Wednesday, March 28, 2012

March: Birchbox, MyGlam, and Sample Society

Teen Vogue Birchbox
March 2012 Birchbox - Teen Vogue special box

In The Box:
Kate Spade - Twirl
Tarte Lipsurgence - "Lucky
Essie Luxe Effects - "As Gold As It Gets"
Kerastase Elixir Ultime
Twistband Hair Tie (not pictured)
code: MODPROM for $10 off $75 at

Birchbox partnered with Teen Vogue to offer a special series for the month of March (prom themed?). I decided to sign up, since the sponsored boxes seem worthwhile (i.e. Cynthia Rowley). I'm glad I signed up for this month, but I only really used the twistband. I'm choosing not to continue with my subscription because of the mediocrity of my past boxes.

Tarte Lipsurgence in "Lucky"
Size: .10 oz (full-size)
At a Glance: A matte lip stain that improves your lips' moisture content.
Impression: The cap was literally impossible to pull off. In fact, I yanked so hard the bottom popped out, and the product itself fell on the ground--I stuck it back on to make a pretty photo, but there's no way that's touching my lips after what it went through. Funny enough, I wasn't the only one with this issue; Birchbox credited me 100 points ($10 off a future purchase), but I was looking forward to trying this.
Essie "As Gold As It Gets"
Size: .50 oz (full-size)
At a Glance: Gilded lamé sparkles, part of Essie's Luxeffects collection.
Impression: Almost a dead-on dupe of Deborah Lippmann's "Here Comes the Queen", which is one of my favorite polishes. This really isn't glitter so much as fine flakes of foil. Might give this away, since I have no use for it.

Twistband Hair Tie
{not currently pictured}
$:1.70? (sold in a 6-pack for 10.00)
Size: 1 hair tie
At a Glance: Pretty much a piece of elastic with a knot--gentle enough on hair that it doesn't leave creases, but supposedly more 'fashionable' on your wrist than a regular hairband. I was wearing it while taking the photos, so I forgot to include it ;). I purchased these with my 100 BB points.
Impression: I actually think this looks super awkward on your wrist--I'd much rather wear a hairband in that sense; the knot sticks straight up, and the whole thing gets stretched out/wrinkly over time.
That being said, I use it pretty much every day because it doesn't leave a crease when I put my hair into a bun. I don't know whether it's a blessing or a curse, but my naturally straight hair hair easily molds to any form I put it through; an hour in a tight bun, and my hair has kinky tight curls the rest of the day. This holds my hair in a soft but secure bun, leaving me with soft wavy hair--I get the same results with a thin hairband, so this isn't particularly jaw-dropping for me. 

Kerastase Elixir Ultime
$:2.00? full size is $50.00
Size: 5 ml sample. full size is 125 ml.
At a Glance: "The elixir brings shine, nourishment and deep conditioning to the hair while smoothing the hair fiber; it also helps restore strength to the hair and protects it from external aggressors". Apparently you can use this in multiple ways--before shampooing, before blow-drying, or as a leave-in treatment.
Impression: If your hair needs shine or frizz management, you might enjoy this more than me--I am just particularly adverse to adding oil to my hair, because it simultaneously weighs it down and gives a greasy appearance. With long, stick-straight hair, shine and manageability are never a concern for me. The perfumed odor isn't necessarily unpleasant, but it is unnecessary.

March MyGlam BagMyglam 2012 March Bag 
In The Bag: 
Dermstore - $25 off $50 coupon; sample satchets
Keracolor Sample Satchet
Blending Brush and Case
3LAB Perfect Cleansing Foam
My March glambag literally reeks--I could smell it the instant I pulled it out of the packaging. Although not everyone's smelled quite this bad, people did complain about migraines and allergic reactions to the noxious odor. I made the mistake of handling the products before touching my eye--that eye was inflamed and painfully itchy even after I ran it under water. 

Although I remain hopeful, I ultimately question MyGlam's aesthetic and caliber of materials/products. The mall-kiosk brands, cheesy NuMe "gift card",  what appears to be discontinued or excess inventory, etc. Although I'm tossing almost everything out due to the chemical smells, the cleanser alone makes the bag worth it. 

3LAB Perfect Cleansing Foam
$:38.00 or $14.00?*, full size is $50.00
Size: 3.4 oz (full size is 4.4 oz)
At a Glance: A paraben-free cleansing foam. It should be noted that this cannot be used on the eyes (..defeats the purpose of a cleansing foam for me).
Impression: There were some concerns raised about comedogenic ingredients (e.g. myristic acid). I'd say if you have really acne-prone skin, avoid using this--otherwise, it's totally fine. Plenty of naturally-occurring, harmless substances like carageenan (seaweed extract) are potentially comedogenic. This didn't do anything bad to my skin, but I didn't notice any improvements either. It's just a nice, safe-to-use cleanser. I am bummed it can't be used on the eyes though, since I have to use a separate cleanser for eye makeup.
*Oddly enough, this is branded with a different sample subscription's logo--"Beautyfix"--I'd say it was specifically manufactured for them, which sort of hints at this being leftover inventory. You can find the full size for half the cost, and the trial size retails for about 13 bucks on ebay. I'm loathe to assign it a worth of $38, but I do think it makes the bag worth it,.

Makeup Brush + Case
$: No Retail Value
At a Glance: Oh my wow this thing smells bad--both the brush and the case have their own distinct odors.. Given the size of the case, I'm reaaally worried that April will have yet another shady, where-how-when-was-this-produced brush. What chemicals did this thing bathe in? Will I grow a third eyeball if I use this?
Impression: It's a generic brush--the bristles are soft but of a uniform cut. Not the worst quality, not the best. I probably wouldn't have used it anyway, but this is going in the trash. The case is pink pleather with a magnetic closure.

Dermstore Satchets + Coupon
$: No Retail Value
At a Glance: 2 single-use satchets: eye cream, SPF lotion; and $25 off a $50 purchase.
Impression: The dermstore coupon is pretty exciting, considering they supply regular makeup brands like Too Faced. It's of course advertised as a "gift card", just like the last coupon. I scoured the website but couldn't find anything I immediately wanted, so I'll probably hold onto it for a while. 

Keracolor Color Enhancing Leave-In Treatment in "Natural"
$: No Retail Value (full size is $30 here)
At a Glance: Designed to "bring out the shine and accentuate natural highlights". The website doesn't list ingredients, but I doubt it's entirely nourishing oils and extracts.
Impression: Thanks to my diminished trust in MyGlam, I'm definitely not trying it out. I've heard enough stories about this leaving hair brittle and/or greasy, to risk damaging my perfectly acceptable 'do. Plus, my hair's black--it's like the antithesis of highlights. 
**apparently, this works best for people with thick, dificult-to-tame hair**
Their testimonial video shows a 'before' video some girl with black hair talking, and a cheesy flash photo of the 'after': no, really?? flash makes anything shiny. That's the equivalent of wearing better fitted clothes and sucking in for the "after" in a weight loss ad.

March Myglam Bag
$: No Retail Value
At a Glance: Smells. So. Bad. Different smell from the brush and brush case.
Impression: Generic, thin bag. I liked the February bag because of the compactness and size, but I don't really have a use for this one--I'm dumping it anyway because of the smell.

March Sample Society (premier box)
BeautyBox Sample Society First Box March 2012
In The Box:
Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant
Skyn Iceland - Icelandic Relief Eye Pen
Ren Glylolactic Skin Renewal Peel Mask
Oscar De La Renta -Travel Rollerball Perfume (not pictured)

Sample society is like a breath of fresh air: quality products, and a lot of them. I generally don't gravitate towards skincare products, but that's almost a good thing because I don't have many. I tried out all the products, and can say with confidence I'll use them many more times afterwards. This is the first box, so I'm hoping they don't pull a MyGlam and make the first incomparably better than the rest.

Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant
$:6.90? (full-size is $40.00)
Size:.45 oz (full size is 2.6 oz)
At a Glance: This powder activates when mixed with water, to form a paste that micro-exfoliates dulling debris.
Impression: I have sensitive skin, so I'm always a little concerned when trying peels or masks. I actually didn't feel this at all when I put it on--no tingling or burning sensations. It instantly reduce the appearance of my blackheads, so I'm super happy.

Oscar de la Renta - Esprit d'Oscar Eau de Parfum Deluxe Mini Roller Ball 

$:4.80? (full-size is $78.00)
Size: .1 oz (full-size is 1.6 oz)
At a Glance: Oh wow! Props to Sample Society for actually including a deluxe-size perfume; this comes in a rollerball instead of a free vial. Described as a "floral oriental fragrance with notes of Sicilian lemon, bergamot and citron".
Impression: I could care less for the perfume itself. I didn't perceive any florals or citrus--rather, it was a slightly sweet, powdery musk. It actually smelled a lot like baby powder, and is almost identical to my grandma's ancient Estee Lauder perfume. 
BUT, I love the rollerball! It's like the perfect size for a small purse. I instructed my grandma to use the perfume every day so I could collect the empty rollerball and fill it with something of my own.

Fekkai Advanced - Brilliant Glossing Cream
$:8.10 here (medium is $22.50, large is $30.60)
Size: 1.6 oz (medium is 4 oz, large is 7 oz)
At a Glance: A cream that shines hair and fights frizz. This isn't even a sample--I consider it full-size because you can buy it on its own.
 Impression: Again, not really suited for my hair type, but I can imagine it would do wonders for others. A little goes a long, long way--too much and your hair looks greasy and feels heavy. I rub maybe 1/2 a pea-size amount into my palms. Light, pleasant fragrance.

Skyn - Icelandic Relief Eye Pen
$:20.00 (full-size product)
Size: .14 oz (full-size)
At a Glance: A soothing cream in a portable pen with a plastic doefoot applicator. Reduces puffiness and dark circles.
Impression: I don't have prominent dark circles or puffiness (or at least, this didn't do anything for them) so I can't say how well it works in that sense. The cream feels light and cool on your skin, which makes it very refreshing.

Ren - Glycolactic Skin Renewal Peel Mask
$:16.00? (full-size is $55.00)
Size: .50 oz (full-size is 1.7 oz) 
At a Glance: A bioactive peel mask designed to renew the complexion, reduce the appearance of fine lines, and dramatically improve skin tone.
Impression: I was a little hesitant to try this out because of my sensitive skin, but again--wow! No burning or redness afterwards. I also used this on my blackheads, and it seemed to function about the same as the daily microfoliant. Quality ingredients, happy with the results.

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Here's my opinion of these sample services:
[$10] Birchbox: Trustworthy products,  but not many of them--usually 1 deluxe sample and some random freebies (orange powdered drink? hippie pefume? laundry detergent?). Sponsored boxes are worth it, but otherwise it's up to luck. If you just want makeup, you might get some lip gloss or mascara.
[$10] MyGlam: suspicious manufacturing standards, some low-class products like mall-kiosk brands and "gift cards". BUT: despite the flaws, the bags are usually worth it; the cleanser alone was pretty good. I'll give them one more month for amazing improvements, and then I'm out. If you just want makeup, this is your best bet. I hear April will be good :)
[$15] Sample Society: Great products, and lots of them! Legitimately deluxe-size, if not full-size. If you just want makeup, I wouldn't bother. Definitely a keeper.

What did you get? What's your favorite subscription service?
  1. Hapamanda A Mommy Beauty Blog said... March 28, 2012 at 1:38 PM

    Great blog post! Thanks!

  2. Call Me Cluless said... March 28, 2012 at 3:10 PM

    I'm kind of surprised your dropping BB but keeping MyGlam. I only sub to BB, but MyGlam always looks a bit sketchy to me. But I do think it's all down to what kind of products you want, so what I love you might hate, and vice versa.

    Lovely blog! =)

  3. Kirsten said... March 28, 2012 at 5:14 PM

    I wish I weren't on the wait list for Birchbox. That box looks awesome. Except for the Tarte lip product (sorry about that). Great post!

  4. tightsandtea said... March 28, 2012 at 6:08 PM

    @Hapamanda thank you! :)

    @Call Me Cluless definitely agree with you about MyGlam, I'm just giving them more time since they're new and promised improvements with the April bag. I had Birchbox since last September but I never really used anything so I dropped it; I might sub again though, if/when MyGlam doesn't pan out.

    @Kirsten I think Birchbox doesn't have a waitlist, you should be able to sign up! I think the Teen Vogue box had a waitlist, but that was a one-time thing just for March.

  5. Sarah said... March 29, 2012 at 7:01 AM

    I had a lot of trouble opening up my tarte lip product as well, that top was on there so tight! But so far I've really enjoyed my BB. Sorry you haven't had better luck with them :c(

  6. Empire State Beauty Queen said... March 29, 2012 at 8:43 AM

    Hi :) New follower from I am so disappointed with MyGlam this month. Gift cards aren't really giftcards if you have to spend money. Same issue with last month's NuMe Gift card. I think I'm going back to BB. As far as Beauty Bar goes, this box was simply amazing in my opinion. I love the hair cream. I get so many compliments of my hair when ever I slap some on. Makes my hair look healthy and shiny.

  7. Sweet Fix @ Maria Corcuera said... April 1, 2012 at 1:05 AM

    Thanks for this information!!! love your blog :)

  8. MeganC said... April 27, 2012 at 7:55 PM

    You know you can make those elastics for not much money. I've bought fold over elastic for head bands. It costs about 45 cents a yard! Here is a tutorial I've seen on Pinterest.....Although it's pretty simple. Buy elastic, cut elastic and knot elastic! If you wanted to avoid the knot and make it more 'wearable' for your wrist, you could overlap it and sew it flat!

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