Birchbox Review | December 2014

Birchbox December 2014 _ ATG FINAL 3

A little remaining 2014 business to take care of today. How the latest and greatest in beauty and lifestyle products made a gal feel a bit more gorgeous…or not so much. Let’s step back and get the skinny on the last Birchbox of the year.

#1. Acure Organics Sensitive Facial Cleanser  | Clearly, the probiotic trend is on the rise. I can personally attest that as supplements, they do wonders for the digestive system, but not until Acure’s product arrived in the mail, did I ever hear of probiotics in your facial cleanser!? Aside from being free of commonly found chemicals in your typical cleanser (think along the lines of parabens and phthalates), this organic cleanser does everything right. It’s gentle, creamy, non-scented, and moisturizing. This discovery has been an absolute dream to work with during the winter months. Admittedly, I usually like products that overdo it on the scent. It somehow makes me feel like it’s more of a treat to wash my face (than just a simple hygiene-based practice) when inhaling an invigorating fragrance, but I honestly didn’t mind here. I used this cleanser with my Clarasonic. Combined, it created something pretty special. I was actually surprised at the mere $14 price tag….until I realized that a “full-sized” product is only 4 ounces. Beware, you’re in for a treat, but you’ll pay for it.

Overall: A do. If you can get behind the cost.

#2. Beauty Protector Protect & Oil  | This discovery from Beauty Protector had all the right ingredients to impress me: a light-weight texture; a pleasing, subtle scent; and upon application, a nice sheen. Unfortunately, there just wasn’t enough moisture in this product to make me feel like my strands were consistently hydrated. I had to use quite a bit of oil once I gauged that might have something to do with it, defeating the “light-weight” factor some. I can imagine someone who simply needs a hint of moisture that would like this product. However, if like me, you have chronically dry hair (and prefer to spritz in moisture) – I’d skip this and recommend the Macadamia Professional Healing Oil Spray

 Overall: Pass.

#3. Laura Geller Beauty Spackle Supercharged Fortified Under Make-Up Primer | I’m a gal who appreciates a good primer before make-up use. I wasn’t always of this mindset, thinking that it was simply another expensive product that was ultimately unnecessary. When Birchbox introduced me to Lancôme’s La Base Pro Primer, I became a believer and haven’t looked back. The caveat is that Lancôme’s primer is expensive, and between you and me, I use the tiniest pump possible to stretch not having to buy it more than once or twice a year. This alternative from Laura Geller just might replace Lancôme on my counter-top vanity. It’s $12 cheaper and 2.5 times the size! The added benefits, outside of creative branding (I think calling this stuff “Spackle” is pure genius), this primer is infused with vitamins and anti-aging ingredients. As such, it can also be worn alone for a soft, make-up free, highlighting glow to the skin. It’s a win, win.

Overall: A do.

#4. Manna Kadar Lip Locked | When I hear that a lip product is “a primer, lip stain, and gloss in one,” I can’t help but get excited about the potential. If done right, it eliminates the need to have several different products in your make-up bag that can be achieved with just one. When I hear that a lip product is all-in-one AND long-lasting, I’m officially on-board. Unfortunately, Manna Kadar didn’t get the memo – their product is lacking. I’ll admit that my dissatisfaction was in large part because I received a shade that was too close to my natural lip color to really stand out. This may work for some ladies, but if I wanted to sport a look the same color as my lips – I’d just throw on some clear Chapstick and call it a day. What I really couldn’t understand was why this was considered “long-lasting?” I’d swear this stuff came off pretty quickly. Then again, seeing as how it was mere inches in difference from my natural color, perhaps my eyes deceived me? So, I tried again…and determined they weren’t. Bottom line, there are entirely way too many products on the market for all this guess-work. I expect to be impressed immediately when it comes to lip products.

Overall:  Pass.

#5. Lord & Berry Paillettes Eye Pencil | A little bit of sparkle and a whole lot of fun, just in time for the holidays. Lord & Berry’s glimmer-filled eye pencil was a festive addition to my make-up routine on Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve. I found the pencil to be long-lasting and the amount of glitter not too overwhelming. Unfortunately, unless you’re club-hopping every weekend after the holidays, or find yourself at a lot of parties throughout the year – there won’t be much use for it. I certainly plan to enjoy the sample as the appropriate occasions arise, but it’s not practical for everyday use.

Overall: Indifferent.

Birchbox Blue Gold Foil December 2014_ATG FINAL 2

{Side note: I would’ve paid $10 just for the stunning blue and gold foiled box! Well done, Birchbox.}

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Birchbox Review | AUGUST

Birchbox August ATG FINAL

Happy September! Let’s take a quick step back and explore last month’s Birchbox.

Here’s how the latest and greatest in beauty made August feel a little bit more gorgeous…or not so much.

#1. Neil George Shampoo | I’m pretty much at a place where I wish Birchbox would stop sending me shampoo and conditioner samples altogether. With the exception of the Davines line, I’m consistently disappointed by the shampoo and conditioner products. What’s worse is when so-called celebrated “top Hollywood hair stylists” create product lines for us regular folk that channel nothing more than what you’d find stocked standard in a hotel bathroom at the Marriott. (I can’t take full credit for this analogy, I read something similar when researching the product, but I couldn’t agree more with that description.) Unfortunately, what Birchbox seems to be missing (though I’m sure they’re aware of it per the meticulously detailed profile they have you fill out when signing up) is that I am African-American, and therefore, require tons of moisture in both a shampoo and conditioner. Thick, creamy, lather-rich shampoos are my go-to. Neil George couldn’t be more opposite of this. It has the consistency of a step above water, and barely lathered after using half the sample (I’m sorry, I like a lathering shampoo). Perhaps this works better on a different hair type from mine (though this product is not highly reviewed overall on I ended up giving this to my boyfriend (whose hair texture is the complete contrast of mine) so as to not waste it, and even he thought it was “just fine.”

Overall: Pass.

#2. Neil George Conditioner | See above and insert said comment here.

Overall: Pass.

#3. SeaRX Birch Sap Moisturizing Lotion | This product was the star of my August Birchbox, a surprisingly refreshing and effective moisturizing lotion. I absolutely LOVED the smell and the lightweight texture. Enhanced with minerals from the ocean, birch sap, and sugar – there was something non-threatening about applying it on my face. It’s as if you could almost feel nature melt seamlessly into the skin. I actually looked forward to using this product, and appreciated the way my skin looked and felt after each usage. The downside, which is uber important to me, is that there is no SPF protection included in this product – a necessity for me when thinking about a facial moisturizer. The good news is that this product can be used all over the body, which I do like when it comes to versatility. If I were to proceed with this gem full-time, I’d either only use it at night, or supplement a sunscreen for day use (which drives the cost up more, not making me happy given that this product is already $28 full-sized).

Overall: A do, though disappointed in the no SPF factor.

#4. Dr. Jart+ PORE MEDIC Pore Minish Primer | It took me awhile to even warm up to the idea of a primer. I always thought if you bought the right make up this step was unnecessary. I came to the conclusion after being introduced to Lancome’s La Base Pro Face Primer in one of my early Birchbox’s that a primer is, in fact, a good idea and now I’m hooked. Primers smooth the skin, helps prevent makeup from seeping into pores (and clogging them), as well as keep your makeup looking as is of you’d just applied it. I’m especially a fan of primers during the summer to help maintain application as much as possible during the warmer (read: sweaty) months of the year. This one by Dr. Jart did an admirable job. I can’t say that my pores looked tightened, because in general my pores look just fine if you ask me. Dr. Jart’s primer also claims to improve complexion. I can’t vouch for that either given the short time I’ve been using the sample. What it does (and did well) is create a the perfect canvas for make up application. Kudos to them for removing a lot of the no-no chemicals found in products (i.e. parabens, sulfates, etc.). I also like the more reasonable price point. The Lancome primer I use is smaller at .8oz and costs $10 more.

Overall: A do.

#5. Noir Cosmetics Long-Wear Eyeliner | Overall, I found this to be an effective eyeliner. It glides on about as smoothly as a pencil eyeliner can, and does so with a rich jet black pigmentation. I didn’t test its “water-proof” claim personally, but can attest to its wear. I won’t say that this liner doesn’t smudge (because it did some) but given the opaqueness, and the fact that this is not a gel or liquid liner, it performed well. I am especially impressed with its vitamin E and jojoba oil ingredients – making it more appealing for such a sensitive area (and those of us who wear contacts!). I don’t find this to be unreasonably priced at $15 either. Win, win.

Overall: A do.

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