Birchbox October 2016 Review

It’s hard not to love a monthly present in the mail! I even love them when they are mild disappointments, like getting a gift card to Best Buy instead of a check. Hey, at least you can put that card towards a toaster oven!

(This philosophy may partially explain why I continue to subscribe to beauty boxes…)

Here’s what I got for October:

TheBalm Stainiac in Beauty Queen (0.04 fluid oz), approximate retail value $2.27
I was really excited to get this product in my Birchbox because theBalm is one of my favorite brands and I had previously considered purchasing this product sight unseen. Unfortunately, when I use it on my lips, I can find zero qualities that distinguishes this product from a tube of jello. Its gel-like consistency was really sticky on my lips and it applies in a manner that is patchy and unflattering. The stickiness did go away after a couple of hours (with the color remaining), but I don’t feel like that redeems it for its unpleasantness.
Interestingly, although I hated it on my lips, I really liked it on my cheeks. It adds a really natural-looking flush. To use it, I just dabbed the doe-foot applicator onto my finger and patted it onto my face. It is definitely a subtle look, which is nice for anyone who is worried about overdoing it on the blush. I think it would be more difficult to apply on someone with darker skin, since no one wants sticky cheeks.

Using theBalm Stainiac on both cheeks and lips.

I’ll definitely be using the rest of this sample, but I will be using it exclusively in its function as a blush. I don’t think I’ll be purchasing the full size, however.
Beauty Protector Protect and Detangle ‘Protect & Shampoo’ Daily Shampoo (estimated 0.75 fluid oz), estimated retail value $2.05
The Beauty Protector Protect and Detangle is one of my favorite products that I’ve received from Birchbox, so I was really excited about the prospect of trying their shampoo and conditioner. Both products smell… maybe like baklava? It’s hard to describe the scent. It’s pretty, though. Unless you hate Greek desserts, in which case you simply have no taste.

The shampoo is thicker than a drugstore shampoo, but not as thick as some of the practically-the-texture-of-honey shampoos I have received from Birchbox in the past. Unfortunately, the price is just unjustifiably high for me. Although the Birchbox website says that you should “apply a quarter-sized amount”, Birchbox has no goddamn idea how long my hair is. A quarter sized amount of shampoo might cleanse my pubes. I have so much fucking hair on my head! I am basically Rapunzel over here. This sample bottle was, like, one use. If I could buy shampoo by the gallon, I would.

I also couldn’t help but roll my eyes at Birchbox’s seriously silly suggestion about its function: “It’s powered by pearl powder, which is rich in conchiolin, an ingredient that acts like the hair protein keratin.” It would take so many fucking leaps of logic to get to ‘and thus this product is good for your hair’ that it’s a little bit hilarious. We’re not characters in the Phantom Tollbooth, Birchbox. We don’t like to jump to conclusions.

Beauty Protector Protect and Detangle ‘Protect & Condition’ Daily Conditioner (estimated 0.75 fluid oz), estimated retail value $2.05

It’s a similar story for conditioner, although the scent is much more fragrant!

Evologie Stay Clear Cream (0.33oz), approximate retail value $20.46
The feeling of wearing this moisturizer is very satisfying because it’s really thick, but it absorbs into your skin really quickly, leaving you with a nice, matte finish. Sadly, though, it seriously messed with my makeup when I put it on over it, making my foundation look patchy. I’ll be using the rest of this sample, but only as a night cream.

The price is also way too expensive to be reasonable, but y’all knew that already.

Chapstick Hydration Lock (full size at 0.15oz), retail value $2.99

This product feels really great on my lips. It is much more moisturizing than a traditional chapstick. The texture is really different as well. It feels very silicone-y. I did check the ingredients, and yup! There’s dimethicone (the ingredient that gives Smashbox primers that texture we know and love), which is not in traditional chapsticks.

Birchbox in particular is advertizing this as a lip primer, which I thought was a surprising choice because Chapstick sure as hell isn’t advertising it that way. (This is presumably because the average Birchbox member is a different audience than the average Chapstick customer.)

I decided to test its lip-priming abilities using MAC’s Just a Bite lipstick, which I wore through one working day (something like eight hours). I wore Chapstick’s Hydration Lock under the lipstick on one half of my lips and just the lipstick on the other half.

I was actually pretty impressed with the results. I was expecting either no difference or for the Chapstick side to do worse, since it’s kind of… slimy. I would say that the difference was mild, but I definitely see more color on Chapstick-primed side of my face.

Admire my crooked teeth.

It’s worth noting that this is just Chapstick Hydration Lock versus literally nothing. It’s perfectly possible that a regular lip balm will work just as well. That’s an empirical question that I would have to test. It does definitely do better than a control, though. At $2.99, it’s probably worth a try.

Total Box Value: $29.82

Overall, I’m moderately pleased with this box. I didn’t find any new holy grails, but I was generally happy with all the samples I got. If I was a rich lady and could justify spending $22 on 8 ounces of shampoo, the box would have worked a little better for me. (I can justify it on makeup, but not on something that I use up so quickly.)

You may have noticed that I like musicals…


1. You should try the Organix Biotin and Collagen (purple) line. The scent is really similar to the Beauty Protector fragrance, I think.

2. I’ll look into it!

3. Hey! This is the first time I was ever able to successfully comment to your blog. The comment function never used to work for me.


5. You’re the first person I’ve seen who also didn’t get the Liz Earle cleanser. I wanted that so badly!!

I know what you mean about the Staniac, but I somehow figured out how to apply it to my lips by adding more and layering, so the blotchy color evens out.

6. I tried three layers and it was still funky… hm…

7. Does it work better with the “lip primer”?

8. If you had to pick would you say that you prefer Birchbox or Ipsy? I would like to sign up for one but not both.

9. I think I would pick Birchbox, if only for the points system.

BUT you may want to hold off since I’ll have a statistical comparison in the next week or so!

10. I’m so frustrated that there are almost no subscription boxes shipping to/available in Europe! πŸ™
Otherwise i just wanted to make a correction: baklava is a Turkish sweet, The Istanbul baklava is like terribly overpriced self-hatred that tastes oh so damn amazing!

11. Baklava is both Greek and Turkish. πŸ˜‰ It is made in every region of Greece and there are no historical documents letting us know where it originated!

12. I agree with you on the Stainiac – I got it in my BB last year and thought it was lame on the lips but great on the cheeks. But again, didn’t love it enough to buy it once I’d used it up.

13. Still a worthwhile sample, though!

14. I’m happy you posted a close up of your lips. You and I have the same crooked front tooth. My dentist begged me to get braces as a kid – I didn’t want to and my mum never made me and I’m happy now because I think it’s cute.

15. I’m all kinds of crooked! My dentist told me they would straighten out, though… nope…

16. The Chapstick is the only thing we both got. It’s okay, but I find the 8 hour moisture claim laughable.

I got Benefit Fakeup in Light (disappointing in both coverage and color for me), POP Beauty Aqua Lacquer in Flowering Fuchsia (surprisingly subtle and nice-looking, even if I don’t need or want plumping), and Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser and Pure Muslin Cloth. That one is a holy grail for me. My skin looks and feels amazing. My face is so soft and moisturized, and it seems like it’s even cleared up my acne somewhat. It the very least, what does pop up is healing faster. My only complaint is that it’s a little difficult to remove my eyeliner with it.

17. Man, the Stainiac confused me so much, I could not get it to work on my lips to save my life, but when I checked the reviews on BB to see if I was doing anything wrong all the reviews were *glowing* I’m glad it just wasn’t working out as a lip product for someone else. I could never get one even layer.

18. I have the Stainiac in Prom Queen (coral-y pink) and I love it. The color lasts forever and it doesn’t dry my lips nearly as much as other stains. I’ve never had a problem with it going on patchy–in fact, I was really surprised it applied so well, because I usually have problems with lip stains. Maybe it’s just that shade.

19. I’m necro-posting here, but I wanted to add my $0.02.

Staniac lipstain is garbage. I’ve tried it out twice now, with a few years in between, and it tastes terrible (not that you should be eating it, but since it’s on your lips, sometimes it’s hard to avoid), and it doesn’t go on smoothly. Shitty product, 1 star on TripAdvisor, would not deal again.

The Beauty Protector Protect and Detangle shampoo and conditioner: I REALLY wanted to like this. I took it on holiday with me as I have super short and very fine hair, and each sample container lasted me five washes. Each time I washed my hair using this stuff, my hair looked limp and lank and lifeless. And, actually, a little bit oily. So I would DEFINITELY not buy this. It’s stupid expensive anyway, but this did me no favors.

The only other thing I received in my BB similar to yours was the chapstick, which I gave to my husband as he always has dry lips. I asked him his opinion, and he shrugged. :/ Sorry I can’t be more precise on that front.