Birchbox: May 2016 Review & the Birchbox Controversy

So along with my May Birchbox review, I’ve got some news about the latest controversy from Birchbox.

The main thing that set Birchbox apart from other sub boxes, was its awesome rewards points system. Birchbox offered subscribers the opportunity to review the items they received in exchange for points that you could spend on purchases at Birchbox.com.  Each item in your box could be reviewed for 10 points, and every 100 points earned you $10 in the Birchbox store.

In an extremely confusing email, Birchbox let current subscribers know that starting in July they’d only get five more reviews that would be eligible for points.  New subscribers would simply get rewarded for their first five reviews of products they received.  That’s it.  No more points for reviews.  The only ways to earn points would be to refer other subscribers or just buy items on the Birchbox site.  The only positive change to the policy was that subscribers no longer had to spend their points in $10.00 increments, (for example, if you had $5.00 in points, you were free to use that on their site).

As you can imagine, the backlash was epic.  Many subscribers (myself included) didn’t think that the value of the box was worth $10 without the added bonus of store credit.  Adding fuel to the fire, one of the founders, Katia Beauchamp, gave an interview where she was quoted as saying, “We are not in the business of selling people samples.  That would be a really boring business.”  Many subscribers felt that Birchbox was abandoning its core market in some unattainable quest to compete with brick and mortar retailers like Sephora.

Birchbox was the pioneer in the beauty box world and while I understand the need for cost-saving measures, cutting the review promotion entirely was not a smart move.  Simply lowering the value of the reviews, or offering something like a 15% coupon off any full size purchase for reviewing all your products would have gone a long way in retaining subscribers.  Birchbox also sent a purposefully confusing email and then kept stating on social media that it was giving subscribers what they wanted, which caused countless angry social media posts.  Couple that with Beauchamp’s tone deaf interview and you end up with a recipe for disaster.  With Play by Sephora competing in the $10 beauty box slot, and offering much better quality and size of product, I don’t think Birchbox is long for the subscription world.  Birchbox is going to need to make some huge changes to stay competitive.  We’ll have to wait and see if they are up for the challenge.

Apologies on the dissertation, now let’s get to the fun stuff and take a look in my May 2016.
Box
Open Box 1 Open Box 2
The samples for may were all sunblock oriented, and since I am a pale redhead and particular about my sunscreen, I opted to choose none of them and be surprised instead.
Beauty Protector
Beauty Protector Protect & Detangle
(Full Size $23.50)
Description: “This best-selling elixir locks in color, protects from heat damage, and adds silkiness.
Verdict: How about some new brands?
I know tons of people swear by the Beauty Protector brand, but it’s never done much for me and it’s shown up in a ton of my boxes.  I really wish we could opt out of certain brands – there are a handful that we just keep getting over and over again.  Basing it solely on the product – I don’t color my hair and I almost never heat style – both of which are indicated on my Birchbox profile, so there’s really no reason for this to be in my box.

Cool Mango
COOLA® SPF 50 Sport – Mango
(Full Size: $32.00)
Description: Sweat-proof, water-resistant sunscreen made with organic botanicals (and a fun, fruity scent).”
Verdict: Why do we need scented sunblock?
On the brightside, this is an SPF 50 and sweat proof–on the other side it smells like mango. Ordinarily I love fruity scents, but I don’t want them in a sunblock. I actually didn’t want a sunblock at all which is why I opted not to choose a sunblock sample.

Cotz
CoTZ® Face Natural Skin Tone SPF 40
(Full Size: $20.00)
Description: ”Silky-smooth to the touch, this formula blends in quickly and leaves behind a sheer matte finish.”
Verdict: Because when you don’t want a sunblock sample, they send you TWO
So my reward for not choosing a sunblock sample is…to get TWO sunblock samples.  Again, why include two of the same type of product?  Yes, summer = SPF, but this product is too similar to the Coola.  Try something else.

JouerJouer Swatch
Jouer Long-Wear Lip Crème Liquid Lipstick in Lychee
(Full Size: $18.00)
Description: ”This weightless liquid lipstick glides on smooth and dries to a soft touch finish that will last all day.
Verdict: Hit!
Finally a product I like.  The Lychee shade is really pretty and liquid crème lipsticks are something I actually don’t have a ton of, so I’m quite happy with this.  This sample is itty bitty, but at least it’s something I’ll use.

Well People
W3LL PEOPLE Bio Correct Multi-Action Concealer in Light
(Full Size: $22.99)
Description: “This ultralight, full-coverage concealer blends easily while hiding imperfections and providing a bright look.”
Verdict:  So close, but no
I’m actually always on the lookout for concealers that work with my skin and last all day so I was excited about this product…but it’s in “light”.  Being a pale redhead, I am almost always the palest shade, so I think “fair” would be the right choice for me.  Again, I have this info on my beauty profile.

OVERALL
Birchbox May 2016
Verdict:
Disappointing
This box came while Birchbox’s old review policy was in place so I paid $10.70 for this box and received $5.00 in Birchbox points with my reviews.  Even with the discount, I’m disappointed. There was repetition of brands and types of products, multiple items that didn’t fit my beauty profile and the one item I liked was quite small.  If Birchbox wants me to pay $10.70 a month for their sub, they are going to have to do better.

For the Birchbox subscribers – How do you feel about Birchbox’s new review policy?  Are you going to cancel or stick with them?

THE BACKSTORY
Birchbox subscriptions cost $10 per month or $110 per year (Women’s Sub)
$20 per month or $195 per year (Men’s Sub)

Points System:
Whenever you buy something at Birchbox they give you Birchbox points. $1.00 = 1 Birchbox Point.
You can redeem reward points for money toward your Birchbox purchases.
You can also earn points by referring/subscribing friends.

Once upon a time, long, long ago, Lisa attended Syracuse University where she studied singing in a giant castle surrounded by ice and snow. After she earned her music degree, she headed to the island of Manhattan, down to the West Village, to a place called the New School. There, she earned another degree in the great art of writing stories for children. She currently works on that same island, in the dungeon of an old building, making up stories while she sorts through endless stacks of papers, just dreaming of working somewhere with windows. She is currently working on several novels and hopes to write her way to that aforementioned windowed place. Her first book, “The Ice Maiden’s Tale,” a fairy tale adventure was released on May 30, 2017 and is up for sale on Amazon. In the meantime, she keeps herself occupied by obsessing over subscription boxes and home renovations.

9 thoughts on “Birchbox: May 2016 Review & the Birchbox Controversy

  1. I got 3 sunscreens in my box. 3. I just signed back up and was reminded of why I canceled in the first place. Bye bye birchbox for good. Oh, not to mention one of the sunscreens is tinted very dark for my light skin. Sigh. …

    • I wonder if there’s someone out there who’s entire box was sunscreen? 😉 Consider trying Sephora Play instead. It’s also $10, but the samples and the variety are much better!

  2. I loved the point system, it was the one thing I really missed when I unsubscribed a few years ago. I had thought about joining again, but not now! Also, I’ve already received THREE of these items in a Birchbox, and I got my last box at least two years ago.

    • It’s unfortunate because Birchbox does carry some interesting lines that aren’t available everywhere. They have the ability to put some more unique products in there but it seems we always end up with the same brands and items.

    • Thanks! I love checking out other reviews of sub boxes and seeing the different opinions. I’m happy to follow and check out out your posts. 🙂

  3. I cancelled my subscription for all the reasons you state- I loved some of the samples, but not worth $10 if there are no points. Great post!

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