Saturday, June 30, 2012

(My first!) June Birchbox 2012 Review

After months of debating whether or not I wanted to commit to a monthly beauty subscription service, I finally broke and decided to purchase one.  I figured this way, I would force myself to have a treat every once in a while if I found something I really loved since I hate spending money unnecessarily.   Since I’m such a savvy shopper, I decided not to do a jewelry, fashion, or shoe subscription because I am very picky on quality rather than quantity and would rather wait for sales rather than spending money monthly to receive items monthly.  I decided on Birchbox, mainly due to a lot of the other companies being less than one year old and although there’s always some people who tire of services, no matter which company it is with, it seemed to me that Birchbox had the most consistent reviews.

For those who are unfamiliar with Birchbox, it is a monthly service that ships samples of beauty products for $10 per month.  Being a subscription service, as a consumer you can pay for the entire year for a discount at $110 or charged monthly via credit card.  Birchbox recently launched a men’s program for $20 per month.  Birchbox sends out 4-6 samples in the box, some sample sizes are one time use, some are deluxe sized, and if you are lucky sometimes you may receive full sized merchandise.  You can purchase products directly from their website and earn points for each purchase.

I have only received one box, so I cannot share my experience as a long term customer, but I can share my overall first impressions. The theme for the June 2012 box was Jet Set, which involved items great for travel.  My box looked like this:

Reviewed Items:

Borghese Bontanico Eye Compresses:  Haven’t used yet (saving for a stressful day)

Jouer Luminizing Moistere Tint:  Matched skin tone well.  While great for summer and going out, I would not use every day due to sheen on skin.  I will stick with my Smashbox Tinted  Moisturizer for daily use.

Scalisi Skincare Anti-Aging Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 30:  Although this has a high price tag for a little bottle,  $110 for 1.7 ounces, a little goes a long way.  I love the feel of this product on my skin.  I received a deluxe size sample of .2 ounces and it has lasted so far 2 weeks once per day because you only need 1 pump.  Something I would buy in the future, but not now.

The Balm Stainiac in Beauty Queen: This was advertised as being a lip or cheek stain that gives builable color the more you apply.  I prefer to wear it as a cheek stain as the lip stain was very faint and did not wear well.  Would I purchase?  I can honestly say no with a certainty.  Not a bad product, I personally just did not see the purpose.

Lifestyle Extras

Band-Aid-Cynthia Rowley: I have not used, but I have no complaints.  There are Band-Aids meant to function as dressier options than the standard tan or kid Band-Aids.  Birchbox is selling for $15, which I would never recommend.  They can be found in stores or online for less than one third of that price.

Birchbox Man Extra- John Varvatos cologne:  Obviously cologne is a very personal preference, so take this with a grain of salt.  My husband loved the scent as I did, but more importantly I liked the idea of including this extra during Father’s Day month.  I thought it was a nice touch.

Possible Pet Peeves

Long waitlist.  I will admit I was initially annoyed when I tried to sign up at first.  I spent several weeks researching and decided on a service just to be told there was no space for me!  I hate waiting to spend my money, but this probably is a great marketing strategy as well because when I finally got the email letting me know I could join, I didn’t want to pass it up!  I requested to be on the waiting list for Birchbox for both versions.  Birchbox Man came back about 2 weeks later while my Birchbox took about 6 weeks.  I decided to try my Birchbox before getting one for my husband.  Oh, and after they send you the invite, you only have about 72 hours to respond before they go to the next person on the list.

From my research, there aren’t just a few different boxes that are sent out.  There is over 20 different boxes.  Personally I don’t care, that adds variety to the possibilities I could receive, but from reading different blogs and beauty forums this irritated quite a few persons. 

All boxes are not worth the same amount.  The various boxes part of the reason people are irritated.  They all want high dollar items. . For example, there was a $36 Stila bronzer in some boxes, full sized eye shadow pencils in some, and Band-Aids in others.  I got the Band-Aids.  This did not particular bother me.  Sure just to say I got the added value of the box was nice, but in fairness, I am more likely to use the Band-Aids. 

Repetitive merchandise.  As far as I know, part of the reason for the various boxes is so you will never get a repeat item.  You will receive “left-overs” from other months as some put it.  Again, I don’t see a problem with that because if I really wanted a nail polish that was going around last month and I didn’t receive it, I’d be more than happy to receive it later on.  You will receive repetitive things like perfume samples often (but in different scents) or different items from the same line (like a toner one month and a moisturizer the next month from the same company).

There are Lifestyle Extras included in the boxes that are not beauty related.  I received two, but from my understanding it is usually just one per month.  If you don’t want to receive energy bars, Band-Aids, or other products, this may bother you.


The greatest perk is trying high dollar items that you usually would not be able to try and having products sent directly to you instead of spending hours at a makeup counter or online trying to find products.   The moisturizer I was sent costs $110 for a little over 1 ounce.  It’s a deluxe sample and while I love it so far, I know there is a cheaper version out there.  I now know what to look for. 

Fill out your profile.  Apparently they are supposed to take this into consideration with the items they send out.  I think they do; they sent me a tinted moisturizer that was available in 4 different shades.  It matched my skin perfectly, which I was concerned about.  I was also hoping that they didn’t send me a self-tanner, as I definitely had no need/use for that!

Birchbox has a point system in which you can earn points to receive discounts on what is on their website.  You earn 10 points for each Birchbox you purchase, 1 point for every $1 spent on the website, 10 points for each item reviewed (only what you recived in your box), and 50 points for each referral. When you reach 100 points you get $10 to spend in the store.  That’s a great way to save up points and buy the products you really love or want to try!

Free Shipping is included with the price.  I don't know about you, but I love free shipping.  In my opinion, it adds value to the box and while some persons complain about barely getting $10 of products some months, shipping is included so I feel that the money will always be worth it.

You can cancel at any time by phone or website.  I hate calling to cancel because I feel I’ll be roped into staying or have to have a good reason.  I love the website option to have whenever I feel the need to cancel.

Stay away from You Tube and beauty forums if you get worked up easily.  While it is great to listen to rant/raves of others, make sure you are informed from your own opinions.  Don’t get worked up over other people’s issues that aren’t your own.

If interested in subscribing to Birchbox you can go to the website or use my referral link:
I am not sure if the referral link will speed up the waiting list process, but as a disclaimer I will let you know that I would receive 50 points for each person that signs up under my name. 
In a nutshell:  do your own research and decide first if subscription services are something you want to try.  It’s a great fad-there is a service for EVERYTHING lol.  I will try Bluum next, which is a service for expectant mothers and items for moms with babies.  Warning: wait list for this as well.  Also just keep an open mind and remember why you signed up for it in the first place.  Have fun!

How to get the most out of yard sales!

I love shopping and love being thrifty.  It’s something about yard sales that takes me back to my childhood.  I loved going with my mother when I was younger to yard sales and finding things I couldn’t get in the store.  People sell their old belongings, but it’s also a great place to find gently used and sometimes new baby items, crafts, jewelry, vintage pieces, records, furniture, and antiques.  It’s much cheaper to find items at yard sales than going to Antique shops, consignment stores, and even Ebay at times. 
It’s summer time and that means that it is the time for yard sales and there are plenty of people that are willing to make deals.  It’s always great to save/make money whether you are having a yard sale yourself or going to one.  People  always want a deal almost as much as people want to make money, so try to remember not to insult the person selling by throwing a ridiculously low ball offer (such as offering $10 for a $100 item, unless they are desperate to part with the item and say they will take anything!)
Personally, I usually have 2 yard sales a year. One held in the spring/early summer and one held in September.  I have found that newspaper advertising and signs work best in my rural area.  Older adults tend not to utilize Craigslist while that is where I found the younger adults find their information.  I have also observed that Sundays are not necessary, as the crowds tend to seek out deals early Saturday mornings.  I usually set my sale from 8-2, giving plenty of time for the early bird shoppers as well as the late sleepers a chance to sleep in.
My best find of the year so far (and of my life!) has been a necklace that I found at a yard sale just last month.  I was initially uninterested because the seller had mainly Christmas items, but I browsed the sale anyway.  I spotted some jewelry in a box lid and I saw some chunky gold necklaces.  I had my hand on one, but immediately was drawn to another.  It was a matt gold heavy chain necklace.  The toggle had me sold.  The seller came up behind me and said, “that necklace would look great on you!  $2!! “Okay, I can do $2,” was my reply.  I saw a name on the toggle that I did not recognize, but I knew it was quality costume jewelry, probably from Macy’s, I assumed. 
Well, upon going home, I looked up the designer (something I don’t always do, but had a gut feeling about this one), and saw high price tags on his items.  I found this particular item on a site listed for $218!  Upon further research, the designer was none other than Karl Lagerfeld, head designer for Chanel, Fendi, and of his own line!  I felt so foolish for not knowing the label, but so excited for such an awesome piece of jewelry that I would have never been able to afford (or be willing to spend on costume jewelry). Lesson: stop at every sale and look through the items-you never know what you may find J

Tips and Tricks
Choose your time of day.  If there is something that you are searching for in particular, then the best time of day to shop is early in the morning so that you have first choice over the items instead of picked over merchandise.  This way, you beat the early birds and the dealers from getting something you may have been searching for.  Later in the day is best to receive the best bargains because people want to make as much money as they can before ending and don’t want to put up all of the unsold merchandise.
Check out neighborhood yard sales.  You will save on gas and hunting for different sales because they will all be in one place!  Also, a lot of people who may not usually have a yard sale will participate because of the free advertising and crowds, so you may just find a special deal where it would not have been prior.
Be pleasant.  Sounds like common sense, but you would be surprised how many people don’t say hello when walking up, even when spoken to, search through a person’s items, then walk up frowning and want a deal.  You don’t have to start a conversation, but friendliness works wonders!    
Don’t buy something just because it’s a good deal unless you know that you will use it and have an idea in mind of what to do with it.  A great deal means nothing if you can’t display or use your item properly and it turns into a dust collector.
Always ask if the prices are firm.  They may say reduce the price or they may ask you what you are willing to pay.
Buy more to save more!  If there is an item that you are eyeing but the person seems unwilling to reduce the price, try negotiating a package deal by buying something else.  Example:  You want a crystal vase that is $8 and see another item priced at $5 (just make sure it is an item that you actually want).  See if they will take $10 for both items.  The worst they can say is no but they are more likely to either accept your offer or meet you in the middle and take $12 for both items-still saving you money!
Don’t buy anything unless you are willing to pay the price on the tag.  Although people love making deals, don’t get caught up in the excitement and assume you will get a good deal and then feel pressured to purchase if the seller remains firm on the price.  You’ll only end up feeling cheated in the end.

~Hopefully some of these tips can help you!  What are your greatest finds??~