A year ago today I decided to create a space where I could share: my thoughts, endless tips (if you’ve read my articles from start to finish, you know what I mean), and most importantly the deals we all strive for. There were ups and downs, and it almost ended as soon as it started. I learned that blogs are a lot of work, so you have to unplug completely during a tragedy. Through all the work I put into each article and page, I wondered if anyone would find it helpful. When I received a comment or email through contact, I learned that some people did find it helpful and others were happy to help me. Some have my passion for deal sharing, most share my passion for deal hunting, and all share my passion for beauty products.
How do I get the best deal? This is a question I see often. Sometimes it is directed toward specific retailers. Other times it is more of a general probing. Let’s face it. Getting the best deal can be a lot of work. Have you ever been so proud of yourself for doing your research and locking down an incredible deal only to find out you did not get the best deal available? You are not alone. This has happened to me, too. We live and we learn from overpaying. Then, we get more savvy in the future. There are the tricks everyone knows. Subscribe to the retailer’s updates. Do Google searches for promo codes. Use ebates, ShopatHome, Mrrebates, or TopCashBack to get a percentage back on what you order. Of course, you can always visit sites like this one that try to list all known deals in one place. What are you missing though? Can you do anything else?
Occasionally, we find a product that seems at once magical and made just for us. I call them FabuFinds. It is even better when I can find them in sample form or get a great price, but these are the few items I would pay full price for if I could not find a promo code. There were four products I consider FabuFinds in my January Empties that I have not discussed yet. To spotlight them all, this will be a four product article. Some articles may have as few as one product. If the product was received for free, I will always let you know.
Carol’s Daughter sells body products? I’ve actually seen that question a few times, because she is known for her hair products. While I like some of her hair products, I find her body products are better. The Ecstasy line in particular is the best I’ve tried. I cannot think of a better word to describe the scent. It is so pleasant and not at all overpowering.
Sample Society closed in 2015. The Allure Beauty Box launched the same year. When these boxes were released Beautybar handled management.
I originally joined Sample Society just before the April 2014 box. Allure collaborates with Beautybar on Sample Society. The subscription costs $15 plus tax a month. For me, the cost is $16.22. I always include the tax in the price, so you will rarely see me write it costs $15 a month. Why do I include the tax? As it is the only beauty box (other than Target, which is not a subscription box) I have received to charge tax, it adds to the cost of the box compared to its competitors. I feel the same about the boxes that add shipping when so many ship for free. Whenever I consider the value of a box, I ask myself how many of the items will I use. Do they exceed the amount I paid? Of course, the value of all items will always exceed what I paid, but do I find all of the items valuable?
I felt the first month was off to a decent start. It easily contained over $16.22 worth of value for me. The Tatcha papers and Butter eyeliner were full sized and each alone were valued higher than what I paid. My only complaint with the Butter Liner was I was told (as you can see in my dashboard) that I was getting pink. When it arrived, it was black. Black is one of my least favorite eyeliner colors, because it is just too dark for me. Not only do I have more black eyeliner than I can use, but I already had that exact black eyeliner. Thus, I traded the black eyeliner away.
It is neat to reflect back on old boxes to see what I have tried, what I liked, what I still have not used or what I gave away. When you pick up as many samples as I do, you do not always have the opportunity to use them all. I liked the Dr. Hauschka cleansing cream. It left my skin soft even though it did not smell great. The verdict is I would not buy it, because I have others I prefer. I find the eyeliner (which I picked up elsewhere) good quality. If I could get a color other than black, I would be interested in another one. The H2o+ item is still unsampled, but I hope to get to it before it expires. I’ve used the candle once, and thought it smelled nice. I have not used the Tatcha papers yet, because my skin runs dry in most placed. While my T zone does run oily, it is rarely bothersome enough to have me reach for these. I did get another package of these after this box and gifted them to a fellow beauty lover.
I liked my May box a little less than April. The item I was most looking forward to trying was the Dermalogica. Sadly, it was missing from my box. Sample Society customer service was very friendly about the missing sample. Rather than sending me the missing sample, it sent me a second box full of samples. Apparently, they cannot send individual samples. All of the samples were included that time, so I had 2 of some of them and 1 of the Dermalogica. Unfortunately, I opened a different moisturizer while I was waiting for the Dermalogica to finally ship, so I still have not used it to this date. I actually have not used any of the samples, which I did not realize until just now. The Juice Beauty CC cream is something I love and use the full size of at least a few times a week. I have received so many samples of this over the past year that I always seem to have more to give away. The most recent one I received came from a Beauty.com bag and is about to be shipped to a lucky recipient of a free box of samples I am sending tomorrow. The other three items do interest me as well, so I will try them soon. Hopefully, I get to them before they expire.
The June box was a huge disappointment. On top of the fact that I received four moisturizers and two perfumes, which was upsetting, Sample Society forgot a sample again. This time, the Karin Herzog sample was the missing item. I had never even heard of the brand, so I did not want to miss my chance to try it. I called customer service. She was very nice even though she mentioned that I was missing a sample last month, too. While I am sure there are people who say they are missing things they’re not, I was already upset to be missing a sample two months in a row. Thus, I wish she had not mentioned it. Since she mentioned it, I told her that I thought about canceling due to it. However, I generally believe in the three strikes you’re out rule, so I would stay subscribed for now. If they forgot a sample a third time though, I would cancel. Once again, Sample Society shipped me a box full of samples rather than just the one I was missing.
When it comes to perfumes, I have yet to find one I love. Most make me lightheaded, so I rarely wear them. I did try each scent once. I found the Juliette one decent, and the Nicole one was okay at best. The H2o+ is one I really like. I’ve picked this sample up again since then as well. The other three are still untried. Pur-lisse is a popular sample with subscription boxes, so I have given away a bit and still have more of my own to try when I am ready.
Sample Society knew its June box was a huge miss with subscribers. There were a lot like me who were very unhappy with getting similar items within the same box. It promised a revamp. The revamp meant that we would get a mix of products, the way my beloved Birchbox mixes everything up. I was excited to see what would come. After the huge disappointment in June, I was ready to cancel if July was another disappointment.
I actually liked the July box a lot, and unlike the previous two boxes, all of my samples were inside. The Fekkai hair mask did explode in the box, but there was still plenty left to sample. It was exciting that I did not have to place a call to customer service. Feeling that way is pretty sad, but I was dreading a missing product before the box arrived. The Loreal lipcolour was surprisingly wonderful. I liked the formula and the color. I did not own any Loreal products at the time either, so it was nice to try a new brand. Granted, Loreal owns my beloved Lancome, so I am certainly familiar with the parent brand. Although I have not yet used the Butter London polish, I was happy that it was full size. I already know and love this brand, so it was nice to receive this. A friend of mine had her eye on the Laura Mercier highlighting powder, because I already owned this. When it comes to backups, I just do not usually need them for most makeup. I sent her this with a bonus beauty spatula in exchange for a Too Faced item. The exploded Fekkai mask was lovely. I will consider buying this once I’ve used up some of my current hair mask stash. The perfume is nice, but it is nothing I love and need to buy. This was a good month.
The August box looked nice in theory. I was very pleased again that all of my samples were inside the box. Facebook posts showed me that a lot of other people were still plagued with missing samples after the revamp. It took me a few months, but I finally got around to trying the Melted lipstick in peony. I found it very pretty. None of the other samples, although they look amazing, have tempted me enough to try them yet. I just have way too many mascaras, so I have to be super amped to try one before I open it. I love Ciate, but I surprisingly (consider my very large nail polish collection) do not paint my nails often. The Oribe and Kate Sommerville samples will be used at some point.
Between still being upset about the two months with the missing samples, all the Facebook posts from people stating they were missing samples since the revamp and just feeling my stash was out of control and would never be used, I canceled after my August box.
Fast forward to this month. I started seeing pictures of Sample Society’s January 2015 box. It looked amazing, so I decided to resubscribe. Unfortunately, I missed the cutoff for the month of January, so February will be my first month. Once again, customer service was amazing. This time, I emailed rather than calling. The agent suggested I order the box from the Beautybar website when it went live. I got an email stating it was up and off I went to order my box. While I was there, I thought the December 2014 box looked nice, so I picked it up as well.
After I ordered the January box, I saw a post on Facebook that the Strivectin sample (the 6th sample everyone received) was a subscriber benefit and would not be included in boxes purchased from the website. I was disappointed and logged into the website to see how I missed the notification. It was listed on the website, although I cannot be sure if it was added after I placed my order or before and I just missed it. Either way, I was still happy, because there were other items in the box that interested me. Yesterday, I saw a Facebook update that including the Strivectin sample in the January box was a mistake, so it will be the 5th sample in the February box. That is awesome, so I will be receiving it after all. Mini celebration over here. I love Strivectin samples. It’s a great brand.
When you order online, you still have no clue what specific colors or scents you will get when options are offered. Thus, you’re still in for a surprise when you open your box. The Estee Lauder Advanced Night Eye Repair sample was in every box, so I expected that. It will take me a while to try this, since I have so many others waiting to be used. The value on it is $19.72. Lotions and hand creams are one of my favorite items to sample. My skin is so dry. I got Crabtree & Evelyn La Source, which I look forward to trying. It is sold in this size for $8.
The Burberry Fresh Glow has an $8.16 value and is very pretty. It has a subtle shimmer. I like the way it swatched, but it looks even more subtle on.
In this picture, I am using the luminizer as a highlighter.
This is my first Butter tinted lip balm. It is full size and retails for $20. I am happy with the way the color, Apricot Sunshine, swatched, so I look forward to seeing how it looks on. Hopefully, it wears as nicely as I’ve heard.
I’ve never owned any products from RGB. This is full sized with an $18 value. This Oxblood color is gorgeous. If it wears as nicely as it looks, I am in for a treat. Compare this to my other salmon and wine polishes.
This box seems like it was worth the purchase so far. I paid $16.22, and I received $73.88 worth of product. At some point, I hope to use all of the products, so I hope to receive $73.88 in value. Three of the five are full size items, which is an added bonus.
The whole reason I went to the Beautybar site was to buy the January box, so I hope to get a nice value. Please keep in mind that I was not subscribed, so my value will be lower than those subscribed. As I later learned the Strivectin was a mistake, subscribers should have received the value I received anyway. Some of you may already know that while the bonus Strivectin would have been nice, I was after the Erno Laszlo Sea Mud Deep Cleansing Bar.
I cannot find the size listed on this sample soap anywhere. It is extremely small, so I will venture a guess that it is 10x smaller than the full sized bar making it worth around $4.50. The renewed Hope in a Jar sample (relaunched of Hope in a Jar) is worth $5.88. Whenever an item is sold in multiple sizes, I use the smallest size to calculate sample value. It is the lowest price you can get the item for without getting a free sample or a paid sample in a subscription box. Thus, I calculate the Phillip B Lightweight Deep Conditioning Creme Rinse at $2.50
I had not owned anything from the Revlon brand prior to opening this box. The Revlon Photoready Eye Art in Cobalt Crystal does look interesting. Blue eyeshadows can be a lot of fun, although cream eyeshadows do not usually go with my greasy eyelids. Glitter is also a hard look for me to pull off as well, so I have yet to determine whether I will get use out of this. I’ve swatched it for you, so it is no longer new. Thus, I will not be giving it away (only give away new items). It does swatch beautifully, but I wonder if I can wear it without creasing. This is a full sized item valued at $8.99 (currently on sale for $7.19 at Drugstore.com if you loved your sample and want more.
Although I own a Zoya polish, I have not tried it yet. The full sized Zoya polish in Rayne retails for $9. I am in love with the way it swatches, so I hope the brand lives up to its hype. Compare this to my other blue polishes.
This box is another winner. Then again, it is easy to pick winners after the fact. It has $30.87 in product. I paid $16.22. Even if the Revlon item misses, I hope to get $21.88 in value. Thus, I will still come out on top.
Anyone still reading may notice this article posed a question. My honest answer at this point is I cannot say yes or no right now. Although I am happy with these two new boxes, I need to see what is in store. The November and October boxes did not pique my interest. No matter how good customer service is, I am still nervous a future box may have a missing sample. If that happens, I promise you now I am canceling forever. I do not believe a company should mess up three times and keep me as a customer. While I can overlook two, I am not a saint.
If you want to subscribe based on what you read, visit the Sample Society site. I will post updates along my journey if you need more time to decide. See all Sample Society articles. View my main page for the guide map to the site and deeper deal exploration.
Disclosure: Affiliate Links
My fascination with Erno Laszlo began when I read that Audrey Hepburn (one of the most beautiful women of all time) claimed she owed 50% of her beauty to the brand. While I seriously doubt the figure was actually 50%, I do know that some of the most beautiful women in the world have invested in their skin and treated it right. Many say that treating your skin right is as important as genetically gifted skin. If you are 25 or older and have not started investing in your skin, now is the time.
Right now, there are two places to try some Erno Laszlo products before investing in the expensive full sizes. Sample Society by Beautybar just released the January box for people who want it outside of a subscription. In addition to the lovely Erno Laszlo soap, there are some other nice items in the box as well. It retails for $15 plus tax. The best part is shipping is free on these boxes. If you purchase over $300 from Beautybar, use the code BBJAN15 to get $75 off.
The other opportunity to test the brand comes from Beauty.com. Spend $10 on the Beauty side, and you will get this three piece Erno Laszlo gift. Shipping is free with a $35 pretax purchase. You can spend all $35 on the beauty side or split your order between the beauty and drugstore side, because the sites share one cart. It will require at least $10 to be spent on the Beauty side to qualify for the offer. Do not forget to add three free samples into your cart that are eligible with every beauty purchase. There is no coupon code for this offer, but you can receive the offer by following this link. It will automatically load into your cart as long as there are no other offers in your cart or the link allows the other offer to be overwritten. The retailer does not allow more than one promo code. Erno Laszlo Offer.
Do not forget to use ebates! Both sites accept it, and ebates sends you free money just for shopping with their links. It is my favorite way to shop. I like getting paid for what I love to do. View my main page for the guide map to the site and deeper deal exploration.
Disclosure: Referral and Affiliate Links