March 2016 Birchbox Sample Choice Comparison

Birchbox’s sample choice has become a monthly staple now; you can find a description of the program here. This month there are 3 samples to choose from plus a curated box filled with beauty samples intended to prepare you for ANYTHING. Let’s get started!

*I apologize for the lack of photos! I am out of space on my free WordPress media drive, and am trying to figure out what to do about it. In the meantime, here is the Birchbox official announcement video that I usually take all my screenshots from:


The first sample up is the Number 4 Hydrating Shampoo and Condition duo. Reviewers on Birchbox think that this duo does a great job of hydrating and strengthening hair. I received this duo in my December 2014 Birchbox and felt sort of meh about it. Both products have a pleasantly oceanic scent and a slightly creamy texture, and if the sample sizes had been larger maybe I would have had a more defined opinion about them. The value of this sample is $3.66.

The second sample option is a Volumizing & Texturizing Shampoo & Conditioner duo from PARLOR by Jeff Chastain. I wasn’t able to find any information about these samples because the Volumizing & Texturizing duo is so new that it isn’t even listed on Jeff Chastain’s website yet. Making some assumptions about the price of the products, the value of this sample is $3.50.

The third choice is the amika Perk Up Dry Shampoo. I have two reviews of this product for you today, one from  Franziska and the other from Crystal. In general, this dry shampoo has reached cult product status — everyone seems to really like it. This sample is valued at $3.40.

In contrast to last month, the values of this month’s samples are pretty low. They’ve also gone back to themed sample choices, this time with “haircare.” This is nice because it makes the sample choice seem cohesive, but it’s unfortunate if it happens to be a product category you really don’t care about.

The curated box this month is based around the theme of “Ready for Anything”. It includes the following 5 samples:

  • Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream ($4.04)
  • Smashbox Photo Op Eyeshadow Trio in Filter ($12.44?)
  • Wilma Schumann Skincare Hydrating Collagen Eye Pads ($3.60)
  • MILK Makeup Lip Color in C.R.E.A.M. (~$11?)
  • PARLOR by Jeff Chastain Smoothing Blowout Spray ($4.90)

The Kiehl’s moisturizer seems to be well-loved and to have stood the test of time. Here is a great in-depth review of it from the lovely Carrie, and another from MusicalHouses. Smashbox has an eyeshadow formulation that people like; these colors are a nice set of matte browns. Maybe a little basic, but the color payoff and lasting power seem to be worth it. Here is a review from Aoife and swatches from Kelly B.. Reviews on Birchbox are all positive for the Wilma Schumann eye pads — people seem to think that the eye patches do what they are supposed to, which is plump and hydrate the undereye.

There are almost no reviews for the MILK lipstick, since MILK just launched their first makeup line in December. This Lip Color did make it onto two of the lists for “best products in the MILK lineup,” here and here, so it’ll probably be good! (The lists left me longing to try all of their other products, too!) C.R.E.A.M. is a brownish-pink nude. The PARLOR blowout spray has nothing but good reviews on

I really was not able to find a sample size for the MILK lipstick, so I estimated it based on other mini lip products. I assumed that the Smashbox trio was the same size as the samples ipsy sends out. All together, this gives the curated box a total value of around $36.

This month’s box is pretty cute in my opinion! I like the pastel colors for spring, as well as the sophisticated gold accents. I also like the Ready for Anything box design, with its pastel sunbursts. I think they’re both pretty cute and suitable for March!

Sample choice will open on February 25th for subscribers (February 24th for Ace members and referrers).

This month I think I’ll go for the amika Dry Shampoo! I’ve tried three dry shampoos before and none have been perfect, so this is my chance to try yet another and hope for the best. While I’m intrigued by the MILK lipstick, I think that’ll have to wait for another time. Plus, after opting for the curated box this month, I think I’m ready for a surprise!

Which sample are you going to choose?

If you’re planning on purchasing a Birchbox subscription, please consider using my referral link:

January 2016 Favorites

January went by SO. QUICKLY. This post is going up so late because I’m still in shock that it’s even February yet. Seriously, what happened?! This month was busy, what with welcoming the new year, going on a cross-country skiing vacation, starting my last semester of university, and rapidly descending into a muddle of schoolwork (although this semester is starting out much more slowly than most!)


Cosrx | Acne Pimple Master Patch

This whirlwind of a month came with its fair share of stress, although less than most months. Despite not being as stressed as I usually am during the school year, the stress I did experience gave me a ton of whiteheads. These patches helped, although they weren’t the magic bullet I’d been hoping they would be. They pulled a lot of the gunk out of my whiteheads (not pretty, I know :P), which helped me avoid the temptation to pop them. I am looking for a cheaper version of these, if anyone has recommendations!

derma e | Microdermabrasion Scrub

Speaking of skin problems, I’ve had these small bumps on my chin for months now. I think they might be milia, but whatever they are I don’t like them. Using this scrub on my chin every other day has helped them start to go away.


Embryolisse | Lait-Crème Concentré

This is my favorite winter moisturizer so far. I discovered it last winter through Birchbox and purchased a full-size version for use this year. I love using it during the daytime because it really protects my skin from the harsh outdoor elements like whipping wind and deep cold.

Petitfée | Black Pearl & Gold Hydrogel Eye Patches

I’ve been using these a lot because they have an expiration date of February. Although are these really only good for 2 months after opening? That seems so short! But it’s also nice, because if they had a longer usage time then I wouldn’t be using them nearly as often but trying to “save” them for special occasions (which really means just never using them at all). I can’t tell for sure if they’re impacting my mild dark circles, but I do enjoy using them!


LAQA & Co. | Cheeky Lip Pencils in Cray Cray (coral), Mixtape (red), and Humble Brag (pink)

These are the makeup products I’ve been using the most in January. I’ve been liking them as both cheek and lip products, which I feel is rare for a product that advertises itself as being good for both — usually it’s much better at one than the other. My favorite for cheeks has been the pink, which I also like using in combination with the coral. They’re just such easy cheek products! For lips, I like the red on its own and the pink layered with other lip products to achieve a plummy color.


What were some of the products you used the most in January? Feel free to comment with a link to a favorites post from your blog, and I’ll make sure to stop by!

January Recap

I can’t believe it’s already February — where did January go??? Inspired by Rossy from AyrGalaxy, I’m doing a recap of the past month. So onto this month in review…

Blog Milestones:

  • This month I reached 107 followers! You all are amazing, and I love reading your comments on my posts (& welcome to all my new followers — hi! My name is Abigail :).
  • I also surpassed my previous “most-views-per-day” record on January 28th with all the people who stopped by to get advice on the February Birchbox sample choice.

Posts from this Month:

Plus, coming up soon are my January Favorites post and review of my December Birchbox.


Well, these didn’t go so well. I did eat more vegetables, but I was awful at eating meals at consistent times — school will do that to you! I also barely exercised at all, didn’t keep in contact with any of my long-distance friends, and didn’t spend a day immersing myself in French. Instead, I sat in bed and read a lot. Like, a huge amount: 9 books, totaling 2900 pages. Don’t ask me how I found time for that with school going on! In productive news, though, I just had a great job interview that I hope is going good places!

Blogger’s Spotlight:

I wanted to share some blog posts that I particularly enjoyed reading this month (originally inspired by Elisabeth from Everything & Nothin’).

  1. I SO identify with the concept of an inner adult proposed by Nancy of notquiteold. I need one of those.
  2. This post about “Putting the Care in Career” from Tenure, She Wrote resonated with me.
  3. I laughed at this Sciency LOL from Why? Because Science. 
  4. The Book Wars’ theme for January was Female Detectives, which inspired a lot of my reading this month. Here’s an article about Nancy Drew! As well as reviews for 2 of the 9 books I read this month: A Tale of Two Castles by my beloved Gail Carson Levine and the Enola Holmes series (of which I will be reading the remainder in February).
  5. The Book Wars also prompted me to add some diverse books being released in 2016 to my reading list.
  6. I enjoyed reading these poems by Katie Donovan.
  7. This highlights post from She’s a Maineiac made me laugh. Hard.
  8. I always enjoy reading posts from A Frog in the Fjord (and learn a lot about Norway while I’m at it), and this post about differences in New Year’s Resolutions between Norwegians and immigrants was no different.
  9. One Fifty inspired me to work better on journaling, and I particularly enjoyed her Week 4 Learning Log about stoats.
  10. As usual, I loved the manicures that Sandra from Finger Candy does: this month my favorites were her lavender, jasmine, hologram dotssome fun hearts, and rainbow sweaters.
  11. This post about love and wanderlust from The Other Fork in the Road reflects everything I feel about taking the next step in my life, in which I will probably move away from my college city for my career, leaving my already-employed boyfriend behind.

That’s it for January; happy February! Thanks for sticking with me in 2016 🙂

My 15 Favorite Products & Discoveries of 2015

2015 was such a full year for me! I struggled a lot with my job at school. I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree. I spent the summer traveling all across the United States, including visiting 8 states for the first time (Alaska, Washington, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Indiana, Kentucky,  and Tennessee). I attended the first funerals I’ve been to since I was 9, and unfortunately that was funerals in the plural. This means I’ve been so, so incredibly lucky not to have lost anyone close to me since then, but it made this particular year really rough. I started graduate school and managed a 3.82 GPA last semester.

It was so hard to develop my “best of” list for this past year. In 2014 I discovered a lot about the basics of beauty, but while I did learn a lot in 2015, this year was more about delving in and figuring out what I liked most. I still don’t have any true holy grails (I haven’t tried quite enough products for that!), but I’m getting there. After all, isn’t that what this whole process is about?



1. Serums & Oils

This year was the year I discovered the wide world of serums and oils. My interest in serum-type products started back in the summer of 2014 when I purchased the Nutriganics Drops of Youth Concentrate, but this year I expanded the number of serums I own by a huge amount through sampling and started using serums regularly in my routine. Now I have too many serums, and am struggling to get through them at a fast enough pace. Oops!

In March I received an oil from Paula’s Choice in my Birchbox and liked it so much I ordered a full size. Then I tried out a rosehip oil and a serum-in-oil, as well as transitioning to using a body oil and starting to test out hair oils. I even started using a cleansing oil!

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November 2015 Birchbox Review

November’s Birchbox theme was “Feeling Fancy”. And boy, did this box achieve that! While this is by no means the best box I’ve received from Birchbox, it certainly felt luxurious — everything from the box design to the product packaging to the products themselves. Just look at how classy my samples look, sitting there on the pretty burgundy tissue paper! It’s like they were specially coordinated to all match in shades of black, white, and grey.


I originally thought the pattern on this box was just “nice enough.” But once I opened the box I fell in love with it! What I thought was really special about the appearance of this one was how put-together it looked as I opened it. The product card echoed the box design, the tissue paper color complemented the box color really well, the color of the other included card played off the color of the tissue paper…except for the strange brown color of the pillow insert, everything was so on-point thematically. It really did feel fancy.

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February 2016 Birchbox Sample Choice Comparison

Birchbox’s sample choice has become a monthly staple now; you can find a description of the program here. This month there are 4 samples to choose from plus a curated box filled with beauty samples meant for date night (February 14th is Valentine’s day, after all…). Let’s get started!


The Arrow BOOST Color Enhancing Lip Balm is one of the items released a few weeks ago as part of Birchbox’s newest in-house brand. The brand, “Arrow,” is supposed to be all about beauty on the go for a busy lifestyle. This is a lip balm that changes color based on the pH of your lips. The 9 reviews on the Birchbox website so far are all 5 stars, and here‘s a review of the Arrow products so far if you’re interested. This sample is probably full size, in which case it would be worth $14.

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Who Can Resist Three New Zoya Polishes…

I had skipped out on ordering the Zoya Cyber Monday box (although once I saw what it contained, I sort of wished I had!), but since I was in the market for a new base as well as a new top coat I couldn’t resist this deal that popped up a week later: buy a mini color lock set and receive 3 full-size polishes for free. Since the full-size polishes retail for $9-10 on their own and I wanted all of the items in the kit, to me this was a great deal!



I spent ages poring over all the polishes on the Zoya site trying to pick the perfect three. They have so many beautiful colors that it’s just so hard to choose! I looked at swatches of SO many of the polishes that it probably took me hours, not even kidding. I ended up with Tinsley, Hermina, and Nimue.

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Crabtree & Evelyn Hand Cream Extravaganza

I love Crabtree & Evelyn products, despite not having ever owned very many of them. I can pinpoint the exact moment when my love began – the year I received a basket of products from their Summer Hill line from my grandmother for my birthday. It felt like such an adult gift, since scented gifts were so rare for me to receive, especially as nice as ones as these. I used those products like they were made of silver and was so sad when the single product I loved the most out of that basket, the Summer Hill Hand Therapy, finally ran out. I still have and use several of the other longer-lasting products from that basket, like the perfume, but I still think about that hand cream.


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