Sunday, January 6, 2013

PopSugar Must Have December 2012

The PopSugar Must Have box is not something I could ordinarily afford - but my dad generously gifted me with a three-month sub for my birthday in November. I was excited, and counted down the days until I received my first box.

All I can say is it was a huge disappointment. HUGE.

I've seen past boxes, and most of them seem great - yet this box was underwhelming, as you can see from the picture above.

This is what was inside:

Bodum Bistro Mugs:Okay, I'll admit - these are cool. But homey has mugs coming out of her ass already. Still, I really love the Bodum brand. And I'll use these - and just get rid of two other mugs so I have space.
Retail price: $30

Tea Forté Petite Ribbon Box: For reals? A luxury box and it contains TEA? What a cop out. Seriously - that is my one biggest gripe about all the small sub boxes - they always include tea as a space filler. So what does PopSugar go and do? THE EXACT SAME THING. Bah! Homey can't drink tea - unless it's chamomile - and that's plain chamomile. This box of tea was a total disappointment.
Retail price: $15

Jaboneria Marianella Soaps in Almendra: Ugh.... a bar of soap? Seriously? Homey does NOT use soap - and again, this is something I would expect from an inexpensive subscription box - not from PopSugar! At least it's made in my favorite place: The good old US of A!
Retail price: Too fucking much ($14 a bar)

Pinch Provisions Good Luck Minimergency® Kit: Guess what? I like it! This amazingly small little kit contains 17 items a girl might need in an emergency - like hairspray. Hey! Hairspray can - and has - saved a girl's day!
Retail price: $15

Bogdon's Peppermint Poles: I get that it was the holiday season, but homey would have much preferred something decadent instead of what amounts to a chocolate-covered candy cane.
Retail price: $3.99

GoSwype - Lips: Use these to keep your techy devices clean and free of lipstick and germs. Homey doesn't have any techy-type devices, because she can't afford any. I should have given this away as a gift at Christmas. It would have been great in someone's stocking.
Retail price: $1.99

And then..... the most crappiest thing of all: a $30 gift card from Rent the Runway. Uh... it's not like you can actually get anything for $30. Plus, you know this gift was crappy because it was also in the December Birchbox.

Nitpicks: PopSugar Must Have touts themselves as "an exciting monthly box, full of fun, hand-selected items from our editors." Since when is tea, soap, and candy canes exciting? Since never, that's when! I think the editors need to look up "exciting" in the dictionary and rethink this thing!

Lasting Impression: Well... the excitement of opening the box and seeing what was inside. I've been coveting this box for months now. Thanks, Dad! You made my dream come true!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Eco-Emi December 2012

As always, Eco-Emi was a delight to receive in December. This is probably the best of all the subscription services I receive. It never fails to deliver - never! Their December box is always generous - I haven't been disappointed in a December box yet!

All the items featured in Eco-Emi's December box are all Leaping Bunny Certified products. What does that mean? Well, the Leaping Bunny Foundation reviews products to insure they are curelty-free - and if they are, they qualify for Leaping Bunny emblem. 

Here's what was inside December's box:

1) blissoma Adaptive Energy Tonique: This is a hydration facial product - and believe me, here in Nevada I can use it!
Retail price: $21.99 for 4 oz.

2) Burt's Bees Shea Butter Hand Repair Cream: I've tried this before, and I like it! In fact, I'm a big Burt's Bees fan. This is a nice size to put in my purse.
Retail price: $13 for 3.2 oz.

3) Auromere Licorice Toothpaste: Yuck. I was excited that this is a full size product, but um... seriously? Who wants to brush their teeth with licorice flavored toothpaste? Not me, that's for sure.
Retail price: $5.99 for 4.16 oz

4) Chocolate Mint Lip Butter by Organic Indulgence: I actually received this before - and I am FAIRLY certain it was from Eco-Emi. But... maybe not. Homey is getting older and her memory isn't as good as it used to be. Still, I love having these lip balms as they make nice little gifts for people.
Retail price: $2.95

5) Vanilla Bean Granola Chips b Willamette Valley: A nice little treat to try - admittedly I haven't broken into these yet, because I had company for the holidays and it would have been rude to eat these in front of them. I'm taking them with me tomorrow to work - hopefully they are worth every calorie!
Retail price: $4.99 for 6.2 oz

6) Aiyana eau de parfum from Tallulah Jane: I absolutely love this scent - it's so me! It's soft and a tad floral, but also kind of hippie-ish. The description states it's a blend of Moroccan Rose balanced with notes of vanilla and rock rose, then brightened with Italian lemon. I normally don't go for rose-scented fragrance, but this I like. Must be the vanilla and Italian lemon that tone down the rose enough for me to enjoy!
Retail price: $48 for 1 fl oz.

7) Fundamental Face Scrub:  This is one of those hated foil packet samples, but I believe I can get two uses out of this one. And guess what? It's made in my favorite place: the good old US of A!
Retail price: $16 for 8 oz

8) 100% Pure Vanilla Bean Nourishing Body Cream: Damn. They had five different scents to give out, and I got Vanilla Bean. Every time I get a lotion, it's either peppermint or vanilla - I would have enjoyed the coconut! I've actually tried other 100% Pure products before, and they are nice. Still... this is one of those dreaded foil packets - enough for one use.
Retail price: $15 for 8 oz.

9) Eco-Dent: I received two sample products: a dental gum called Between! and a dental powder in Mint (much better than licorice if you ask me). Still, these are very small samples, and I'm not afraid to say I'm disappointed in the size.
Retail price: $1.79 for 12 pieces of gum, and $8.09 for 2 oz. of dental powder

10) Bulldog Skin Care: We received a sample of Original Moisturizer for men - blerg. Last time I checked, I didn't have a penis.
Retail price: $6.99 for 3.3 fl. oz.

11) Apricot Eye Therapy by Better Botanicals.  Another stingy little foil packet! I feel my inner Grinch reappearing.
Retail price: $18.99 for 0.5 oz tube

Nitpicks: Five of the samples were one-use only foil packets (although I am fairly certain I can squeeze out two uses from the facial scrub). That was a huge disappointment. This is the most foil packets I've received in an Eco-Emi box - I guess everyone is tightening up their belts lately!

Lasting Impression: Because the box was so generous, they survived my subscription box cuts! Plus, Eco-Emi has a waiting list - and I didn't want to go through the hassle of being put back on that list. Last time, it took about three months or so before I was able to join!

While I'm disappointed with the over abundance of foil pack samples, Eco-Emi still was one of the best boxes I received in December. They remain one of my favorites!

Goodebox December 2012

December's Goodebox falls into "The Good" category - thankfully! Holy cow, I was getting to feel like the subscription world was working against me until I received this box!

There was an interesting mix of goodies, thanks to curator Sophie Uliano. The theme of the box was fighting wrinkles - what? Did they know I'd been frowning a lot in December, thanks to previous subscription boxes? Apparently so!

In this box:

1) bEST hAIR tIES eVER: There are lots of colors - mine is green. Not my favorite color in a hair tie - still, because of hot flashes, I often tie my hair back when I'm at home. Now I don't have long hair, but it's *just* enough to fit into a hair tie. This one is made from beech wood tree pulp - how cool is that? Not sure what it has to do with preventing wrinkles, but I'm down with it nonetheless.
Retail price: $6.55 for a set of four (free shipping through January 31st)

2) blissoma solutions Amend Facial Solar Repair Anti-Aging Serum: My gawd, that is a mouthful! Still, this is a very interesting product that aims to undo sun damage and protect against further damage. The sample size is decent - not generous, but not stingy, either.
Retail price: $48.99 for 1 oz.

3) Essence of Vali Sleep Concentrate: I guess having a good night's sleep IS essential to dewrinkling oneself. First, let me say that this stuff smells great. One sniff, and I instantly felt myself relax. I love it! Allegedly, a drop of this stuff on a cotton swab or your pillow case is enough to send you off into dreamland. All I know is I can't get enough of it!
Retail price: $18 for 5 ml

4) me and the girls Bar Beleza Multi-Use Beauty Bar: I could have received one of three products from me and the girls.I am very happy that this is the product I received - it's the one I would have picked if given a choice. It's multi-use, and apparently can be used as a non-foaming cleanser - but I think I prefer it as a moisturizer.
Retail price: $28 for 15 ml

5) Suntegrity "5 in 1" Natural Moisturizing Face Sunscreen: With an SPF of 30, this is a product I'll definitely be using come Spring time, when I'm out in the garden. It's tinted, so I won't need to use a foundation (not that I do... but it's nice to know this will give me some coverage as well as protection!). It's a small sample, and I'll miss it when it's gone.
Retail price: $45 for 1.7 oz

6) TilVee Acai & Pomegranate Rejuvenating Mask: Ugh. A mask - you know how homey hates masks - especially ones she has to mix up herself. The stuff smells kind of strange, and I had to go to the website to figure out how to use it. I would have to have stuff on hand that I normally don't in order to use - this will probably just go in the trash.
Retail price: $26.99 for 2 oz.

7) Furlesse 11's Frown Line Reducing Patches: What? More frown reducuction products? I guess I am a frownie face this season - and these sample boxes are trying to fix that! This sample came with three, and they are apparently for the area between the eyebrows, right above the nose.  I am looking forward to trying them, as that is one of my biggest problem spots. Hmm... I wonder why? :)
Retail price: $19.99 for a 30 day supply

The box also contained a very special offer for 50% off of satin pillowcases from Nerro & Ana.  Since I buy most of my linens at TJMaxx or Target, I can't imagine spending big bucks for just a pillowcase - still, after checking them out I was tempted.

Nitpicks: The mask! Oh how I hate these masks. Hate. Them. Especially since I have to do all the work myself. What fun is that? And this one requires special ingredients in order to get it to do what it's supposed to do - for $27 it better do it all without me adding more money to the mix!

Lasting Impression: Another Grade A box from Goodebox. If you are not a subscriber, then you should be! 

I admit, I canceled this month - but not because of anything they did wrong. They are one of the more expensive sampler boxes, and I had to cut back on my expenses. I see myself subscribing again in the future because they never fail to deliver the goods (do it yourself mask excluded).

You know you want to subscribe! This box never fails to deliver - I believe I've been happy with every box I received. There is always a great mix of products, and fairly generous sample sizes. It is the most expensive one I subscribe to, which is why I had to give it the axe: it's $16. But that includes shipping, and as you can see, a great mix of new products to try!

There is a unique option with Goodebox: get one box every other month. That way, you can save some bucks. I will probably do that in the future!

Birchbox December 2012

Remember when I said December's boxes fell into the categories of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly? Birchbox managed to get themselves into The Ugly category - surprise, surprise.

Now, I sometimes wonder if BB reads my reviews and retaliate by sending me crap. Or maybe they think they're Santa, and instead of rewarding me with a stocking full of goodies, they give me lumps of leftovers instead. I dunno - all I know is they had at least 29 different December box combinations and I got one of the suckiest ones.

Here's what was in my underwhelming box:

1) Frownies: All I can say is that I'll definitely need to use this product after reviewing this box. I have a frown the size of Texas right now. Supposedly one can use these 2-4 times - and that's quite a window, considering the size of the product. That's kind of like saying you can use a diaper 1-3 times... okay, maybe not.
Retail price: $29.95

2) Juicy Couture fragrance sample. I didn't hate it. I didn't love it, but I was so happy to FINALLY get a fragrance sample from Birchbox that wasn't a man's that I did a little dance.
Retail price: $19 for .24 oz in a roller ball bottle

3) Number 4 Clarifying Shampoo: Okay, this product was what really made me say "Eff you, Birchbox!" Never in my year and a half of subscribing to sample boxes have I not received a shampoo and a conditioner together. Every company I know of wants the consumer to try both of them together, so they can see how they work in unison. How in the heck am I going to know if this product really does what it says when I can't use it with the conditioner?
Retail price: $32

4) Per-fekt Beauty Lash Protection Gel: It's a primer. It's a conditioner. It's a mascara. What it isn't is a generous sample. Strange, since most mascara samples from Birchbox have been full size or at least generous sized.
Retail price: $28.50

Also in the box was a Lifestyle extra of - take a guess - TEA SAMPLES. Yes, some fucking tea samples. Again. I'm so sick of tea samples that I think I'm going to scream. Can you hear me? I'm doing it now.

Nitpicks: Oh ye gads... everything except for the fragrance. Sure, I didn't love it, but finally Birchbox gave me a fragrance! It's like they said "Okay, give the whiner the fragrance, and then give her some tea samples, too. Happy Holidays, Sucker!

Lasting impression: Well... basically my lasting impression was one that they don't care about me as a subscriber. I've done a fairly good job of letting them know what I'd like to see in my boxes, and yet they pretty much ignore what I want.

I honestly don't understand why they have their subscribers fill out a beauty profile if they do not pay attention to what their subscribers want and don't want. There are a ton of people out there who - unbelievably - do not want fragrance samples. Then give 'em to me! I told you I want them!

I will say this: They have the best rewards program ever. I was able to use my bonus points to get almost half off of my beloved Kerastase hair masque - and then I said "Good-bye."

I'll probably be back - I get suckered in by all the people who post these great reviews, showing off their wonderful BB products. Then I think, "Hey, I want those, too!" and sign up - only to receive a box of fucking tea samples and Frownies. Yay me.

Green Grab Bag December 2012

Remember when I said December's boxes fell into the categories of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly? Unfortunately - and it pains me to say it - this month's Green Grab Bag falls into The Bad category.

I've been a big fan of Green Grab Bag, ever since I received my first bag from them. They often have a full size product (or two).  December's bag was a huge disappointment, and I'm not sure it's entirely their fault. Let's face it: as subscribers, we're used to getting really good boxes/bags in December. So for a company to offer a sub par sampling in the month of December is almost like the kiss of death.

It could be that they had trouble getting good sized products for December. Or it could be that they were overwhelmed with their attempt to get the boxes out before Christmas. I certainly don't have a behind-the-scenes look - and I want to afford them ever benefit of the doubt. Still, the fact is the sample sizes were super small, and in the case of Elegant Minerals Eye Shadow, completely stingy.

Here's what was in the bag:

1) Zosimos Botanicals Face Mask: This is a one-use only sample. I'm also not a face mask kind of girl - don't get me wrong, I'll more than likely use it. But... it'll probably be quite some time before I do. I simply can't find the time to slap on a mask and sit still long enough for it to dry.
Retail price: $8-$28

2) Nature Balance Wellness Body Lotion: This is the strangest packaging for a body lotion ever - both samples came in little zip lock style bags, with a picture instructing the use of scissors to cut off a corner in order to apply. The samples are small - probably one use each. While the products are made with all kinds of good things and are paraben and petroleum free, the delivery system offered by a small zip lock bag leaves a lot to be desired.
Retail price: $16.99 for 7.8 fl. oz.

3) Pangea Organics Facial Toner: I know - people love Pangea products. I'm not a huge fan - and honestly, I'm a little sick and tired of getting Pangea samples. I get them everywhere... and that's not Green Grab Bag's fault. But, I guess by now I would hope that Green Grab Bag would sample products from companies not as well known as Pangea. This sample was the only one that could be considered "deluxe" size in December's bag.
Retail price: $12 for 1.8 fl. oz.

4) Elegant Minerals Eye Shadow in Poinsettia: This is the SMALLEST, stingiest eye shadow sample I have ever received. I'm sure it's not GGB's fault - it's what the company itself sent. Even though I do like the product, I wouldn't support them after sending such an itty bitty little sample. If you, though, are interested in buying the product, it does have an additional benefit of providing SPF 15 protection - which I think is a unique feature of an eye shadow. Note: The picture shows what looks to be a full size container, but the amount inside the container is super small and is really just a very small amount.
Retail price: $12

5) Purple Prairie Botanicals Soap: Oh... watch out, I'm going back into Grinch mode. I'm not a soap girl - I use liquid soaps. They leave less scum and are so much easier and cleaner to use. I've got enough soap samples now to stock our local Marriott the next time a convention comes into town.  That said, this sample smells great - and it's labeled as a "shampoo bar." Honestly, I would never use something like this on my hair. Never. But I'll stick it with the rest of my soaps and get around to using it... eventually (as a soap - not on my hair!).
Retail price: $3.99

6) Emily Skin Soothers Baby and Adult Skin Soother: Okay - now I simply want to scream. Look at all the lotions I got in this shipment - you'd never know that they also were giving out a lip balm and a charcoal facial cleanser this month. Why oh why did I not get one of those? I don't have kids - what am I going to do with diaper lotion? As you can tell, by this point I'm weary of this bag of so-called goodies.
Retail price: $13.99 for 1.8 oz.

Nitpicks: Oh man, I think that's all I have this month are nitpicks! Here goes:

1) The super stingy sample from Elegant Minerals. I've received such generous samples from other mineral cosmetic companies, so the size of this one is an absolute disappointment.

2) The lack of variety: Three lotions? That's a bit of overkill... especially since they were also giving out a super great lip tint this month. I would have loved one. Take a look.

3) The sample sizes themselves - small, with one deluxe sample. And I suppose my disappointment stems from the fact that normally we GGB subscribers get really great sample sizes - not this month, the month you would expect to receive the best samples ever!

Lasting Impression: Ah.... well... I canceled. I need to cut back on my expenses, so I was using the month of December to make my choices. Getting rid of GGB was easy after this bag. That's not to say I won't resubscribe if my financial situation gets better... it's just that for the same price, I received a much better box from Eco-Emi in December.

Now... don't go thinking I hate GGB. I've been a big fan for over a year. However, a few had to go and this one failed the December test.

GGB really is a great subscription service. They normally do a great job of curating wonderful products and sharing them with their subscribers. Not sure what happened with the December offering - but it was not up to their usual standards.

Good-bye GGB, I will miss you. Well, after January - turns out I didn't cancel in time, so I'll receive on more bag. Just my luck - it'll probably make me regret canceling. Or that's my hope, anyway.