Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Review: Birchbox (April)

I've had a monthly subscription to Birchbox since last November and this is the first box I've received that was a collaboration - and I loved it!  Birchbox partnered with Women's Health magazine to curate this month's selections. In addition to the items and extra, they also gave subscribers a free 1-year subscription to the magazine, which is a $10 value in itself.

I am an avid Women's Health reader so that added a huge value to the box, which only costs $10 to start with. The retail cost of the products range, and since they come in sample sizes, it's hard to pinpoint exactly the price of each month's contents. Even so, I always feel like I'm getting my money's worth - and this month even more so.

Check out this month's sneak peek video below before you see what came in my April Birchbox:

This month I got:

My Reactions:

  • (MALIN+GOETZ) - The moisturizer comes in a cute little container and with the end of cold weather in sight, makes a great seasonal parting gift for my hands.
  • Nexxus - I've never tried anything like this product before, so I'm pretty excited to see how it works.
  • Ruby Wing - At first I didn't notice the nail polish changing color in the sun, but that was probably because I wasn't paying attention. The original color I received is a fun, bright pink, and in the sun it turns a rich shade of purple. This is my favorite item in this month's box for sure.
  • Supergoop - I feel like the eye cream is an overdone staple. I gave it to a friend when I was showing her the box. I'm sure it would have been great to use, but my collection of eye cream samples is already extensive and I never seem to use them up fast enough.
  • Hail Merry - The macaroons were a great touch. I love how Birchbox includes small snacks in their boxes. I received this box right before I went out of town and it was a great addition to my carry-on. They were also quite tasty.
I was pretty happy with the contents of this month's box, and the Women's Health subscription was definitely the icing on the cake.

Do you subscribe to Birchbox or any related monthly boxes? Let me know!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Review: POPSUGAR Must Have Box (April)

I jumped on the POPSUGAR Must Have bandwagon back in late 2012 and with the exception of the special edition luxury box released over the holidays, have been pretty satisfied so far. I can usually trust that the items in each box will be at least somewhat useful, if not enjoyable. The themes so far in 2013 have made sense and the boxes included enough of a selection to make it worth my continued interest - and money.

April's box did none of those things.

Upon opening the April POPSUGAR Must Have box I was immediately disappointed by the curated selection. The theme of the box was 'embracing Spring' which is appropriate, but the items were severely lacking - especially in comparison to last month's haul.

The major draw was meant to be the POPSUGAR embossed garment bag (or The Green Garmento Four-In-One Reusable Dry-Cleaning Bag) which was complimented by a few smaller items - Alter Eco Dark Quinoa Chocolate bar, a sample of Kai Perfume Oil, Shashi New Nugget Bracelet, and Tatcha Petal Fresh Evening Aburatorigami Beauty Papers. Unfortunately, the garment bag was the only thing that I even liked.

Enough with the chocolate already! I understand quinoa is "in" right now, but I think every box I have received so far has included some version of chocolate - and I don't even like chocolate very much. The sample of perfume oil smelled nice, but I could have lived without it. Same goes for the beauty papers. And, the bracelet appeared to be cheap - at least in my opinion.

Which takes me back to the garment bag. It's a great size and appears to be very durable. I should get plenty of use out of it, and frankly I have a winter coat from EXPRESS that I recently ordered that came without one and needs to be bagged for the summer months, so this worked out perfectly. The only thing that bothered me about it is that it seems like POPSUGAR was trying to pass it off as more than it is. It's a garment bag, pure and simple. I appreciate the suggestions about what else I might use it for, but it's major purpose is to hang in my closet.

Final Thoughts:

One bad month for the POPSUGAR Must Have box isn't enough to convince me to cancel my subscription, but a couple more like this and I will definitely be reconsidering. Overall the box lacked in value and contents. Although the garment bag is useful, it was the only item I even remotely appreciated in the box which is regularly filled with many more enjoyable options. This box gave me a couple items to pass along, but not much else.

Check out the items and descriptions below:

 What did you think of the April POPSUGAR Must Have box?

Monday, April 8, 2013

Review: Coco Rocha Fancy Box (March)

After the tragedy that was the February P!nk box, and the overlap between the regular box and Ashton Kutcher's, I was a bit hesitant to try out another curated Fancy box. Even so, I signed up to receive the Coco Rocha box on nothing more than a whim and pure curiousity.

I was delighted to see that she (or someone in her camp) interacted with subscribers on thefancy.com via the comment section, plus the advertisements were certainly adorable. The site was also offering another $25 off promo code, which even if I only really liked a couple of the items still made it a worthwhile enough incentive.

Except I didn't like a couple of the items.

I L-O-V-E-D them all!

My box came in the mail at the end of last week and I was pleasantly surprised since I had been notified that it would be a few days late and had not yet received my shipping confirmation. This seems to happen a lot. I've had several issues with customer service already. Canceling the P!nk box tuned out to be a nightmare - they accidentally canceled my regular box and they're still working on reinstating it at the $30/month price. It's been 2+ weeks already, so clearly I missed out on the March box - and, I'm not happy about it either.

Anyways, at first I was concerned because the box felt a little light. Immediately, I had a flashback to the disappointment I felt when I opened my P!nk box the previous month. Luckily, besides the Fancy name attached to both, the two boxes had nothing more in common.

Although there are only 6 cards, there were actually 7 items. I received 2 different shades of China Glaze nail polish. One was the highlighter orange color pictured, and the other was a basic medium/dark grey.

The box was lighter because the items weren't substantial in size, but there was definitely enough to support the cost.

I can clearly see that Fancy has taken some customer input into their decision making. The items appeared to have been more carefully chosen then previously curated boxes. Also, one of the things that bothered me most about the P!nk box was that I didn't feel like they were things she would have actually chosen. There was no rationale behind the items, they just appeared the be random choices. In this box, every item card came complete with a brief statement from Coco. I thought it really added that something extra I was looking for all along.

For what I consider to an introduction to subscribers on what they can expect in future Coco Rocha boxes, I think it was an excellent showing. Clearly the theme of her boxes is fashion and I adored all her choices. I have already used several of the products and can't wait to give the rest a try.

The highlighter orange nail polish is perfect for a pop of color on a night out and definitely the right shade for the upcoming summer season. I wasn't sure at first about the color, but having spent the last few days in it, I'm sold. Along the same lines, the spike chain bracelet adds an 'edgy vibe' to any look.

Whereas the hand cream - which works great - gets you primed for summer, the first two items take you through it. And, the grey nail polish is versatile enough to go with any season.

I was already a fan of the China Glaze brand, so this was something I immediately enjoyed seeing in the box.

All the other items definitely set the tone for her collection. Obviously the Christian Dior book quite literally tells you the theme, and also makes a great coffee table addition. I'm in the process of hopefully buying a house after I get back from my summer in Los Angeles, so it's something I will be able to display soon enough ::crosses fingers::

Item Breakdown:
  • Cool Jewels Ice Cube Tray - $15
  • Opaque Over The Knee Socks - $15
  • Nail Polish By China Glaze - $15
  • The Little Dictionary Of Fashion - $20
  • L'Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream - $17
  • Spike Chain Bracelet - $15
Total - $97

I was really happy with the Coco Rocha Fancy box overall. All of the items were things that appealed to me and that I can get use out of. The spike chain bracelet and the nail polish were definitely my favorite though. I can't wait to see what comes next month! The box was just really fun and fashionable, and very me. Also, I was so ecstatic that I tweeted and left a comment on the product page, and she responded to both - she even mentioned that she saw my tweet on her later comment. I thought it was all very personable.

Keep up the good work, Coco!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Review: Pure Madness Chocolate

Just like a lot of other people, I have cravings for chocolate - so I like to know what my options are.

This month I got to try out a new chocolate brand, Pure Chocolate Madness. The company just launched on February 28, 2013 and they are bringing their passion for chocolate to you with several options for enjoying this guilty pleasure.

My BzzKit included:
  • 9 pc. Truffle Collection ($27)
  • Solid Chocolate Bar - Espresso ($8.50)

First Impressions:

When I opened up the package containing my Pure Madness Chocolate, the first thing I noticed was the packaging. The black, white, and pink are a great combination and makes the product look very sophisticated. Since I'm often drawn to products based on the packaging, I immediately thought this was a good sign.

In addition to the usual BzzGuide that accompanies every shipment from BzzAgent, there was also a full comprehensive catalog from Pure Madness that broke down all the prices and product/flavor options. I think that's a great way to introduce people to your company and was curious enough to check out the website before my tasting.

I decided that for the next 10 days, I would try one piece of chocolate. Keep reading after the jump to see what I thought!

In One Word:

Day #1: Classic - smooth

Day #2: Sea Salt Caramel - surprising

Day #3: Rum Raisin - creamy

Day #4: Chili Lime - bitter

Day #5: Dark Classic - expected

Day #6: Raspberry - divine

Day #7: Vanilla - creamy

Day #8: Espresso - eh

Day #9: Green Apple - thick

Day #10: Espresso (Chocolate Bar) - ok

Final Thoughts:

Out of all of the chocolate truffles the only one that I distinctly didn't care for was the chili lime flavor. Not only did it have a bitter taste, but the center was sour and not in a sour patch kids kind of way. Although the dark classic had a very expected taste, it was overwhelmingly one of my favorites.

I received this product from BzzAgent for free. My opinions are my own. For more information on Campaigns like this one, please visit bzzagent.com.