Thursday, September 9, 2010

The best things in life are (almost) free

I love free samples. Who doesn't? I'm a sucker for samples of everything from cheese at Whole Foods to foam whale hats from Vineyard Vines to bourbon chicken in the mall food court (gross, I know). I'm an especially big fan of Sephora's free samples. By being a beauty insider, I get at least one free sample each time I buy something - online or in the store - and usually it's at least three.

So, OK, I'm sort of obsessed with samples. I also love trying the latest and greatest beauty products - lotions, serums, shadows, creams, whatever - in efforts to be as beautiful as possible. But why spend $60 on a face lotion that I know very little about, other than that I like the little pictures on the front and that it promises no wrinkles and no acne? I don't know if it works.

That's where Birchbox comes in. One of Gilt Groupe's founders, Alexandra, twittered about this awesome service that delivers samples of the latest beauty products to your front door once a month for $10 (that includes shipping). I was a bit hesitant to sign up sight unseen, but I trust Gilt Groupe - how can you not? And when my Birchbox arrived, I couldn't have been happier that I listened to Alexandra.

What I got:

  1. Cargo Bronzer, Medium - So far, I love this product. It goes on smoothly and evenly, and the color is surprisingly flattering on my fair skin.
  2. Marc Jacobs, Lola - This smells delicious. Birchbox describes it as a "new classic," and I have to say I agree. I'm really considering buying the full-sized, especially as my Vera Wang Look perfume runs out.
  3. NARS, Makeup Primer with SPF 20 - I haven't tried this yet (no need), but NARS makes such great makeup staples - have you tried their Orgasm blush and lip gloss - I bet this product will be great as well.
  4. Tatcha, Blotting Papers - Like Clean & Clear, but prettier and just as effective.

Birchbox threw in a special treat - whether this will be a regular thing remains to be scene - a collagen face masksheet from The Faceshop, touted by Kim Phan as a "mini-facial" to give you firm and hydrated skin. I'm wearing it as I write, so we'll see. It looks RIDICULOUS though - imagine Jason Vorhees with blond hair and very moisturized skin. (Edit: My face does feel firm and moisturized to some extent, but I'd be interested to see how it works after more than one use)

The best part about these free samples is most are perfect for traveling. How often do you get to work and want to touch up your post-commute makeup? How annoying is it to lug around full-size products? The bronzer and perfume are perfectly purse-sized. What's also great is I'm not on the hook for anything! Birchbox includes order forms for full-size versions of the products, but there is no obligation to order anything unless you love it.

Overall, I would say that Birchbox is worth the $10 to satisfy your product curiosity, to let your outer woman embrace her inner girl playing with make-up.

Check out Birchbox here.

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