Admit it: everyone loves samples. Whether you get swept up by the miniature packaging, or just love the idea of a non-committal trial of something new, there’s always something to love about samples. Until recently, my samples came as little surprises in orders, or as a reward after dropping several hundreds at Sephora. I never imagined there would be companies out there that delivered nothing but samples!
I had never heard of Birchbox until Amanda posted a glimpse of her April shipment, but I’ve since seen it pop up on quite a few of my favourite beauty blogs and mentioned by several brands who have contributed. The idea is that each month, Birchbox puts together a collection of deluxe samples–no foil packets here!–based on your personal preferences that fits in with whatever theme they’ve decided to work with. In April, it was eco-friendly, natural and non-toxic products in honor of Earth Day. For May, it’s classic, timeless products that come fully mom-approved.
I signed up just shortly after seeing some of the amazing April offerings: it’s $10 a month, but don’t worry. Nothing’s automatic. Each month, you have the option to renew your membership. There is a yearly membership available, but I like to keep my options open.
My shipping notice came around the 5th of May. They did ask I allow 10 days for delivery, but looking at the tracking info makes me think they’re NJ-based, or close to it. The next day, I found the bright-pink box on my front porch. The packaging is pretty neat–the hot-pink shipping box is just a sort of cardboard shell that folds away to reveal the foil-stamped box inside.
What can I say? I really like the minimal packaging.
Inside, smaller samples were bundled in bright pink tissue paper and tied with black ribbon while larger samples were tucked underneath a bed of paper. A printed card with full product details was set on top of it all.
Call me silly, but I liked seeing how this was all packed up. To me, it meant a real human being had wrapped everything up and arranged it in an aesthetically pleasing manner rather than just dumping it all in a box and saying “the mail is gonna mess it all up anyway so why bother making it look pretty?”
The first thing I noticed was a distinct smell from the box. I didn’t really like it, and it sort of reeked of amber (which, you may or may not know, is one of my LEAST favourite scents EVER). Of course, I tore open the little pink bundle to see what it was.
The contents of the bundle
Inside the smaller bundle, I was surprised to find a small bar of soap, a tiny tube of night serum, a full-sized Stila shadow, and a perfume sample. There was the source of the smell! I had actually eyed up this perfume on the Sephora website (jasmine is one of my favourite notes in the entire world) and I was a little surprised to find it so disagreeable to me.
According to the notes, there’s no amber in this, but it’s heavily wooded and very musky. I actually like woody scents, so originally jasmine + woods sounded like a dream, but I guess it’s the musks that put me off. It’s really a shame, this had the potential to be so beautiful!
This lovely little soap is from Archipelago, loaded with rich olive oil and pomegranate-derived anti-oxidants. I haven’t tried this yet, but I really am dying to see how it performs. The ingredients look positively dreamy, and the triple-milled process promises luxurious lather without the harsh chemicals that are often used to produce similar effects. Better yet, the full-sized product (plus a candle and handcreme) are on the Birchbox site for a very affordable $35.
Though I am impressed to see this hailed as Audrey Hepburn’s favourite night cream, I’m a little afraid to try this little serum sample. Why? Mostly because the full-sized product retails at $190. I may be worried about the aging process, but I’m still in my late-early twenties (I’ll be in my early-mid twenties this year). Any “fine lines” I have are mostly imaginary, though I still do my best to beat them away. I’m not sure I need to get hooked on a two-hundred-dollar night creme right now. Or if the results would even be noticeable on my more-or-less young skin.
This was the biggest surprise to me. Stila shadows retail at about $18, and this baby is full-sized. It’s not a colour I would have selected for myself as Jezebel is a sort of tanned nude shimmer, but it looks like it might be a nice colour to blend with. The Stila formula is quite smooth and applies nicely–my one complaint was always that they came without compacts. I understand the concept of saving packaging, but I don’t do the custom-palette thing. I’d like a compact to hold my pan, please. I do see, however, on the Birchbox site they are sold in compacts.
These two were tucked under the paper at the bottom of the box. On the left is a blank card from TinyPrints and on the right are two packets of Oribe Beautiful Color Shampoo and Conditioner. I did think I specified no foil packets, but whatever. I’ll just have to remember to take scissors into the shower with my while I try these. I’ve definitely heard of the Oribe brand, but have not tried before…particularly because I hesitate to spend $36 A PIECE on shampoo and conditioner without knowing if it will really work miracles on my hair or not.
And there you have it. May Birchbox. I think I’ll be renewing my membership for June and seeing what they have to offer again. I like the concept a lot, and I think you get a decent amount of stuff for the $10. I particularly like the fact that it opens me up to things I might not have tried otherwise. Of course, I’ll keep you updated as I try the products.
Love you to the Moon and Back,