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Birchbox September 2016 Subscription Box Review- The One That Could Have Been the Best

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This is my 48th Birchbox. Although I have not been subscribed for 4 years as one might infer from that statement, I had three Birchbox subscriptions for half of 2015 and two for over half. In 2014 and 2016, I’ve never had more than one subscription at a time. Thanks to sample selection, I’ve never received a box that was a perfect replica of another box, even though I did receive some duplicate products. Birchbox has never sent me a duplicate item in a single subscription, outside of repeating items from curated boxes that are not counted in your profile like regular samples are. There are some I would not mind receiving a second time and others I definitely would not like a second time. Receiving the same samples takes some of the fun out of sampling new things, so I always appreciate the switch up.

This means, I’ve received 48 unique Birchboxes (and I will even throw in the 7 unique start-up boxes sent to my 14 gift recipients). Of course, each of those 14 recipients received 3 total boxes, so I technically have ordered way more than this. For the 55 boxes I’ve personally been associated with (and have seen), I’ve shared every one I’ve received in a recap article for 2014 and individually for 2015 and later. I can say with certainty, this had the potential for all-time favorite status. That says a lot, because I’ve received great boxes, including: Mad Men California Box from April 2015, Power Pose Box from October 2015, On Trend Korean Featured Beauty Box from January 2016, and my box from last month was amazing in its own right. It could have surpassed my favorite of the gift subs I sent, too. Where did it go wrong?

Before we get into where it went wrong, let’s go over the usual. Birchbox gives at least 5 beauty samples each month for $10, which is half the cost of the Men’s Box. Boxes get customized to your beauty profile to a degree, but you cannot opt out of any type of sample. There is an option to select a sample (from a choice of 3-5 items) or the featured box where you know all 5-7 samples up front. Subscribers can review 5 samples for 10 points each once during the lifetime of the account. Unless you pay a year up front, you do not get any points for the cost of your subscription. That means there is no rewards program whatsoever for month-to-month plans after five reviews. With no rewards, the boxes have to speak for themselves in value. The samples will always go over $10 in value, but will the value you get from them equal $10!


Birchbox makes a custom box design for each month, and I really like this one. It reminds me of confetti, which is perfect for a celebration. This month marks a sixth anniversary for Birchbox, so it has reason to celebrate. Happy Birthday, Birchbox.


The first thing you usually see when you open a Birchbox is a product card. It lists the items in the box and the price to purchase the full-size. This product card is smeared with lipgloss. I made no attempt to clean it, because I do not bother saving these.


The back of the card usually goes over the box theme, which is Time Saving Products.


This month, the sample choice was between three Milk Makeup products: Lip + Cheek, Highlighter, or Ubame Mascara. There was also a featured box, Time Savers, includes: Milk Makeup Ubame Mascara, Supergoop!® Shine-On Lip Screen SPF 50, Dr. Jart+ Premium Beauty Balm SPF 45+, amika Perk Up Dry Shampoo, and Vasanti® BrightenUp! Enzymatic Face Rejuvenator.


The lipgloss exploded all over my box, which seems about right considering I was one of the lucky ones to receive a Manna Kadar product intact last month. I sent Birchbox an email about it, and they sent a replacement Birchbox (instead of only replacing the gloss). Thankfully, the lipgloss mostly came off the other products, so the broken lipgloss is not where this box went wrong. As this was damaged in shipping, I cannot be too upset over this disaster. It would help if they’d stop putting five products loosely inside the box to bump into each other along their travels, because products arrive damaged more often since they skimped on packaging.


The 1oz Klorane Dry Shampoo with Nettle is worth $6.25. As someone with a dry scalp and oily hair, I need dry shampoo. If I wash everyday, my scalp flakes more. When I skip a day of washing, my hair gets oily to overcompensate for how dry my scalp feels. This is a dry shampoo I’ve read a lot of great things about, so it has been on my must try list for a while. I also have a Sephora kit on its way with a different Klorane Dry Shampoo. One better work! It would be nice if I love them both.

The 0.1oz Milk Makeup Highlighter is worth $2.40. I’ve been fascinated with this brand ever since it first hit the market with its cheesy, yet catchy adds. Products that are effortless and time-saving speak to me, because I generally choose sleep and other things over applying makeup. After hearing Lorelei mention that Lip + Cheek product has avocado, I knew this was my only option. There is way too much mascara in my collection, so I will never choose mascara over something else. Sadly, this has avocado in it as well, but I am going to chance it (with benadryl ready).


I did not react from the swatch, but I did remove it rather quickly. This highlight color is too close to my skin tone, because it blends in a little more than I wish it would. Cream highlighters need more blending than powders, so this will probably only get worse when I wear it. Of course, I will edit in a picture and review once I wear it. Until then, I will try not to let my opinion of the swatch rule.

The 2oz Beautiful Nutrition Lemon Rinse is worth $1.50. Some people do not like receiving two hair products in a single box, and it is not particularly usual, other than shampoo and conditioner or even a third bonus product to go with those. I have hair that needs a lot of love, so I really appreciate products that address my concerns. This product promises to maintain a healthy scalp, which is something I struggle with. It is actually worse when I do not use a daily scalp spray. Another claim is it seals the cuticle, and I struggle with split ends. A split end mender is another product I use daily. The benefits go on and on, but it also promises to add shine, reduce frizz, and seal in moisture. If it really does the things it promises, I will love this. Those are all hair concerns of mine, so I am really excited for this product I’d never even heard of.

The 0.09oz LOC Ultra-Gloss Lip Pencil in Birthday Suit is full-sized. It retails for $12. I loved the LOC Vibrant Matte Lipstick I sampled in the past. My expectations for this gloss pencil were high based on that experience.


It does not bode well that product literally melted out of the pencil during transit. Sure, it’s hot outside, but it is nowhere near as hot as it was in the heat of summer. This is not the right design for the gloss. I will get a better idea of whether the design is the product when Birchbox replaces this. If it arrives damaged again, I will write these pencils off as a good idea. The formula was also very slippery when I applied this, as in the product literally slid on my skin. It is a pretty sheer pink, so it will probably look like clear gloss on my lips. Of course, I will edit in a picture and review once I wear this. There is nothing left in this pencil (that I can tell), so I will need to wait for the new pencil or sharpen this to see if I can use it.

The 0.33oz Bioderma® Sébium H2O is a foil. It is a large foil, but it is a foil nonetheless. Although I like the chance to sample items, foils or not, I never place value on foils. I would never pay for a foil, and a $10 subscription with no rewards points means I paid $2 for this. This is where Birchbox let me down and this box officially lost its chance at best box ever (before I swatched the highlighter, that is too close to my tone or cared that the lip gloss is a disaster in that pencil). Some people get mad at Birchbox for sending any foils. Birchbox used to send foils as one of your five beauty samples and officially changed that in the summer of 2014. After the summer of 2014, foils were only sent in excess to the five deluxe samples. That meant getting a foil NEVER took away one of your five deluxe samples. It was essentially a bonus, which also meant 10 extra review points or 20 extra review points when you got 2 foils and five deluxe samples. I’ve wanted to try Bioderma for a long time, so I was over the moon when I saw I was getting this. Getting a foil of it with ONLY four deluxe samples actually upsets me. How on earth can Birchbox expect me to pay $2 for this!

This box has a $22.15 value. My personal value is also $22.15, because I really want to try every single item in this box. None of these items are duplicates in my stash either. For someone who has considered canceling once review points got eliminated, it does not bode well that Birchbox sent me a foil and charged me $2 for it. Birchbox replaced this box with a different one, refunded the amount I overpaid on “Customer Appreciation Day,” and had nice samples available for the October 2016 sample selection. It keeps me hanging on.

The main draw of Birchbox to me was the points program, because I already have a ton of samples. I decided to stay subscribed after receiving such an impressive box last month and to see if I’d get anything for Customer Appreciation Day, which was a huge bust. If you’re considering a subscription and are not completely stocked on samples, it could still be worthwhile. Through Birchbox, I’ve discovered some incredible items I never would have. The box of samples is still a great draw if you love trying new things (unless they continue sending foils as one of the five samples). That is not okay when you’re paying $2 each for them.

Birchbox Women

If you want to subscribe, remember to look at start-up offers and all available offers. When you’re ready to spend your rewards points, remember to add your free two piece sample pack when spending $35 from the Bonus ShopTips For Getting the Best Deal lays out all the ways I know to save money at Birchbox. See other Birchbox Subscription articles. View my main page for the guide map to the site and deeper deal exploration.

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I'm Kimberly. Shopping is always more fun when I've found the best deal available, so I am always on the hunt. My father instilled that in me, and I love that I carry a piece of him. Sometimes, my husband and sons (13 and 8) let me shop for them, too. They do not use as many beauty products as I do. We can all benefit from nice products, even though their routine ends with moisturizer. That is when I can convince my 13-year-old to apply it.

2 thoughts on “Birchbox September 2016 Subscription Box Review- The One That Could Have Been the Best Leave a comment

  1. I’ve had the issue in the past with birchbox sending foils as one of 5 samples, and if you email customer service they will correct it. In my case, they credited me 50 points ($5) as an apology for the mistake.


  2. I already contacted them about the gloss and did not think of mentioning the foil. They responded by saying they’re sending a new box (which is odd, because I only mentioned the gloss). If they do send an entire box to replace one broken sample, I’d feel guilty for even mentioning the foil. Someone told me that they do not consider this a foil, because it has a hard front. I’ve decided not to contact them about the foil even if they only replace the pencil. It does make me unhappy though, because I paid $2 for a foil.


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