December Birchbox

Even though I hate the 1%, I wish I were one of them from time to time.  I don’t envy their Ferraris or their Teslas, rather the comfort they have in knowing that their car will make it from point A to point B without breaking down.  I want to be able to buy a new pair of jeans every once in a while; I’m not even asking for Gucci, maybe just Gap.  Simply put, I would like a little bit of luxury in my life.  However, I reside somewhere within the 80-99% and don’t have quite as many options.  So I decided on the best form of Poor Girl Pampering: Birchbox.  Here’s the deal: you pay $10 a month and they send you 4-6 samples of beauty products based on the preferences and styles outlined in your profile.  It’s simple, fun, and gives me hope that some day I can afford the full-sized products.  I have finally tried out all the products in my December box and shall review them so that you too can see what may be worth investing in once you marry rich or finally figure your life out.

Here is my Birchbox:

Ta-daa!
Ta-daa!

1.  Juara Tumeric Antioxidant Radiance Mask:  This is one of the products I was really excited to try.  I’ve never done a mask before but I have always pictured it as the pinnacle of relaxation.  I blame Hollywood as I do for most skewed images of things because it’s easy and makes me feel righteous.  But let’s be honest, when you think of a mask, what comes to mind? I conjure up an image of Samantha from Sex in the City donning one while soaking in a bath, room lit only by candles, sipping a glass of wine while a long-haired Spanish model 15 years her junior massages her feet.  Glamour to the extreme.  I wanted to create that spa-like don’t-fuck-with-me-during-beauty-time vibe but all I had was a robe, wine, and Sam Smith on Spotify.

lala
Satin robe and $5 wine.  Classy as shit.

I made it work.

Since this was my first time applying one, I wasn’t sure how much to put on.  I kind of slathered it until there was a smooth, creamy layer evenly across my face.  This mask was supposed to stay moist rather than harden and crack or whatever (I guess they do that?), so I took that as a plus.  About halfway through application, my face began to feel warm.  When I was done with application, the heat had elevated to a raging burn.

This can't be good.
Am I pretty yet?

My mind automatically darted back to the time 6 years ago when I decided to have a similarly relaxing evening and drew myself a bubble bath.  Accompanied by The Sound and the Fury and a nice glass of chardonnay, I remember smiling complacently.  “This is it, Gina,” I thought.  “This is the life you will lead.”  The next morning I awoke in an itchy panic, stumbling to a mirror to discover my skin was bright red, miniature hives cascading in a grotesque mountain range from my forehead to the soles of my feet.  The long-sleeved turtleneck maxi dress and floppy hat of Amal-sized proportions could not even save me embarrassment.  Those were a dark and shameful two days that I never wish to recreate.  And for the record, oatmeal baths are not as rewarding as bubble baths.

Fortunately, the Juara mask is formulated for sensitive skin and after about 5 minutes of deep-breathing and empty promises to a handful of deities (sorry Buddha, I’m still going to eat pork), the tingling of the mask began to fade; by the end of the full 15-minute treatment, my skin felt perfectly normal.  I rinsed it off as instructed (which was actually quite difficult to do considering how thick, creamy, and non-lathery the formula is) and was quite pleased with the results.

You can see the difference too, right?
You can see the difference too, right?  I’m not crazy?

Though uncertain whether it’s reality or my delusions of grandeur speaking, I swear my pores looked smaller, and my skin looked brighter and healthier.  I would definitely consider investing in this product if not for the effect than for the fact that it helps me perpetrate the illusion of a glamorous lifestyle.
BRASS TACKS:  I was given a 0.5 oz sample which provided me with about three masks.  The instructions say to use it 1-2 times a week.  The retail value of the 3 oz container is $35.  Oh God.  This is an actual time where I need math in real life.  Give me a minute.
…..
Okay.  So you’d get about 18 masks out of a full sized product.  That’s about 9 weeks worth of masks.  I guess that’s not so bad.  Also, shout out to Mrs. Anderson, my 9th grade math teacher, for teaching me enough algebra to figure that out.

2.  Acure Organics Sensitive Facial Cleanser Argan Oil + Probiotic:  Along with my mask, I received a face wash also for sensitive skin–I’m not going to read too much into it.  The wash reminded me of the Neutrogena Deep Clean Cream Cleanser–it doesn’t lather and feels a little heavy.  It didn’t make my skin dry or break out or anything which is always a worry with new skin care products (reference above bubble bath story), but it didn’t have a particularly positive effect either.  I think I will stick to my regimen of my good ole’ orange Neutrogena Facial Cleanser and St. Ive’s Green Tea scrub every couple of days.

3. Vasanti Kajal Extreme Intense Eye Pencil:  I was a little disappointed to see this product in my box, not because I don’t enjoy a good eyeliner, but because I don’t believe in wearing one in the color rose gold.  I swatched it on my skin though and besides it being a really pretty color, it stayed put until I washed it off with soap, so I figured I would give it a try.  I decided to use it at as double eyeliner–lining my usual black cat eye for a night out.  I used Chopper from my Naked 2 palette for my eyeshadow and it created a shimmery, iridescent look.  I wore it out to the boyfriend’s show at Hard Rock and, being the lazy girl I am, slept with it on.  It stayed remarkably well.  I retouched the next morning and was happily surprised by how well it translated to day-wear.

Mmhmm, fly as hell.
Mmhmm, fly as hell.

So I will never wear this alone, but it was a pretty fun addition to my makeup collection.  And isn’t that the whole point of a Birchbox?

4.  W3LL PEOPLE Bio Brightener Stick:  This is the only product I don’t see myself using at all.  Unfamiliar with where this stuff is supposed to brighten me up, I had to google it.  From what I could find, it is supposed to serve as a highlighter and an under-eye concealer-esque brightening thing.  I tried it out on the spots I usually highlight around my eye–under the brow bone and in the inner corner.  It was pretty dim compared to what I usually use (Bootycall again found in the Naked 2 palette).  I tried it under my eye and it gave me a pallid spooky tone, like a middle-aged ghost.  The only spot it looked halfway decent is on my cupid’s bow, but it rubs off quickly.  Not a fan, W3LL PEOPLE, of your product or your name.

5.  Davine’s Replumping Shampoo, Conditioner, and Hair Filler Superactive:  I will admit, I wrongly judged this sample.  When I first saw it, I was disappointed.  A little one time use packet of shampoo and conditioner?  Some weird spray?  Don’t they KNOW my hair is incapable of being prodded into doing anything I want it to?  Also, THE fuck does Replumping Hair Filler Superactive mean?  Well, Past Gina, it means it will give your hair a normal texture.  It means that this weird mid-winter hot dryness will not cause your strands to stick to your face with electricity or fly up in an untamable Einsteinian fashion.  It means the grease that usually begins its daily crawl from your roots downward is halted or at least slowed.  It means you feel good about your hair, for a few days at least.  My only complaint is that the spray smells incredibly strong.  It’s as though they took every salon product, boiled them down all together, and made a concentrate.  They then injected that concentrate with poison.  That is how this smells.  The scent fades a few hours later, and with it goes the headache and nausea.

Volume like I've never seent
Volume like I never seent

The effects of the product are supposed to last for 6-8 days, making this product super cost-effective.  Here’s the best thing about it–I received a 50 ml sample.  The full-sized product is 100 ml and sells at $39.95.  See that?  The box more than paid for itself with just one product.  Cheap girls for the win!