Birchbox September 2017 Review

Pretend it’s a month ago.

This was my Birchbox!:

I got stuff!:

Macadamia Professional Healing Oil Spray (travel size at 2 fl oz), retail value $14.50

I’m still waiting on a genie in a lamp to deliver some magic “healing” hair ingredients. This spray consists mostly of water and fractionated coconut oil (“Capric/Caprylic Triglyceride”) held in an emulsion by an emulsifying wax. You get a little glycerin, fatty esters, and fatty alcohols to keep moisture in, and there’s a few silicones and inexplicable vitamins (e.g. Vitamin C and Vitamin E).

I won’t say that there is no evidence that topical vitamin e can have any effects anything having to do with hair, but the evidence is shit like this study done in the 1960s on rabbits… and, as a bunny owner, I promise that bunnies aren’t good models for stuff like split ends. If you hope this is going to do something really specially for damaged hair, that’s just not a realistic expectation.

However, if your expectations are “My hair is kinda dry and maybe I could spray this on it and it would be less dry” you’ve found the right sort of thing. It will do that.

It also has a nice sandalwood-y smell and it’s not at all greasy.

Acure Organics Day Cream (1 fl oz), approximate retail value $10.85

If there is one thing I hate as a person who kind of thinks things through sometimes, it’s the idea that plant stem cells are going to do anything (anything at all) to fix your face. Seriously, fuck everyone who markets shit like this.

The idea that fruit stem cells are going to help your skin was actually the topic of my first “Beauty Bullshit” post, which you can read here.

Gotu kola is not a fruit. It’s a herbaceous plant… but the same logic applies.

This plant was presumably chosen because there is a lot of mythology around it… so much so that the American Cancer Society has had to formally come out and declare that “available scientific evidence does not support claims of its effectiveness for treating cancer or any other disease in humans.”

The company is also advertising the benefits of its “chlorella growth factor”. Chlorella is a single-celled algae and a growth factor is a substance that helps to stimulate cellular growth. Readers of this blog will likely be unsurprised to hear that it’s likely not helping your skin any.

Even leaving the pseudoscience aside, I can’t get over the ridiculousness of a “day cream” without SPF in it. Isn’t that the point of a “day cream”? Plus, the benefits of sunscreen are actual science…

Dr. Brandt Pores No More Vacuum Cleaner (0.25 oz), approximate retail value $11.25

This product definitely won’t be pulling anything fancy out of your face. Basically, it’s a clear goop that you leave on your face until it turns into a slightly crusty, slightly blue/white goop (but like… not impressively… more like you got toothpaste foam on your face and didn’t wash it off), and then you remove it.

I tend to try to avoid drying alcohols in my skincare, and this product has a lot of them. It also doesn’t have glycolic acid or salicylic acid in enough quantities or at the right pH to be super helpful. There are much better products out there.

Ruffian Nail Lacquer in Naked (full size at 0.17 fl oz), retail value $10.00

As much as I love Ruffian’s cute little nail polish bottles, this has to be the ugliest color of nail polish I have ever seen.

When I saw it, the first thing I thought of was Soylent, the meal replacement product for people who inexplicably hate food:

Photo source:

Putting it on my nails made me feel like I was getting ready to put on the khaki version of a Canadian tuxedo.

(It looks even worse when it chips.)

Ruffian Dressing Room Nail Lacquer Remover Towelettes (2 wipes), approximate retail value $2.40

I also got nail polish removing wipes because Birchbox correctly predicted that I would quickly want to remove that hideous nail color.

These wipes look snazzy. They are black. They are the nail polish wipe equivalent of a really fancy house you pin to inspirational Pinterest boards.

Unfortunately, like many things on Pinterest, reality is not as good as the fantasy. These remove nothing. After completely shredding one of these wipes trying to remove a single polished nail, I gave up and broke out my acetone and cotton rounds.

TEMPTU S/B Highligher (0.1 fl oz), approximate retail value $2.75

Finally, I got a highlighter in a golden bronzy shade that would probably be more appropriate for a blush on me.

Because the color is so orange and dark on me, it requires incredible amounts of blending. Basically, I just blend until I can’t see it anymore.

Do you see the faint orange streak on my cheekbone below?

…that’s this product.

Total Box Value: $51.75

Tl;dr: I hate everything and am a curmudgeon. A lazy curmudgeon who writes blog posts a month late.

If you mysteriously want to join Birchbox anyways, you could use this link… or another link, but this one is mine.


  1. DafraStar

    I agree- that nail color had me like “WTF”

  2. Elizabeth

    it looks like foundation for one of those women that doesn’t seem to exist!

  3. Kidsandbeautyblog

    Have you ever looked into the Paula’s Choice product line? I’m not affiliated with them in any way just a long time user. She’s big on using ingredients that are backed by science and not making any crazy claims for her products.

  4. kitteaca

    “A lazy curmugeon.” Perfection.

  5. J Ang

    This is unrelated–but do you have any favorite youtube beauty bloggers?

  6. Karelyn Munro

    Could you do a post on your skin care routine?

  7. Robin

    Isn’t Temptu airbrush makeup? Why in the world are they putting something like that in the box when barely any of their subscribers are going to have the right tools to apply it?

  8. momijizukamori

    Temptu lists the s/b line as airbrush or hand-application, but yeaaaah, it’s really more of an airbrush makeup

  9. BeautybyTellie

    I’m glad you call out beauty bullshit. I am also sick and tired of green brands and eco warriors hiding behind the exoticness of nature to market ineffective products.

  10. Elizabeth

    What have you found that works for acne?

  11. Elizabeth

    It seems like everyone who gets birchbox essentially hates it. It makes for fun-to-read snark, but I don’t really get it. Same with Wantable. And a few others.

  12. thepaintedrogue

    *sigh* the beauty bullshit stuff just makes me sad and tired. My inner scientist is beating her head against a wall. My outer scientist making scowly faces at the screen. 😛

    If Soylent Green is People, doe that mean Soylent Beige is Polish?

  13. Jasmine

    Funny, I got that TEMPTU highlighter too, but because I’m brown it blends right in to my skin so you can see no evidence of it ever being there.

  14. n̷a̷c̷e̷r̷a̷ ɐɹǝɔɐu

    very nice thank you so much