Tag : subscription-boxes

Subscription Boxes, a Cute Puppy and Hot Pink Metallic Bubble Wrap

I declared 2014 as the year of “trying new stuff.” I tried new and different skin care, beauty, hair care and cosmetics. You can read about some of those products in my blog Suddenly Sensitive Skin or Adventures in Hair Care Products.  I devoted time to finding healthier food alternatives and snack options.  My plan for 2015 is to share with you things that I love or hate, as the case may be.  And to give you tips, recipes and an occasional “heads up” on some things.  One of us needs to try stuff and report back.  So I’m volunteering.  It could save you time, money and headaches.

My first big adventure in “trying new stuff” came in the form of a subscription box.  Have you heard of these?  You subscribe and then once a month they send you various items.  I subscribed to a couple of these boxes in 2014.  I’m going to be fairly brief about the first one. I have no pictures to share because, at the time, I didn’t have a blog. There was no need to document things.  And since I didn’t like it very much….I didn’t keep the subscription long.  It’s called NatureBox.  For $19.95 a month, they send you five “full-sized bags” of healthy snacks.  Supposedly, you can pick from their dozens of snack options. I found that some of the snacks were not available when I tried to choose them and they would send some random replacement. If you wanted them to just surprise you with snacks of their choice they were happy to do that. A friend had ordered NatureBox and she seemed to love it. I decided, since it was food, that I would not pay for a full year but rather do this month by month. When I got my first box there was, indeed, five snacks. Full sized? Well, I guess that is relative, right? The bags ranged from between 4.5 ounces to about 6 ounces. They were filled with things like flavored nuts, granola, grains, rice puffs, cookie and cracker crisps. Each bag said that it held 3-4 servings. The servings were tiny. Microscopic. The snacks were not memorable. They weren’t awful, but come ON! $20 a month? For rice puffs and bird seed? I even wondered about the freshness of some of these products. That being said, the company states that for every box they deliver they provide one meal to feed the hungry. So, if you are looking for a good charitable company, they may be great for that. The snacks are not organic but appear to be non GMO and reasonably nutritious snacks. When I saw the recommended serving size was tiny and the bags were not that big, I knew that I could not be trusted to sit down and eat 3 snack crisps, or 4 rice puffs at a time. So, I broke all the bags open and portioned them out into snack bags. This is a good tip for anyone who has…umm…portion control problems. This is what I do when I go to the grocery store. I break down everything, that might be a portion control issue for me, to serving size. I keep snack sized ziplock bags on hand at all times. It just makes me a little more aware of how much I’m eating. When I broke these NatureBox snacks down to recommended portion sizes…seriously…it was barely enough to get a taste for what the snack was. So my recommendation for the NatureBox…womp womp womp….don’t bother unless you are doing it as a charitable act to feed the hungry. If you like NatureBox and you’ve had a great experience with them, comment! Or if you were disappointed with some part of them report in! I welcome your feedback. The more people who comment the more accurate picture we can get on each product. NatureBox certainly wasn’t HORRIBLE and I’m sure that some others will have had a wonderful experience. I cancelled my subscription, after about 3-4 months. They were good about the cancellation. They didn’t give me a hard time about stopping.

The other box that I subscribed to in 2014 was Ipsy. Ipsy is, basically, a beauty bag. When you sign up, you fill out a detailed questionnaire about what you are interested in. Do you like more skin care, hair care or makeup? Do you like natural colors? Do you like bright colors? Do you wear makeup at all? It gives a whole big ole list of products and you check the ones that you are interested in trying. You can go in and change your answers every month, if you want. And they will adjust your bags. They send you five products in the cutest little makeup bags. Sometimes the products are full-sized, sometimes they are large sample sizes. It’s $10 a month, if you pay for the full year at once. Which, this time, I did. I subscribed in October. I got waitlisted. What? Waitlisted? Who gets waitlisted? What they SAY is that they are so popular and busy that they can’t handle all the orders, so, you have to wait. They don’t charge you until your product ships. Then, after they tell you that you’ve been waitlisted, they tell you that can get off the waitlist if you go into your social media accounts and share the information about Ipsy. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. They have a cute little message all set up.  It says something like “Oh…looky I got off the Ipsy waitlist.” Well, it doesn’t say EXACTLY that. But sort of. As I typed that line, I had the most irritating voice in my head saying it. I HATE sharing stuff like that on my Facebook account. But it was about 3am (yes, insomniac) and so….I shared it…and then I deleted it. I know…I know…I feel kinda bad about it but I kinda don’t. It’s not really dishonest to post it and then delete it. Is it?  I believe it’s just a marketing tactic for them. I don’t think that they are so busy that they need to make people wait. It bugged me that they would blackmail people that way. Don’t tease me with cute bags, and product and then WAITLIST ME! From what I saw on social media, people were waiting several months. Anyway, my sneaky little plan worked. I got off the waitlist immediately and I got my first bag in November.

I was so excited when I saw that my first bag was on its way! It felt a little like I was giving myself a present. I’ve gotten it for three months now and I STILL feel that way. They send them out around the middle of the month and they send you an email telling you that it’s shipped. Then, you race to the mailbox everyday and hope that it’s there…even though you know it’s going to take at least 3 days. They send out little teaser messages giving you hints at what might be in your bag. Finally, you go to the mailbox and this is waiting:

Hot Pink Metallic Bubble Wrap

Hot Pink Metallic Bubble Wrap

I am not even kidding you! Hot pink metallic bubble wrap! When I saw that, I knew that this was going to be my favorite day of the month for the next 12 months. I tore into that hot pink metallic bubble wrap envelope. The November theme was sparkle…and there, to my absolute delight, was the cutest, little, sparkly makeup bag ever. I love little bags for my purse, for travel or just for storage.

Ipsy November Sparkle Bag

Ipsy November Sparkle Bag

I loved this little bag, but what about the contents inside? I am very picky. My look is very natural. I don’t wear bright colors. I was a little nervous about the whole “sparkle” theme. But, I thought, the bag is cute and even if there were only a couple of products in the bag that I used, it would be worth $10. I know that no one is going to be 100% sold on every product every time. But I loved the excitement of wondering what I might get. When I opened the bag, this is what I saw:

Delectable Handcream, Tumptu S/B highlighter, NYX Butter Lip Balm, Clarisea Sea Salt Face Exfoliant, Starlooks Eyeliner Pencil in Ultra Olive

Delectable Handcream, Tumptu S/B highlighter, NYX Butter Lip Balm, Clarisea Sea Salt Face Exfoliant, Starlooks Eyeliner Pencil in Ultra Olive

A couple of words about each product without getting too lengthy. Love the hand lotion. It’s not The Skirt Girl Super Lotion but it wasn’t bad. Creamy and a not too overpowering lemon scent. The Temptu S/B hightlighter…meh. It seems fine. It’s a liquid and you put a few drops on your finger tips and it gives you a shiny glow to…whatever you want to glow. My face can be a little on the oily side, so it kinda glows already. I’ve used this a couple of times. It didn’t overpower or make me look like I’d just eaten a pork chop, so it was good. The NYX Butter Lip Balm, seems good. I’ve not used it a lot yet. But, when I have, it has a smooth texture and light scent. It has just a little sheer color in it. It didn’t rock my world but it’s worthy to be put in the bag. The Clarisea Sea Salt is a granulated powder the consistency of …well…sea salt.

Clarisea Sea Salt Solutions Radiant Glow Exfoliant- Face

Clarisea Sea Salt Solutions Radiant Glow Exfoliant- Face

You add it to your favorite cleanser to give it some texture for exfoliation. As I said in Suddenly Sensitive Skin I use and love Ceravae face cleanser. I’ve used the Sea Salt in it a couple of times and it really is a good mild exfoliant.  I wonder if you could just add ACTUAL sea salt to your cleanser? Hmmmm…anybody know? I looked at the Clarisea website and I didn’t see this exact product available. But their products look like they run anywhere from $14 up, depending on what you get and the size. I’m thinking regular Sea Salt is cheaper. But, I’m sure this has stuff in it that regular salt wouldn’t….right?

The last thing out of this bag that I want to talk about is the eyeliner pencil. Probably, the only thing in this bag that I will never use. Ever. I don’t wear eyeliner but if I did I would NOT wear this color.

Star Looks Eyeliner in Ultra Olive

Star Looks Eyeliner in Ultra Olive

I’m sure that for some people’s skin tone this color works.  Someone out there can probably totally rock the olive-green sparkle. But, honestly, even testing it on my arm, it looks like a bruise. And,  in this picture…kinda like a caterpillar landed on my arm.  No, thanks. Overall, though, my first Ipsy bag was a win!

So, December came and I got the email saying it was on its way. I began checking the mailbox religiously, as soon as I got home each day. Finally, there it was. That fabulous pink metallic bubble wrap envelope! Yaay! This time I got this lovely, little, black, satin bag filled with these five products:

Ipsy December: Bumble & Bumble Straight Blow dry, Cailyn eye polish in Orchid, J Cat Wonder Lip in Mad Splatter, Tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes 4 in 1 mascara and Crown Infinity duet brush

Ipsy December: Bumble & Bumble Straight Blow dry, Cailyn eye polish in Orchid, J Cat Wonder Lip in Mad Splatter, Tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes 4 in 1 mascara and Crown Infinity duet brush

As you can see I haven’t used any of these products yet. It wasn’t as good a fit for me as my November bag, but still….I love it. Maybe one day I’ll have an Ipsy bag giveaway. Hmmm….What do you think? Cute bag and any untouched or unopened Ipsy products! I don’t know…maybe not.

The final bag came just a couple of days ago. Still loved taking that pink metallic bubble wrap from the mailbox!! January looked like this:

Ispy January: Pacifica Natural Beauty Shadow in Treasure, Hikari Mechanical Eyeliner pencil in Storm, Manna Kadar Sheer glow, Eco Beauty Good Day Moisturizer and Malin & Goetz Mojito Lip Balm

Ispy January: Pacifica Natural Beauty Shadow in Treasure, Hikari Mechanical Eyeliner pencil in Storm, Manna Kadar Sheer glow, Eco Beauty Good Day Moisturizer and Malin & Goetz Mojito Lip Balm

You can’t see in this picture,  but the bag on one side is blue, the other side is white and it has an orange zipper. It’s about the size of the November bag. I only got this two days ago, so I haven’t really tested any of the products in it either. I did use a bit of the moisturizer on my hands. It made them soft and  silky and it had a very faint, light, cucumberish smell.  Five minutes later I put on The Skirt Girl Super Lotion because my hands felt dry. I’m so spoiled. Nothing ever measures up to my lotion. I also slapped on some of the lip balm. So far so good with it. My lips feel moisturized and buttery. I like the texture. It’s not sticky or heavy. And there is no scent or burn, even though my lips are a little chapped right now. I’ve had it on for several hours now and it’s long wearing.  My lips still feel soft and smooth. It might be a keeper.

Overall, I would recommend the Ipsy bag, just for fun. It feels like a little gift to myself each month. And even though I gave it, I still get to be surprised! It’s the little things in life that make me happy. Even if I hate the product, I got to try something new. I get a cute little bag and that pink metallic bubble wrap in my mailbox can sure make my day a little brighter. Well, worth $10 a month!

The last subscription box that I want to talk about is BarkBox. I am not subscriber. Goldie would love for me to do this, but she already thinks that anything that comes into the house, in a plastic grocery bag, has something in it for her. But I do have a very good friend who has been subscribed to BarkBox for over a year. She has a sweet Schnauzer named Willie Nelson and he adores his BarkBox.

Willie Nelson loves his BarkBox

Willie Nelson loves his BarkBox

So, according to Willie Nelson’s mom, here’s the scoop on BarkBox. It is $19 per box, if you do a one year subscription. You can do a shorter amount of time for $21 per box. A portion of the proceeds for each box goes to the animal shelter of your choice. I like that they give and I like that they let you choose the shelter. I have many friends that are involved with shelters and who foster dogs waiting for placement.  So, I hear firsthand the plight of animal shelters.  It’s a charity that is close to my heart.

Willie Nelson loves when the box comes in. He gets super excited. His mom always wants to take a picture but he just wants to hurry and get it open.

Willie Nelson opening his BarkBox

Willie Nelson opening his BarkBox.

There are usually two toys, a bully stick and two bags of dog treats in each box. When you subscribe, you fill out a questionnaire about your dog, so that they send the appropriate sized toys and treats.

Willie Nexon with all his BarkBox stuff!

Willie Nelson with all this BarkBox stuff!

My friend said that everything that Willie Nelson has gotten from BarkBox has been made in the USA. She was very impressed with the company because, in one of the boxes, the toys seemed of very poor quality.  So that is what she told them on their monthly survey. They emailed her back, immediately, asking her about Willie’s favorites. They sent three replacement toys that he absolutely loved! So, I’d say that Willie Nelson gives BarkBox two paws up!

This is my experience with subscription boxes. I think they are a great way to experience new products that you might not, otherwise, be exposed to. Unless you are pretty sure that you are going to like something about the box, I wouldn’t recommend paying for a full year’s subscription in advance. I did that with Ispy and I don’t think that is a choice that I’ll regret But if I’d been stuck for a year with NatureBox, I would have been unhappy…and kinda hungry. Have any of you had experiences with these or any other subscription boxes? Please share in the comments section. We all want to know the good, the bad and the ugly.

For the record, I do not have any affiliation with any of the products mentioned in this blog. I paid for my subscriptions myself.  And Willie Nelson’s mom paid for his subscription.  These are just my opinions and my experiences.  And…well.. Willie Nelson’s.

Thanks again for reading the blog. I love hearing from you all, so comment and let me know what you are thinking! Don’t forget to subscribe, if you haven’t already. In case you haven’t heard, we have a giveaway coming up, when we reach 600 subscribers. As of this writing, we were at 589. I expect to be mailing some goodies off to one lucky subscriber this week! I’ll announce the winner on the blog, and on The Skirt Girl Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram.

If you enjoyed this blog you might also enjoy The Skirt Girl’s Green Smoothie or Favorites.