I have a weird relationship with new beauty products: I’m always intrigued by them, but I’m totally unwilling to invest in a full-size bottle of any new product unless I know it’s going to work well. If I’ve tried it out before, I feel safe buying it — but if it’s not a known entity, I stand there in the CVS/Nordstrom beauty section giving products the “I don’t trust you” look.
After all, who wants to throw down some of her hard-earned moolah in order to wind up with a product that could leave her riddled with zits or breaking out in allergic reaction-induced hives?
Yes, my dear readers, zits and hives are the things I worry about when buying skincare products.
I once bought a new bottle of moisturizer that I hadn’t tested out before, and I put it on before going to sleep. I then proceeded to have vivid nightmares about my face being covered in walnut-size, reddish-purple, relentlessly itchy hives, which was the very motif I sported when I discovered that I have a severe penicillin allergy.
I woke myself up because I was thrashing around and yelling something to the effect of “OMIGOD, I NEED BENADRYL RIGHT NOW.” Not surprisingly, there were no hives in this case — but that didn’t stop me from checking my face at least five more times before my alarm went off the next morning.
I also have spectacularly sensitive skin. Things like witch hazel and tea tree oil — which, for normal people, are supposed to clear up breakouts — make my skin look like I’m trying to re-live my teenage years. There are some good reasons why no amount of money could ever, ever convince me to re-live my adolescence, and my skin circa 1994 is one of them.
Enter Birchbox: for $10/month, you get a carefully selected handful of sample sizes of various beauty products. Now, $10 is a price I’m comfortable with, especially since it involves samples. Wee little bits that I can try out to make sure I don’t break out like a mofo or get hives! Hooray!
My first Birchbox installment made me positively giddy. Among the loot were samples of tinted moisturizer, a facial exfoliant, and a hair smoothing spray. My reviews of all three are below (I also highly recommend checking out Must Have Boxes for some fantastic reviews of sample boxes and their loot of products):
Jouer Luminizing Moisture Tint: I absolutely love this stuff. I love the way I look with bronzer (I look great with a light tan, but I’m photosensitive as all get-out — so this cowgirl only ventures into the sun with copious amounts of sunblock) but I can never apply it right when using the powder variety.
This bronze-tinted moisturizer, though, is fantastic. I mix a small amount with some of my normal moisturizer to help it blend in, and I love it. It blends in perfectly, and it hasn’t provoked any hostilities from my uber-sensitive skin. Assuming our budget permits, I’ll definitely want to invest in a full-size bottle of this in the future.
Vasanti BrightenUp! Enzymatic Face Rejuvenator: This is another fantastic product that works well with my unremittingly finicky skin. I usually react really poorly to exfoliant scrubs — much like the witch hazel and tea tree oil, exfoliants tend to make me break out like woah — but this has no such side effects. My skin looks visibly brighter and healthier after using it, and I love how soft my skin feels after a brief scrub with this stuff. It’s another product that, assuming the budget allows, I’d definitely like to purchase.
Beauty Protector Protect and Detangle Spray: I have a ton of hair. Adding to which, my hair is a) naturally wavy, and b) really thick (I once donated a foot of it to Locks for Love, and there was enough to make wigs for three people) — which means that it’s also really prone to getting tangled. I rely on spray conditioners to help detangle and condition my tresses; I’ve used Pantene for years and it works beautifully, so I was curious to see if this stuff is even better than my Old Faithful.
While it works well, I’d say that it doesn’t do the job as fabulously as Pantene. I still get some tangles after using it, and it doesn’t leave my hair as soft as the Pantene does. I also have to admit that I don’t love the smell — I’ve never liked the smell of cocoa butter (I’m weird like that), and I love the fresh, clean scent of Pantene. Pantene is also a lot cheaper: the Beauty Protector spray is $22, whereas Pantene sells for somewhere between $5-$6. That said, though, the Beauty Protector got fantastic reviews on the Birchbox site, and it might just be that it works fabulously on hair less recalcitrant than mine.
Anyways, that’s the skinny on my first installment of Birchbox loot — I’ll do product reviews for each one, and I’ll hopefully remain free of all allergy hives. 🙂
Have you tried Birchbox? What have you thought of the samples you’ve gotten?