Birchbox: October 2012 Box 3, goop

Birchbox: October 2012 Box 3, goop

If you’re a Birchbox subscriber who has not heard something about the infamy of the Box 3 Goop box, then you’ve probably been pretty out of the loop. But fear not, for I will summarise my Tale of Woe for you.

Birchbox is a monthly subscription service which will provide you with 4-5 (formerly deluxe) beauty samples for $10 a month. As for the “formerly deluxe” part, we shall get to that later in the post.

This month’s Birchboxes had one of two themes: Goop, which was a collaboration with Gwyneth Paltrow’s fashion and lifestyle company of the same name, and transformations, the theme intended for Halloween. I had gotten two boxes this month with the hope that I would’ve been able to pick up one Goop box and one transformations box for review, but instead I ended up with a welcome box to review.

The reason this set of reviews is so late is because 1) of the shipping issue with box 3, and 2) the fact that an item from my welcome box was missing, and I’m still waiting to receive it from Birchbox. As in they supposedly sent it two weeks ago, and I still haven’t received the replacement. Even though I received my purchase from them which I ordered after they said they sent my missing item.

But let’s move on to the Goop box, shall we?

These are the products that came in Box 3 Goop box this month. When I first saw the contents of my bag, I was not discontented. I am always happy to try new things, and it makes a review.

Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré

Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré: I was particularly excited to try this product because I’m a big fan of cremes, a large part due to my skin and figuring out what may or may not be suitable for treating it.

There were originally two foil packets in the packet, and I had already used one prior to taking the picture. First of all, it was disappointing to me that these were foil packets. I particularly hate lotion in foil packets because you can’t control the amount you can use, and I don’t like leaving half-empty foil packets for the next day when they can get all over everything if you’re not careful.

Each packet contained 2mL of the creme, and for comparison — I use The Body Shop day and night cremes, and it takes me about 2-3 months to get through a 50mL jar. That means I use probably 0.5mL to 1mL of lotion per every one day, which, believe me, is enough for my face.

Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré, 1/3rd of the 2mL packet

The first time, I smothered all of it on my face because it seemed to be a shame to waste a packet by not using it all. The first layer felt great against my skin – moisturizing without being thick or too dense. By the second or third time, I was feeling quite sick. For those of you who don’t speak French, lait-crème literally means “milk creme”, and it certainly smells like a dairy product. I’m vaguely lactose intolerant, so I associate the strong smell of milk with being physically ill. One layer of it wasn’t enough to make me dislike the smell, but with the entire packet, the smell was so strong I felt vaguely ill.

Also, smothering all of the product on my face at the same time burned my skin. My skin is ridiculously sensitive and temperamental  On bad days when my skin is particularly finicky, both of my go-to eye cremes make my skin burn and tingle, and those are products I use every day. This didn’t happen the second or third time I used the product (using 2/3rd of the packet, leaving 1/3rd for the third time), so I can’t tell if I was just having a weird skin day or it’s a product that irritates my skin like way lactose irritates my stomach.

The overall feeling of the lotion is nice: cool, smooth, and not too dense. Still, no recommendation can be given because I only had three uses out of it, and I can’t tell if it does what it says it’s supposed to do, and if that justifies the price for a small tube to try more.

Full-sized product: 30mL for $16 / Sample value: $2.13 for 2mL packets x2

 

Lulu Organics Lavender + Clary Sage Hair Powder

 Lulu Organics Lavender + Clary Sage Hair Powder: Another product I was very excited to try. I’d only recently gotten the memo about this “dry shampoo” thing, and as someone whose hair doesn’t get oily enough after one day to justify a complete wash (which, by the way, can also be damaging to your hair), it seemed like a great alternative to touch-ups I need in between.

This sample is a small packet. An annoying packet that’s also hard to store. I’m going to admit: I haven’t tried this yet. Why? Because the packet is so annoying that once I open it, I’m going to have to figure out how to store it or have it spill everywhere. There’s probably enough of the same to get 3-5 dry shampooing out of it, but the packet doesn’t even stand on its own so it’s inevitably going to get all over everything.

Again, overall, no recommendation can be given. But I’m giving the sampling packaging a D- for failing to accommodate normal, reasonable storing measures.

Full-sized product: 4oz for $30 / Sample value: $1.32 for 5g

 

Karuna Hydrating Treatment Mask

Karuna Hydrating Treatment Mask: Another product I was excited to try and well… To be honest, this one’s my fault for not going through with. I’m a big fan of the idea of treatment masks since my skin needs all the help and love it can get, but actual masks are a lot less convenient for me than, say, a creme mask I can wash off. First because the creme mask on average asks for less time to be left on your face, second because the physical mask tends to drip everywhere, and third because the physical mask doesn’t leave my skin feeling nearly as fresh. Those kinds of masks are more something I do with my friends in a sleepover-beauty party.

Karuna Hydrating Treatment Mask instructions

I’m still excited to try it, when I can actually find the chance to. Unfortunately, no recommendation can be made because I haven’t tried it. I’m probably going to stick to my handy The Body Shop Nutriganics Smoothing Mask though. Cheaper and more uses for the size.

Full-sized product: 4 masks for $28 / Sample value: $7 for 1 mask

 

Naked Princess Naked Shine Luscious Lip Gloss in Barely Nude

Naked Princess Naked Shine Luscious Lip Gloss in Barely Nude

Naked Princess Naked Shine Luscious Lip Gloss in Barely Nude: Another thing I was looking forward to… and the sample ended up being a bummer. See the pattern? I was looking forward to everything, and everything just ended up being a disappointment.

The lip gloss arrived in this container like the way a lot of perfume samples are, and let me tell you, the lip gloss sampler is about the size of a perfume.

Naked Princess Naked Shine Luscious Lip Gloss in Barely Nude

No, I do not have a giant hand in case you couldn’t tell by me holding the OPI nail polish bottles in my NOTD post. I wouldn’t have even minded it being so small if they’d given us multiple samples in the different colours to try like when it was featured in The Look Bag sampler earlier this year.

Naked Princess Naked Shine Luscious Lip Gloss in Barely Nude

Instead we get this one tiny sampler in which the brush takes up the majority of the packaging, and probably has all the gloss that’s in the bottle on it. By the way, at that time, The Look Bag was priced the same as Birchbox ($10). Those bags had four of the sampler lip glosses. I would’ve been happy with two.

Naked Princess Naked Shine Luscious Lip Gloss in Barely Nude swatch

As for the actual review of the product: the texture of the gloss seemed good; it wasn’t sticky after I put it on, and left my lips shiny and feeling moist. The gloss had a barely-sweet taste to it that wasn’t particularly meant to be flavouring but was a nice touch. I know most people don’t eat their lip glosses like little kids, but that’s actually a huge plus for me because I’m a chronic and unconscious lip-licker. I don’t go out of my way to buy flavoured glosses, and this isn’t marketed as one, but it’s always nice to lick your lips and not taste weird stickiness or overwhelming sweetness.

Overall, recommended, if you’re willing to pay the price since it is more expensive than most glosses.

Full-sized product: 0.10oz for $26 /  Sample value: $2.08 for 0.008oz

 

Luna Bar in LemonZest: So the reason there’s no picture of this item is because I ate it for breakfast the day after I got it. Oops. I probably could’ve picked up another one since they’re in grocery stores everywhere, but I actually didn’t see it the two times I went grocery shopping to stock up for Hurricane Sandy this weekend. Probably because they’re easy-to-stock foods in case of emergencies.

A lot of people complained about the Luna Bars, and while I can’t say I’m exactly pleased to get one in a beauty box, I don’t mind them in general. I thought I wouldn’t like it since I suffered through a giant box of Clif Bars for breakfast for a few semesters — made by the same company — and those actually tasted as dry and flavourful as cardboard, but these are pretty good. I was even more pleasantly surprised because I’m not a huge fan of lemon.

The bar is soft, not overly hard but also slightly crunchy, and it had a lot more flavour than I was expecting. Overall, recommended if you need something to stock up on for natural disasters, need a quick breakfast, want a snack, or are just plain hungry.

Full-sized product: $18.75 for 15 bars (or like, $1 /ea at most grocery stores) / Sample value: $1.25 for 1 bar according to Birchbox.

 

Overall box value:  $13.78 for the whole box, $12.53 if you don’t include the Luna Bar, for $10

Now that we’ve gotten the review portion done, let’s talk about what happened. First, there was a problem with the shipping. One of Birchbox’s guarantees is that they will ship your box by the 10th of every month, which is when they reveal the contents. As a result, some people received bonus points in their accounts for their boxes not shipping on time. I, however, received a shipping invoice and checked it fervently for updates.

Day 1: no update. Day 2: no update. Day 3: nada. Etc. I kept checking and checking until it finally updated Sunday afternoon saying it was processed on Satuday. I would like to point out I checked the Sunday morning as well and there had been no update then, so something was amiss.

It showed that my bag was due to arrive on the 19th. Joy.

One of the best parts of Birchbox is its point system — you get points for reviewing the products you receive in the bag, and in return, those points are converted to rebates in the Birchbox shop. Every 3rd month, you receive a coupon thanking you for your subscription with a 20% coupon.

Unfortunately that coupon is only valid within the first 5 days it’s sent out, on the 11th. As in, my 20% coupon was going to expire before I could decide if I wanted to purchase anything from this month’s box.

I spent Monday the 15th making not one, not two, but six phone calls to Birchbox’s customer service. I’ve called them before and usually they are more responsive, so I will pardon them this time, but I unfortunately work a research job that requires me calling participants, which means I also can’t just leave a message and expect them to get back to me when they have the chance because I could be on the phone then.

Eventually I spoke to Paulina, who was kind enough to honour my 20% coupon and offer to place my order herself after I got to try out the contents of the box.

The next day, the box magically shows up in my mailbox early, and I open it to find… how tiny everything is. A disappointment, considering I had to be so excited to try the things in the box.

Birchbox is “only” $10 a month. Admittedly, that doesn’t seem like a lot, especially since you usually get to recoup ~$5 of it in store credit a month. However, when Birchbox first started, it advertised itself as delivering  4-5 deluxe beauty samples a month. The only beauty product I would call deluxe in this box is the mask, and that’s because the mask is ridiculously pricey. Recently, Birchbox has removed the “deluxe” from their site itself, though their ads continue to show that phrasing — misleading advertising.

In terms of what I received in my box, I don’t mind what I got to try out, but I do mind that everything I was given was so undervalued, especially considering that many people received boxes with full-size Essie polishes ($8 value) and quite a few boxes had Beauty Blenders ($13 value — more than the entire value of my box). People who received Box 1 or Box 2 this month had over $30 worth of products and samples, while I barely get over what I paid. See why I’m upset?

I do not have box envy usually over what other people get. It is more the indignation of the fact that other people received boxes filled with products and samplers worth so much more than mine when we all pay the same price, on top of the fact that my box was ridiculously late and full of 1-3 time use samples.

In my disappointment and frustration, I emailed my grievances to Customer Service. Molly responded and set up a time to chat with me last Monday (kindly offering to work around my schedule), and we talked about my disappointment with this month’s Box 3 and my suggestions for changes. She promised to bring up my suggestions at the next board meeting, and I am hoping that people’s overall frustrations this month along with some constructive feedback will help catalyse change in Birchbox, which has already been under criticism and scrutiny from the beauty community for the past few months.

In fairness, I liked my previous two boxes with Birchbox, but I do not believe this box was a “mistake” or anomaly. A number of legitimate complaints had been voiced about the service in the past couple of months, and it was inevitable I would end up with a disappointing box too. I just wasn’t expecting it to be this disappointing. I contacted Birchbox because I had enjoyed their service thus far and would like to continue using it, if not for the number of issues that occurred this month (shipping, contacting CS, disappointing quality of the box). I know this is my first Birchbox review and it seems extraordinarily negative, and hopefully this review will just be of the few. I did like my previous boxes, and hopefully I will appreciate my future boxes as well.


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