Saturday, February 9, 2013

Ipsy January 2013

When I gave up on Birchbox, I decided to resubscribe to Ipsy. I was a subscriber when it was called MyGlam, but unsubscribed because the items sent to me were not exciting and smelled bad. I have since discovered that they switched warehouses (which apparently was the cause of the stench attached to all their products), and retooled their service. I’ve been keeping an eye out on the monthly Ipsy reviews, and decided to give them another try.

I’m glad I did.

Their signature item is a cosmetic case – there is one in every shipment. I forgot to take a picture of this month’s case before I tossed it out – basically, it was navy blue and with no distinct markings –but the inside was kind of cute. It had an Ipsy logo stitched inside.

The items in the bag put Birchbox to shame – for the same price, Ipsy did a much better job in curating products in sizes that are considered deluxe and full. Here’s what I got:

1) Pacifica Tuscan Blood Orange Mini Body Butter: I learned something new about myself this year: I love Pacifica products. I am fairly familiar with their candles, but was recently introduced to their lip balm/tint – which is lovely. I was ecstatic to receive this body butter to try.
Retail price: $7 for 2.5 oz.

2) Big Sexy Hair Travel Spray & Play Volumizing Hairspray: I don’t use hairspray on a regular basis – but every once in a while I use some on my bangs to keep my cowlick inline. I tried this baby this morning, and it worked wonders - plus kept my hair soft.
Retail price: $17.50

3) 100% Pure Argan Oil by Josie Maran: Argan Oil is all the rage now, and I’ve received various samples from various companies through various subscription services. In other words, another one? Ugh. Still, this is a good sized sample and I am eager to try a product by Josie Maran.
Retail price: $48 for 1.7 fl. oz.

4) Nailtini Nail Polish in Frappe: This is a full size product, so Yay! on that! But, the color is really plain – and not a color I would use. I’ve seen it described as pink, but it’s really more of a neutral cream with a warm undertone. (The color shown in the pic the link takes you to is NOT at all like the color I received.)
Retail price: $13

5) SOHO Crease Brush: I discovered that Ipsy sent out three different styles of brushes. This is not one I will use – I think I would have preferred the eyeliner brush. Still, this is another full size product, so to speak. The bad thing: It's made in China. Boo!
Retail price: $8.99

Nitpicks: It’s really difficult to nitpick anything in this bag – except maybe the bag itself. The inside was really cute, but the outside was plain and ordinary. Oh and of course the brush made in China - I really do everything I can to avoid using products from China.

Lasting Impression: Wow – I got all that for $10 – including shipping. And while I might not like every single product in the bag, I can easily gift at least two of the products (the polish and the Argan Oil) – and still feel like a winner!

Ispy really turned themselves around from the first time I was a subscriber - I'm so impressed!

Birchbox January 2013

After about six months of lackluster, foil-packet filled boxes, I canceled my Birchbox subscription (for the second time in almost two years) and subscribed to Ipsy to replace it. Even though Birchbox did not notify me that I didn’t cancel in time, guess what? I didn’t cancel in time so I was charged for the January 2013 box.

When BB charged me for the box, I just kind of shrugged and thought, “Watch, this box will be great.” Well, it wasn’t great, but it definitely was good. Good enough to make me resubscribe? Not right now – homey wasn’t lying when she said she had to cut down on her box subscriptions. And since Ipsy was pretty darn good, I’m sticking with that for a while!

Here’s what Birchbox sent me this month:

1) amika Color pHerfection Shampoo: Once again, BB failed to send the accompanying conditioner – they used to do that – what happened? Why are they being so stingy? I know I would really like to try this with its conditioner companion – but since BB was stingy, that won’t be happening. Still, this looks promising: it’s alcohol free!
Retail price: $22 for 14.37 oz.

2) Harvey Prince Skinny Chic: I’ll admit it: I was hoping I would get this. And I did! For the second time, Birchbox finally granted my wish and sent me a fragrance sample. The blend of Meyer lemon, white grapefruit and pink plumeria is supposed to help with weight loss. I don’t know if it’ll help me lose weight, but what I do know is this: I love it! Thank you, Birchbox! You finally gave me the happies!
Retail price: $21 for a roll-on, $55 for 50ml

3) My™ Multi-Purpose Mattifying Moisturizer: I’ve been using this every morning since it arrived, and I like it. Does it do what it says it does? I’m not convinced. I think my face is still kind of shiny at the end of the day. But… it goes on easy, and it doesn’t have a funky smell, so all in all I consider this a win. But, I certainly wouldn’t pay $68 dollars to get myself a full-size – that’s crazy talk!
Retail price: $68 for 2 fl. Oz.

4) theBalm cosmetics Hot Mama: I saw rave reviews for this, and so of course I wanted it. And guess what? I got it! The description states it’s a “universally flattering pigment.” I might have to disagree – it’s a little too peachy for me. But, I wanted it and I got it, so who am I to complain?
Retail price: $20

Then there was my Beauty Extra – let me tell you, I’d much rather receive a beauty extra than a Lifestyle extra. Most of my Lifestyle extras have sucked the big red one. (But I did love my Kind bar way back when – and of course the one and only time I received chocolate I liked that as well!) My beauty extra was a small foil packet (insert scream here) of Deborah Lippmann’s the Stripper to go. I’m not sure how to judge how this works, since it seems like it’s only one glove for two hands. I’m not convinced it’ll work – but hey, it’s an “extra.”
Retail price: $12 for a set of six.

Nitpicks: The fact that the amika Color pHerfection Shampoo did not come with the accompanying conditioner. I don’t know how we are expected to really judge the product if we’re using it with a conditioner that might not chemically enhance the shampoo.

Lasting Impression: I received two products I did want to try – so that does give me the happies! 

Will I resubscribe to Birchbox? Ummm... never say never. But after almost two years of boxes, I can count the amount of boxes I liked on one hand... or rather, four fingers. 

I know they give out good stuff... I read the reviews! But somehow I never get the "good" boxes, and almost always get the foil-packet filled ones. So... I think I'll hold off for a while. 

Green Grab Bag January 2013

Green Grab Bag used to be one of my all-time favorite subscription services. Without warning, it went from great to bad quickly. Instead of deluxe and full size samples, December’s bag was mostly full of small one-use only packet samples – so I unsubscribed. Unfortunately for me, I didn’t unsubscribe in time, and was charged for January’s bag.

I was a bit mad at myself for that – because this is one of the more pricey subscriptions I had, and I really need to free up some money. But at the same time, I thought “Okay, one last GGB might not be a bad thing.”

Oh but it was.

Here’s what I got this month:

1)  Dead Sea Warehouse Face and Body Bar: Of all the things in the bag, this made me the happiest. Why? Because I’ve seen this product at my local Whole Foods, and I wanted to try it. But, it’s a rather expensive soap – and I don’t normally use soap. However, I have this weird skin issue going on with my back, and noticed that when I bathe with sea-salts, it goes away… for a while. This soap is filled with minerals from the Dead Sea, and I thought it could be helpful – but for the full price of the soap (about $12 for a bar), I didn’t want to spend the money. I was so excited to see this soap in this month’s GGB that I’ve used it twice already – and it seems to really work at abating whatever is going on with my back. This product has a big thumbs up from me.
Retail price: $6.65 for a small bar, $11.95 for a big bar (at my local Whole Foods)

2)  Savvy Boheme Coconut and Shea Body Mousse in Breathe: I received this before, but in Summer in Spain – which I absolutely love! This one is peppermint, and so not as decadent or enticing. Still, it’s a good product and I know I’ll eventually use it all up.
Retail price: $14.50 for 4 oz.

3)  Golden Path Alchemy Cleansing Oil: This is a fairly small sample, but I should get about three uses out of it. The one thing I’m not happy about is that in order to know how to use it, I was instructed to go to their website. That’s a bit of a fail. Also, when I attempted to use it yesterday, the oil would not come out of the dispenser.
Retail price: $22 – size not mentioned on website

4)  Monimay Sun Shadz Dry Shampoo: First I have to say: this sample is super stingy. It’s so small, it’s not really worth fooling around with.
Retail price: Applicator, $29.95; Refill, $29.95

5)  Virga Botanicals Pumpkin and Carrot Mask: This is a fairly small sample as well. It looks to be a decent size from the outside (not deluxe… but not stingy), but upon opening the jar, it's a mix-it-your-damn-self kind of product - no thank you! For that kind of money, I want it pre-made! One thing in its favor: it's from an etsy shop!
Retail price: $18.95 for 4.5 oz.

6)  Brittanie’s Thyme Organic Everyday Moisturizer: You know what? I almost threw this away. I didn’t even know it was in the bag. It was adhered to the inside of a pamphlet – so if that doesn’t give the size of this sample away, let me spell it out for you: it’s a tiny foil packet! You know how much I love those (insert sarcastic smile here). Additionally, I did open it to try it - the contents had separated and smelled rancid. I tossed it, because I believe it had gone bad.
Retail price: $16 for 2 oz.

Nitpicks: My $15 basically bought me two tiny packets, one tiny cleansing oil, a decent size body mousse, and a rockin’ bar of soap. I know… I didn’t mention the mask – but probably because it’s a non-item to me, as I don’t use masks. A better use of that $15 would have been to just buy the freakin’ bar of soap the first time I saw it at Whole Foods!

Lasting Impression: I had hoped that this bag would be a sweet good-bye to GGB – in other words, that I would have felt sad to see it go when I received this last bag from them. But instead it was a reminder of why I ended up letting it go in the first place. I will keep an eye out on reviews for upcoming bags – when my financial situation improves, I might want to check this out again. After all, for the year I had it my only two disappointing bags were the last two. All the others rocked my mailbox.