Margarita's Blog

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Julep Mystery Box, $25
Look for promos for discounts or free items
I paid: $25

Julep is company that makes nail polish and other makeup products.  It sells them individually at pretty high prices, but also packages them into a monthly subscription box, “Julep Maven”.  That subscription is $24 a month and usually includes two nail polish and a makeup item, but it allows for quite a bit of customization.  Julep Mystery Boxes, on the other hand, are issued less regularly, cost $25 and don’t allow for customization.  However, there are often coupons that allow you to get an extra item of your choice with the box.  Personally I think they are a better deal, in particular if you order them after seeing some spoilers (though bear in mind that the products you get may be different). This mystery box included five nail polishes (my daughter absconded with the blue one, so it’s not in the photo).  The kit also included a nail polish remover pen, a mascara and nail decals.  I was able to buy it with a coupon that allowed me to get a top coat for free.  All in all, I paid about $3 per product!

This is what I got:

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Nadia It Girl nail polish ($5)

Darby Boho Glam nail polish ($14)

The Nadia is a brighter yellow than what shows in the picture.  It’s a very summery color, somewhat glittery and easy to apply. I’m sure I’ll wear it.

The Darby is a somewhat glittery hunter green.  I loved the color, but it’s somewhat runny and it was hard to apply to my left hand.  It was also impossible to get off with regular nail polish remover – I ended up using another nail polish to do the deed. The Darby was one of two new colors guaranteed to be in this collection.

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Marla Boho Glam nail polish ($14)

Dawnelle Boho Glam nail poish ($14)

The Marla is a very pretty wine color.  It was also a bit runny and hard to put on, but easy enough to remove. I will enjoy wearing it.

Dawnelle is basically a light copperish colored glitter.  You can use it by itself or on top of another color.  It wasn’t really my thing and, like other glitters, it was hard to remove and I needed to use another nail polish to do it. This was also one of the new guaranteed colors in the box.

The last color I got was the Lolita, a dark blue.  As my daughter took it, I can’t say how easy it was to apply.

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Clean Slate Polish Corrector Pen ($10)

I’ve never been able to color within the lines so I always make a mess when I put nail polish.  This pen is supposed to help clean up the borders.  It works best if you dip it on nail polish and use it on your nail & cuticles.  It doesn’t work well at all for polish that has gotten on your skin.  The tips also get stained very quickly and they start to fray.  Still, it’s somewhat helpful.

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Go Big Mascara ($24)

This is a pretty generic mascara. As I don’t have one, I was happy to get it.

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Oxygen Performance Top Coat ($18)

This was the one item I chose to get for free with my promo. It seems to work fine as a top coat. It was a bit thick, but not too hard to apply. It did make it very hard to remove nail polish, however.

FabKids, kids’ clothing, $30/month for one outfit
I paid $20 for two outfits with expired promo

FabKids is a clothing subscription for kids sizes 2 to 12.  For $30 a month you get to chose one outfit (dress/tights or t-shirt/pants for girls, shirt/pants for boys).  They often have good sign-up offers.  At the very least you should be able to get your first outfit for $15.  The offered I used gave me an additional $10 credit, so I was able to get two outfits for $20.

Unfortunately, their selection was pretty limited.  They didn’t have too many outfits to chose from (maybe a couple of dozens?), and almost none of them were available on size 10-12 (which is becoming too small for my daughter anyway).  The fact that the clothing wouldn’t fit her for much longer made the decision to unsubscribe immediately easy.  To do so, you have to call them on the phone and subject yourself to a hard sale. Even though I thought my argument for cancelling was pretty compelling (“your largest size doesn’t quite fit my daughter”) I had to them repeatedly that yes, I wanted to unsubscribe, that no, I had no one else I wanted to gift clothing to, that I didn’t care how many points they gave me and so forth.  Still, the woman on the phone was pleasant, just be prepared to stay firm.

The two outfits I got consisted of a dress and tights.  While the 10-12 dresses were a bit tight on Camila, the L size tights fit well and the XL were too big.  The dresses are very nicely cut and very well constructed. Both of the dresses I got were a polyester/cotton blend, which I’m not happy about, but some of the dresses they offer are 100% cotton.   These are the dresses Camila got:

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Capri Nautical Outfit

This is a sleeveless blue & white striped dress with an opening in the back trimmed in pink.  Camila claims to like it, but I haven’t really seen her eager to wear it.  She put it on for these pictures and then changed into something else.  I think the problem is that while this is a summer dress (and yes, our temperatures in California are summer like), the fabric is too thick to make it comfortable.

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Back Zip Print Dress

This photo is really bad, so I’ll take a new one next time Camila wears this dress.  It is a really, really pretty dress.  It’s probably the most beautifully cut regular dress that Camila has owned, it looks very stylish and proper, and I almost wish she had a more formal occasion to wear it to (a funeral?).  Even though she complained at first that the dress was uncomfortable inside, she’s worn it several times. It’s also polyester blend, but as it’s a more wintery dress perhaps that’s not as big a deal.

The tights that came with both dresses were pretty generic and she hasn’t been wearing them with the dresses.

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Beauty Fix, beauty products, $25/month
Promo: 15% off when you register
I paid: $23, after discount & tax

Beauty Fix is a beauty subscription box from DermStore. It includes skin care and makeup items with a value around $100 for $25 a month. It used to be called Blush Mystery Beauty Box but they have revamped. This subscription seems to work differently from others, you can only subscribe after the next box becomes available. The March box is currently sold out and the April box is not yet listed. I’ll update with a link when it’s up. Meanwhile, you can register at DermStore using this link and you’ll get $10 (maybe) credited to your account.

I decided to subscribe to DermStore’s Beauty Fix box after seeing reviews of the March box. These were all products I would use and a very good deal for $25. Unfortunately, a lot of people thought the same thing and it would seem that DermStore bit more than it could chew and sent out several boxes missing the most expensive item, a $60 serum. My box was also missing the sheet listing the contents of the box. I called DermStore and they are sending me the serum separately. I will update this page when it arrives. Update: The serum was sent as promised.

Make sure to check up your credit card statement carefully after ordering. Even though they receipt they sent me acknowledged the 15% off promo I used, they had actually charged me the whole amount.  They did refund it after I spoke with them on the phone, but that was barely worth the time on hold.

The contents of my box so far are worth $65.

This is what I got:

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Unlike other boxes, BeautyFix didn’t have shredded paper to shield the products, fortunately they all arrived well.

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Julien Farel Hydrate Shampoo, 6.8 oz, $23

I have no idea why this shampoo is so expensive, but then again, I have fine, straight hair that has no special shampooing needs. It does have a pleasant smell, however.   Update: I’ve used this shampoo once and it didn’t seem to have much of an effect, positive or negative.

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JeNu Active-Youth Lip Serum, 14 ml, $22

This serum is designed to come with a $200 wand, which was not included in the box. While the wand gets good reviews, the serum does not seem to do much plumping on its own. That’s fine with me as I’m not looking to plump up my lips, just to hydrate them. They are dry all the time and I think I need something stronger than lip balm. I just tried this and so far, I’m impressed. Sure, it’s full of synthetic ingredients, but my lips feel very nice and soft after using it. Then again, I might have the same effect using petroleum jelly – but I just can’t get myself to do that.

IMG_20150325_145135SmartFX SmartLash Eyelash Enhancer, .16 oz, $20

I’ll be honest here. When I saw this, I thought it was going to be a mascara. As I don’t have any mascaras at the moment, I was excited to get this one (fortunately I did get a mascara in another box since). It’s not a mascara, however, but a serum that you put along your eyelash line. It’s supposed to make your eyelashes longer/fuller. While I have no need to do either, I’ve discovered that the longer my nightly skin care treatment is, the longer I can waste time watching TV while applying stuff, so I’m not complaining.

 

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Medicell Advanced Anti-Aging Youth Serum, 1 oz $60

This is the item that was not included in my box but was sent separately.  I’ve been reading about serums and they seem to make a big difference to the health of your skin.  While I’m skeptical, I’m willing to try it and see.  I’m hoping they can help repair the sun damage on my forehead.

I checked out a few of the ingredients in this serum and it looks like they may indeed help my skin.

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SkinMedica Vitamin C and E Complex, .13 oz , sample value $7

SkinCeuticals Eye Cream, approx .15 oz, sample value $15

SkinCeuticals Advanced Pigment Corrector, approx .15 oz, sample value $8

These samples are not for resale, so while I’m including the values based on what the whole item costs, I’m not including them in the value of the whole box. DermStore is not paying for them. I have now gotten three SkinCeutical samples from DermStore, so they must have gotten a bunch. The .15 oz size is approximate and based on the fact that the SkinCeutical tubes are slightly larger than the SkinMedica one.

The vitamin C & E complex is a serum, without any discernable scent. It goes on very smoothly and left a velvety texture on my skin, though of course I don’t know if it’ll have any long term effect.

The eye cream seemed generic, it didn’t have any immediate effects.

I’m really excited to try the pigment corrector because I have hyperpigmentation on my forehead. This formulation is proven (I looked up the scientific literature) to be as effective as the medical treatment for this condition using hydroquinone-based creams and safer. Indeed, the hydroquinone cream I was using on my forehead made it itch/hurt, so I stopped using it.  Unfortunately, the sample is probably too small to know whether it will have an effect on me, as it usually requires 3 months for significant changes in skin pigmentation to occur. I might give it a try on just one little spot, however.

All in all I was very pleased with this box as the value was just amazing.  Even though I now have quite a few skin products, I’ve decided to keep BeautyFix and see what else I get.

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Darby Smart, craft kit, $19/month
Promo: WELCOME24 for $10 off your first kit
I paid: $19

Darby Smart is a subscription box that sends you one craft kit a month.  The kits are geared towards adults, though they also have a tween subscription.  This is my second box. I kept the subscription after really enjoying the first box.   I’m not a crafty person myself, but my youngest daughter enjoys crafts and I enjoy having projects to do together.

This month’s kit was to make a needlepoint glasses case:

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The kit includes 2 large plastic canvasses, 2 needlepoint needles and 2 yarn spools. The yarn is from Germany and, according to Darby Smart, high quality – I know nothing about yarn.

The instructions are provided online.  This is a little inconvenient, but it gives them an opportunity to update them when they realize they are insufficient.  This was the case here, where many people complained about them.  I’ve just started the project and so far so good, whatever problems we’ve encountered have been due to not reading the instructions close enough.

One of the issues is that they included way too many supplies for the item. On the one hand, this is a good thing.  If you mess up, you can start over.  On the other hand, if you don’t mess up, it’d be nice to have something to do with the rest of the supplies.

I will admit that when I first saw this project I wasn’t thrilled, it just didn’t look that exciting.  But my daughter loved it and wanted to start on it right away.  Once I started, I found the needlepointing rather zen – something to keep my hands busy while I watch a movie and keep my mind from wandering around.  While my daughter enjoys this in theory, in reality she tends to get bored with very repetitive tasks, so I don’t think she’ll be doing much of the needlepointing – but this is supposed to be a kit for adults anyway.

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 Update: Barely 3 days after I started this project, I finished it.  It was actually pretty addictive.  It was hard to stop even after my thumb started hurting because of the pressure of the needle.  Sure, there are lots of mistakes which you can see if you look closely (click on the image), but for me it was great.  The biggest problem was in the inside:

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While I thought the instructions for the needlepointing itself were pretty straight forward, I had a harder time figuring out what to do about the knots, and how to prevent them from being so big.  I fear that if I actually put glasses inside this case, the knots will scratch the lenses.  I might actually try it with some cheap eye glasses, just to see whether they do.

My daughter is currently working on a bookmark, and I think my other daughter wants to make something else with the other canvass.  I think I used less than half of the yarn spool.

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Little Lace Box, lifestyle, $40/month
Not available until late April
I paid: $40

Little Lace Box is a box of lifestyle/pampering items for women, with an emphasis on indy designers.

This is my second month being subscribed to the Little Lace Box and my second month of measured disappointment.  I tried hard to give last month’s box a break, for the sake of the artisans that contributed to the box’s contents if nothing else.  The January box was so great that I was hoping that they’d go in that direction as well.  Alas, they didn’t.  If anything, they’ve gotten even more disjointed.  This month’s theme was supposed to be “Here comes the sun”, perfectly appropriate for spring and something that shouldn’t be too difficult to achieve.  Somehow LLB managed not to.

This is not to say that I didn’t like the products or wasn’t happy with the box.  It’s still a great value ($120 retail) and I’m happy with most of the items included, but what most attracted me to LLB was the themed curation which just hasn’t been there for the last two months.  Next month they are doing a “Nonna’s Kitchen” theme, and hopefully they’ll redeem themselves.  I’m staying subscribed.

This is what I got:

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Kate Spade Water Bottle, in pink $30

This water bottle was probably the most “springy” of all items in the box.  At first sight, I didn’t find it particularly exciting.  First of all, it’s a water bottle. Don’t we all have dozens of water bottles around? Secondly, it’s pink (though people got them in different colors) and I’m not a pink girl.  Third, it’s Kate Spade – a mainstream designer whose name just adds cost to the bottle without really adding much in the way of style.

It turned out that while I wasn’t a big fan of this item, my 10-year old daughter loved it.  She takes a water bottle with her to school every day, the bright pink color is right up her alley and it turns out that glass water bottles are all the rage in the 4th grade.  She quickly absconded with it and she took it to school today.  She said that it preserved the fresh flavor of the water all day; apparently water becomes stale in the plastic and metal water battles she’s been using.  I would probably not have bought her a glass water bottle on my own, so I’m glad this came in the box.

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Baronessa Cali Oliva Shampoo and Conditioner, 8 oz each, $32

According to the letter that came in the LLB box, this box is all about getting ready for spring days “while nourishing your mind, body and soul” and there is no better way to do that than by giving yourself a “spa day”, thus these items.  While I like the idea of a spa day, when I think “spa” shampoo and conditioner are not what come to mind.

Now, I’ll be honest. I’m not one for expensive hair care products. I have fine, straight hair and I’m perfectly happy to use Suave. These products smell nice and I’ll be happy to use them, but I’m not exactly excited about them.  I’m also a little apprehensive about the fact that these products come in old packaging.  I don’t know when Baronessa Cali introduced the new 7.5 oz tubes, but after the French Box fiasco I’m really weary of subscription boxes buying products in the  secondary market.

Update: LLB responded that Baronessa Cali is experimenting with different packaging and that these products are brand new.  That’s great to know.  Alas, I just took a shower and they didn’t work well with my hair.  The shampoo left my hair way too dry/hard and the conditioner had trouble softening it.  My hair was left knotty while still in the shower, which is not usually the case.  My oldest daughter tried the shampoo and while she also liked the scent, she found it otherwise generic.  My youngest daughter couldn’t figure out which one was the shampoo and which one was the conditioner so she didn’t try them.  I do agree with her that calling them “hair cleanser” and “hair masque” is pretentious.

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Urban Spa Full Body Sea Sponge, $14

I remember taking baths at Granny‘s house (that’s her picture up on the header) using a real sponge when I was a little girl, so I was happy to get this sponge but I don’t think it qualifies as a “spa day” item.

Update: I just tried this sponge and it was much softer than I envisioned (or remembered my granny’s sponge being).  It was as soft as any artificial sponge, don’t expect to use it to exfoliate.  However, it worked quite well and together with the laurel & olive oil soap (which I’m really loving), it left me feeling and smelling very clean.

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12″ x 12″ Gallery Wrap Mounted Canvass Print, $52

My appreciation of this box will rest fully on what I think of this item. LLB e-mailed subscribers a code we can use to upload a photo and have it printed onto canvass and mailed to us.  I think this could be a great gift for my husband if I manage to find an appropriate photo – but as I’m not the photographer in the family, I’m not sure how likely that is.

I have only been into subscription boxes for three months now, but I’ve already gotten to experience one of the negative aspects of this “hobby”: unsafe products.

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French Box’s substitute products were also old.

Last month, I subscribed to French Box after a very positive review on their January box. Even before my box arrived, however, it had become clear that it was a bust.  Commenters on the MySubscriptionAddiction box review blog – the most popular forum for subscription box addicts – had figured out that the two most expensive items in the box, a serum and a nail polish, were actually old and discontinued products.  After the companies who produced them warned consumers to not used them, French Box was forced to apologize to its subscribers and promise that it would send replacements.  It did so earlier this month, but it turns out that the substitute products are also old.  The La Sultane de Saba hand scrub was discontinued in 2011 while the Les Notes de Lanvin shower gel was originally part of a three item kit which was discontinued in 2013.  French Box sent the lotion from the kit in their December 2014 box.

I disputed the charges with my credit card, I’d recommend everyone else do the same.

(See also Subscriptionista’s post on this subject).

IMG_20150325_192554I am, however, very appreciative of how Kloverbox handled an issue with an item in their March box – which I got.  The box included a Rosewater Toner by Urban Oreganics, an etsy store.  The toner only had four ingredients: rosewater, alcohol-free witch hazel, apple cider vinegar and lemon juice.  Alas, the lack of preservatives quickly turned this toner into a bacterial soup making it unsafe.  I’ve had the toner for about ten days now, and you can actually see the bacterial cultures floating around in the bottle.

Upon discovering this and without prompting Kloverbox immediately wrote to its subscribers letting them know they should stop using this item and saying that they will mail a new item with their April box, or separately to those not subscribed for April.  I am sure I’ll be happy with whatever they send.

Still, this incident made me aware of how it’s probably not a good idea to trust any “natural” product that contains water but no preservatives.  While acids like vinegar and lemon juice have antimicrobial faculties, they are not good enough to prevent bacterial growth in watery substances.

 

 

A couple of weeks ago I subscribed to the DermStore‘s Beauty Fix box, and in the checkout process I was offered the Winter Skin Wonders Grab Bag.  This mystery lot was supposed to have 5 “popular skin care and cosmetics” items that retail for $195 total, and was on sale for $30.  Even though I now have too many skin care items, I decided to go for it.  All in all, it was a good purchase but the bag did not fulfill its promise.  There were only 4 full-size skin care/cosmetic products, and the total value for the bag – using DermStore prices -, including samples, was $186.50. Still, it was close enough and I liked the stuff, so I’m not complaining.

Note that other bags may come with different products. This lot came in a plastic bag.

This is what I got:

Full size products:

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Yu-Be Moisturizing Skin Cream, 1.25 oz, value $16

This glycerin and camphor based moisturizer is made in Japan and gets great reviews on Sephora and Amazon.com as a cure for very dry, cracked skin. You can also use it on your lips.  Unfortunately, it does smell of camphor but I think it’d be a good product to use under your nose when you have a cold to prevent/treat chapped skin.  For those that care, it does have parabens, however.

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Racinne Ultimate Youth Power Eye Cream, 1 oz, value $58

This is a Korean eye cream distributed by a Canadian company.   I wasn’t able to find very much about it online, but it does come in a very pretty silver jar.  Eye creams are usually very expensive, and while I’m covered in this department for a while, I was happy to get it.

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Purlisse Pur-Protect SPF 30 sunscreen, 1.7 oz, $55 (Amazon.com has it for $30)

Apparently samples of this product appeared in lots of subscription boxes last year – but as I wasn’t into subscription boxes, I’m glad to get it. It gets great reviews on Amazon and while I’m currently using an SPF15 cream for my face I got in my last Birchbox, that’s not going to last long and I need stronger protection for the summer.

This product is made in the USA and paraben free.

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Laura Geller Beauty I-Care Waterproof Eyeliner, in purple sapphire, value $20

This eye liner gets mixed reviews on Ulta, and DermStore doesn’t even carry this shade.  I’m planning to swap it or just sell it on e-bay. It’s made in Germany.

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Dermstore Cosmetics Bag, value $10

This is a nice cosmetics bag, and I’ll put it to use holding some of the many samples I’ve gotten.  It’s supposed to be free with your purchase of $125, but it was included in this collection in lieu of the fifth skin care/cosmetic item.

 Samples:

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Game Day Charging Spray: Energizing Facial Tonic, 1 oz, value $7.50

This is a spritz with an all-natural tonic that you spray in your face when you need to feel revived.  It has several botanical extracts and a masculine-type menthol fragrance. I didn’t particularly like it, but my teen daughter does so she’s claimed it.  It’s made in the US.

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Kerstin Florian Rehydrating Neroli Water, 1 oz, value $10

This is basically a female version of the item above, though you can also use it as a toner.  It smells great, of orange flowers, and it was quite refreshing.   It does have parabens, however.  It’s made in France.

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Dr. Loretta Stemulous vitamin C serum, 3ml, value $11

According to the website “this is a rejuvenating vitamin C serum that contains Lilac stem cells.”  To me, that sounds like a gimmick, but the beauty of a sample is that you get to see for yourself.  It is a tiny sample, however, as you can see by comparing it with the penny.

Freebies:

These were thrown in the box that contained both this collection and my Beauty Fix box.  They are both tiny, tiny samples.

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Skinceuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50

This is a tinted sunscreen. The amount in the tube should be good for a few times and I can just keep it in my purse for when I forget to bring sunscreen along.

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mybody take control calming gel cleanser

This seems to be good for acne.

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The foils.

Note: If you want to get this box or any other product from DermStore, use this link to register and you should get a $10 off credit in your account.

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Kloverbox, natural beauty products, $25/mo
Promo: BFFM10 for 10% off any length subscription
I paid: $22.50 after discount

Kloverbox is a monthly subscription box that sends you natural products.  Most of them seem to be sample size, but the products I got are not the type you need much of.  The subscription is $25 a month, which is pricy for a sample subscription, but the items are all very nice and this month they had a combined value of $55.  I’m planning to use all the products – which is rare for most of my subscription boxes.

This is what I got:

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BAGGU 3D Zip Small Ban in Mint Stripe – $8

This is a sturdy nylon bag to carry your toiletries or anything else you want. It gets very good reviews at Amazon, and I will be using it in my upcoming trip to Alaska.  It came at a great time.  The bag is machine washable (though I’ve discovered most things are).  It says in the label that it’s “ethically made in China”.  I hope that’s true.

Update: I used this during my trip to Alaska and it worked quite well.  Alas, it’s a pain that the liquids and creams need to go in a clear container, but it works for the solids.

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IMG_20150325_192554Rosewater Toner by Urban Oreganics – 4 oz, $14

This toner has rosewater, alcohol-free witch hazel, apple cider vinegar and lemon juice.  The lemon juice is even fresh squeezed – if you see a particle in the toner it’s a bit of pulp that escaped the filter!  The thing is I have all those ingredients at home and could make the toner myself.   And, indeed, I’ve made toners with a combination of those ingredients before – though not all of them.  But I haven’t for a while, so I haven’t been using toner, and I’m looking forward to using it again.  Though my daughter tried to abscond with it.

Update: It turns out that the particles in the toner weren’t lemon pulp, after all, but bacteria growth.  My toner was clear when I received it, but in the week or so since I received it, it has gone in a bacteria growing extravaganza (you can sort of see it in the photo).  Kloverbox notified me of this matter by e-mail and promises to send a replacement either in the next box, or separately for those no longer subscribed.

On etsy this toner is sold in conjunction with these:

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Reusable 3″ Facial Rounds by Marley’s Monsters, 4 $2.40

These are supposed to replace cotton balls. They can be machine washed and I look forward to trying them.  They are pretty cheap so if I like them, I’ll make sure to get more.

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Luxe Beauty Balm by Pelle Beauty, 4 ml, $9

This beauty balm is $65 for a 30 ml full size jar, but at least the ingredients are not just natural but exotic.  I don’t know if they work, but I know that making it at home would cost me much more.  The sample is really tiny, but it’s a mixture of oils and waxes only so a little goes a long way.  It’s supposed to be very moisturizing, but as my face is not particularly dry I can’t really tell. Anyway, it’s nice to try it.

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Double Surface Exfoliator by Jillian Wright Skincare, 3.7 ml, $4

Pomegranate Renewing Eye Serum by White & Elm, 10 ml $18

I haven’t been exfoliating so I’m thrilled to get this sample.  It’s pretty tiny but you only need to use it twice a week. It’s also rougher than I imagined, but I guess exfoliators need to be.

This serum is basically a combination of organic oils and some non-organic vitamin E.  Supposedly it helps reverse the signs of aging. I don’t understand why these serums are so expensive, but I’m glad I have it at what is equivalent to a discount price and I will definitely use it.

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TOM Box period supplies, $16/month
First Box $8 by using this link
I paid: $8.

TOM Box is a subscription box that sends you a box of tampon or pads every month (you select the type/brand you want) together with some makeup and jewelry.  You can “double the make-up/jewelry” for an additional $6 – but that’s probably above the value of the makeup/jewelry you’ll get.  It’s geared towards the younger set, and it’d be perfect for a teen/tween.   That said, my tween wasn’t interested in continuing subscribing so I cancelled.

This box had a value of around $13, which is below the subscription price.  It might have been a better value if we chose other pads.  Still, we will use most of the items that came in the box.  In addition to those photographed here, there were a couple “fun size” candy bars that my daughter ate right away.

This is what we got:

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U by Kotex Tween pads, 16 ct, value $4

Brands include Always, Kotex, Playtex and Tampax.  Depending on the type, packages are 10 to 22 ct, most are 18 ct.

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BAKE Naturals lipbalm in Pure Original, value $2

J.cat lipstick, value $2

My daughter only uses EOS but she took this lipbalm anyway.  It’s made with all natural ingredients.

The lipstick came in a nude color. Alas, it’s made in China so I think it’s best to avoid putting it anywhere near your mouth.

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clariSEA Rapid Detox Charcoal Exfoliant: Face 1 oz? sample, value $2.25 to $4.50

These samples have appeared in Birchbox and Ipsy boxes before.  The full product sells regularly for $18, but it’s on sale at Groupon for $9 This 1 oz sample should last for a long time, however.  You can use it by mixing it with water or adding it to your facial cleanser.  My daughter already uses a cleanser with charcoal but maybe she’ll let me use it.

Necklace, value $1

I didn’t take a photo of the necklace, but it’s the cheap kind which wholesales for 60¢

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Birchbox: beauty samples, $10/month
Promo: JILLIAN for 100 points when you sign up
I paid: $3.50 (bought 3-month subscription for 200-points + $10)

Birchbox sends you five beauty samples a month, generally a mixture of skin/haircare and makeup.  It comes in a cute little box that you can re-use.  You can review each sample you receive for 10 points, and exchange 100 points for $10 off their online store, including gift subscriptions to their box.

This month I opted to their curated box.  I was fairly please with it.  I can use most of the items and the box had a $27 value. This is what I got:

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Voluminizing Hair Tonic by Dear Clark

Three Whishes Body Butter in Almond by Whish

Advanced SPF 37 Anti-Aging Eye Cream by Supergoop!

Evenly Radiant Brightening Day Crème by derma e

Baked Blush-n-Brighten by Laura Geller Beauty

Three Whishes Body Butter in Almond by Whish, .75 oz, full size $24, sample size $3.5

Voluminizing Hair Tonic by Dear Clark, 1 oz, full size $26, sample size $4.5

The body butter is made from organic ingredients and is paraben/sulfate free and free of other not so good stuff.  It has a very strong almond scent.  If you like almonds, you’ll love it, but it may leave you wishing for an almond croissant.  I know I want one.

The lotion is a little too thick for my preference.  It absorbs fairly quickly, however and I may end up using it as a hand lotion.  This winter is so dry that I’m going through them fairly quickly.

The hair tonic has a horrible, chemical smell.  “What smells?” was my husband’s reaction when I put it on.  It does provide with some extra bounce, but nobody will get close enough to you to appreciate it.

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Evenly Radiant Brightening Day Crème by derma e, .5 oz, full size $28, sample size $7

Advanced SPF 37 Anti-Aging Eye Cream by Supergoop!, 2ml, full size $45, sample size $6

The day cream is pretty heavy and leaves my face (and hands) feeling greasy.  It has an SPF of 15 which I’m noting more and more that is not enough for my skin.  But I’ll use it as I don’t currently have another day cream.

The eye cream came in a very small sample.  It’s supposed to help with puffiness and dark circles, though I can’t say I noticed a significant difference.  It has a 37 SPF which might actually come in handy now that I’m wearing glasses all the time, which means I’m not wearing sunglasses.

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Baked Blush-n-Brighten by Laura Geller Beauty in pink grapefruit, 1.8 g, full size $27.5, sample size $6

This blush was much more orangy than the name (and the above photos) would suggest.  I haven’t tried it on yet after putting foundation on my face, but I think the color will work for me.  Given how seldom I use blush, this should last me a long time.  It came in a cute little container with a mirror – though it’s really too small to see what you are doing.

In all, a good box and I’m fairly happy.

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