Monday, February 11, 2013

Top 10 Beauty Sample Boxes - Part 2

This is my second review of Beauty Sample Boxes, with new criteria and new programs - and a little feedback about the ones I tried.

The Ones I Tried:

Julep - A total must for nail polish lovers, I really enjoyed Julep. The polishes are incredibly high quality, with full size treatments. I loved being able to switch my selection if I didn't prefer that month's colors. Cute packaging, fun surprises. But at $19.99 per month it quickly became too pricey, despite being more than worth it with product. I have since decided to lower the pricepoint for my top picks of sample boxes to $15 and under per month. The verdict: If you don't mind the price point, and can stick with products from one brand, go for it.

Birchbox - At the forefront of the beauty sample box trend, I had high hopes for Birchbox. At $10 per month the price was great, but the products I received - not so much. I received multiples of the same sample, tiny containers, and far too many skin products I never even used. I enjoyed collecting points and for a while also enjoyed my membership - but too many dud boxes made me quickly cancel. The verdict: Birchbox has changed it's game a bit since I was a member - with the Women's box at $10 per month and a new Men's box at about $20 per month (ouch!). Reviews seem to trickle in with lovers and haters, but it might be worth a shot.

Eco Emi - This was more of a lifestyle box than a beauty box. Every month I received my $15 box packed with yummy nut butter samples, organic soap slices, medicinal teas, and a few beauty products, such as mineral makeup and tinted chapstick. I stayed with Eco-Emi for several months, until the chapsticks piled too high and I once again wanted to switch gears. The verdict: If you are looking for more of a lifestyle sample box, this could be for you. But it didn't have enough beauty products to really be a beauty sample box for me.

And now for the fun: The Top Ten Beauty Sample Boxes - Part 2!!!

#1: Beauty Bar Sample Society - a promising new sample box program partnered up with Allure magazine, it is $15 a month and features deluxe size samples and tips and news from Allure. A $15 monthly gift code can be redeemed on a $50 purchase. Samples look very generous in the reviews I have seen, from great brands like Oscar Blandi, Diptyque, Stila, and Essie. Shipping is included in the monthly fee and they only ship to the USA, but not to Alaska, Hawaii, US territories or APO boxes.

#2: Ipsy - $10 a month gets you beauty samples with a look everyone tries together. There are no points or coupons to be used later but each month comes in a reusable makeup bag. Online you can create your own look or follow along. Past offerings featured brands like the Balm, bareMinerals, NYX, Philosophy, and Josie Maran. Shipping is free to the USA and it's territories and military addresses, and $4.95 to Canada.

#3: Beauty Army - $12 per month and you get to pick 6 samples. Re-do your profile for new sample selections. Skip a month anytime. Collect unique 'badges' to get rewards. Although I liked the concept of selecting my own samples, most for the month I picked were skin care, not makeup or nail polish. Brands include Mark (an offshoot of Avon), Bath & Bodyworks, and Skyn. They only ship to the USA.

#4: Beauty Box 5 - For $12 per month you get 4-5 samples. Allure magazine called it an appealing mix of luxury, drugstore, and vegan products. You can refer friends for a free month. I saw brands like Blinc, Ofra Cosmetic's, Everyday Minerals, and Tree Hut. It ships to the US and Canada for free. 

#5: Birchbox - Even though I wasn't thrilled with Birchbox, at $10 per month it is still a good deal. Plenty of good reviews still abound (along with bad) and it's something you really have to try to see if you will like it or not. I still think they have the best points program, and the Men's subscription ($20/month) is worth checking out. They ship to the USA, it's territories and APO boxes. Shipping is free. 

#6: Total Beauty Collection - although this isn't really a subscription program, it is a great way to try the subscription box idea without commitment. Prices vary from $15 for the Resolution Solution, Winter Getaway and Winter Boost Collections to $29.99 for the Valentine's Day Treats Collection. Brands included Boscia, NYX, Neutrogena, Ferro and Wella. USA shipping is free, and they offer international shipping for discounted rates. 

#7: Starlooks Starbox - I found this program through the makeuptalk community. It is $15 per month with a swanky looking 'starbox'. The sites FAQ says you get 3-4 full size Starlooks makeup products, plus some fun little extras. The extra's look cute enough to justify getting the same makeup brand. You can also order a past month's box (something I recommend) to see if you like the makeup. I have heard the makeup is similar to MAC. They ship to the USA for $1.98 and will ship internationally for an extra charge. 

#8: Bellabox - For AU$15.00 per month you get 5 luxury beauty products in a curated box. The brands look mostly higher end, with fun nail polishes, makeup and skincare products. Some brands that caught my attention from January's box were Mode Nail Enamel, Face of Australia, Jurlique, and Aurora Spa. They ship to Australia and Singapore only - Singapore residents should visit They also have a rewards points program. 

#9: Topbox - $12(Canadian dollars) per month, receive 4 beauty products in each box. Each box is customized for you after you fill out the beauty profile. They don't seem to have a points program but do have discounted products available. From the reviews I have seen, Topbox really doesn't skimp on your products - or brands. Clinique, China Glaze, Roberto Cavalli, Stila and Aveda were some of the brands of products people were receiving. Topbox only ships to Canada. 

#10: Glossybox (UK) - £10(UK) per month, plus shipping. You get 5 samples a month, customized to your bespoke beauty profile. Brands from the January 2013 box I liked included Murad, BM Beauty, Paul Mitchell, and Vichy. It seemed to have a greater amount of skin/hair/body products than makeup products, but other months look to have some great makeup offerings, including full sized lipsticks and eyeshadow palettes. It ships to the UK and Ireland, with other sites (listed on the FAQ page) for Austria, Brazil, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, and the US. Prices vary. The original UK program still seems the best to me. 

Who didn't make the list and why?

I didn't include sample programs like Glossybox (US), Julep, or New Beauty TestTube because they are over $15. Many reviews for these companies exist on youtube and other sites if you want to spend more. 

I also didn't include programs like Eco-Emi because they are lifestyle boxes. 

I was not paid to write these reviews, nor was I given any sample boxes. None of the links to sites are any sort of referral link. 

Have you tried any beauty sampler boxes? Please comment!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Urban Decay Oz the Great and Powerful - Theodora Palette Review With Swatches

My local Ulta has both palettes from Urban Decay's Oz the Great and Powerful displayed - the graceful, light Glinda, with it's colors of lavender and rose, bringing to mind all things Fairy. And the bewitching Theodora, which I naturally gravitated toward.

Here is the gorgeous tin case:

And the back:

And the open case, (not showing the mirror):

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Mascara Review

Mascara Review! 

From the Sephora Favorites box of mascara (discontinued now) from left to right: