Birchbox August 2017 was all about “mermaid vibes” which admittedly as weird as it might be I thought it was a cute, girly theme. The box design looked like a mermaid’s scales and had different shades of blue and gold to create the mermaid texture. It is a unique looking box and while I can’t really say it is ugly, it is also not the most beautiful box Birchbox ever made. The box was again a drawer type of medium carboard quality.
The real question though is, what cosmetic products would you imagine if I gave you a “mermaid vibes” theme? Personally, I think it would have to be something quite feminine and perhaps a little magical, maybe also a little summery. So I was expecting intense colours, maybe a blinding highlighter, some glitter perhaps? Maybe even a nice coloured nail varnish? Well…the box contained none of that, in fact I don’t think I could have ever guessed the “mermaid theme” from the products contained. It is rare that Birchbox gets the box design to match the products contained and it is sad because…what is the point of the theme then? Just a pretty box? Maybe they don’t know what a theme is? A theme is meant to match the entire box not just the design, come on Birchbox!
So you guessed it by now, the products contained this month were a little underwhelming not because I wouldn’t have wanted to try them out in any other occasion but just because the “mermaid theme” sets you up for a different mood. This month’s box contained 5 products and they were from left to right as seen in the picture: a brush, a cosmetic oil, a hair styling spray, an eye shadow pencil and a face mask. Let’s go in a little more detail as to how each product performed.
Bear in mind that these are my personal opinions and as beauty is a very personal thing, we all have different skin, requirements and biological build which can influence things. What worked for me might not work for you and vice versa, please leave your comments below!
Spectrum Collections A05 Brush in Bomb Shell
This was the preview product that we got to see in July so I was quite excited to welcome this brush to my collection. I love Spectrum brushes, they are pretty, high quality and super affordable. They are some of the brushes I use on a daily basis, especially the ones for the eyes. This one is a face angled brush which I would usually use for contouring as the angle really helps but we all use brushes differently so you could use this in any way you want. You could even use it for blush or powder etc. Although the angle might look strange at first, it actually helps in certain cases, especially for “jobs” that have an angle to them like applying contouring, bronzer, blush or even dusting off excess setting powder.
This brush is of great quality and it looks really nice too. I had a choice between the “Bomb Shell” design which is pink with rose gold (the one in the picture) and the “Glam Clam” which is blue with purple. I went for the “Bomb Shell” because I own most of that collection already, except this brush, so it was a great addition for me.
This brush is soft, doesn’t smell of anything and washes well. It’s very light but also “heavy” enough to work well, it doesn’t feel or look cheap.
Personally, I think the Spectrum brushes are a great option. For the price of one branded brush, like let’s say Mac, you can buy 5-8 of the Spectrum ones and you are not missing out on quality or function. Spectrum brushes usually retail somewhere between £2.99 – £5.99 depending on the size of the brush which is cheap as chips! On top of that, the Spectrum brushes are actually prettier because Spectrum has a lot of different designs and collections so you can even choose which ones you think are pretty. And if you buy a collection instead of single ones you save even more money as their bundles are usually even cheaper than if you bought the brushes individually.
Can’t really praise the Spectrum brushes enough. I love them and own a lot of them. This was a full size brush. I haven’t actually seen Spectrum travel size brushes so they might not exist. Also let’s not forget, this product actually does fit the “mermaid theme” especially because of it’s design. So it’s an overall pass! SCORE = 10/10.
Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse OR Multi-Usage Dry Oil Shimmer
When I first saw this product I immediately thought that this is a glitter nail varnish which would fit the “mermaid theme” very well. However, this is actually a face, hair and body oil and I have to admit, I was a little taken back by that. Birchbox is one of the few beauty boxes that have a “personal beauty profile” option which means you can tell them a little about you and they adjust the products they add in your box. For example, I have mentioned in my beauty profile that I have oily skin so why would you give me a face oil? No, no, no, I am not touching that not even from a distance. If you are an oily skin person like me you know exactly what I am talking about!
But perhaps they thought of including this product anyways because you can also use it as a body or hair oil instead, but that immediately limits this product’s uses. I don’t think I would use it on my hair, quite frankly there are plenty of better products out there for hair, but I thought I might use it to give my collar bone a little sparkle highlight. However, this oil sort of disappears into nothing if you work it in. The only way to keep a healthy, visible glow is to put in on the skin and just pat it once or twice. Not too many times or it will disappear. It does look quite natural though because of the tiny glitter pieces, so much so that it was very difficult to photograph (hence the lack of swatch pictures here). It will look nice especially if you are a little tanned or used a nice tanned coloured bronzer, then this golden glitter oil will complement your look well.
It is obviously oily to the touch and on the skin. It doesn’t really completely dry off, you always get a little oily feeling if you touch the area which is why I think the collarbone is the perfect place for it. Even if I didn’t have oily skin, I wouldn’t want something on my face that doesn’t completely dry and i definitely don’t touch my collarbone as much as my face. It would easily mess make up if you accidentally touch your face.
The bottle is made of glass and is cute but quite small for a body or hair oil. If this was just a face oil then there is a lot of product in this 10mL bottle, but as a body or hair highlighter oil, you will run out quite soon. It has a fragrance type smell which is not exactly a nail varnish smell but it does remind me of nail varnish. Maybe because I keep thinking of a nail varnish when I see this.
I think I managed to get this product to work for me but it is for a very specific and rare use. How often do you want to highlight your collar bone? I wouldn’t go out of my way to buy this but it might just be because me and oils just don’t mix! This is not a product I would pick up myself, but for that I like that I got to try it in a beauty box because sometimes you find good products that you wouldn’t pick up yourself. Unfortunately, on this occasion I will still not be buying myself a Nuxe oil.
If you have dry skin perhaps you can make this work even on the face as a shiny healthy glow highlighter on the cheek bone or on top of blushed or bronzed cheeks. Oils can be quite nourishing and this one even contains vitamin E. SCORE = 6/10
Number 4 Sugar Texturizing Hair Spray
This is a hair styling spray that contains sugar cane! Yum? It definitely smells like a sweet hair spray. The bottle is plastic and has a spray pump applicator on top. The branding is very simple but it sort of works. As funny as it might be I like the little animal that they have at the front of the bottle, which serves nothing for branding, or at least it’s not obvious what it is meant to be, but it adds a little cuteness to the otherwise quite blunt bottle design. It looks like a hair product though, so points for that.
I used this spray to tidy up a high pony tail and it worked well. The loose ends and small baby hair stayed in place and the pony tail was more manageable. I lost some volume from the pony tail when I sprayed this but that’s normal, you always loose hair volume with styling products as they weigh down the hair (unless you are specifically using a volumizer product). Perhaps part of the reason I lost some volume is also because I got quite a lot of product on my hair accidentally and I even managed to spray my shoulder (which then felt sticky) because this pump spray is actually quite strong and doesn’t really create a fine mist. So be careful with this one, it sprays a lot of product!
Would I buy this? No. I still think that my Percy & Reed styling sprays are way out of this one’s league. This was not a bad product but not very memorable or special either. The only thing I will remember about this product is that it is made of sugar cane. That’s pretty much the most interesting thing about this. This product is apparently a Birchbox exclusive. SCORE = 6/10.
Loc One and Done Shadow Stick in Rock Steady Colour
Eye shadows would fit the “mermaid theme” quite well but I would expect some nice coloured eye shadows. I just don’t imagine mermaids wearing dark brown colours. Anyhow, eye shadows are always useful and natural colours are always good to have. I am not usually a fan of the pencil eye shadows because the are harder to control than normal pan eye shadows and the formula is usually less blendable as well.
This colour is quite pretty, it is an almost metallic brown. It has a bit of a shine to it and the colour is fairly pigmented and solid. However, if you blend it with your fingers it disappears into nothing. If you use a brush it is not as bad but you still loose a lot of the pigment. I think this would work better as a shadow eye liner, something to create a line on your eye look rather than a shadow that you would blend out. Blending is not exactly this product’s best quality. However, the pencil is of good quality and it looks nice. You can definitely tell it is an eye pencil.
This is apparently a full size product which retails for £8. Birchbox has made a bit a habit of labelling what I think are travel size pencils as full size. It might be that Loc doesn’t make any bigger pencils so these might be full size for the brand, but if you take just take the size into consideration it is within what people would call travel size.
Would I buy this? Probably not, there are so many amazing eye shadow palettes out there these days and very good eye liners too, so I don’t feel that there is a special need to buy this, but now that I have it I will use it up as a liner. SCORE = 7/10.
Whish Renewing Mud Mask
I was quite excited about this mud mask, it sounds like a nice treat you should have on a Sunday night before going to bed. The tube is of good quality and it even came sealed which made me super happy as it is a rare phenomenon for Birchbox. Birchbox has a tendency of giving out big tubes of products with not much in them, so when I saw that the tube was sealed I almost heard a mermaid song in my ears feeling all excited. Boy was I wrong!
After opening the seal and attempting to use this mask in the shower I realised that actually the tube had so little in it that I even had to bend it a bit to get the product out of it. What a rip off! I don’t know if the product companies are ripping Birchbox here and they just don’t know that a lot of the tube products they add in their boxes are not full, but for me that’s actually even worse because…come on does noone at Birchbox check or test the products they are going to include? Do they just randomly throw things in?
This tube had enough product for me to use once! You could get away with using this twice if you don’t layer it up, as the product suggests, and you skip the neck. But whatever you do, this won’t last you more than a couple of tries which is crazy considering the tube is actually a travel size that should contain enough to last you a week at least. Isn’t that what travel size products are meant to address? That holiday/travelling week?
On top of the disappointing amount of product contained, the product inside is not the mud mask you are imagining. It is not thick at all but rather quite watery and so it is actually quite difficult to build up. It is grey coloured and has black dots in it. This is definitely not a mud mask but rather a wet facial cleanser that you can leave on for 15 seconds to 2 mins. Did it make any difference to my face? Nope.
Strangely though I do like the way the tube looks. I like the black colour and the simple branding. It fits a mud mask, even though this is not that, but I guess it could also pass as a hair product too. It’s not an ugly tube nevertheless. Also the product has a faint sweet smell so at least it doesn’t smell bad.
This product is apparently paraben, sulphate, phthalate, DEA, TEA, petrochemical free and contains vitamin E. It also contains dog rose hip oil…what?!
Just invest your money in an actual mud mask and forget about this one. Thank you Birchbox once again for giving us the fake impression of a travel size product that is actually just a one use sample.
I guess with a bit of an imagination the “mud mask” would fit the mermaid theme? Because of mud and stuff? Maybe? I’m trying to get this mermaid thing to work but it’s just not working. SCORE = 4/10
Overall, I think the theme was great but the products did not match the theme at all. The “mermaid theme” had so much potential but it just fell flat.
Initial box score, in terms of products and first feelings = 7/10
Overall box score after product testing (a sum of product scores) = 6.6/10
Star product = Spectrum Collections A05 Brush in Bomb Shell
Did you get this month’s Birchbox box? What did your box contain? What did you think of the products? Have you tried any of the products listed? Let me know your experiences!
For general Subscription Box reviews see my: Birchbox, Glossybox, Look Fantasticand Cohorted general review posts. For help on how to choose the right subscription box for you check out “Which Subscription Beauty Box is right for you?”.
I am not affiliated with any company or brand. These are my views and experiences.