One of the posts that gets the most views on here is my Birchbox vs. Ipsy post from last summer. Most of those hits come from Google. High SEO value there, I guess. I wrote that when I was getting pretty sour on Ipsy and excited to be going back to Birchbox. But lately BB has been kind of lackluster for me, so I thought I figured I write an update. I don't want to mislead anyone when I'm not quite so into it anymore.
Is it just that the honeymoon period is over? I don't think so. When I compare the first few boxes I got from Birchbox, like this one (I ended up really loving the No. 4 hair product) or this one, with what they're sending me now, the more recent boxes really do seem much less interesting. My profile says that I prefer makeup and nail polish over everything else, and that my style is "adventurous" and "trendy." (Maybe that's a lie, but I have enough "natural" and "classic" products in my hoard already. I want to try something new).
See what you think. Here are my boxes from January and February:
In January I took advantage of their new "pick your sample" option to choose a Tocca hand cream, which I was really looking forward to trying. Then my box went missing in the mail, and they sent me this as a replacement. Apparently the sample I had chosen was out of stock. This contains a strongly scented peppermint body lotion which is the kind of thing you'd find in a mid-range hotel. I mean that literally: the brand that makes this (Gilchrist & Soames) is all over hotels, and it's the kind of product you use out of desperation when you realize you didn't remember to bring a better lotion from home. There's an AHA mask, which I guess I will try out. They sent a black eyeliner, which is boring, but useful, I suppose, and at least it's full size. The bottle on the left is aloe face wash, which again is boring but will be used. And the tub at the bottom is some kind of "invisible daily tint" (how is a tint invisible???) with no eeeeeeeevil chemicals like silicone in it. It's absolute shit. It's too dark for me (as most samples of this type are), so it's certainly not invisible. Beside the color making it not invisible, it is streaky and fucking chunky when you try to spread it on your face. Lovely! Give me all the silicone, please, if this is what natural gets you. In this entire box, there is nothing that interests me in the slightest, much less excites me.
Okay, so that was a replacement box, and maybe they had run out of all the good stuff at that point. But in February I got the box that was supposedly tailored to me, so it should be better, right? Check it out:
This time I chose the Marcelle eye makeup remover as my sample for some reason. I don't usually use eye makeup remover (I just use Cetaphil lotion), but it's a Canadian brand, and I've heard good things about it, so it sucked me in. At the left side of the box are shampoo and conditioner samples. Maybe not thrilling, but I was at least satisfied with the big bottle of shampoo, because I'm running low. This saves me from having to buy more for a week or two. In the middle: more Gilchrist and Soames - body wash this time. So cheap they couldn't even be bothered to put the tube together correctly so that the label would be centered. Then that tiny Benefit lip balm that is twisted all the way up in this photo. That's how muchactual product is in that huge package. What a waste. It's barely tinted and smells like roses. Yawn. And a perfume sample. I do not like getting perfume samples, and I ticked the box in my profile asking them not to send me more than 6 per year. Unfortunately, I think that means per calendar year, and since I signed up for my year subscription in July, I could technically get one every single month I'm subscribed. So far there's only been one box without perfume. Not cool.
So does this box say makeup + nail polish + trendy + adventurous then? I guess lip balm is sort of like makeup, but is mostly-clear balm trendy or is it adventurous?
Birchbox is supposed to be a service that introduces me to new, exciting products so that I will buy them from their suppliers. They're not sending me exciting things, and they're not sending me things that fit my profile.
I don't know if choosing a sample is the problem. There are apparently limited box combinations, so if you choose a sample, you have to get one of the predetermined combinations that includes it. But I started choosing samples in the first place to ensure that I would get a least ONE thing in my box that I liked, because the previous couple of boxes had also been blah.
If I were paying the full $10 for each box, I would probably be even more frustrated. Luckily I signed up using that really good deal that appeared briefly last summer, so I'm making back most of the cost of each box through points. It's really the points system that still makes BB come out ahead of Ipsy. With a normal $10 a month subscription, you get $5 a month back in credits. And if you shop for things you would be buying anyway in the BB shop, you get more points, which are worth more than points you'd get from other stores, like Sephora, because you can shop with them.
Here's some of the stuff I've got using my credit over the last few months:
These are things that I just never could have afforded to try right now if I had to use real money. (Of all of them, I recommend the tea the most. Yum.) I did have a couple of referrals (thanks!), but the vast majority of the points were earned through the usual monthly reviews of products, and I used promo codes and sales to get good deals. To be honest, even if BB keeps womp-womping me with the boxes, I might stay subscribed after my year runs out, because of the points. But the conspiracy theory part of my brain wonders if they are sending me less interesting things, because I have already paid for a year, and they don't have to worry about enticing me to stay. That's impossible, right? It's all automated, right? And computers can't decide which beauty products are less exciting. Right??
So that is my current view of Birchbox. Boxes = meh. Points = yay! I just wish they would make some sort of effort to send me things that matched my profile. Wouldn't that be in their best interest? I can't remember the last time they sent me a sample of something that I actually wanted to buy from their store after trying it.
If you want to roll the dice and play the points game, here's my referral link. If you do decide to sign up, you should definitely google for a promo code that will get you 100 points when you do. There seem to be new ones every month. Maybe you can crack the secret to the perfect profile setup. Because telling them what you actually want apparently isn't the trick.