By Libby Allnatt
I think samples are one of the greatest things about life on earth. If you don’t grab a little cup of pasta at Costco or nab some perfume samples at the department store, are you even living? While it’s nice to develop a routine and go to your basics, it can be fun to graze and try new things. Who knows, maybe you’ll even end up finding a new favorite.
Birchbox is basically heaven for beauty and sample addicts alike. With a subscription, you get a little box of goodies delivered to your door every month. The samples are customized to your preferences (hair type, skin type, etc.), but the variety means that every month is a fun surprise.
I was pumped when my sister got me a subscription for my birthday, meaning I had six months of beauty goods to look forward to. Score! Each sample comes with roughly five or six items, so I’ve accumulated a couple dozen products. Here are my top five faves.
1. IPKN Moist & Firm Beauty Balm SPF 45
I am very picky about what I put on my face thanks to my sensitive skin that’s prone to allergic reactions. If it has any fragrance or harsh chemicals in it, you can bet it isn’t going anywhere near my face. I even avoid foundation just to be safe and try to go au natural when it comes to my skin. But I was truly impressed with this BB cream. The light-medium shade matched my skin perfectly, and it went on so smooth and hydrating. It didn’t dry out my skin at all, like many other products do. It was so light you could even layer other products on top if you want, but it has SPF 45 so it’s already doing double-duty. This stuff made me a BB cream fan. I would definitely recommend it for makeup newbies.
Bath and Body Works is so firmly my lotion go-to that my skin probably doesn’t even know anything else. But it definitely loved this cream. Thick but not greasy, this lotion hydrated my skin and made it feel super smooth. The almond smell was my favorite part, giving it a unique and lasting scent that I could smell on my skin all day. There are other flavors too (I’m intrigued by the blueberry option), so there’s something for everyone.
3. amika Bombshell Blowout Spray
This. Product. Is. Life. Changing. I kicked some major ass the week I started using this. When I use this (spraying it generously on my hair before blow-drying) I feel like I’m walking on a glittery cloud in a heaven where everyone has fabulous hair and never trips or gets food stuck in their teeth. As someone with fine hair, I am pretty volume-challenged, making a blowout nearly impossible. But this yummy-smelling spray gives my hair soft volume that lasts for a solid two days. I just might have to buy a full bottle of this stuff. (Birchbox gives you mini samples, and you can earn points – for instance, by reviewing your samples – to cash in for full products.)
4. Cynthia Rowley Brightening Illuminator
As I mentioned earlier, I’m not super savvy when it comes to face makeup. But when I bought some sick bronzer recently, I thought maybe it was time to learn how to contour like a Kardashian. I’m definitely not there yet, but this illuminator certainly helps. Dabbing the pearly-pink stuff under my eyebrow arches, on my cheekbones, and down my forehead and nose helps give me a little glow. This illuminator is hard to see at first, but if you dab on the right amount, it will gleam and look super pretty when the right light hits you. The one thing I’ve learned on my contouring journey so far? Make the light work for you.
This mascara came in my very first Birchbox. (Aww.) Your first Birchbox comes with customer favorites, then every one after that is customized for you. I can definitely see why this mascara is considered a top-notch item. The tube says it’s designed for “after-hours seduction,” but you can also wear it to class when you want to feel a little extra glam. It makes your eyelashes so long and curled that every blink will probably fan some air at whoever you’re talking to. In my eyes (ha), bigger is always better when it comes to mascara. The curved wand makes it easy to get super-long lashes without being too clumpy or faux-looking. A+ stuff right here.
I would definitely recommend checking out Birchbox if you haven’t. It’s a great resource for high-end beauty goods in all price ranges, and the subscriptions are a great gift for the beauty addict in your life. It’s like giving them a treat every month!