scrub will wake you right up and give you the softest of skin: I didn’t even need lotion afterward. Some of the grounds tend to stick around and deposit themselves on my towel, so I use this on towel wash days and they come right out.

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I’m ashamed to admit, I had serious doubts about this scarf. In the package, I wasn’t sure about the color or style, and I’m very picky about fabric texture, especially when it looks potentially itchy.

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I should have known better and I’m sorry I ever doubted you, Liz. Pulling it out if the package, the material was one of the softest I’d ever laid my hands on. I’m a huge fan of circle scarves and found the color and pattern to be versatile, and the scarf to be warm without being bulky. It came in three other colors, and this time I did get the luck of the draw. It will be a challenge to stop myself from wearing it every single day this winter.

Verdict: This is it, folks; the My Subscription Addiction box is The One. If you’re looking for luxurious, natural, generously sized all-natural products for a great value, get this box. Get it for yourself get it for your friends, get it for your cats. Just get it. It’s $50 a box and comes out 4 times a year. Also, check out the My Subscription Addiction site for behind-the-scenes box insight.

Bulu Box Weight Loss Review: October 2014

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For $10 a month, Bulu Box sends your choice of fitness-related samples (Bulu Box) or weight loss-related samples (Bulu Box Weight Loss). I subscribe to the Weight Loss box.

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Bulu Box includes a card with information on the samples. You can review the samples on their website to receive discounts on full-size products.

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This month included tips for healthy Halloween candy swaps.

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Can I just say yay for no coffee and no kids’ samples this month? I’ll actually use (and have already used!) most of this month’s box. I take the SmartyPants gummies every day and found out about them through an earlier Bulu Box: they’re an easy, tasty way to get fiber, vitamins, and Omega 3. I took the Simple Diet supplements before two workouts and was pleased that they gave me energy to run! The Psycho powder was a little intimidating; I gave that to a friend whose workouts are more intense than mine.

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Yes! Chocolate pudding! I’ve been interested in this pudding for a while. They included it in a previous box in a flavor I didn’t like; I can’t wait to try it in chocolate. The protein powder was another giveaway – I’m too lazy to make shakes – but it’s the perfect weather for chamomile tea and I plan to indulge in some tonight.

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Verdict: I was tired of coffee flavors and samples for kids in my boxes, but with this month, we’re back on track. We’ll see what next month brings, but for now I do plan to renew my subscription when it runs out.

Referral: Sign up for Bulu Box using my link and receive a free box. I will receive points toward discounts on full-size products.

Target Beauty Box Review: October 2014

Target is running a $7 beauty box featuring makeup and haircare samples, and coupons to Target and DermStore. They offer the box several times a year. At the time of this post, it’s still available.

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I thought it would be a neat little treat for my mom. And she, not knowing it was from me, thought it was right up my alley and mailed it to me. We’re silly like that.

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The box included a card detailing all samples inside.

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It also included a coupon for $3 off a $15 Target beauty purchase, and a code for 20% off and a free gift with purchase at DermStore.com.

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The two haircare samples were Elnett Extra Hold Hairspray and a Fekkai (ooh, fancy!) dry shampoo. They’re the perfect size for taking on a plane.

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On the makeup side, they included a Laneige BB Cream cushion sample, including a puff for applying and three different colors for various skin tones. Three cheers for Korean skincare at Target! And for a foundation sample that doesn’t just come in “Medium.”

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NYX is a line I know and love and I was excited they included an eye pencil of theirs in the box. White is especially good for lining inner rims/faking the awake look. I say this with an 8:30 AM meeting looming tomorrow… Rounding out the pack is a L’Oreal Colour Riche Lipstick in Nude Ballet. I didn’t open it, but My Subscription Addiction has a great picture of the color – it seems to be universally flattering, and I love that it’s in a gloss-type format; I’m not a big fan of traditional lipstick.

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Verdict: I am annoyingly picky about my skincare, haircare, and cosmetics. With a few exceptions, they have to come from a certified cruelty-free line. So out of the box, the only keeper for me was the NYX eye pencil and $3 coupon. Even so, these two items meet the box’s $7 value (as a Target debit card holder, I also got 5% off and free shipping). The entire box is worth $28 and includes generous samples and full-size products and is a great deal for haircare and makeup lovers. And I’m happy to get to pass on my unopened goodies to my friends Nikki and Angela!