The End of an Era + Giveaway

So this is it, my last post about Birchbox. It’s been a trip, one that I was incredibly happy to end, but also happy to have begun. I put in my final order of the few things I thought were excellent enough to purchase full sizes of, and that’s all folks.

But first, if you’re interested in the Birchbox experience you may be interested in some final thoughts. For those who have or are currently receiving Birchboxes I would very much love to hear what you thought/are thinking about the whole thing in comments. Here’s what I’ve got:

  • For someone who is pretty basic and no-fuss when it comes to products, a year of samples was way too many. I should have gone with the 6 months and I would have been happily satisfied.
  • By the end I was choking on samples I didn’t feel like attempting. I couldn’t use them fast enough and then poof another box would appear. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing.
  • I wish I had gotten more explanation and more of a tutorial on each product. Sometimes I really didn’t now if I was using it correctly and I maybe wasted some on my ignorance/confusion/using it wrong.
  • I’m willing to spend medium amounts of money on nice things that actually work, but overpriced hooey is still overpriced hooey.
  • I’ll explain further in a second but I didn’t end up ordering any cosmetics and that was a bummer. It did however push me to experiment outside of Birchbox (smashbox BB cream, a shit ton of lip crayons/pencils, etc) based on items that worked/didn’t work for me. But it is a bummer that I didn’t think I needed to throw my dollars behind any fun cosmetic which was kind of the point.
  • And I still have some items that are lacking in my world. Maybe you can help me. 1) I’m looking for an amazing night cream/serum/whathaveyou for dry skin 2) I’m still looking for a solid BB cream, I know some of you suggested brands previously, but if you wouldn’t mind suggesting again I would be most grateful and 2) a really fantastic body lotion (My Aveeno Skin Relief Overnight Cream is running out) for super dry skin. Every once of me is clearly dying of thirst, hair tips to sad broken toenails. And I drink so much water!! Grumble.

Anyway! What did I end up loving from Birchbox?

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The first thing I ordered was the Beauty Protector Ultimate Hair Protecting Trio. I really liked the way this smelled and it is very hydrating and I give the entire experience a solid A. But not necessarily an A+. Th spray is great, I use it at night sometimes or before I blow dry, but it isn’t overly taming, more like just a leave-in conditioner. The shampoo and conditioner came in bottles that were way smaller than I thought they would be and felt like a rip off. I am nursing the last bits of the shampoo and conditioner right no and will not be re-ordering. I do recommend to someone who heat-styles a lot, these are good products if you’re willing to spend the money.

missjessies_quickcurls_900x900Miss Jessie’s Quick Curls is the best curl cream I have ever used in my life. It works on ethnic and white girl hair. It smells really awesome, kind of lemony. When I want to wear my hair down but I don’t want to try I scrunch this into the bulk of my hair and let it air dry. I end up (Weather permitting of course) with a lions mane of curls. NO FUSS! I LOVE IT! After I ordered it Maris told me she has seen it at Target, so for future purchases I will look there instead of Birchbox for sure.

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Davines All In One Milk is the secret serum to any good hair day ever in life. I was surprised when I finally got this because the sample was a little squeeze pouch and this is a spray. I thought it was going to be something I put in my hand and then run through my hair, so the spray is a little strange. I’ve been spraying it into my hand and then running my hands through my wet hair instead of spraying it on because I worry I am wasting it or not getting it everywhere it needs to go. So, you apply to wet hair and blow dry and it’s like I’ve used heat styling. Everything is smooth and soft and happy and I feel like a million jillion bucks. I would pay for this stuff if it was $100.

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If you had told me a year ago that I would be shelling out for 50 ml of the most perfect scent at the end of my year of products, I would have LAUGHED in your face. No way no how. Except I did. I have never liked any scent ever! Like ever! And this makes me so happy. Sometimes I even put it on before bed. I am a Hello by Harvey Prince freak and I even bought the big bottle.

lizearle_cleanseandpolishstarterkit_badge_900x900This face wash by Liz Earle also surprised me. I mean, the sample was super classy, so I should have known it would woo me. But face wash? I didn’t expect to fall in love with one of those either, but this is fantastic. It’s creamy like a lotion and you kind of rub it in pre shower, then in the shower you buff it away with a warm cloth. It is super not drying and makes me feel exfoliated and hydrated. I’ve been experimenting with using my clarisonic after rubbing in the creamy face wash and it has been working out really well. If you hate having tight skin after you get out of the shower, this might be worth a go.

And that’s it! Those were my final purchases. And now all I have left to do is giveaway the box of random assortments of unused items from my Birchbox year. A surprise box filled with fun goodies. To enter, leave a comment telling me about your latest beauty adventure. What have you tried out lately? Did it work? Did it fail? I want to know. Free samples await you! 

46 thoughts on “The End of an Era + Giveaway”

  1. For a lotion I love Glysomed. I got into their hand cream years ago and love it and recently I discovered their body lotion and moisturizer. Super thick and creamy without being heavy and no crazy amounts of smells.

  2. I don’t have many beauty adventures, but in my latest I had an “aha” moment wherein I realized that I essentially have a man’s haircut, so perhaps I should try using some product marketed to men. So I got some American Crew stuff and it is awesome, and does exactly what I want to my hair, and bonus it smells nice and musky and not too flowery at all.

  3. Thanks for doing this series! I’ve started using Trader Joe’s coconut oil body butter in the winter for dry skin and I love it. It’s a bit heavy, so definitely a night time lotion. I use a lavender/goat’s milk/shea butter lotion on my face every night (from the farmer’s market).

  4. I’m pretty much a no-fuss person, which is beneficial when you have a small child. However, since date nights are even more few and far between, I love getting dressed up for them. I have been playing with eyeliner more–please tell me I’m not the only 30-year-old who still feels like a fool trying to put on eyeliner. I also love having my nails done, so I’ve got some Jamberry samples to try out. I’ll keep you updated.

    For face lotion, I’ve been a firm believer in Olay Complete Moisturizer for Sensitive Skin. I love that it never feels greasy or heavy, keeps me moisturized (especially in winter!), and has sunblock.

  5. I have about 3 tubes of BB cream that I’ve bought in just the last 4 months in the hopes to find something amazing. Nothing matches my skin tone correctly! I’m about to give up on BB cream. I’ve tried the L’oreal (great but not as moisturizing as I’d hoped), Maybeline (best color match but always comes out streaky), and some fancy random thing that is too drying. I’m about to go back to my old standby of moisturizer and liquid foundation mixed in the palm of my hand.

    1. Honestly, the best thing is to walk into Sephora, find the most knowlegeable looking person there (In my case Jose with more makeup on than I could pull off, but your mileage may vary) and saying “this is what I want, please help I do not know what color my face is”. The knowlegeable person will say something like “Your skin isn’t bad, it’s just so much pinker than your neck” and then give you the exact color you need, tell you how to wear it and not look like a porcelain doll, and you will love them and your ego won’t be as bruised as you imagined. (and he did respect my price point, so glorious!)

  6. I got an aloe cream from Birchbox and it’s been the loveliest for my face – I put it on at night and then my face still feels lovely in the morning. I think it might be this? https://www.birchbox.com/shop/the-aloe-source-vitamin-c-antioxidant-creme But I’m not going to spend that much money on it, so I’m going to look for other nice aloe face products, I think.

    I’m ALSO obsessed with the Happy scent. I’m kind of hoping for it for Christmas but I don’t think I’ve told anyone but Donnie about it so that means the world has forgotten. Haha. Maybe I’ll text my mom about that one now, actually. :-p

    I also got tired of Birchbox and canceled my subscription after some point. I was mostly tired of getting stupid under-the-eye creams, and not enough makeup. But I continued loving reading your reviews, so way to be even better than a makeup subscription! haha

    (Also I hope I win because I freaking love samples more than most people love anything.)

  7. I ended up suspending my birch box subscription because they were coming too fast and I couldn’t keep up with all of the new samples each month. I just bought some of the davines all in one milk, but because it is so thick, the sprayer doesn’t seem to work very well and it just oozes out. I think I may start doing what you do and just putting it in my hands and then running it through my hair.

    My latest beauty adventure is eye liner. I’ve never really tried it before, but my sister gave me a tutorial and now I’m enjoying using it when I go out. It so simple but feels fancy!!

  8. I use Eucerin Skin Calming creme (http://www.amazon.com/Eucerin-Calming-Cr%C3%A8me-Daily-Moisturizer/dp/B000YGDRIW) on my hands and body at night and feel like it absorbs a little better than the Aveeno (which sometimes feels like a protective silicone layer rather than a moisturizer- great for the elements, though!). When it’s super duper dry, I LOVE L’Occitane shea butter hand creme (http://usa.loccitane.com/shea-butter-hand-cream,82,1,29193,261659.htm). It feels SO good. And it’s so usable during the day even.

  9. My latest is that I was looking for a nail polish remover like the kind I had when I was a kid (where you dip your finger in a tub with a sponge, so it’s not all liquid-y), and I thought I bought the same thing but instead of a sponge, it’s basically just a tub full of liquid with this plastic scraper thing inside in case your nail polish is stubborn and you need to scrape it off. Disappointed. And it leaked when I moved it across the country a couple weeks ago.

    I’m also debating on face moisturizers. The air is much drier on the east coast than I am used to, and I never used to use moisturizer in Texas because the humidity was enough, and my skin is mildly oily. I have a tube of Mary Kay moisturizer that is okay, but I can’t tell if I’m breaking out because of the moisturizer or because my skin isn’t moisturized enough!

  10. So I use Revlon Photoready BB cream mixed in with some jergens face tanner and it works mostly well? I would really love to find a solution where I don’t have to blot my nose and forehead every few hours (oh the woes of oily skin) but alas, I have not found it yet. Give the Revlon BB cream a try though!

    Latest beauty adventure: attempting to go back to using WEN hair conditioner in place of normal shampoo and conditioner. It’s kind of working lol. My goal is to go 2-3 days without washing (with working out daily, HA) and I’m hoping that the WEN will help with that. Perhaps eventually I’ll actually post about it on le blog.

  11. LOVE the Harvey Prince Hello!!! Bought the small bottle from birchbox to keep in my purse. I also liked the beauty protector but ended up buying the No. 4 prep and protect instead. I cancelled my birchbox somewhere around a year because of the exact same reason; between the box and ulta samples I have a whole bags worth of samples. I also liked the Liz Earle but not enough to purchase.

  12. I actually bought the Caudalie poly phenol overnight serum after reading your review. The smell is… Not great, but I love how my skin feels in the morning!

  13. I recently tried Aveda’s “Be Curly” to enhance my waves, and it actually straightened my hair. I’m wondering if I’d like Quick Curls. If it’s too heavy, it will weigh down and straighten my hair. What do you think?

    1. I put maybe a nickle/quarter sized amount in my hand, rub it together and then scrunch it. It does not make my hair crunchy even though I put it on when it is wet. Maybe I will send you a little sample of it in one of those airplane product containers i can buy at the drugstore so you can test it. Buying the whole thing is a LOT of product so I wouldn’t want you to do that just in case…

  14. I’ve always wanted to try birch box but, like you, I’m not into all the fuss. I’m pretty basic and repetitive when it comes to my beauty routine. But for my 30th a friend got me some bare minerals stuff, including a lip stick and I fell in love. I’m on a huge lip stick binge and I rarely go out without it!

  15. I use coconut oil or Josie Maran’s argan oil (the light version) on my face at night, especially in the winter (but my skin is dry dry dry these days, so your mileage may vary?)

    Like a lot of other commenters, I’ve been experimenting more with eye makeup these days (especially eyeshadows from this site, which has tons of color and cheap samples! http://www.aromaleighcosmetics.com/) , though every attempt at false lashes ends up with me storming out of the bathroom with a lash clinging precariously to my cheekbone….

  16. I have super dry and also sensitive and also break outy skin on my face (which feels like a very unfair combo of things to have! Come on, face!) I’ve been using the same $10 a pot combo for day moisturiser / night moisturiser for about three years now and I can’t go without it. I love that I can pick it up at the supermarket and then it lasts me maybe ~10 months of everyday use for a $10 pot, AND it has a sunscreen in the daytime one.
    Night cream: http://www.nivea.com.au/products/face-care/Daily%20Essentials/dry-and-sensitive-skin/rich-regenerating-night-cream
    Day cream: http://www.nivea.com.au/products/face-care/Daily%20Essentials/dry-and-sensitive-skin/rich-moisturising-day-cream-jar
    I assume you can get these in the States too! Good luck finding the holy grail of moisturisers 🙂 it’s hard! xo

  17. I wish this post was scratch ‘n sniff, so I could see what that perfume smells like! I’m also writing down the name of the curl cream, although I’ve been using a pretty good one myself lately: the “Wavy to Curly” Beautiful Curls Leave-in conditioner and curl activating gel (http://www.beautifulcurls.com/). I’ve been using it for a few months now, and it always produces reliably bouncy, soft curls (I hate when my curls are crunchy).

    My other beauty adventure lately is Manuka Honey as a face wash/face mask. It’s kind of expensive, as far as honey goes–$30 for 8.8 oz. on amazon–but it doesn’t take much to cover my whole face. I’ve only used it for a few days so far, but I keep reading glowing reports from beauty blogs about how much it helps acne, scarring, dry skin, etc. I figured it’s worth a try.

    Oh, and I also bought this for $6 recently: http://www.sephora.com/precision-pore-cleansing-pad-P262041
    Seems to work decently at light exfoliation without making my face red and angry.

  18. I don’t have much of a beauty regimen. I usually wash my face with jojoba oil, moisturize with a smidge of coconut oil and call it a day. And put on sunblock in the mornings when I remember. This has been working for me for a few years and I get lots of compliments on my skin. However, I wanted to mix things up and give regular face wash another go (most of them are really bad for me as my skin is so sensitive). I just recently bought Organic Avalons Vitamin C Cleansing Milk face wash. So far I’m liking it. And now I’m using a smidge of jojoba oil to moisturize. Oh and on the makeup front, I’ve been wearing metallic blue eyeliner along with my mascara (no eyeshadow) and I’m LOVING IT. I feel so fancy and put together. Also, I think it makes my eyes look more blue-green than just blue.

  19. One of my goals before turning 30 was to find a moisturizer that I liked and use it regularly. I tried out Burts Bee’s Extra Sensitive Night Cream (I found it as a recommendation after I got -literally- 3rd degree stubble burn from making out with my boyfriend, and searched for other stubble burn victims) and I think I like it, but I’m still working on the ‘using it regularly’ half of the equation. It seems good for my dry forehead without making my nose or chin oily, though.

  20. I’ve always hated lipsticks buy finally tried a lip pencil. So. Much. Better. Lipsticks always felt like gunk on my lips, but lip pencils feel much more like chapstick. I really like the Cover Girl fat lip pencils (blanking on the name–sorry!)

  21. I don’t do much in the way of a “beauty regimen” but just started using a Rimmel BB Cream which feels like a nice level of moisture for my combination skin plus some evening out for my red spots.

  22. Okay, I also have super dry skin and the two BEST lotions I’ve found are this one: http://www.luckyvitamin.com/p-298984-everyday-shea-everyday-coconut-super-hydrating-body-lotion-32-oz?ProductSku=120269&utm_source=googlebase&utm_medium=fpl&utm_term=EverydaySheaEverydayCoconutSuperHydratingBodyLotion32oz&utm_content=120269&utm_campaign=googlebase&site=google_base&scid=scplp2958638&gclid=Cj0KEQiAypGjBRCPme6jmqu3gZsBEiQA8NAiIEPwdfqTgt_zhUM6_7bHDKMPvGMxSpTtfoHFQ8HHWTYaAnTr8P8HAQ

    and this one: http://www.amazon.com/Belli-Moisture-relieves-chamomile-vitamin/dp/B000V1BDK4

    The Everyday Coconut is really affordable (because the bottle is enormous!) and I use it on my hands and all over my entire body. I tend to have a problem with freshly shaved legs + lotion = razor burn, and this one doesn’t do that. Hooray!

    The Belli lotion was actually a sample we got and loved and ended up buying the pricey (to me) full size bottle. It smells absolutely delicious and feels gorgeous. I tend to use it just on my hands, since it was more expensive for a much smaller bottle. (Also… I’m pretty sure it’s marketing to pregnant women. Psh, don’t care! It smells too good.)

    I’ve had a way better time with those two lotions than anything from Bath and Bodyworks, etc. (I think the scents are actually drying instead of moisturizing, at least to me.)

    My two runners-up would be Jergens Ultra Healing lotion (very cheap at Walmart/Target and it was my favorite dry skin moisturizer for years until I found the Everyday Coconut) or Kiss My Face peaches & creme (natural, smells awesome, but a tiny bit too greasy to be my #1).

    Also! Recently I tried out matte eyeshadow and haaaated it. Lindi really likes it but I think on me it makes me look tired. Slight shimmer all the way.

    1. This is the same BB cream I’ve used in the past, though usually these days I’m using Clinique Perfectly Real liquid foundation (which is also super light).

  23. Girlllll get thee to a Nordstroms and talk up the person at the Kiehls counter. Mine loaded me up with SOOO many free samples!! Because of those samples my suddenly acne prone skin (I was blemish free til 27!!) is glowing now! The must have for dry skin is Midnight Recovery Serum!!!

  24. My favorite splurge beauty purchases are Aveda curl enhancer and Aveda madder root conditioner. The conditioner gives my hair a cool red tint and makes my hair really soft also. But I also tried buying some fancy organic face wash that requires you to use this special cloth and both hot and cold water and it might work but it is waaaay too complicated for me to actually use, so the world will never know.

  25. I have been wanting to be a redhead forever, though it is a specific kind of blond-red that I like. In June I went to the hair salon and asked to get highlights in that tone, after explaining it carefully. I knew it was going to be hard because my hair is dark. I left there almost in tears (the confidence of the girl who dyed my hair convinced me to try it). It looked old-lady red, that wine-color-obviously-fake red that ladies in their 40’s use when they cut their hair really short and decide not to ever give a f*ck about their appearance anymore.

    Luckily pretty fast the color started fading out and now it looks a bit more similar to the tone I wanted (an orangey, coppery blond). But yeah, hair color is so hard to get right.

    Also I have started loving nail polish in the last year or two, and I love how bright orange looks on me! Specially on toes.

  26. Hahahah the comment about the aveeno lotion is killing me- it’s so true!! I actually switched to Aveeno baby and love it! Doesn’t do that silicone thing. Who says a 29 yr old can’t have skin like a baby ?! 🙂

  27. I have loved Mary Kay’s 2-in-1 cleanser that I discovered recently. I definitely have the dry skin version (it comes in oily also).
    I also honestly love the moisture lotion from Trader Joes- works for me every time, and I usually need nightly saturations of it on my hands and legs. I am seriously considering the Birchbox option as a fun thing to develop the “leaving-my-20s-need-a-new-skin-routine” habit.

  28. I think I lasted eight months before I cancelled my birchbox subscription. I was getting way too many face creams/lotions and not enough actual makeup, which is why I signed up in the first place. I’ve since heard that Ipsy is better for makeup samples.

    I also ordered a full size version of the Beauty Protector detangle spray and some curl serum I don’t remember the name of. I like both of them for air dry curly hair days (not at the same time). I am still using the same Liz Earle face wash sample that you have above. I really like it for evening face washes because it doesn’t dry out my skin. I may consider buying it when my sample runs out. Oh I almost forgot! I did end up buying some fancy mascara that I am obsessed with.

  29. I recently tried two new products. The first one was quick curls after I saw it on your blog. I bought it at Target. I was hopeful, but it seems you have to already have curly hair? My hair is sort of blah… If it’s wet it get’s a liiitle curl / wave to it, but otherwise it’s just sort of puffy, but not quite straight. I put the cream on and used a diffuser and the husband said I looked like I was going to a Van Halen concert. So back to store it went — the kind people at Target let me return it. Should I have applied it differently?

    I also just got the Laura Mercier smooth finish liquid foundation. So far I have really liked it. I hardly wear any makeup, but I wanted a little bit of natural coverage that was less effort than the bare minerals powders. The lady at Nordstroms matched me and showed me how to put it on with my fingers and so far so good! You have to shake it and as the online reviews say it does get messy at first, but nothing crazy. Just make sure you keep the bottle upright (cap up) if you try it.

    For moisturizers in the winter I like Kiehls ultra facial cream in the jar, and Origins Night A Mins, the thick version. The Laura mercier and kiehls are available at Nordstroms — bonus for easy returns in case they don’t work out.

  30. Have you tried using straight-up coconut oil as a face & body moisturizer yet? I have dry-ish skin and live in the high desert. Coconut oil keeps me from molting like a lizard every other week. I use it on my dave at night, and on the rest of my self after a shower. It makes you smell like a Mounds bar. You can get it at the grocery store; it usually runs about $10-$15 for a 15oz jar (and that will last a good couple of years). Just make sure to get the unrefined, cold-pressed stuff.

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