Thursday, June 13, 2013

Birchbox May 2013 - Full Review

Hi friends,

I have to tell you, the June Birchbox (coming soon as a reveal) is by far the best one I have received. Which is interesting because that's pretty much what I had said about the last box, well, until I tried all the product samples. So, without further ado, let me review and rate all the samples I received in last month's box.

May 2013 - Review

As a recap, this was what I received:

I was quite excited about the samples, in particular the Runa tea and the toothpaste. This was a very good box, and again, one of the better ones for 2013.

Marvis -  Classic Strong Mint Toothpaste - A+

This is an outstanding product. I absolutely loved the taste and unlike your regular drugstore brand, this one has excellent lasting power. It comes as a white paste, which can be a bit too fluid for some (I would have liked a thicker consistency). The ingredients include: Water, Glycerin, Silica, Sodium bicarbonate, Sodium lauryl sulfate, Carrageenan, Flavor, Titanium dioxide, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Peppermint oil, Sodium saccharin. This is interesting because it felt so strong yet refreshing, I was fooled into believing that they had also included clove as one of their ingredients. As a child, my grandmother used to have us kids suck on clove once in a while and this toothpaste gave me the same sensation: super clean, super fresh and kind of old fashion.
Yes, it is on the pricey side ($10.50 for 75ml) but what else would you expect from a toothpaste imported from Italy and sold at Barney's NY! It is said to be ideal for smokers (short of quitting smoking of course). This is a product I will purchase, maybe not on a regular basis, but definitely as a treat to myself. Marvis also makes different flavors such as Cinnamon Mint , Ginger Mint or Jasmine Mint . I would not mind trying them all either. So here is one product I strongly recommend. You can purchase it here .

COOLA - Classic Sunscreen - C+

I don't know what's the big deal about this brand. I hear a lot of buzz about it and read a few raving reviews. As a moisturizer, it did nothing for me. It is very fluid, with a light (somewhat) cucumber scent. It did penetrate very fast but honestly, I did not find this product to be above and beyond whatever else is on the market right now. I have to take into account the fact that I do not use sunscreen on a daily basis - there is a reason for that, I tend to avoid the sun like the plague since I am subject to immediate sunburn. When I do get in the sun, I will use baby sunscreen with an spf of 75! I was eager to try this but the experience itself was not so great to make me fall head over heels with it. It's ok as a moisturizer but I would not recommend you solely rely on this. It is not a treatment cream or lotion. I can see where younger crowds would be attracted to it (packaging, cool name, buzz etc.) but for more mature skins like mine, it was just okay.
It is organic, I guess that would be a plus and contains spf 30 (you do not have to reapply it as often as most sunscreens). I did not care for the fragrance, it faintly smells like cucumber, so don't go think you're going to have a cucumber spa like experience with this Coola.

Here is the ingredients list:

active:  Octocrylene (8.0%), Octinoxate (7.5%), Oxybenzone (5.0%), Octisalate (2.0%)
inactive: 0Water, Zinc Oxide, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Tapioca Starch, Sorbitan Stearate, Titanium Dioxide, Pogosternon Cablin (Patchouli) Leaf Extract, Oenothera Biennis (Evening Primrose) Extract, Dog (Rosa Canina) Rose Hips, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter) Fruit, Beeswax, Eugenia Caryophllus (Clove) Flower Extract, Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Extract, Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon) Fruit Extract, Retinyl Palmitate (Vitamin A Palmitate), Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate, Juglans Regia (Walnut) Seed Extract, Cucumber Essence (Parfum).
Cucumber is the last ingredient on the list which means it is the one with the least amount included in one tube. And it is super pricey ($32) for a large tube of 59ml. Not a fan, I tried it twice and trashed it. Sorry Coola !

Amika - Hair Nourishing Mask - F

Amika has made it to my hall of shame!

But first, a little bit about my hair. I have super curly hair that can be beautiful and bouncy but for one day only. Then it turns to some crazy bipolar wicked witch kind of hair that is unruly and unmanageable. I look fantastic when I come out of the salon but when I come out of my own bathroom, it's more like I slept on a thicket patch all night and you would pretty much expect twigs and animals to crawl out of it. No joke. I have this love/hate relationship with my hair. So of course and over the years, I have tried all manner of products to flatten it or enhance my curls, normalize my hair, condition it or naturally treat it. I was super hyped about this sample because it looked like a large enough size that would last me two uses. Plus it's organic.

Here is the verdict: It smelled wonderful, it really did. Some kind of nutty and floral mix that made me feel as though I was using a high end product. Kudos for the fragrance, if I was judging it solely on this (and the packaging), Amika would get a great review. Too bad I am judging its quality as a hair mask though!
So it is nice to apply, thick enough, yet not too thick. You lather it on, comb through and rinse routine. To judge its effectiveness, I let my hair dry naturally and that was the first mistake! After two hours, I had developed the mother of all frizz.  It was so bad, I felt embarrassed going out, for real! I looked like some crazy bag lady who had not brushed in years. It looked like every strand and curl had been separated into their individual hair, all independent from one another...Then, I figured that with one more day and tying it down with a band, it would calm down and look somewhat decent. That was mistake number two. It rained on day two and my frizzy hair, already stripped from its natural oils, turned into a blur, yeah, that's how frizzy it was, it looked like the top of my head was out of focus! Amika Nourishing Mask is hands down the worst product I have sampled from Birchbox. Now, if you have crazy straight hair, not only am I jealous, you would actually like this product as it would, without any doubt, give you volume and fluff. If you have curly hair, run in the opposite direction! That's my opinion and I am sticking to it!

Sumita - Eye Liner - A

I use eyeliner everyday. It is one of my makeup staples. I usually go for gel eye liners that come in pots and need to be applied with a brush. Lately I have been using MAC Fluidline Eye Liner Gel Blacktrack and have been very happy with it.  This Sumita eyeliner is not like any other, it is more like a solid gel and feels cold to the touch, if that makes sense. It will not pull on your eyelid either (always a plus). I tried it on the back of my hand upon opening the box that month and to be honest, by end of day, it was still there (yes, I did wash my hands many times). This liner has very high pigment and unbelievable staying power. If I were to chose, I probably would go for a lighter shade as I felt that the black was a tad too intense (much more intense than my MAC) for me. If you want to smudge it a bit to reduce the intensity, you better be quick as it is fast to dry. What I ended up doing was apply it on one lid and immediately smudge it before applying it to the other lid. I have used this liner every day since I received it and have not had to sharpen it yet. In my opinion, this is an excellent product and if you are in the market for an eyeliner that is easy to apply and requires no skills, this would be the one. It does come off with eye makeup remover. Another thing I need to mention is that it will not come off throughout the day, no raccoon eyes or one eye with liner and the other without (guess which one was rubbed). I rub my eyes a lot and it never once faded away or bled around my lids. Sumita liners come in various shades including dark green or charcoal grey but no brown. Full size is $11 and I am recommending it.

Runa - Amazon Guayusa Tea - B

I had never heard of Guayusa Tea until I received these four samples. It is a leaf from the Amazon region and supposedly packs as much caffeine than one cup of coffee. I took the teas to work and sampled them in the afternoon hours. Personally, I did not think they were that intense with regards to caffeine or flavor. I found all four to be quite mild. This tea comes out with brown color with some nice flavor (in particular the Ginger Citrus one) but other than that, I did not think this was any more intriguing or delicious than  Republic of Tea or Tazo brand teas.
Because I am a big tea drinker, I feel that I can provide a fair opinion on this brand. It was just okay for me. It is always fun to try new teas, but since discovering Teavana, I find it very difficult to be impressed. Runa Amazon Guayusa Tea Boxes sell for $7.49 (16 bags). I probably would not buy it for myself.

So, that was my review of the May 2013 Birchbox. Now, aside from the Hair Mask that shall not be named again, this was a very good box. And since it is obvious that Birchbox is finally providing some big payoff with their monthly samples, I don't think I want to stop my subscription anymore.

Don't miss the June 2013 open box...coming soon.

Check out my BEAUTY tab for more product reviews.

<<<<<<<<DON'T MISS MY SUNDAY 6.16.13 VLOG/BLOG ON BATH AND BODY WORKS SAS HAUL AND A GREAT GIVEAWAY!!!!>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Thank you for liking and sharing my post.

Sophia, NJ

You can find me on

*This site contains affiliate advertising. I am not affiliated with Teavana, Tazo, Republic of Tea, MAC Cosmetics or any other product and company mentioned in this post.and was not solicited to review any product mentioned above. All opinions are my own.


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I welcome your feedback and comments. If you have a question or a specific request, do not hesitate, I am here to help! Thanks, S.

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