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Bespoke Post, $45/month, lifestyle box for me
Promo: Use BOX20 to save 20% off your first box or get a Groupon starting at $29 for one-month
I paid: $21 (by buying a 3-month subscription in Groupon with a discount promo)
Box retail value: $72
Enjoyment Factor: ☁
Canceling subscription: Painless, by sending an e-mail

Bespoke Post is a lifestyle subscription box for men.  They offer a variety of boxes and add more every month.   Each month, subscribers can choose between the default box of the month, and whichever other boxes are still available in their catalog.  Subscribers can also skip that month and not be charged.  Each box has a theme and includes two to several items around it.


I got a groupon that gave me credit for 3 boxes.  When I signed up I could choose among the boxes they had available then or wait until new boxes were added.  I wanted to have a box in hand to give to my husband for his birthday (I never give him anything, so this was an improvement), and none of the ones available were too appealing.  I finally went with the Frontier box, because I thought he could at least make use of the products included.

While none of the products in this box were super exciting, he will probably put them to use.  The box was also a great value – with a retail value of $71-90.  This is what it came with:



Opinel No. 8 Folding Knife, $15

I was never a boy scout, much less Tom Sawyer, but when I look at this knife I get the image of a young boy, in the American frontier, carving something with a knife just like this one.  Yes, I read too many books, watched too many westerns and practically grew up on Little House on the Prairie.  I don’t think my husband thought this knife was as cool as I did.  Indeed, he spent more time looking at the bottle opener below.  But I really could see myself using this to, well cut something. Probably my finger.  That’s why I didn’t fight him for it.

Machine Era Co. The Godwin Bottle Opener, $38 (on sale for $19)

My husband has absolutely no use for a bottle opener, but I think he really liked this.  Probably because it had a whale, or it was so heavy.  Maybe he was thinking what mischief he could do with it.  My bet is that he’s lost it already.


Kaweco Black Sport Fountain Pen and carthridges, $28

My husband loves fountain pens so I figured this item, at least, would look like I had put some thought into his birthday present.  Alas, it’s the tackiest fountain pen I’ve ever held.  It’s made out of thin, cheap plastic, and the metal band just comes off.  It’s also super short (just like you see it) and sort of fat with the cap on.

Now, it may very well be that this is a great fountain pen.  But it looks and feels so cheap! It really awoke my inner snob.

Bespoke Post Black Soft Cover Notebook, $10

This is just a notebook. I don’t know that my husband uses these any more, but now he has one if he needs it.


Spicy Subscriptions: sex aids, $50/month
Promo: first box for $15 with promo SPICYFALL
I paid: $15 – Box retail value: $34, My value: $26
Enjoyment factor: ☁
Canceling subscription: Painless, through website.

I’m not a particularly shy person and yet I hesitated before reviewing this box.  It seems crass for me to do so.  And yet, I gave Spicy Subscriptions a try because I was curious about it but couldn’t find much in the way of objective reviews.  Fortunately, while this is an expensive box ($50/month), you can get your first month for only $15, which makes it cheap to try.  Unfortunately, the box is barely worth that.

Spicy Subscriptions promises you a box that will include one or two toys, three full size products and two to four trial size products. They claim that each box “is specially themed differently by our relationship experts,” but if this box had a theme I couldn’t figure it out. The items came in a plain white box within a priority mail envelope.  Perhaps if it had been more nicely packaged, the items would have looked better.  As they were, they looked like leftovers from a liquidator sale, they were also sort of dusty.  As far as the items went, they had a total value of $34.  If I had paid $50, I would have been pissed.

Spicy Subscriptions seems to have some shipping issues.  When I signed up, they said they’d ship my box between September 10th and September 15th. When those dates passed without any information about shipping, I cancelled the subscription. Only then they sent me an e-mail letting me know that my box had been prepared. They mailed it on the 19th and it didn’t arrive until the 24th, about a month after I first ordered it.

This is what I got:



Pipedream Products Waterproof G-spot Glitz, $20 (blue one on sale at Amazon.com for $8)

It gets mixed reviews on Amazon, that’s all I’m gonna say :-)

Body Boudoir Love In Luxury Naked Pheromone Moisture Meringue in Moroccan Fusion, 4 oz, $9

This lotion came without a box and without any tamper proofing. The jar was pretty dusty as well. It didn’t have an expiration date, however. I swapped it.

Crazy Girl Wanna Be Wild Intense Orgasm Gel, 15 ml, $8

All I’ll say about this is that it has a horrible, intense, artificial cinnamon smell that reminds me of the dentist.

Crazy Girl After Dark Sex Aphrodisiac Essence in black orchid, 15 ml, $9

This is a pheromone perfume in a roll-on applicator.  It has a pleasant smell and the pheromones in it are supposed to turn on men around you. The trouble of trying it on your husband is that you can’t really tell whether it’s the perfume or the attitude behind wearing the perfume. Actually, it may be the same with other men as well.  In any case, it has a light flower scent that is light and pleasant.

Lubricant samples

These are foils and are not listed in their card.



Birchbox: beauty samples, $10/month
Promo: subscribenow50 to get an extra 50 points when you sign up
I paid: $0 – Box retail value: $28.5, My value: $19.5
Enjoyment factor:

Birchbox is a monthly subscription which sends you five beauty samples every 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 and 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 choose between a curated box that lists what samples are included, and a mystery box, with a choice of selecting one sample while supplies last.


This month, I had one my of my accounts use Birchbox points to gift my other account with a 3-month subscription.  Unfortunately, gift subscriptions don’t start with the current month’s box, but a “customer favorites” box.  Personally I think it should be called a “leftover” box, as most of the items in it came from September boxes.

I was disappointed that this box included two items I actually got in my September box that I hadn’t liked very much.  This is particularly irking as you are only allowed to review a sample once – if you get it a second time, you cannot get the 10 points for the review.  I contacted Birchbox asking for different samples and they said they couldn’t do that, but would give me 50 points instead.  As this box contained six samples (albeit one of them is a foil) I thought it was a fair resolution.

I was actually happy enough with the rest of the box.  The whole value of the box came to about $28 and the value of the products I’ll use is almost $20.

This is what I got:

IMG_1002100% Pure Organic Coffee Bean Caffeine Eye Cream, 8 ml, $6.5

This vegan, natural cream has caffeine to help  reduce your dark circles and puffiness.  I can’t really say whether it works, but I love the smell of this cream. It smells like the vanilla filling in sandwich cookies. I want to lick it all off!  Made in USA.


Davines Love Smoothing Shampoo and Conditioner, 75 ml bottle & 12 ml foil, $7.5 + $1

I was happy to get a large enough bottle of shampoo that I can use multiple times and a conditioner to go along with it, even it it came in a foil and might give me two washes worth at most.  Alas, these products are not for me.  They are formulated for “coarse and frizzy” hair, I have very fine, short, straight hair that has never been fizzy.  The shampoo and conditioner did a good job of leaving my hair clean and soft, and the light scent was pleasant, but they are overkill for me.  I’ll see if the work better on my daughter.  Still, I’m happy to try them. Both are made in Italy.

IMG_0981ModelCo Ultra Long-Lasting Lipstick in Stiletto (red), .12 oz, mini value $7

I got a different color of this same lipstick in my September box.  I didn’t bother opening this one as I already know that red is not my color and I have enough red lipsticks for the few occasions my daughters may want to wear one.  I found the other ModelCo lipstick I tried to be very short-lasting and stainy, so I would not recommend it. It’s made in Taiwan (at least purportedly).


Harvey Prince Hello perfume, 1.5 ml sample vial, $2

I got this sample last month, and for the third time this year. It smells like fruit candy.  I’m swapping it.

IMG_0972TOCCA Esfoliante da Corpo – Nourishing Body Scrub in Green  Tea & Lemon, 1 oz, $4.5

I don’t use body scrubs nearly enough, but this one may make me a believer.  It left my skin feeling super soft and skin and smelling clean and fresh.  I appreciated that the exfoliant is not purely sugar.  I will no doubt use it all.  Made in Canada.




FabFitFun, $50 quarterly, lifestyle products
Promo: save $10 your first box by clicking this link or using code FFFA52P
I paid $30+tax with a very short lived promo code.
Box retail value: ~$320, My value: ~$
Enjoyment Factor: 

FabFitFun is a quarterly “lifestyle” subscription box.  It comes with a variety of items, including beauty and makeup, fashion, home items, coupons and something exercise-related.  The boxes usually have a value of multiple times the cost, but they can vary dramatically in its offerings. I loved the winter box, but decided to skip on both the spring and summer boxes.

Note that while FFF is a great box, it’s very difficult to unsubscribe from it.  If you try to do it on the website you’ll go through multiple screens warning you against doing it and will have to click on multiple cancel links.  And then, chances are they will reactivate your subscription without telling you.  This happened to me twice last time, and finally I had to e-mail them and tell them to cancel my account.  They did and I was not charged again.  I’ll daresay I’ll do the same thing this time, though I may wait to see the spoilers for the winter box before I make any decision.


I decided to order the fall ’15 box because of the spoilers and the great discount that came my way.  This box had a total value of over $300.  The value of the items I will personally use from the box is around $140, but becomes $265 when I add the value of the items I swapped for.  I did have to pay an additional $7+ on postage to mail my items however.  All in all, I think I did extremely well with this box.  It would have a bargain even if I had paid full price.

The fall box had a nice, multi-page magazine detailing the items included in the box. It may be a waste of paper, but it’s certainly useful when writing a review.


Gold Radiance Luxury Facial Mask, 2 pack, $65

Any beauty product that contains “gold” is trying to scam you.  Gold is an inert metal, it does not react to our body chemistry at all.  Sure, ancient people thought it had medicinal properties, but they also thought the sun revolved around the earth.

This is not to say that this mask may not be effective, but a $1 mask from the grocery store is likely to be just as good – and more honest.  Needless to say I swapped these masks and got a Stephanie Johnson White Dot Train Case from the Popsugar Must Have 2015 Resort box.


Tappen Collective Umbrella, $32

The Tappen Collective is an online gallery, featuring original art from artists across the country. If you are looking for original art, this seems like a good place to start.  The umbrella was designed by Los Angeles artist Ashkahn Shahparnia. The print says “rain, rain, go away” and the umbrella comes in different colors.  Mine is pink.

I like the umbrella and if I didn’t live in drought-heavy California I would whole embrace it.  As it is, when we get rain I definitely don’t want it to go away.  I hope Mr. Shahparnia will design another umbrella for FabFitFun that says “rain, rain, come and stay”.

The umbrella itself is made in China and doesn’t seem to be of a great quality, but we’ll have to wait until it actually rains to try it out.


Manna Kadar Lip Locked Lip Stain in “lucky”, full size, $24

Apparently Manna Kadar used to make a really good lip gloss and some people were excited to get this box in order to try it.  Alas, they’ve changed the formulation and now manufacture it in China.  Therefore I swapped this for the Julep eyeshadow palette.


Crest 3D White Brilliance 2-Step System Sample

This was a sponsored item and it’s just a one-time sample, but it’ll get used.


Doctor D Schwab Flawless Skin Fluid, 1 oz full size, $39

This is a facial moisturizer that supposedly helps correct skin tone and hide dark spots.  Now, I have lots of dark spots and half my forehead is sun damaged, so this should be an obvious product for me.  Still, I’ve tried other similar moisturizers and realize they don’t really work.  My dark spots are really dark, I’d have to wear a mask to hide them.  I did the research also and there is no affordable way to get rid of them. So I just have to learn to live with them.  At least this item is made in America.

I ultimately swapped this product for the Jane Iredale My Steppes Makeup Kit, also from the Popsugar resort kit.


This is a stock image of the tassel. It came in a sealed mailing pouch and I didn’t open it as I meant to swap it.

Purple Purse Foundation Tassel Charm, $10

This item disturbs me.  Aesthetically, I see no point to this tassel charm. Purple is not my color and even if it was, I wouldn’t know with it.  Symbolically, it’s even more problematic.

The Purple Purse foundation gives money to support programs that help victims of domestic violence get on their feet financially (or I think that’s what they say they do).  That’s definitely a worthy goal as very often women stay in violent homes because of their inability to support themselves and their children without their partner’s contributions.  And October is domestic violence awareness month, so linking the box to the issue makes sense.  But through a charm?  What exactly am I supposed to be saying by putting that charm on my purse?  If you are a victim of domestic abuse, please call me and I’ll help you? Somehow I don’t think that’s the message that’s being sent or received.

Instead of a charm, it would have been so much more useful to include a booklet explaining what victims of domestic violence should do to prepare themselves to leave their abusers.  Personally, I think this is just some free advertisement for Allstate insurance.    I swapped the tassel for some dry oil mist from Glossybox.


HISY Battery Pack, in pink, $25

The spoiler for this item was one of the main reasons for my getting this box.  One of us always has a tablet that is out of battery.  It works pretty well, though I haven’t tested to see how much power it holds or how long it takes to fully charge (nor am I sure how to tell when it’s fully charged). In any case, I’m happy to have it.


Merrithew Strength Tubing Ankle & Tone Body Tone + DVD, in regular, $33

I thought I’d swap this too, but we decided to keep it. It’s been a couple of days and it’s not yet broken.  I doubt anyone will watch the DVD so I’ve listed it for swapping, I doubt I’ll find any takers.


Tribe Alive Cut Cyrstal Beaded Bracelet, in blue grey, $49

Tribe Alive sells fair trade jewelry and fashion items. These bracelets are made with hand cut glass by women in Honduras.  I really like the concept behind the bracelet. I haven’t decided yet whether I’ll keep it for myself or gift it to someone, I may even try to swap for more.


$15 Gift Card to the Jeweler’s Wife

I was actually excited to get this gift card and looked forward to using it, but when I went to do so I couldn’t find anything for $15 or less.  I just checked, however, and they now have some earrings and bracelets for $15 or less. In any case, I ended up swapping this gift card for the make up bag from the September Globe In Artisan box.

$75 “gift card” to Picture It on Canvas, actual value $15-$37.5

Picture It on Canvas offers photo printing services on a variety of media – from metal to canvass or slate – and products (mouse pads, coasters, etc.).  The caveat is that their regular prices are ridiculously high, only made reasonable by the copious discount promos they offer.  This “gift card” cannot be used with any promos, which really reduces its value significantly.  Still, I should be able to get at least one nice print with it and, indeed, actually swapped for another card.  Now I have to get the girls to pose for pictures!

Hillary-Clinton-1200I’m starting to feel sorry for Hillary Clinton.  It looks like the Obama administration is throwing her under the bus (justifiably, mind you) with the full complicity of the media.  I anticipate that Biden will be announcing he’s running for President very soon.

Meanwhile, Hillary is finding enemies on all sides:

1 – Two days ago, CNN released a poll that had Hillary at 42%, Sanders at 24% and Biden at 22%. The headlines everywhere were about how Hillary was widening her lead. Today, a Bloomberg poll shows Hillary at 33%, Biden at 25% and Sanders at 24%. The two polls are within the margin of error of each other. However, the headlines today were all about how Biden is competitive with Hillary, how this is a 3-person race or, specially in the conservative press, how Hillary is on the outs.

2 – Meanwhile, for no apparent reason, the State Department decided to clarify that they asked Hillary specifically for her e-mails when they noticed that they didn’t have them, and only later they asked other former secretary of states. The story is sold as Hillary fibbing/lying as to the timeline of what happened.

3 – Soon after, we find out that – as expected – the FBI has recovered some of her deleted e-mails. The headlines are that these are deleted “personal and work e-mails“, though no details of what work e-mails were deleted have come out.  Of course, if she did delete work e-mails that would mean that she both lied and broke the law.  And I think we can all be sure that she deleted work e-mails because that’s the only reason why anyone would get a private server in the first place.

4 – Meanwhile, the court chastises the State Department for not turning in even more Benghazi related e-mails.

5 – As if this was not enough, online tabloids are all excited about a new book to come out next week with all sorts of nasty details about Hillary – including the suggestion that she yelled at Obama and told him to “call off his fucking dogs”.  The writer of the book is described as a former Newsweek editor – but it turns out that it’s been decades since he’s done serious journalism and since then he’s been writing pulp books about politicians filled with disgusting claims. Not helping their case, Clinton’s spokesperson’s response was to call the claims “bullshit”.

6 – Trump, a genius at seizing the moment, is going on a rampage blaming Hillary for “birtherism”.  Hillary has to come out and defend herself against what seem to be plain false accusations.

7- To add insult to injury, it’s left to Republican Carly Fiorina to express empathy for Clinton.

And I thought that House of Cards and Scandal were fiction!  Personally, I just hope that Hillary and Biden mutually destroy each other and leave room for Bernie Sanders​.


Popsugar Must Have, $40+tax/month, lifestyle products
Promo: use 
b213ymz for $10 off your first box until 11/30/15
I paid $35+ tax
Box retail value: $130, My value: $77
Canceling subscription: Painless, through website.

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.


I got this box after looking at the full spoilers, though now that I have it, I’m not exactly sure why.  I will use some of the stuff in it, but I’m not sure it was such a great 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:


Hudson +Bleecker Labyrinth Onyx Travel Trio, ~$20-42

Hudson + Bleecker make very expensive cosmetic and travel cases, but neither the trio or its independent components are actually part of their line – so they may have made them for Popsugar.  The suggested retail price is $42, but these are offered for $15 on ebay and people are not buying them, so I believe that retail value is likely inflated.

In any case, I’m sure these bags were one of the main reasons why I ordered this box (I should have checked e-bay).  I used to just rely on disposable supermarket plastic bags to pack shoes and other stuff in my suitcase, but these are no longer available and they were always too small for my husband’s shoes anyway.  This one is just large enough to fit one pair of his tennis shoes.  The undergarment bag is probably large enough for my needs, and they both seem to be well constructed – though only time will tell how long they last.  The clear pouch is too small for my needs, but it looks sturdy and I don’t have an abundance of clear pouches, so I’m sure I’ll use it.  All in all I’m quite happy with it, and might try to swap for another one.

IMG_0917Kris Nations “X O” stud earrings, $35

These are very simple and very cute small studs. They are advertised as made from “recycled brass” which seems like a lame attempt to make them feel green, as 90% of the brass used today is recycled. But kudos for the marketing effort.  Mine are plated in gold, though they have sterling posts. They come in this very cute bottle.

I will probably give these to one of my girls for Xmas.

Whenever I see jewelry in subscription boxes, I check Ali Express to see if I can find the same thing for much less.  I’m happy to say that’s not the case here, though they do have a different style for just $2.


Too Faced Cosmetics Browe Envy Brow Shaping & Defining kit, $39

I don’t do anything to my eyebrows but this kit is so cute that I was tempted to keep it and perhaps use the colors as eye shadows.  Alas, it’s made in China so I’ll be looking into swapping it.

IMG_0916Briogeo Rosarco Milk Reparative Leave-in Conditioning Spray, 5.1 oz, $20

A couple of months ago I decried all hair products, but after multiple bleaching and hair dying both my girls can do with as much hair help as possible.  I just tried this product on my youngest one, whose hair is least damaged, and it did a fair job of disentangling it and doing away with the frizz.  I’m glad to have it because I’d never pay full price for something like this. Made in USA.

NCLA Treatments So Rich Cuticle Oil, 15 ml, $15-18

To me, this looks like a naked emperor sort of product. It’s basically just a mixture of safflower seed and cottonseed oils with some vitamin E, fragrance and color added.  How they get away selling this for $18 is beyond me.  In any case, I’ll try to swap it. At least it’s made in the USA.

IMG_0918Nourish Snacks Almonds to Cherries, 1.4 oz, $2

This is a small snack pack of toasted almonds and dried cherries. I’m not a cherry fan but I’m sure someone in the family will eat them.

2 Popsugar Must Have $10 OFF Promo cards

You can usually find a promo code for $5-off your first Popsugar Must Have box, and from time to time they also have codes that give you a special something. But they haven’t had $10 off promos for a while.  You are supposed to give these cards to your friends so they can subscribe, but while the red and blue card have different codes, these are generic codes. They work until Nov. 30th, 2015. The codes are b213ymz and abx17yz.


Birchbox: beauty samples, $10/month
Promo: BBJETBLUE10 for 100 extra points when you subscribe.
I paid: $0 – Box retail value: $24, My value: $2.5
Enjoyment factor:
Subscriptionista’s Humorous Review

Birchbox is a monthly subscription which sends you five beauty samples every 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 and 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, with a choice of selecting one sample while supplies last.


Last June, I used my Birchbox points to gift myself a three-month subscription (I had to create a different account for this purpose). This was my last box from that “free” period.  For this box, I chose the “pores no more” cleanser as my sample – I’m glad I got it, as it’s the only product from the box that I liked.  Had I actually paid cash for the box, rather than points, I’d be very disappointed.  The retail value of this box was $25, but it was only worth $2.50 and that much, only, because the cleanser is extremely overpriced.

This is what I got:


Benefit Gimme Brow Volumizing Fiber Gel in light/medium, 1g, sample value $8

I got a similar, full size product from Beauty Fix before, but it proved too much work for me to use. I’ll be swapping this one. It’s made in the USA.

IMG_0889Dear Clark Voluminizing Hair Tonic, 1 oz,  sample value $4.5

I got this tonic back in my March Birchbox.  I tried it then and it provided my hair with some bounce, but it has such a horrible chemical scent that I could not stand to wear it.  Fortunately I was able to swap it quite easily. Made in the USA.
IMG_0892dr. brandt pores no more cleanser, .25 oz, sample value $2.5

I have very large pores and I am skeptical this will work. However, I will give it a try after I’m done with my current facial cleanser.  This one comes sealed with foil so I rather not open it before I need to. Made in the USA.


Harvey Prince Hello Eau de parfum, 1.5 ml, sample value $2

I’ve also gotten this perfume before and it’s not a favorite. It pretty much smells like a fruit candy. Made in the USA.


ModelCo Ultra Long-Lasting Lipstick in smitten (dark pink), .12 oz, mini value $7

I thought that this lipstick would apply more like a deep red, but it’s actually a very dark pink. Unfortunately pink is not a color that works for me, and it may be too dark for my girls.

The lipstick itself did not seem particularly remarkable. Despite its name, it barely lasted on my lips, it faded into an uneven light pink and stained everything I touched with my lips.  I would not buy it.


My favorite subscription box, Little Lace Box, is on sale at Groupon right now. It’s regularly $60 for just one box, but you can get it for $30 by using promo SUPER3 when you buy the Groupon.


DermStore Grab Bag, $25, occasionally issued, skin, makeup and/or hair products
Promo: You can save 15% when you sign up for a new account or $10 if someone refers you (ask me)
I paid $15 +tax after referral discount
Box retail value: $85, My value: $67

Enjoyment Factor: 

Every so often DermStore issues mystery grab bags with an assortment of full size and sample products. They usually sell out quickly and before any actual reviews of the items are out.   The Hair Glam Must-Haves Set wasn’t a mystery grab bag, as the contents were listed, but it’s the same idea.  Unlike the other grab bags DermStore had for sale last week, this one is still available as of this posting.

This bag sells for $25+tax and it includes a brush, two hair clips and a cosmetic bag, as well as 2 full size products and 3 samples.  The total value of the box is $85, though DermStore as usually overestimated it at $98.  While I wouldn’t buy the items at their full price, I will use everything but the spray, which I hope to swap.   This is what I got:


Harry Josh Pro Tools Detangling Brush, $20

I bought this bag primarily to get this brush.  My kids’ hair is not as knotty as when they were little, but it still can be hard to manage.  It’s a soft brush, but it still pulled on my daughter’s hair while tangled – then again, we brushed without reading the instructions.  Don’t use it just to brush your hair, though. It left it flat and volumeless.


Harry Josh Pro Tools Pro Clips, 2 count, $10

These came in a “free gift” pouch, just like the ones I got in the July Beauty Fix box. I swapped those, but since then I’ve lost most of my hair clips so I’ll keep these. They work rather well.


Elon Moisture Therapy Shampoo with Bio-Sentials6 oz full size, $13

This gets fairly good reviews and will be used.  Made in the USA.

IMG_0878Keranique Amplifying Lift Spray, 3.4 oz. full size, $18

This is the one product I have no use for and I’ll try to swap.


Philip B. Light-Weight Deep Conditioning Creme Rinse, 2 oz sample, $9

This came sealed so I can’t even smell it, but I seem to detect a faint almond smell. It seems ridiculously expensive, and we’ll have to see how well it works.

Fekkai Full Blown Volume Conditioner2 oz.sample, $5

Smells nice, like other Fekkai products.

Nick Chavez Plump ‘N Thick Leave In Creme Conditioner2 oz, $5

I haven’t used a leave-in conditioner since I was a kid,


DermBagStore Cosmetic Bag, $5

I’ve gotten one of these before. It’s a nice, large bag with water resisting cover and lining.  I use it and I’m quite happy with it. DermStore has previously priced this at $10, but given that it has DermStore’s name on it (on the other side), I think $5 is a more fair value. I’ll use it or give it away.


DermStore Grab Bag, $35, occasionally issued, skin, makeup and/or hair products
Promo: You can save 15% when you sign up for a new account or $10 if someone refers you (ask me)
I paid $25 +tax after discount
Box retail value: $131-167, My value: $58

Enjoyment Factor: 

Every so often DermStore issues mystery grab bags with an assortment of full size and sample products. They usually sell out quickly and before any actual reviews of the items are out.  Still, they sometimes are brought back and reviews can be helpful to get an idea of the sort of products you can expect in these grab bags.

I can’t resist DermStore’s grab bags because they are usually incredible values.  Still, I’m swimming in beauty products and DermStore often sends out repeats, specially of its tiny samples.  Still, I gave in and armed with a $10 off coupon I ordered this box.  Only later I remembered that I almost never wear makeup.  Indeed, I won’t be able to use half of the products in this bag, but it’s such a good value that I feel I got my money’s worth anyway.



For some reason, DermStore has actually deleted the product pages for these boxes rather than just saying “out of stock”. But they promised 13 items for this box with a total value of $170.  DermStore usually exaggerates their values, but this time they got pretty close. I got 5 full size products, 5 sample size products, 2 perfume vials and a value-free sample; using the highest retail prices of this items the value of this box was $167.  Though I won’t be using many of the products, the values of those I will use is around $60, and I would probably have spent as much as the box to buy items similar to those I got.

This is what the grab bag came with:


Smart FX Smart Brow Black/Brown Tinted Brow Filler + bonus all in one perfecting brush, 2.2 ml full size, $61 ($30)

This is the newer version of the brow filler I got on my BeautyFix box back in May.  Apparently there have been changes to the brush and formulation, which have upset former fans.  It’s not surprising as I’m sure this product is all about your technique in applying it.  I didn’t bother really learning how to apply the one I got, and I’m not going to bother with this one either.

SmartFX is a Target owned brand, which always makes me suspect of the price it sells at.  It’s twice of what it was before they changed the formula.  My bet is that this probably for sale at 50% off often. It’s made in the USA.
SmartFX Volume Extend Mascara, 7.5 ml full size, $20

I don’t remember getting a SmartFX mascara before, but can that really be true? In any case, it’s going in my “to try later” box. I’m sure I’ll use it.  Made in the USA.


Cargo Essential Lip Gloss in Vienna (hot pink), 2.5 ml full size, $16

This lip gloss gets fairly good reviews. The hot pink color seems too out there even for my daughter, but it supposedly applies sheer.  I’ll keep it to give it to her as a stocking stuffer. Made in Canada.

Cargo Liquid Eyeliner in black, 11 ml full size, $20

This one gets very good reviews, but none of us use liquid eyeliner, so this will be up for swap. It’s made in Germany.

IMG_0852100% Pure creamy nail polish in Kiss (dark fuchsia), .5 oz, $12

My daughter looked at this nail polish and immediately said she loved the color.  Unfortunately, we have lots and lots of nail polishes and too many pinks as it is. So I’ll be swapping it or using it as a stocking stuffer.  It gets very good reviews, though.  Made in the USA.


Spackle under make up primer by Laura Geller, .5 oz sample, $7.5

This is a clear primer that you can use under makeup or by itself.  It’s very light and moisturizing when you apply it (though you should apply it on top of your moisturizer). Unfortunately, according to a blind test by my daughter, it made my skin look worse. Perhaps it’ll do a better job on my other daughter.  Made in USA.

Cover FX  BB Gel Mattifying Anti-Blemish Treatment in N Medium, 5 ml sample, $7

I got this same BB cream in the last DermStore makeup bag.  I haven’t used it since, but I don’t wear BB cream in summer.  I’ll swap this one. Made in USA.
Vichy Thermal Spa Water
1.69 oz purse size, $7 – 9.5 ($4.5)
This is a just a little spray bottle with a tiny amount of mineral water.  How they can justify charging $14 for the full size bottle (5 oz) is beyond me, but I have to admit that I do like it. Then again I like facial mists.  I would not buy this product for all sorts of environmental reasons, but I’m glad I have it.  It’s made in France.

Note that while DermStore actually has this size for sale for $9.5 (and Amazon has it for $7), the bottle I got says clearly “not for resale”. The actual product value is closer to $4.5

DermaBlend Long Wear Makeup Remover, 1 oz sample, $4

This product gets mixed reviews, with some people swearing by it and other warnings is not that effective on long wearing makeup and that it clogs pores.  It’s probably a good idea to wash this off instead of just using tissues.  I’ve found the DHC deep cleansing oil from the April Beauty Fix box to be a pretty great makeup remover, but we’ll eventually run out of it so I’m sure we’ll use this.  DermaBlend is a L’Oreal brand and this product is made in the USA.


CLEAN Shower Fresh Eau de Parfum, 5 ml mini rollerball, $6

Shampoo. That’s how my daughter described this perfume.  I’d agree, though perhaps it’s a bit sweeter than a typical shampoo.  It’s not the best scent out there, but if you just want to smell clean, this will do.  I’m sure I’ll use it.

Tocca Margaux Eau de Parfum, 1.5 ml sample vial, $2

I probably shouldn’t even have bothered testing this fragrance, as I don’t like vanilla in my perfumes (with some exceptions). But I did and regret it as I truly hate this fragrance. On the plus side, this is a good size sample for anyone who does like the perfume. On the minus side, it doesn’t have a sprayer.

Apothia IF Eau de Parfum, sample spray vial, $2

Before trying this perfume, I never realized what it was to truly, truly hate a perfume.  To me this smells horrible, one of the worst things I’ve smelled.  Other that some acrid notes of fetid cheese, which actually lighten the scent, I can’t actually describe it.  The image that comes to my mind is rat poison.

Now, the three other members of my household thought it smelled like sweet candy. My oldest daughter thought it smelled artificial, while my younger one described it as sweet tarts and claimed it immediately.  I have a feeling that my sense of smell is very particular.


Sample of  Sigma Spa Brush Cleaning Glove

This is an interesting concept. A rubber glove with different surfaces to help clean your make-up brushes.  At $35 for the full glove, that seems rather expensive and I imagine you can find something that will do a similar job for less.  But I liked getting the tiny sample.

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