Margarita's Blog

IMG_0528

Target Beauty Boxes $5-10, one time boxes
I paid: $5.50 after tax
Honor Roll box: Retail/Market value $24, My value: $6.4*

Target comes out with a beauty box every so often. They cost $5 to $10 and they usually include samples of products they carry worth several times that much. Sometimes more than one version of a box is offered. You have to order every box individually – you can’t subscribe – which means that you need to be alert for when they come out for sale as they usually sell out within hours. Your best bet, if you want to grab one, is to subscribe to the My Subscription Addiction blog mailing list.

This month Target put out two different “Back to College” boxes, each for $5. While Target discloses what’s in the boxes, I didn’t bother looking and ordered them both, thinking one way or the other, it’d be a good deal. Unfortunately, once I actually looked at what I was getting, those hopes were deflated. While the boxes did fulfill their promise of giving you over a $20 value, the personal value I got from the items in them is barely above what I paid for them.  And the value pales in comparison with the summer box which was $7, but had a $41 value.  Still, whatever I don’t use I should be able to swap or give away.

IMG_0531

This is a review of the Honor Roll Box. You can also read my review of the Head of the Class box.

This box included seven products, three were full size, three were samples and the other was a shower pouf. They are all brands sold at Target. The total value of the box was around $25, slightly higher than the $20 Target had promised.

Like many subscription boxes, this box came with a card listing the products that are included. It has a coupon for $3 off any $15 beauty purchase at Target.  This is what I got:

IMG_0542CoverGirl Outlast All-Day Primer, 1 oz, value $11

This is the “hero” item in this box (yeah, it’s sad, but the box is just $5) and, unfortunately, it’s not one I’ll get much use of as I don’t wear makeup. This seems to be a new item and I couldn’t find much information about it but one one reviewer on Amazon.com found it a good alternative to more expensive primers. It’s made in the USA from foreign “parts”.


IMG_0536NYX Butter Gloss Strawberry Parfait, 6.5 g, value $5

I’m too old by several decades to ear this fuschia color, and my 10-yo doesn’t like butter glosses.  It does, however, get great reviews in Ulta.com.  The lipgloss doesn’t say where it’s manufactured.


IMG_0545Burt’s Bees Facial Cleansing Towelettes with White Tea Extract, 10 Count, value $3

I’m always glad to get these as they’re very practical. I’m keeping this ones for me. Made in the USA.


IMG_0541The Bathery Delicate Sponge, 1 sponge, value $2

Despite its name, this is not a sponge but a shower pouf.  I no longer use these, but I’m sure someone in my family will put it to use.  If nothing else, you can turn them into an “ice cream” decoration by putting one on a paper cone (I made those for one of my daughter’s birthday parties). This particular pouf is very, very puffy and, according to the label, it’s recyclable (sans rope).  As you can expect, it’s made in China.


IMG_0543

John Frieda Luxurious Volume 7-Day Treatment, 1 oz, good for 3 showers, value $2

This is sold as a “semi-permanent treatment [that] transforms fine hair, leaving it full even after multiple washes.” It took me a little bit of googling around to find out what John Frieda meant by “7-day treatment” and “semi-permanent”.  It turns out that what they mean is that if you use the treatment in one shower, it should give you volume for up to 7 days.  Just in case, they recommend that you allow 2-3 washes before your next treatment.  I assume that John Frieda’s costumers must not wash their hair everyday, and given the drought in California, I applaud them.

The treatment gets fairly good reviews on Amazon.com, it doesn’t work for everyone however. I read the instructions and they say you should use it after Luxurious Volume shampoo and conditioner and blow dry your hair after rinsing it.  That’s too much work for me.  I’ll see if I can pass it on, at $2 it’s not cost effective to swap.  Made in the USA.

IMG_0540Olay Fresh Cooling White Strawberry & Mint Outlast Body Wash, 3 oz, value $1

I have several of these body wash minis for emergencies.  Unfortunately I don’t have many body wash emergencies but you never know.  I don’t particularly like the overly sweet candy smell, but I use bar soap anyway. This is for the girls.  Made in the USA.


IMG_0501

Goody Ouchless Elastics, 3 count, value 40-cents

We got the same colors in the other Target box.  With two girls, these are always useful.

*Retail value refers to the retail value suggested by the manufacturer. Market value refers to what it would cost a consumer to actually buy those items at mass retailers, including Amazon.com. In the case of items exclusive to a box, it’s the re-sale value of the item on e-bay. My value is the combined value of the items from the box that I or my family will actually put to use. To be a good value, a beauty box should have a market value of at least twice the subscription price and should at a minimum match my value. 



Popsugar Must Have
, $40+tax/month, lifestyle products
Promo: use MUSTHAVE5 for $5 off your first box
I paid $38.5 after tax
Box retail value: $129, Market value: $103, My value: $89*

Popsugar Must Have is a monthly box that includes assorted beauty, fashion and home products, with generally a treat thrown in.  The items follow a general theme, though one vague enough to include mostly anything.  There isn’t much consistency between boxes, so they can very much be hit or miss.  They are usually a good value, though sometimes they include items which are purposely overpriced. The box often includes coupons, though the ones in this box weren’t useful.

This is the first box I get since January, and I did so after looking at the full spoilers.  I determined that I would use most of the products and that the box had a good enough value for me.  All subscribers to Popsugar Must Have get the same items.  The box includes a little booklet describing the items. This is what I got:

IMG_0467

Henri Bendel Signature Stripe Canvas Dopp Kit, small, $28 ($22.5)**

I didn’t think much of this little dopp kit when I saw it on the spoilers. I have a large dopp kit already plus plenty of smaller cosmetic bags.  But it’s really darling in person.  Unfortunately, my youngest daughter claimed it immediately for her hair stuff and will not relinquish it, even after I showed her how well it went with my new tote bag.  It seems to be well made, though the bottom stained quickly.  Time will tell whether it holds up to use.  It should be large enough for your personal travel size cosmetics and makeup.

This item appears to be exclusively sold by Henri Bendel. It retails for $28, but Henri Bendel offers 20% of your first order, which suggest its real price is $22.5.  Popsugar MH also included a $20% off full value merchandize coupon, valid online with code POPJULY until 8/31/15. It’s made in China.

IMG_0473Supergoop! Defense Refresh Setting Mist with Rosemary, broad spectrum sunscreen spf 50, 3.2 oz, $28

This product is the main reason why I bought this box.  It’s basically a spray sunscreen. It’s selling point is that as it’s also a setting mist, you can use it over your makeup.  That makes it easier to reapply every couple of hours.  I don’t wear makeup in summer if I can avoid it, but I like the convenience of a sunscreen spray, so I really wanted to get this one.  While I like the product, I don’t think it will work for everyone.

First of all, it has alcohol in it and it stings when you first apply it.  The alcohol helps with controlling the oil, but it may be too drying for people with dry skin.  In my case, it left my face feeling soft and smooth.  I sort of like the scent, which reminds me more of menthol than rosemary and which I usually would identify as a foot spray.  But I understand it won’t work for everyone.  It doesn’t linger on your face, however.

This is a chemical sunscreen. It’s paraben and oxybenzone free. However, it contains octinoxate, homosalate and octisalate, which the Environmental Working Group warns may be harmful to health and/or the environment.  It’s made in the USA.



IMG_0469

Sorial Card Case, $28 ($8)**

This ended up being another of my favorite items in the box.  I use a wristlet instead of a wallet, and it’s handy to have a place where to put my cards.  This case has basically 3 pockets, in addition to those pictured, there is a flat pocket in the back.  Each pocket can include up to two cards but it’s a tight fit and I wouldn’t recommend it.  It seems relatively well made of cardboard covered by some plastic material.  It’s made in China.  Sorial doesn’t actually sell these, and the top price for which these seem to go on e-bay is $8 including shipping, though not all listings at that price ended with a sale. Leather card cases sell for about $10 on Amazon. This case is made in China.

This case came with a code worth $25 towards your next Sorial purchase.  When the spoilers came, Sorial sold a wristlet that cost $25 plus $12.50 shipping. By the time I got the code, there were only four items available for purchase on their website, the cheapest one for $45+ shipping. I thus consider this coupon worthless.

IMG_0474
Pop Dental Portable Sonic Toothbrush, $20

I don’t think I’ve ever used an electric toothbrush so I’m looking forward to using this one.  I wasn’t able to find reviews as it seems to be sold only in the company’s website and at Nordstrom’s.  It’s made in China.



IMG_0470

Yes to Blueberries Cleansing Facial Towelettes, 25 count, $6

My daughter loves facial towelettes and these went to her.  She thought they were good.  They get good reviews from Paula’s Choice, though they say that they may leave a bit of residue.  They also get fairly good reviews from Ulta customers.


IMG_0472

The Good Bean Fruit and No-Nut Bar in chocolate berry, $2

Popsugar MH often includes a snack, but this time they shouldn’t have bothered.  I’m sure this bar will be great for people who think they have a peanut or gluten allergies.  However, nobody in my family has one and nobody was willing to try it.  Reviews on Amazon are very positive as to taste, though people warn that these re manufactured at a facility that processes foods with wheat and nuts and that despite the fact that the equipment is sterilized before making these bars, they could still be fatal.  Ironically, the treatment for peanut allergies is exposure to small but increasing doses of peanuts to stimulate immune responses.

 

IMG_0475

Special Extra: Hallmark Signature Greeting Cards, 3 cards, $17

Hallmark is introducing a new line of fancy greeting cards and they seem to have paid Popsugar MH to have them included in the box.  In any case, this may be the coolest item in the box.  I will definitely use the “Happy Birthday” card.  I’d love to use the bride one, but I don’t know anyone who is planning to get married.  The other card is blank.  The front is covered with sequins.  I don’t really like it, so I’m going to try to swap it. While all subscribers received three cards, the specific cards varied.


*Retail value refers to the retail value suggested by the manufacturer. Market value refers to what it would cost a consumer to actually buy those items at mass retailers, including Amazon.com. In the case of items exclusive to a box, it’s the re-sale value of the item on e-bay. My value is the combined value of the items from the box that I or my family will actually put to use. To be a good value, a beauty box should have a market value of at least twice the subscription price and should at a minimum match my value. 


** The sum in parenthesis represents the market value of the item.

IMG_0492

Target Beauty Boxes $5-10, one time boxes
I paid: $5.50 after tax
Head of the Class box: Retail value $24, My value: $5.4*

Target comes out with a beauty box every so often. They cost $5 to $10 and they usually include samples of products they carry worth several times that much. Sometimes more than one version of a box is offered. You have to order every box individually – you can’t subscribe – which means that you need to be alert for when they come out for sale as they usually sell out within hours. Your best bet if you want to grab one is to subscribe to the My Subscription Addiction blog mailing list.


IMG_0480

This month, Target put out two different “Back to College” boxes, each for $5. While Target discloses what’s in the boxes, I didn’t bother looking and ordered them both, thinking one way or the other, it’d be a good deal. Unfortunately, once I actually looked at what I was getting, those hopes were deflated. While the boxes did fulfill their promise of giving you over a $20 value, the personal value I got from the items in them is barely above what I paid for them (I’m not counting the value of the lip gloss because while my daughter will like to have it, she wouldn’t miss it if she didn’t get it).  And the value pales in comparison with the summer box which was $7, but had a $41 value.  Still, whatever I don’t use I should be able to swap or give away.

 

IMG_0494
This is a review of the Head of the Class Box

This box included seven products, three were full size and the others were samples. They are all brands sold at Target. The total value of the box was around $25, higher than the $20 Target has promised.

Like many subscription boxes, this box came with a card listing the products that are included. It also explained how to use the products. It has a coupon for $3 off any $15 beauty purchase at Target.  This is what I got:

IMG_0503Herbal Essences Wild Naturals Illuminating Dry Oil Spray, full size: 2.8 oz, $6

This spray is a great example of how deceptive the beauty industry can be.  It’s called a “dry oil spray” and promises that it “amplifies shine”.  It does contain small amounts of common carrier oils (apricot kernel, sweet almond and sunflower seed), but its main ingredient is cyclopentasiloxane.  It is this artificial silicone what gives hair a silky look.  The oils are most likely there for marketing purposes.  Still, the ingredient itself is not toxic, though there are concerns about its environmental impact on marine life.  It’s a common ingredient in conditioners, so if you want to avoid it, that’s where I’d look first.

I have too many hair oils and products that I don’t use at all, so I’m going to swap or gift this.  It’s made in the USA from domestic and foreign ingredients.


IMG_0497

wet n wild Lash Out Loud MaxVolume Plus Mascara in amp’d black, full size, $5

I’m sorry, but I cannot take wet n wild seriously. This is the brand of makeup I wore as a teenager when I was too poor to afford anything else.  This is not to say that I actually believe that expensive makeup is necessarily better than cheap makeup, but wet n wild didn’t offer particularly quality products back then.  Indeed, this mascara gets very mixed reviews, some users complain it doesn’t provide either thickness or length even after putting on several layers.

Seduced by the “fancy” packaging, my daughter grabbed this and opened it. However as soon as she saw the brush, she declared it poor quality and returned it.  I’ll try to swap it or gift it.  It’s made in the USA.

 

IMG_0515

IMG_0514


CoverGirl Colorlicious Lip Gloss, in give me guava, full size, $5.5

You guessed it, this is going to my 10-year old. She must have enough pink lip glosses and lipsticks to paint her whole room with them, which, come to think of it, is not a bad idea. This one is a very soft color, I think it looks pretty nice.  Made in the USA of foreign parts.


IMG_0498

Yes To Cucumbers Facial Towelettes, 10 count, $3

This is a small and convenient package to keep in your purse. There is little particularly natural or organic about these, though the main ingredient is water, but they are paraben free.   My daughter will definitely use these.  Supposedly the towelettes are biodegradable, but the package does not indicate if they are compostable nor where they were manufactured.  I will contact the company and update when they answer.

 

IMG_0499

The Bathery Pumice Stone, value $2

It’s sad that I’m excited by a cheap pumice stone, but I need one! This one has a rope to hang to dry. I’ll report on how it works after I spend some quality time with my feet.  It’s made in the USA.


IMG_0496

Hollywood Fashion Secrets Fashion Tape, 6 count, value $2

This is a double-stick tape that allows you to keep your clothing in place. As it happens, I have a box of these already which I’ve never used.  I gave one a try and it seemed to work quite effectively, though I’ll have to wear it long time to see how it fares.  I’ll report later.

IMG_0501

Goody Ouchless Elastics, 3 count, value 40-cents

It’s a good thing that hair ties are cheap because they don’t last long in our house. These will definitely be put to use.

 

*“Retail value” refers to the total price for which the products in the box sell at major retailers or, when the product is an exclusive, by the manufacturer. In the case of samples, I arrive to this value by determining the per-unit price of a full size item, and then multiplying it by the units in the sample. “My value” refers to the combined value of the products in the box that my family and I will actually use. To be a good value, a beauty box should have a retail value that is at least twice that of the subscription price and my value for the box should be higher than its price.

IMG_0443

Allure Beauty Box: beauty samples, $15/month
I paid: $15
Box retail value: $53, My value: $30*

Allure Beauty Box is a box curated by the editors of Allure magazine.  Every month, the box includes beauty samples with the occasional travel size or full size product thrown in.  Until recently, this box was managed by BeautyBar.com and called “Allure Sample Society.” My one experience with that subscription was negative, as they knowingly excluded a promised item from my box and then refused to give me adequate compensation.  Now, this box has been renamed and will be directly managed by Allure. I’m hoping this will mean there will be better customer service.  This is the first box since Allure took over.

IMG_0444

This is how the box looks when you open it.  The photo is a cover of a booklet which describes every product in the box and explains why they like it.  They don’t, however, include a list of ingredients or information as to where the product was made.  This is only an issue for the mascara, however, as the other items have it printed on the containers.

IMG_0445

And this is when you remove the booklet. Everything is nicely packaged and a couple of products come in their boxes.

IMG_0449

This month I subscribed to the box knowing what I was getting. They were all samples and included a dry shampoo, a hair oil and pony tail holders, in addition to a mascara, an eye serum and a sunscreen spray.  The box had a total value of $53, a great deal for just $15.  That said, I put my subscription on hold (you can easily suspend or cancel your subscription from their website) because I do have way too many beauty items.

This is what I got:

IMG_0456

Estee Lauder Sumptuous Infinite Daring Length plus Volume Mascara in black, 2.8 ml, sample value $5

What is it with subscription boxes and mascaras? And why don’t they send any waterproof ones? Still, Paula’s Choice gives it a good review, so I’ll either swap it for something I want more or keep it for later use. Made in the USA.

Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Eye Serum, 4ml– sample value $17

I have a bunch of eye creams but not an eye serum per se, though this one is creamy enough that you could consider it either.  Still, it seems that there is little difference between this (and other) eye serums and serums that are not marketed just for the eyes.  That actually makes me happy as it means I can just use it as an all face serum.  While reviews for this serum are mixed, Paula’s Choice says it has good ingredients. It’s made in the UK.

 

IMG_0450Oscar Blandi Pronto Invisible Volumizing Dry Shampoo Spray, 1.4 oz, sample value $7

I got a full version of this in my June Beauty Fix box (which, unlike the July box, was a great box). I like dry shampoo, I like this dry shampoo (even though it’s overpriced), so I’m happy to get this.  Indeed, this shampoo is one of the reasons why I ordered this box after seeing the spoilers. Made in the USA


IMG_0452

Bumble and Bumble Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil Primer, 1 oz, $11 sample value

If there is one thing I’m sure of is that I don’t need any more hair oils, sprays, texturizers, anti-freeze products, etc.  It does get great reviews, however.  Still, I’ll try to swap it. Made in the USA.

Supergoop! Defense Refresh Setting Mist with Rosemary, .5 oz, sample value $6

Yes, Supergoop! again.  I have a Supergoop! serum, an everyday sunscreen, an eye sunscreen (which puzzles me, the area around my eyes never tans, though I get it must absorb some UVA rays) and a CC cream.  So of course I wanted to try this mist.  I love mists, I love sunscreen and I love rosemary, this seems just made for me.  It gets mixed reviews, mostly from people who complain it doesn’t do a good job of setting makeup (not an issue for me) or that it leaves your face too oily or too dry. I love it.

First, I should admit that I sweat too much to wear makeup in summer, so I’m not using this as a setting spray.  Rather, I’ll be using it to reapply sunscreen.  The mist is very refreshing, it smells very nice (though I think more like mint than rosemary) but it stung my face, though just for a few seconds.  I was surprised just how small tjos sample is, and a bit disappointed because it takes several times to get enough to cover your whole face.  As I wasn’t wearing makeup, I rubbed it to get full coverage – I’m not sure that I would have felt comfortable if I couldn’t do that.  It left my face feeling dry and smooth, a good thing giving how much I sweat, but I can see how it can be drying on those with already dry skin. It’s made in the USA.

IMG_0462

 

Invisibobble Traceless Hair Ring and Bracelet, 3-pack, $7

This is the only full size product in the box, and not one that particularly interests me.  For the last three decades I have worked hard to do away with any class prejudices, which included disavowing the concept of “tackiness”.  Still, I cannot but recoil (pun intended) from these plastic pony tail holders. I can’t imagine a more appropriate word to describe them.  As if that wasn’t enough, they get mixed reviews (people say they work for thick hair, but that they stretch and break after a few times) and these ones came in hot pink.  They do match one of my daughters’ hair (that’s not tackiness, that’s self expression, you see, I’m not judgmental), but I’m still not giving her a chance to wear them. They’re going into the swap bin.

 

*”Retail value” refers to the total price for which the products in the box sell at major retailers or, when the product is an exclusive, by the manufacturer.  In the case of samples, I arrive to this value by determining the per-unit price of a full size item, and then multiplying it by the units in the sample.  “My value” refers to the combined value of the products in the box that my family and I will actually use. To be a good value, a beauty box should have a retail value that is at least twice that of the subscription price and my value for the box should be higher than its price.

IMG_0428

Birchbox: beauty samples, $10/month
Promo: BBJETBLUE10 for 100 extra points when you subscribe.
I paid: $11, including tax
Box retail value: $32, My value: $26*

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. When you subscribe, you can fill out a questionnaire telling Birchbox which type of products interest you, though you may still get products you don’t care for. Lately, Birchbox has allowed subscribers to chose between a curated box, that lists what samples are included, and a mystery box.

IMG_0431


This month I received their mystery box. I was fairly happy with the included items, I’ll be able to use most of them.


IMG_0433
Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray, 1 oz, $5 value

I’m very tired of Birchbox sending me voluminizer products in virtually every box, but I don’t mind this one because it’s also a dry shampoo.  I like that it’s an actual spray, and it seems to do a fairly good job of voluminizing. It smells quite pleasant as well. It’s made in the USA.
IMG_0434Sarah McNamara Miracle Skin Transformer Body SPF 20, 10 ml, $3 value

This is basically a tinted sunscreen. Unlike most of these products, this one is for your body, not your face.   I’m not sure I like the idea of tinted body sunscreens, as the first thing I did was get it on my new shirt, but I will use it. Made in the USA.

 

IMG_0436

Supergoop! Anti-Aging City Sunscreen Serum SPF 30, 10 ml, $8 value

This is the Supergoop summer for me.  I’m getting Supergoop sunscreens in all of its lovely variations in many of the boxes I subscribed to. Still I find the small ones useful to give to my children when they go out, hoping they’ll re-apply.  This particular Supergoop is a “serum”, but it feels and smells like a regular sunscreen, albeit a rather light one.  Made in Australia.


IMG_0435dr. brandt® microdermabrasion skin exfoliant, .25 oz, $10

I have accumulated quite a few exfoliants, but I’m happy to get them. If nothing else, they remind me I should be using them. This one comes sealed, so I’m not actually going to open it and try it, just put in my “for later” box. Made in the USA.



IMG_0439stila stay all day liquid lipstick in beso (bright red), .05 oz, $6

This bold color makes a statement, what it is depends on who you are.  On my aunt Gladys, it would have looked lovely (she always wore true red lipsticks) and made her look like the lady she was.  On me, it just accentuates how tiny my mouth is.  Indeed, I hadn’t realized just how tiny until I put this lipstick on.  My other gripe is that it’s hard to apply.  It’s too liquid so it runs, but not waxy enough to fix itself by rubbing lips together. This is a lipstick for someone who knows what they are doing – and has a large mouth.   Once on, it dries very quickly and leaves your lips very, very dry.

That said, I think this lipstick would be good for coloring handmade lipglosses, and I’ll keep it for that. It’s made in Italy (though when I e-mailed stila, they responded this was made in the USA).

By the way, it comes out fairly easy with DHC deep cleansing oil.

Update: I asked my older daughter to model this for a photo (see below) and she really liked how the color looked on her.  Surprisingly, it went very well with her aqua-colored hair.  She did, however, found the lipstick very hard to apply and very dry – she thinks she’ll need to pair it with lipgloss.  She was very happy, however, that once it’s on and dried it doesn’t stain.  I was too, I got lots of kisses and not one smudge.

FullSizeRender

For a more humorous review of this exact box, check out Subscriptionista.

*”Retail value” refers to the total price for which the products in the box sell at major retailers or, when the product is an exclusive, by the manufacturer.  In the case of samples, I arrive to this value by determining the per-unit price of a full size item, and then multiplying it by the units in the sample.  “My value” refers to the combined value of the products in the box that my family and I will actually use. To be a good value, a beauty box should have a retail value that is at least twice that of the subscription price and my value for the box should be higher than its price.

IMG_0413

Ipsy, $10 a month, beauty samples
I paid $11, including tax
Box Retail value: $49 , My value: $22*

Ipsy is the main competitor to Birchbox, offering five beauty samples a month, also for $10.  Ipsy has a reputation for sending out more make-up items and Birchbox specializing on skin care. I don’t usually notice a difference, but this time we got two makeup items on Ipsy and just one on Birchbox.   I actually got Ipsy for my 13-yo daughter, and this month she’s happy with the bag.

Ipsy samples come in a mini-makeup bag which changes every month. My daughter likes this month’s bag.  This month’s box has a value of at least $30, as some of the products don’t seem widely available it’s difficult to determine their actual retail price. However, given that my daughter won’t be using the eyeshadow or lipstick, and that the products she got were not particularly special, we probably just broke even between the actual value of the products and what we paid.

These were the contents of the bag:

IMG_0417

This month we got four full size products (eyeshadow, lipstick, lip balm and tweezers) and one small sample (dry shampoo).

IMG_0419

Nicka K New York Quad Eyeshadow in Sierra , full size: 8g, $5

The colors are a little bit more on the tan side in real life.  It’s a very nice compact for the price.  Unfortunately, the eyeshadows are made in China which always brings fear of contamination my way.

It’s nice that Ipsy is including so many full size products, however it’d be much nicer if these weren’t from bottom-barrel brands. I suspect Nicka K will be available in your local dollar store fairly soon.

IMG_0420

Teeez Trend Cosmetics Read my lips lipstick in Killing Me Softly, 2 g, $22

Teeez Trend is a Dutch brand sold at drugstores in the Netherlands.  They don’t seem to be in stores in the US and Teeez Trend does not sell on its website. This particular line does not appear on Teeez’  website or anywhere else, so I’m guessing on the price based on what their other lipsticks sell for in Europe.

Ipsy described the color as a light red, but on my daughter it looked more like coral – a color that doesn’t work for her.  It look even more hideous on me.  It did make her lips look plumper.

Update: Apparently, the introduction of this lipstick in the Ipsy is the launch of Teeez Trend in the US. They’ve slimmed down their lines (they only list three lipsticks now, for example), but they are now selling from their website. This lipstick is listed as selling for $22, however, as it’s a new product and only available in one color, I’m not sure that that can be considered its market value.

Made in the European Union.

IMG_0425

Jersey Shore Cosmetics Mongongo Lip Conditioner in Vanilla Coconut Cream , regular size .15 oz, $10 ($8 on on Amazon.com)

This is a run of the mill lip balm made with sunflower oil, beeswax and cocoa butter, which uses a tiny bit of mongongo oil to differentiate itself and be able to charge $10 for a product that costs pennies to make. My daughter says it feels like any other lip balm, however it gets very good reviews on Amazon.

Update: My daughter decided that she really likes this lip balm. She likes the creamy consistency and loves the flavor.

Made in the US.

IMG_0426

Crown Brush Professional Tweezers, mini size, $10.5

My daughter says that these work, but she likes my Revlon tweezers better

 

IMG_0422Eva NYC Freshen Up Dry Shampoo, .75 oz, $1.7

We all use a lot of dry shampoo, and my daughter was happy to get this.  However, she feels it’s a pretty average dry shampoo, with nothing really to distinguish it.

*”Retail value” refers to the total price for which the products in the box sell at major retailers or, when the product is an exclusive, by the manufacturer.  In the case of samples, I arrive to this value by determining the per-unit price of a full size item, and then multiplying it by the units in the sample.  “My value” refers to the combined value of the products in the box that my family and I will actually use. To be a good value, a beauty box should have a retail value that is at least twice that of the subscription price and my value for the box should be higher than its price.

Beauty Fix box

Beauty Fix, $25+tax/month, assorted beauty products
Promo: July box at half-price with subscription, no promo needed
I paid $27 after tax, later got a $13.5 refund
Box retail value: $70, My value: $8*

Beauty Fix is a monthly beauty subscription box from DermStore, an online beauty store and offshoot of Target which specializes in upscale brands. Their monthly boxes include an assortment of beauty products, though there is an emphasis on skin care. Boxes have up to 10 products, a mixture of full size, deluxe samples and foils/tiny samples. Beauty Fix promises a value of over $100 and until this month, they’ve hit that mark. This month, however, they sent out a very low value box, mostly filled with tiny samples (I included pennies in the photos to give you an idea of the size). It’s not clear whether this is a one-time fluke or if Beauty Fix will continue producing low value boxes.

Beauty Fix July 2015


Products come in standard box with no extra padding – still, none of them have arrived broken. In previous boxes, most products arrived in their original boxes. As these were mostly samples, they were loose in the box. BeautyFix includes a card detailing the products in the box.

This box included a total of ten products, there were 2 full size, 2 deluxe samples, 4 small samples, one set of foils and a set of hair clips. As a comparison, the June box included four full size products and two travel size products and had a total value of $121. The total value of this box was only around $70, significantly lower than the $100 that DermStore promises. DermStore, however, claimed that the box was worth $117 by doubling the actual value of three products and ascribing a value of $30 to the two free samples included in the box. These samples clearly state they are not for resale and do not comply with US labeling regulations. By introducing them into inter-state commerce, DermStore is violating the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

DermStore seems to have recognized that the low value of this box and ran a promotion that allowed new subscribers to get this box for half price. However, the same deal was not given to existing subscribers, who had to pay the full $25+ tax. I called DermStore to complain about the fact that this box did not meet the advertised value, and while they claimed that it did, they gave me a $13 refund. Unfortunately, this box is not even worth that much to me. I am considering unsubscribing and perhaps resubscribing if future boxes return to their previous value.

This is what I got:

glo.minerals mascara

glo.minerals Lash Boosting Mascara, black, .33 fl oz, $19.5

This mascara is nice, but extremely overpriced. It did a fairly good job of lengthening my eye lashes, while keeping them separate, but so do many much cheaper mascaras. The consistency is too clumpy for my taste, perhaps the mascara is not very fresh. It’s made in Germany.


Lip QuenchDermstore Lip Quench, original, .28 oz, $12

This is a clear lip moisturizer. I got a tinted one in the April Beauty Fix box, and it was nice enough. However, it has been reformulated and reviews of the new formula are very negative. In any case, I prefer lip moisturizers with sun protection. I’ll try to swap this. Made in the USA.


Harry Josh Pro Styling ClipsHarry Josh Pro Styling Clips

Harry Josh Pro Styling Clips, 2 clips, $10 (though really $0)

These clips sell for 3 for $15 at Dermstore, but it looks from the packaging like they’re supposed to be a free gift, so I’m not sure if they should be ascribed a value as far as the box is concerned. Still, they get very good reviews. I just got two clips in my June Birchboxes, however, and I don’t actually use them, so I’m planning to swap these (which is why I didn’t take them out of the package in order to take a photo). Made in Korea.

Vichy Purete Thermale 3-in-1 Cleansing SolutionVichy Purete Thermale 3-in-1 Cleansing Solution, 1 oz $2.5

I’m always glad to get face cleansers, though this sample is truly tiny. The full size is almost 7 oz, which tells you that you need more than a little bit to do the job. The solution is applied on dry skin with a cotton pad, and you don’t need to rinse it. It’s extremely effective. I could not believe just how dirty the pad ended up. I think I will carry this in purse for mid-day face cleansing. It’s made in France.


DevaCurl Introductory Kit
DevaCurl Introductory Kit

Deva Curl 3 Step Introductory Kit, 1 oz foils, $10


This kit contains 1 oz foils of shampoo, conditioner and gel. They are designed to give life to curls. As we’re all straight-haired folks around here, this is completely useless to us so I’m going to swap it. Still, it does get good reviews from the curly bunch. I’m not impressed at how this kit comes in non-resealable foils. Each one has an ounce of product, so they should last for multiple washes, but the packaging makes that difficult. They are made in the USA.


bliss Triple Oxygen Instant Energizing Mask
bliss Triple Oxygen Instant Energizing Mask, .34 oz, $5.4

Despite having tons of face masks, this is a product I like getting. And this one has the advantage of requiring only 5 minutes on your face. It also has a delightful flowery scent. It left my face extremely soft, which is quite an accomplishment as my face is very soft to begin with (as it should be, given how many products I put on it). Paula’s Choice has some really negative things to say about this product, however. Apparently, the second ingredient in the formula (the first is water) is a mild industrial solvent, it does help release oxygen, but oxygen oxidates skin. The product does have anti-oxidants to counteract this, but the product itself doesn’t seem to be particularly healthy for facial skin. That’s a good argument for not buying a full size bottle, but I’ll still use it occasionally. Made in USA.



Erno Laszlo Firmarine Face Bar


Erno Laszlo Firmarine Face Bar, 17 grams, $5

I had to include the penny in this photo to show just how tiny this soap sample is. It doesn’t really matter as this is basically a soap, and one whose main ingredient is sodium palmate. According to Paula’s Choice, this soap can be drying and there is nothing in it to justify its price. I would tend to agree. I wasn’t able to find reviews of this online, so I’m not even going to bother opening it and will try to swap it. It’s made in the USA.


Skin Medica Replenish Hydrating CreamSkin Medica Replenish Hydrating Cream, .25 oz, $6

This cream is supposed to hydrate dry skin. It’s not too heavy and applies fairly smoothly. I am hoping that it will be a good product to use after sunning, but there is no indication it’s formulated for that. This small tube is supposed to come in a box (says so on the back), but DermStore sent it out without it. I don’t quite understand what would make it so expensive. Still, I’ll report after using it. It’s made in the USA.


SkinCeuticals B3 Metacell Renewal


SkinCeuticals B3 Metacell Renewal, not for resale sample

DermStore ascribed a value of $10 to this “not for resale” sample, even though there is no indication of how much product there is in the tube. And not only is the tube tiny, but it seems to be less than half full. While the cream has good ingredients – Vitamin B3, also known as niacinamide, has been proven to help reduce wrinkles and help regenerate skin cells -, there is too little of it to show results. Most studies on the effect of topical vitamin B3 measure results after 30 to 90 days. I will use it, but I wish there was much more product. Paula’s Choice gives this product a negative review, though mostly because its purported use of fragrance oils. However, to me it has no smell so perhaps they’ve reformulated it. As the sample does not list the ingredients, it’s difficult to know.



SkinCeuticals Resveratrol B E
, not for resale sample

This is another SkinCeutical tiny free sample, which DermStore ascribes a value of $20. It’s a gel and relatively easy to apply, but it’s a product that you need to apply to your whole face. This sample will not last long. According to Paula’s Choice this is a basic anti-oxidant serum so overpriced that it “really approaches ridiculous.” They recommend Olay Regenerist Serum Moisturizer, which does the same job and costs a tiny fraction. Still, as I got it I will use it.

Update: DermStore customer serviced assured me on Facebook that: ” You will not be disappointed with next month’s box – I saw it for the first time today and it is looking good. A lot more full-sized products, great brands, and great value – you’ll see.”

In the meantime, read subscriptionista’s review of this box for a laugh.

*”Retail value” refers to the total price for which the products in the box sell at major retailers or, when the product is an exclusive, by the manufacturer.  In the case of samples, I arrive to this value by determining the per-unit price of a full size item, and then multiplying it by the units in the sample.  “My value” refers to the combined value of the products in the box that my family and I will actually use. To be a good value, a beauty box should have a retail value that is at least twice that of the subscription price and my value for the box should be higher than its price.

IMG_0381

Birchbox: beauty samples, $10/month
Promo: BBJETBLUE10 for 100 extra points when you subscribe.
I paid: $0
My value: $0*

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 reuse.  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. When you subscribe, you can fill out a questionnaire telling Birchbox which type of products interest you, though you may still get products you don’t care for.  Lately, Birchbox has allowed subscribers to chose between a curated box, that lists what samples are included, and a mystery box.

IMG_0382

This month I used my points in one account to gift myself a 3-month subscription in a different account.  Unfortunately, I claimed the subscription too early so rather than start with a July box, Birchbox started me with their “I definitely do” box.  This collaboration with the Style Me Pretty blog is a wedding themed box that includes six items (reviewed below).  This box could be a good wedding shower present, I suppose, or one for a bride to give her bride’s maids.  The box is currently sold out, but there isn’t anything in the box that actually screams “wedding”. I had actually gotten most of the items in this box before, and I may swap the whole thing. Still, with a value of almost $50, this is the most valuable Birchbox I’ve gotten in a long time.

This is what I got:

IMG_0383

Kérastase Elixir Ultime, 50 ml, value $22.5

This item is actually new to me.  Six months ago, I did not eve know that hair oils existed.  Since then, I’ve gotten one from Ipsy, another from Beauty Fix, a third one from Allure Beauty Thrills and yet another one from Birchbox.  Needless to say, I don’t need another one.  This particular product gets great reviews, however. Made in Spain.


IMG_0387

Deepa Gurnani Embellished Hair Tie, 1 tie, $10

This is definitely lovely, and I can see complimenting a bride – but also any formal outfit.

IMG_0290Vasanti Brighten Up! Enzymatic Face Rejuvenator, 20 g, value $5.5

I got this face exfoliator in one of my June Birchboxes.  It was surprisingly rough on my skin, and I don’t have particularly sensitive skin.  However, it did leave my face extremely soft.  I’m swimming on exfoliators right now, however. Made in Canada.


IMG_0214Marcelle BB Cream Golden Glow, 7 ml, value $4

I got this in two of my June boxes as well. I like getting BB creams as my facial skin is not as smooth as it once was, and they are easy to apply. This is generally the only makeup I use. It’s supposed to work with all skin types, I tested it both on my tanned face and my white underarm and it was sheer on both of them with a very subtle shine. It did improve my complexion. Unfortunately this BB cream does not include sunscreen, which to me is one of the best things about BB creams. Made in Canada.

IMG_0385

Laura Geller Beauty Baked Color True Blush in Bali, 1.8 g, value $7.5

I got a similar blush in my March Birchbox.  I have not yet have reason to use it.  It seems nice enough. I definitely like the little container which has a small mirror. Made in Italy.
IMG_0384

LA Fresh Waterproof Makeup Remover, 2 towelettes, $1

This is the least exciting item in the box.  I’ve been getting these towelettes at hotels all over the place.  Still, it’s a convenient item to have in your purse, in particular if you go to a wedding and anticipate crying. Made in the USA.

* This is the total value of the products that my family will actually use from this box. I’m happy if this value is at least as high as what I paid for the box.

llb

Little Lace Box, $50/every other month, theme-based lifestyle box
Promo: Use LLB10 for $10 off your first box
I paid: $40
My value: $100*

Little Lace Box (LLB) is a themed-based subscription box curated by three style-loving 20-something sisters from Florida.  Boxes usually follow a whimsical theme and are best suited for women with a sense of fun.  While the boxes are usually a very good value money wise, their true value is on the curation and the fun you can have with the items included if you use your imagination.  These boxes also make great gifts.

Little Lace Box restructured a few months back in order to improve the quality and curation of their boxes. Boxes now come every other month and cost $60 if purchased individually, less if you subscribe.  Existing customers at the time of the change were grandfathered in at the $40 price. LLB now offers Serendipity, a mystery pouch, on the off months.

IMG_0341

Every box contains a letter giving the thought process behind the theme and the curation, as well as information on the specific items included.  These letters are a must, not only are they good-humored and nicely written, but they put you in the right frame of mind for understanding the items.

This month’s theme was “A girl should be two things, classy & fabulous”, a quote by Coco Chanel.  The theme’s inspiration was the casual-chic style of movie stars in the 1960’s.  Their goal was to help us bring out our inner Audrey Hepburn or Doris Day.  I can’t say I have one, but as I approach my 50’s, I realize that if I want to experience something, I better get on with it.  I might not look like Audrey Hepburn nor Doris Day, but I think it’ll be fun to style like one during my next trip to Vegas, where you can wear anything and not be out of place.

August’s theme is “Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy”, so you know what I’ll be reading by the pool in Vegas.

Little Lace Boxes are usually a good value as well, this one was about $120.

IMG_0343

This box included five items:

 

IMG_0359

Women’s Ultrabraid Large Brim Visor by San Diego Hat company, $18

I can’t believe I hadn’t heard of foldable visors before getting this one.  I love the style and the convenience of being able to keep it in my bag for when I need it.  The hat itself reminds me of the handmade capelinas we used to wear when I was a little girl. My husband likes how it looks as well.  My daughters, on the other hand, are horrified by it.  Apparently visors are utterly uncool with the tween set.  I never thought that the idea of embarrassing my daughters would hold much appeal to me, but surprisingly it does.

IMG_0346

IMG_0349Watercolor print silk scarf, $46

This scarf is an exclusive to LLB.  It’s 100% silk and nobody can deny that it’s bright colors are very summery.  I enjoyed getting the scar because it also reminded me of my childhood in the 1970’s.  My mother had all these beautiful silk scarves which my grandfather had brought her from his trips to Europe, and she wore them daily.  I remember how grown up I felt when I turned 11 and started wearing one, but soon the fashion went away.  Indeed, my daughter didn’t even realize there were square scarves and had no idea what to do with it.

Still, she loved the colors and has quickly claimed it. I’m sure we’ll have fun figuring out how she can best wear it.  LLB also suggests to wear it tied to your favorite handbag, which is a great idea as it gives me something to do with it after Camila takes it off (let’s be realistic, there is no way she’ll stand having a scarf for long, no matter how much she likes it).  of course, you can also wear it on the hat, in a very Aubrey Hepburn look.


IMG_0376 Beyond the Stars ring by Kitsch, $25

Kitsch sells this ring with a raw crystal, but produced it in turquoise and amethyst colors for LLB. I got it on turquoise, which nicely compliments the scarf.

I’m happy that the ring is adjustable and I love the look.   My ring came scratched up, however, but I wrote to LLB and they quickly replaced it.

 

IMG_0344 (1)Lucy B’s Nail Lacquer in Premier, $13

LLB color coordinated the rings to go with the nail polishes. Women who got the turquoise ring also got this mauve nail polish, while those that got the amethyst ring got a nude shade.  Personally, I don’t see how the ring and the nail polish go together, but color matching is not really my thing.  I do like the nail polish quite a bit. It’s very easy to apply (i.e., I didn’t paint my whole finger when I applied it) and it dries very, very quickly.

I used to hate mauve, but it’s a good color for someone my age – my daughters approved.


IMG_0345

Pour Some Sugar Scrub on Me“, 8 oz, $20

Little Lace Box has gotten on the business of making their own natural bath products.  And really, why shouldn’t they?  If people are willing to pay through the roof for things they could make at home, why not let them?  At least LLB’s scrub is not as outrageously priced as the one recently included in the Kloverbox+MSA box ($48 for 6 oz!).

Still, while I wasn’t thrilled to get this scrub, I was going to make the best of it and use it.  But my daughter demanded that I keep it so she could gift in the future, so I’m going to have to make some of my own.

Don’t miss Subscriptionista’s fabulous review of this box.

* This is the total value of the products that my family will actually use from this box. I’m happy if this value is at least as high as what I paid for the box.

IMG_0303

Summer Bonus Goodebox, one-time natural cosmetic samples, $20
I paid $20
My value: $24*

Goodebox is a monthly subscription box that includes natural/organic cosmetics and related products.  Once a season or so they have boxes with assorted leftovers. Prices vary from season to season, and not all boxes have the same stuff.  This is my first Goodebox grab bag, and I was happy enough with it.  It’s definitely a good way of trying new stuff.  This box shipped rather quickly, I had it on my hands a week after I ordered it.

IMG_0306

The box included 12 products, though one came used and/or broken.  The value of the box was about $58, though $17 of that was for a nail polish. 

IMG_0310

The box included little cards describing each of the products. Goodebox says you should keep them to remember what items you liked. It’s a good idea, but that’s what I use this blog for (really, is anyone  other than future-me reading this?). This is what I got:


IMG_0307
Shea Butter Extreme Crème by Shea Terra in Bourbon Vanilla, 1 oz, $2 value

This is a very nice lotion, it’s not too thick, absorbs quickly and doesn’t leave your skin feeling greasy. It has a very nice smell, which my daughter loved.  She’s claimed it.

Evenly Radiant Brightening Day Crème by derma e, .5 oz, $6 value

I got this same cream in my March Birchbox and I had just ran out of it. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. It’s pretty light and easy to apply. It does leave my face feeling greasy, but that may just be the moisturizing effect. I also appreciate that it uses zinc oxide as a sunblock. After doing some internet research, it appears to me that zinc oxide is the least harmful and most effective ingredient in sunscreens. This lotion is ridiculously expensive, so I’m glad to get more of it – though my jar was half full, so I’m not sure I got the full 1/2 oz. Made in USA.

IMG_0319

Wild Honey Apothecary Pumpkin Cocoa Honey Mask , ~4 ml, ~$2 value

This is your stereotypical homemade face mask. It contains “Raw Organic Active Honey, Organic raw cacao powder, organic pumpkin powder, organic raw aloe, pumpkin seed oil and organic cocao absolute.” I’ve made honey masks before and they are not my favorite as they are too sticky, but I guess I can always put it on toast as well.  The little jar didn’t say how much it had, but it seemed to be about half as much as the polish below. The amount would be enough for just one application.


IMG_0328

Gressa Renewing Polish, 7.5 ml, ~$5 value

This is an all natural face scrub with an overwhelming scent of lavender.  Like the mask above its main ingredient is honey and it operates as a combo scrub and mask.   My daughter finds the smell of lavender very soothing  – probably because of all those calming lavender baths we gave her as a baby – so she’s already laid claim to it.


healthy hoohoo gentle femine wipesIMG_0309, 2 wipes, $1 value

These get fairly good reviews at Amazon.com, though there are complaints that they are too expensive and too small.  Still, it’s a useful item to carry in your purse.


IMG_0312 Aila Nail Color in #likeaboss (rose gold), .5 oz, $17 value

This nail polish is supposed to be vegan, gluten free, 5-free, paraben free, etc. The ingredients are written in such small letters on the bottom of the bottle, however, that for all I know they might have nail dissolving acid. I’m going to assume they don’t, but it’d be nice if they also included them on their website.

I like the color, though my kids think I’m too old for shiny nail polish (they’re probably right, but who cares?). I loved that it’s very easy to apply. I don’t have the motor skills to apply sunscreen without smudging it all over my fingers, but I made less of a mess with this one than with others. It’s also super fast drying, which is important to me as I always smudge my nails before they have an opportunity to dry. Plus it’s made in the USA.


IMG_0316

Scent 002 alcohol free perfume by MSC Skin Care + Home, 3 ml, $3 value

This is a very interesting perfume oil. While I could list the notes, they are so integrated with one another that I can’t tell them apart. It reminds me of perfume soaps, but it doesn’t have that sharp edge these usually have. My husband described it as floral and pleasant. After a while it just left my skin feeling perfumed, which is not a bad thing.
IMG_0322

Elegant Rose Boutique Bath Bombs, 2 mini bombs, value $2

Bath Bombs are probably the easiest DIY beauty product after scrubs and masks.  Still, I haven’t made any in a long time so I’m looking forward to using these.  They have a lavender/orange/patchouli scent, heavy on the patchouli.


IMG_0324

Real Beauty for a Cause Lotion Bar, value $9?

I like making lotion bars more than I like using them, they always leave my hands greasy.  I still have some left from March’s Out of the Box sampler.  I’ll probably try to swap it.  I’m intrigued, however, that it’s made with kokum butter.  I had never heard of the kokum fruit (at least by that  name) until I made a Bene Israel Fish Molee a couple of months ago.  The lotion is scented with lavender oil, so I can’t swap it I’ll just give it to my daughter.

I can’t tell whether this lotion is the full size or a sample.  There is no information either on this box or on the website as to the weight of either.


IMG_0325IMG_0327

Plantlife Cassia Clove Soap, sample, $1.25

This is a cold processed Castile-style soap that includes a variety of oils, essential oils and organic spices.  This particular one smells of cinnamon and cloves.  I HATE the smell of cinnamon and cloves on anything but apple pie or apple cider.  So I pretty much hate this soap.  I will try to swap it just to get rid of it.

For some reason, this soap came in a little bag. Cute.


IMG_0330IMG_0331
Ecojot Pen on Wood mini journal, $5

This is by far my favorite item in the box.  Indeed, I had to fight my daughters for it.  And hide it, lest one of them steal it.  The covers are actually wood, the pen motif is beautiful and it’s a great size to keep in a purse to jot the occasional note.  It’s made by a Canadian company.

IMG_0378Au Naturale organic eyeshadow stick in palma, sample size 1.5 ml?, ~$5

The sample tube of eyeshadow that I originally got (left in the photo) apparently melted before I got it, it was smeared in the tube and the top looked strange.  I wrote to Goodebox and they immediately replaced it.  I like the color very much, it’s a bit too shimmery for my age, but I may still wear it.

My value: $12*

* This is the total value of the products that my family will actually use from this box. I’m not counting the nail polish. I’m happy if this value is at least as high as what I paid for the box.

Tag Cloud