Wednesday, August 24, 2016

REVIEW: August Birchbox -- Can't Stop, Won't Stop

Summer is just about used up... and I'm one of those fools who's honestly pretty okay with that. I love sailing and swimming and traveling, but I like falling leaves and sweaters and cool weather more. Nonetheless, I'm always happy to see various companies doing their 'last summer hurrah' promotions. And that's what this month's Birchbox entails: some last-minute goodies for summer, largely hair products.

Birchbox is still holding pretty solid for me. There were six samples (five regular sizes and a teeny lil bonus). One, the eyeshadow, seemed to have come loose from its case in transit, making it a mess to work with. But other than that, it was all secure and came with extra info on how to use everything.

Plus, Sweet Potato got a nice new box to sit in.

Off we go!

Manna Kadar Cosmetics Day-Dream Palette - $25

So, looking at the reviews, it seems I wasn't alone: every review I see states that the sample from this palette -- a single shade of eyeshadow -- arrived damaged or loose. It may have been faulty packaging, or the revelation that this product doesn't travel well outside its native casing. Either way, it's something of a relief to know I wasn't alone in this.

Regardless, I like new eyeshadow, so I was going to use this no matter what. It's very sheer and sparkly (the card says it can also be used as a highlighter), and looks good with some existing pinky-brown shades I have. It also stays on. A lot. On everything. Your fingers. Your desk. Your clothes. Your eyelids, too, but you get the idea.

stila Matte About You Liquid Lipstick Trio - $20

Again, I got a single shade out of the set. But I'm probably going to be springing for all three.

First thing to know about me: liquid lipstick is my new joy. Yeah, I've gotta be a little more steady with my hand because if you mess up it stays put, but... it stays put. And the shade they sent was gorgeous. I'm not sure if everyone got the same one and I lucked out, or if different people got different ones out of the three, but it's fantastic.

R+Co OBLIVION Clarifying Shampoo - $24

As a rule, I use Aussie products, but I'll try just about anything when it comes to shampoo. I've never heard of this company or brand before, but I liked the idea of clarifying shampoo (even though I use minimal product in my hair).

This is good shampoo. It gets the job done and it's got a light scent. But it didn't seem to do anything differently to my usual. And yeah, they say leave it in your hair for a couple minutes before you rinse. Which I made sure to do each time. Is it doing what it's supposed to? Probably. Maybe I just don't use enough styling product to notice a difference. I like it, but it's about equal with my usual.

R+Co OBLIVION Restorative Gel Conditioner - $25

This was the extra goodie -- just a one-use envelope, as opposed to the three or so uses of the shampoo sample. And I got a little shy of this one, because it was described as an 'oil-in-gel' formula. I've never heard of this before, and I hate oily things on my face and in my hair. But I've been wrong about things before.

The consistency was like really light Neosporin: not heavy and goopy, but with that sort of transparent slide-y feel. And it was much better than my usual conditioner. My hair didn't feel nearly as heavy afterwards, which I didn't even realise was an issue that bothered me until I tried this.

So as a recap for the pair: shampoo average, conditioner above average.

Hey Honey Trick and Treat Cream Concealer - $32

I got a Hey Honey product in a box back in my ipsy days, and it didn't do much for me. But that was an under-eye cream. It just... pretty much did nothing.

This, however, works a treat. I've never had a concealer that works this well -- it either doesn't cover enough or looks too obvious. This goes right under my foundation and I look way less like I'm trying to hide the fact that I pulled an all-nighter.

Also, a tiny bit goes a long way. A really tiny bit. So the sample will likely last me a long time, but I do intend to buy the full size.

Oribe Apr├ęs Beach Wave and Shine Spray - $39

I have only one legitimate complaint about the sample, which is that the button is very stiff and hard to press. So spraying it involves a lot of arm gymnastics as I try to get enough leverage with my thumbs to get any product out.

That aside... does it work? Well, I'm not entirely sure. It's meant to give you wavy, tousled hair... and my hair is naturally already like that. So, you know, there's that. Usually I'm trying to find something to calm my hair down a bit. This didn't do anything bad to it, but it also didn't seem to have any effect at all. I'm guessing people with straighter hair will benefit way more from it than I do. I'm just not the target demographic for this.

So to close out... definitely getting the lipstick and concealer, and the rest was pretty all right. I'm still wondering what the deal with the eyeshadow was where it universally arrived pretty much destroyed. Hoping that's being looked into so it doesn't happen in future.

That said, the faulty sample actually shocked me, because Birchbox delivers in... well, a box. The one you see Sweet Potato sitting in. It's wrapped and padded and nicely presented. Which means not only is it just aesthetically pretty great, but the samples are (usually) protected from rough handling in a way they aren't going to be in an envelope.

I'm finding the Birchbox samples are overall 'good but not useful to me' at the absolute worst, must-haves at best. Which is a nice trade-up from where I was before.

If you'd be interested in trying out Birchbox, give it a go here. They also have a Men's monthly box, as well as some special boxes you can buy at any time.