Thursday, January 30, 2014

Birchbox - January 2014


New year, new you, new me! I am DETERMINED that this year be absolutely fabulous. Maybe not exactly a NEW me, but definitely an improved, more fantastic driven me! So far the first month of this year has been a little nutty, but hey, sometimes ya gotta start off with a bang, am I right? I really can't believe January is almost over! I mean, hello, where did the time go? Haha! I've certainly needed a little pep in my step thus far this year, it's been nonstop go, go, go....and speaking of...::giggles::...Birchbox, are you psychic? How did they know that it was going to be Go Time?! They certainly were prepared with their theme this month! Here's what they had to say.....

"Happy Janaury! This year, we're flipping resolutions on their head. Forget about giving things up - in 2014, we're taking on more: more things to try, to conquer, to integrate into our lives. New products - in the form of this month's samples - are just the beginning. We'll be bringing you plenty of inspiration, from must-try beauty trends to an energy-boosting 10-minute workout that you can do anywhere.

We've also created some very pin-able cards with suggestions to keep you motivated and happy this month and beyond. We hope you like them as much as we do (which is a lot!)."

Here's to an amazing 2014! 
Katia, Hayley & the Birchbox Team

As I said, they certainly knew what my month was going to be like! Trying new things, stuff to conquer, etc. Whew! Speaking of trying new's what I received in my Birchbox....
I received: a face serum, nail products, hair product, hand creme, and a hairband


"Water-based anti-aging serum that normalizes skin and tightens pores." - from 2014 January Birchbox card

I REALLY wanted to love this serum, I truly did. I've heard nothing but great things about it and the brand, Paula's Choice which I've never tried before. However, I just don't think this serum liked ME very much. On Paula's Choice's website it states that this serum is:

  • Effective for: Acne Breakouts, Anti-Aging, Enlarged Pores, Wrinkles
  • Fights multiple signs of aging
  • Silky, weightless texture is perfect for oily/combination skin
  • Provides superior, proven antioxidants plus skin-repairing hyaluronic acid
  • Normalizes oily skin and reduces enlarges pores
  • Spreads easily and sets to a smooth, shine-free finish
  • Helps repair skin and reduce inflammation so it can generate healthy collagen
  • Anti-irritants help calm redness and fade red marks from acne
  • Can be worn under or over moisturizer, underneath sunscreen
  • Clinically proven non-irritating
  • 100% fragrance free, no added dyes
  • No animal testing

I've been using this serum for almost three weeks now, nonstop. The first week or so I used it on my entire face, the second week I've only used it on the right side of my face so I can compare to the left. Let me break these points down and give you my view on them....

Effective for Acne Breakouts, Anti-Aging, Enlarged Pores, Wrinkles: As far as acne breakouts, I haven't seen any difference whatsoever. I've still had my typical acne, although I must admit I haven't had a bad case of cystic acne in quite a while. I don't know 100% if that has to do with the serum, though, because I've drastically changed my diet and have lost a significant amount of weight. Healthy eating can definitely affect your skin and breakouts, so I can't definitively say that the serum has been assisting in this. While I was using the serum only the right side of my face I didn't notice any difference with enlarged pores. They looked exactly the same on either side. Since I'm still in my 20's, I really don't have many (if any) wrinkles that I'm dealing with, so I can't comment on the effectiveness of this serum with wrinkles.
Fights Multiple Signs of Aging: Once again, I'm still quite young, and I don't have many signs of aging yet, although I do use anti-aging treatments to PREVENT said signs, however with that being said, I did not notice any difference using the serum in this regard.
Silky, Weightless Texture is Perfect for Oily/Combination Skin: This I do agree with! My skin is combination, just barely bordering on oily, and the texture was weightless and smooth. I had no problems with any greasy or sticky finish or residue after applying!
Provides Superior, Proven Antioxidants plus Skin-repairing Hyaluronic Acid: Once again, this is hard to tell since I've changed my eating habits. My skin has begun to look healthier, more radiant, smoother, etc. but I cannot contribute this all to this serum. I haven't seen a significant difference between the one of side of my face I've been applying the serum to and the other where I have not. I do always love skincare that contains antioxidants so this is definitely a plus for me.
Normalizes Oily Skin and Reduces Enlarged Pores: I have noticed that my skin hasn't seemed quite as oily as usual. Even with using greasier or heavier makeup, my skin doesn't become too oily or shiny. This serum may in fact neutralize a bit of the oil, however, once again, not a huge significant difference when only applying it on one side. As I stated before, I haven't seen a difference with enlarged pores either.
 Spreads Easily and Sets to a Smooth, Shine-free Finish: It definitely has an easy to apply formula and does spread nicely, evenly and has good coverage. I don't feel like I need to use a lot of product so this will last me quite some time! The finish is also shine-free as they state and makes for a super smooth base when applying moisturizer afterwards. In fact, after using this serum and moisturizer I've noticed that my makeup primer and foundation/BB Cream go on a bit smoother as well!
Helps Repair Skin and Reduce Inflammation so it can Generate Healthy Collagen: This touches on the skin-looking-healthier issue I have. The serum COULD be helping, but it's hard to say. Once again, I'll repeat, I did not see any huge noticeable difference between the skin I applied it on and the skin I didn't apply it on. I will say this though, even though the weather is still cold and the heater has been running, my skin hasn't looked dry or dull. 
Anti-irritants Help Calm Redness and Face Red Marks from Acne: I do have rosacea so this was an important point for me. I didn't notice a big reduction in redness with use, but it definitely didn't irritate the rosacea! To me that's a huge plus. My rosacea did remain calm throughout the entire day as well! I don't have many red marks from acne, so I cannot comment on this. 
Can Be Worn Under or Over Moisturizer, Underneath Sunscreen: This can be worn under and over moisturizer because it's so lightweight! I PREFER under moisturizer only because, as I said before, it provides a nice, smooth base when spreading the moisturizer over but it works both ways. I have not tried it under sunscreen because truth be told, I don't HAVE sunscreen ::gasp:: haha! I try to limit my exposure to the sun as much as I can because I really am so fair. Even with sunscreen, I can burn very quickly. I'll be the first to admit, I am SUCH an indoor person! 
Clinically Proven Non-Irritating: This is true! This product did not irritate my skin in the slightest, and as I mentioned, my rosacea did not flare up at all!
100% Fragrance Free, No Added Dyes: One that that's great about this serum is that it really is fragrance free, which I think makes it much more desirable for many people. I also know many people who prefer dye-free products or even NEED dye-free products since those with dyes added can trigger allergies and eczema. 
No Animal Testing: Once again, a great plus for this serum. It seems this, plus it being fragrance free, dye-free makes it much more available for a wider range of customers who need or want those stipulations!

Here is a photo of the serum. As you can see the formula is quite light. The only thing I'm not incredibly fond of is the color. Well...I take that back...the color plus the LOOK of reminds me comes out of your nose! ::giggles:: I know that's a tad silly, but it's just an observation! That aside, the formula is great to use. 

When it comes down to it, I just feel like this serum is not quite right for me. I love the ingredients, I love the formula but I don't see it making any noticeable differences. The one thing that I noticed was that it makes my skin feel smoother when applying moisturizer and makeup. I just think that this serum might be better for someone a bit more mature, especially since it is geared towards helping with wrinkles.

in Red

"The UK brand's two-step system for your sparkliest mani ever. Accent nail, anyone?" - from 2014 January Birchbox card

I've seen these kits for so long now, but I've never purchased one for myself as of yet. The Nail Rock sets come in four different types of toppers: Glitter, Caviar, Sequin and Velvet. Each kit comes with a polish and a matching topper (one of the four) that you dip your finger in while your polish is still wet for it to adhere to. The glitter is exactly what it's called, small flecks of colored glitter. The caviar is very small beads, the sequins are slightly larger glitter pieces compared to the glitter set, and the velvet is colored flocking.

This glitter color is called Red, but it's a slightly bittersweet red.
Here you can see the process. I painted my nails with one coat of the polish (which you can see on my thumb), only working one finger at a time since you need the polish to still be sticky so the glitter can adhere, then I dipped the finger in the glitter, gently patted it down with my fingertips so there's no clumps and let it dry. After it dried I used a toothpick to gently pick off the glitter near my cuticle - being careful not to pick at the cuticle - where I had not applied polish. It easily came right off using the toothpick since there was no polish there for it to be sticking to.

(Direct Sunlight)

As you can see the glitter is VERY fine, quiiiite small, which makes it super easy to remove around the edges and get a nice, clean line. You just have to be careful when applying the polish. The more even your polish line is, the easier it's going to be to keep the glitter looking clean.

Now, all this being said, while I want to ADORE this are my problems with it...

This photo was taken BEFORE I did my nails (as you can see by the bare thumb! haha!). Yes, that IS a half-full bottle. Or half-empty. Or however you'd like to say it...either way, I'm not too happy about it! I feel a bit gypped! The bottle isn't too large to begin with so the polish won't last me long at all, which is really such a shame because I would totally wear this color by itself! The opacity would be fabulous with just two coats, and it dries fairly quickly. I'm a sad Cookie. ::sniffle::

My second issue with this kit is, believe it or not they could have sent me ANY OTHER COLOR and I would have been so excited....but I've actually DONE a red glitter mani exactly one year ago last February for Valentines Day. I went out, purchased this large jar of fine red glitter from a craft store (shown above on the left in the photo) for merely a couple of dollars, used a red polish I had at home, and voila.....same look. Here's a comparison of the glitters...

I poured some of the glitter from each container into it's lid. On the left is the craft store glitter and on the right is the Nail Rock. You can easily tell the Nail Rock shade is a bit more of a bittersweet red once you compare it to the deep apple red of the craft store glitter.

I used my fingertip to swipe both of the glitters, and as you can see the craft store glitter is a bit more densely packed, while the Nail Rock glitter is a bit more fine and loose. When applying this does make a TEENSY difference, as the craft store glitter can clump a bit more, so I found it best to either dip your finger very softly into the glitter or just sprinkle it on, then lightly press it down to soften the clumps, whereas with the Nail Rock glitter, it's a bit more smooth. 

The big difference between the two of these glitters is quite obviously the price. The Nail Rock set retails at around $7, which isn't ridiculously high at all, but with a polish I used from home along with a $1-2 jar of glitter that is MUCH larger than the Nail Rock jar it seems to be a much cheaper alternative. Especially with the vast variety of glitter colors you could choose from at the craft store. However if you don't mind paying a little extra for finer, slightly less clumpy glitter that leaves you with less issues to deal with while applying, then Nail Rock may be for you! I'm still not happy about the polish only being half full. If that wasn't part of my issues I'd be much more pleased with this product. I would have been ecstatic just to receive that polish color on it's own!


"Rich in olive oil, this creamy frizz-tamer gives strands all-day shimmer." - from 2014 January Birchbox card

I've actually reviewed this exact product on my blog months ago, and I wasn't too impressed, however when I received it again in this month's Birchbox I decided to give it another try  and see what I could make of it and I'm SO glad I did because I have a totally different view on it now! 

The formula is very smooth, silky and fairly light. The coloring is a super glossy pale green that's colorless when blended into the hair. It does leave an oily residue on your hands after it's blended in, so this isn't the best traveling product for a quick touchup during the day, unless you have quick access to a sink to wash your hands afterwards.

It states you only need a pea-size amount, but I've found with my hair, I prefer using about 3 times the recommended amount, especially since my hair is fairly long. One big difference between when I first tried this out months ago and now is that I now high copper-blonde highlights in my hair, which seems to have made all the difference in the world! I've used this Glossing Creme in a few different ways....

1) Applied while hair is still 80% damp, let air dry, no other styling products: This was the most effective way to use this product for great results. It made my highlights super shiny and glossy and my hair looked less frizzy than usual!

2) Applied while hair is still 80% damp, 20 minutes of air drying, then blow dried to finish along with usual styling products: This is my usual styling routine...towel-dry right out of the shower, apply leave-in conditioner or serum, glossing product (if any), curling creme, air dried while I apply my makeup, then blow dried the remaining damp hair along with whatever styling products I'm using at the time. I sometimes use a frizz-taming product to keep my strands smooth, especially since I do so much volumizing, but with the Glossing Creme, I don't really have to! It doesn't work quite as strong as some de-frizzing products, but well enough to where I don't feel like I need to use one plus the Glossing Creme for shine. My hair did have a nice light shine for hours after use as well!

3) Applied after hair is dry and styled: This was my least favorite use for this product. It still gave me a bit of shine, especially in my highlights but no where near as glossy as when applied while still damp. It also did not help as much with the de-frizzing with this method. HOWEVER, this is a good method still for applying just on the ends of the hair for some soft shine!

4) Applied during the day, hours after styling: The only way I felt this could be done with decent results is to gently smooth over the top of the hair to lightly calm some frizz and lightly applied on the ends of the hair for some shine. 

I'm definitely happy that I've tried this product again! I think having highlights made SUCH a big difference. I really do recommend trying this out if you have highlights or blonde hair since it seems to work so much better than compared to darker hair. I've been using this every day since I received it and I'll be continuing use and possibly purchasing once I'm out! I'm super happy to have such a large sample though, I still have SO much left even after weeks of use!

in Yuzu

"Zesty eucalyptus-packed hydrator that heals with shea butter and vitamins A and E." - from 2014 January Birchbox card

I'm always a fan of hand creams! My poor hands (especially my cuticles!) just get dry so darn easily in the winter!

The formula is very light, which I'm a bit disappointed in since I was hoping for a more luxurious, richer cream, so it didn't work as well for my winter hands. It's non-greasy and doesn't leave any shiny residue but my skin did feel a little bit sticky after use compared to other hand creams. It does absorb quickly into the skin, which is great for possibly using after washing your hands, when you just want a quick softener, but I wouldn't say I'd consider this to be as luxe as it's advertised. For me this lotion would be much better used in the Spring or Summer when the weather isn't as drying. 

The fragrance I received it in is Yuzu which is combination of tart citrus and eucalyptus. The other scents available are:

  • Aquae - a fresh sea breeze scent
  • Lacey - a modern blend of spring blossoms and sweet bergamot
  • Celebration - a subtly sweet, fruity scent
  • Scentless  
Of course, I was sent the one scent I would be least interested in trying, haha! I'm not a huge fan of eucalyptus but the scent isn't too overwhelming and it does have that nice calming effect from the fragrance, but the citrus adds a very slight tartness. However, it's not noticeable unless you put your hands right under your nose to smell. 
 To sum up, this isn't the best hand cream I've used, but I'm very curious as to what the other fragrances are like. I wouldn't recommend this for super dry, chapped hands but more of a Spring/Summer lotion instead.



"These grippy tricolor bands will keep strands in place during your next sweat session." - from 2014 January Birchbox card

::sigh:: I sincerely wish Birchbox had an option in their style profile for "I do not wear hair accessories, please do not send any". I realize this isn't really an accessory but I don't wear headbands to the gym either! I'm one of those weird girls who leaves her bangs down...because first of all...I just feel SO STRANGE when I don't have my bangs. I just feel naked! Secondly, my bangs stick up at a weird angle when I pull them back, not a pretty sight. I do, however, put my hair in a ponytail when exercising, I'm not THAT weird. ::giggles::

All that being said, the only time I use headbands such as this is to pull my hair back when washing my face. So, yes, it can come in handy for me, however I have about...oh...eight stretchy headbands for that SINGLE use. I've been stockpiling them upon receiving them from different beauty subscriptions and I really just don't need any more! I never misplace mine. I take it out of the drawer, wash my face, apply my serums, eye creams, etc, then put it right back. I think eight is more than enough to have, in fact, I was probably fine with two or three!

Comparing this to my other headbands though, as I don't have a braided one such as this, I'm not a huge fan of it. It only comes in one size, and I find it's a bit too snug for me. I've never had this type of problem before as my head really isn't large at all, but it's just a tad bit uncomfortable, enough to where if I was to wear this for a longer period, I'd probably get a bit of a headache. The good thing about it is because it has three bands, all of which have a rubber strip on the back, it isn't going to budge at all! It's staying put! With that in mind, it'd most certainly make a good exercise headband, so I'm going to try to find a friend that could use it since they'd get so much more use out of it than me!


1) Paula's Choice RESIST Ultra-Light Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum:
  • Full-size (1 oz) - $26.95
  • I received a 0.17 fl oz sample tube - $4.58
2) Nail Rock Glitter Kit in Red:
  • Full-size (full kit) - $7
  • I received a full-size!

3) Fekkai Brilliant Glossing Cream: 
  • Full-size (4 oz) - $19.99
  • I received a 1.6 oz travel-size tube - $8

4) Soak Handmaid Hand Cream in Yuzu:
  • Full-size (3 oz) - $10
  • I received two large foils (5 ml each) - $1.13

5) Under Armour Braided Mini Headband: 
  • One single headband: $9.99
  • I received a full-size!

Total Paid for Box: $10

Total Worth of Box:  $30.70

Nearly four times what I paid, I can't complain at all about this month's worth! I am kind of sad that the highest worth item is the one I'm giving away and I really don't feel like the Nail Rock is quite worth $7 (especially with my bottle only half full!) but I'm still very happy with the worth of what I received and my sample sizes as well!


No makeup finale for this box! But I shall go over what I think about it. All in all, it just wasn't my favorite box, which is a shame because I wanted to start off the year with a bang. I was so excited when I found out I was receiving the Nail Rock kit but when I received it and saw what color it was in, I was disappointed, as I said, since the ONE and ONLY glitter nails I've done with actual loose glitter is red! I'm also a bit sad the serum didn't work for my skin as well, but I'm so happy that I decided to give the Fekkai Glossing Cream another go! Hopefully next month's box will blow me away!

Here is some pics of the cards Birchbox included!

A pretty darn cute idea, I did have fun reading them! I'm thinking it would be a super cute idea to frame the front of them, since they're so bright and sassy, and using them at work on some desks or cubicles! I don't have any room on my desk since it's enclosed with so much filing, drawers, etc on it along with my laptop and notepad, but maybe it'd make some fun gifts for friends!

I hope you enjoyed this review! If you're interested in trying out Birchbox for yourself, you are more than welcome to use my referral link, just click HERE

Happy Fresh Start Makeuping!



  1. The glitter mani does look very pretty! I got caviar beads, haven't tried them yet though.

    1. I do love the glitter! I'm so curious to see what the caviar, sequin and velvet finishes are like.

  2. I just have to say that you have really pretty nails! :) thanks for the great review of bb!

    1. Thank you very much, and thanks for reading! :-)

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