Thursday, September 19, 2013

Battle of the Boxes

Many of you are probably familiar with the idea of Beauty Boxes. Nail polish lovers can choose from Julep, Scratch, and The Nail Art Society for monthly deliveries of polish, snack lovers can choose Graze boxes, Nature boxes, even Vegan Cuts boxes. For lovers of all things cosmetic the choices are nearly endless. There are Ipsy, Beauty Box 5, Blissmo, Beauty Army and loads more. But how do you choose a box? Are they even worth it? Which ones offer the best benefits?  Well today I'm going to break down four beauty boxes for you to help you decide!  The beauty boxes I'm comparing range various prices, options and lifestyles and each box is the August 2013 edition. we go.

We'll start with the Birch Box because it's the cheapest option on my list.  Birch Box runs you $10 a month and offers four beauty samples and a "surprise" item in each box.  Here's the August box:

Yay nail polish! I was actually quite disappointed with this months box. Only two of the samples are really 'deluxe' and sunscreen is kind of a throwaway this late in the year.  The polish has a value of about $5 and the hair oil about .36 despite it's deluxe size. So...the box wasn't very valuable. I did also get a 20% off coupon code but it's for Anne Taylor so let's face it, that's going in the trash.

Pros: I really like that Birch Box ships early in the month because that means I get August's box IN August.  I also really love the price point because it works out to .33 a day. It's basically two coffee's.  I have had some REALLY stellar boxes. I also really love the point system. Each month you can review your items for points and then you can spend the points like cash in the Birch Box store. I've gotten quite a few items for free that way.

 The Birch Box point system has changed. While you still earn points for reviews, the reviews now must be at least 20 words long and be approved by someone before points are issued. Not so in love anymore. 

Cons: Birch Box is VERY hit or miss. Some boxes, like this one, are just junk. Others are really great but there's no guarantee what you'll get. Sometimes the free gift is really silly too; more than once I've gotten a hair rubber. I also don't love their customization which asks you a lot of random questions instead of just being forthright.

So now let's move on to the Eco Emi box.  Eco Emi is $15 a month and, as the name suggests, it's an eco friendly box filled with five to ten samples of natural, organic, green, eco-friendly, cruelty free, vegan, vegetarian or Fair Trade products.. Here's my box for August:

As you can see it's filled with a whole range of items. I've even gotten laundry soap in them! This box has a value of $12.50.  Last month had a value of $25 so these really do even out and more often than not I LOVE the box and am more than happy with the cost. This box alone has cookies, walnut butter, green tea leaves, eyeshadow, soap, some super cute wooden utensils, nail polish and some samples of lotion and body oil.

Pros: If you're vegetarian or into Eco Friendly things then this is an excellent way to try out new things. Sometimes those items can be a little more pricey so it's nice to be able to try before investing. I love that I get a lot of different things like snacks and hair care and makeup; it's fun to be able to try out lots of things. I also think the price point is spot on. There are always at least 7 or 8 items in my boxes and often more.

Cons: There is zero customization. Each box is the same every month so there's no tailoring it to your wants/needs. I get a lot of eye shadows and chap sticks. They're all different and I always need those things but sometimes it's a bit much. These also ship at the end of the month so for example, August's box arrived this month around the 29th.

Next up we have the $21 Glossy Box subscription. 

So I actually cancelled my Glossy Box subscription this month and went back to Birch Box. It was meant to be for the points cause there's something that I want to buy from their shop. BUT I just learned that they have all sorts of requirements now for reviews so it's sort of a waste. I'm really kicking myself and will probably join up again before this posts!  This box is epic. It has a value of close to $70! Everything in this box was full sized and I'm really excited about the red lip pencil. The fact spray is great in the summer and with curly, thick hair I can always use masks. The nail polish is a little "meh" (all of them will be reviewed later this week!) but the face powder is amazing. I also got a little jean Guess bag in this box as an extra.

Pros: Boxes nearly always have a high value and I've never had one that didn't contain at least one full sized item. I've gotten several Tarte lip sticks as well as a few nail polishes and eye liners. But on the other hand, I've also gotten a lot of things I'll never use like gel blushes and hair sprays. HOWEVER, you'll always have that with a box subscription.

Cons: While the value outweighs the cost nearly always, $21 is a little pricey for some.  There is customization but it's fairly minimal and the Glossy Dots they offer are basically useless. 

And finally we come to a new brand of box called Wantables. Wantables runs you $36 a month and you choose whether you'd like an accessory box or a beauty box. I chose beauty:

So here's my Wantables box. This box had a lot of brands I hadn't heard of before BUT that said, they definitely lived up to their price point!! There is an eye shadow quad, two lip glosses, a NAIL POLISH (Hello!!) and a little sample of body oil. The value of this box is around $80. VERY fair for a $36 price point. These boxes really vary because of the full customization Wantables offers so I've seen boxes with very diverse contents. They also appear to work with indie makers as I saw a few boxes with Rainbow Honey polishes. 

Pros: The value is indisputable and the items are also high quality.  You can choose between accessories (and jewelry) or cosmetics. The box came in a timely manner. This is the MOST customizable box I've come across. They not only ask you what cosmetics you like but then they break them down further by asking about specifics. I chose nail polish and was then asked if I liked colors or neutrals, shimmers or sheers, cremes or glitters, etc.  My box is VERY suited to the choices I made.

Cons: They are a bit of a reach for some people at $36 a month. BUT all my cosmetics are full sized and high priced items so if you already spend a lot on makeup it could be a great deal for you. I don't believe they have a rewards program either.

All in all Glossy Box and Eco Emi will continue to be my choices. But in the future I may definitely jump on board the Wantables train. I really loved that my box was MY box. No two are the same and it's really made up just for me. If I used more makeup on a regular basis it would definitely be worth the money. My Birch Box is going to the wayside again! Which box is your favorite?

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Zoo Rat Adventures: Volume I

So it's no secret that I've been at the zoo a lot recently.  In fact, I've been there just about every weekend since May.  I hadn't really noticed til the third or fourth time I went but....the zoo seriously brings out the funniest people.  Having been there so many times I've learned quite a bit about the animals. Cheetah's can't jump very far. Sea Lions have ears while Seals do not. White Lions are not actually white, they just have lighter manes and bodies. Penguin babies are the same size as the adults to keep them from being picked off by predators. These things are perhaps not your most basic knowledge. But there's a difference between knowing specifics about the animals and just being...well...silly to put it nicely.  
Like this incident at the Columbus Zoo.  I'm standing next to the Aye Aye exhibit when two brothers run up to the glass, the first excitedly shouting "What is it?! What is it?!" His brother, obviously the genius of the bunch pointedly tells him "It's a nocturnal chicken. Duh." Duh indeed.  This little guy is the AyeAye:

And if the Nocturnal Chicken exists I've yet to see one. Now listen, I know zoo rats like me know all about the crazy different animals. In fact, I can even tell you the names of most of them and I don't mean White Handed Gibbon or Red Crowned Crane.  I mean as in Bobby the Sifaka and John the African Lion.  But let's face it...while most of you might not know the difference between a Potto and a Grey Lemur (ours are housed together and as our Grey Lemur is an expert at hiding they're almost always mistaken for one another) I'd hope MOST of you can tell the difference between basic animals.

Here's a more recent incident:

These gorgeous guys are White Lions. In the past two weeks I've been to the zoo twice and both times this exhibit illicited silly conversations.  The first when a woman pointed excitedly at them while saying to her family "Look ya'll!! Them lions got manes this week!!"  Yes, indeed male lions do have manes.  But come during the week and sometimes they have out the two female lions instead which is undoubtedly what had been the case on her last family visit.  I can assure you most definitely that those female lions did not magically "grow manes".  Then today yet another fabulously silly conversation took place next to me.  The scene: same as usual, both of our male White Lions sleeping in the sunny spot on their deck. A woman and her husband approach and the rest is what followed...
"Look at these!!"
"Wow! Are those lions or tigers?"
"I don't know, it's hard to tell when they're laying down."
"Yeah it is."
"Looks like they've got manes though. So..."

Ladies and gentleman....I give you one lion and one tiger:

Clearly not mistakable no matter the species nor position. But hey, a cat is a cat right? What about this gem that came up while I was visiting the Ocelots today:

"Whoa!! Look!!"
"What is it?!"
"It's a baby leprechaun!!"
"NO! It's a baby CHEETAH."

No boys, that's an Ocelot. But kudos to the second one for at least recognizing that it's a cat and not a small, magical, human-like creature with a pot of gold.

The kids are funny but understandably mislead. But then, their parents don't help.  At the Komodo Dragon exhibit a child asked his mother why it wasn't breathing fire. Rather than give him the correct answer, that Komodo Dragon's aren't THAT kind of dragon, she offered "He's too small to breathe fire yet. He will when he gets bigger."  Thanks for always being honest, mom.  

*Sigh* I guess the animals aren't the ONLY reason to go to the zoo!!!