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Birchbox Korean Beauty Subscription Box Review + Coupon

Liz Cadman
ByLiz CadmanJan 10, 2016 | 57 comments


3.7 overall rating
659 Ratings | 190 Reviews

Every month, Birchbox lets subscribers pick between a curated box (all samples revealed) or a single sample choice and be surprised by the rest of the items. This review is of the curated On Trend Korean Beauty Box. (If you want to sign up for a Birchbox subscription with this box as your first box – use coupon code KBEAUTY16).


My Subscription Addiction pays for this subscription. (Check out the review process post to learn more about how we review boxes).


The Subscription Box: Birchbox

The Cost: $10 a month (get one month free and $10 to spend in the shop with an annual subscription!)

COUPON: Use code FIRST15 to save 15% off your first Birchbox purchase and get free shipping on $50+ orders! (Not valid for subscriptions).

ALTERNATIVE DEAL: Use coupon code BAGGUGIFT to get a free Baggu Bag ($9 Value) with your first month of Birchbox!

The Products: Beauty and lifestyle samples selected by the Birchbox team.

Ships to: US, FranceSpain and the UK and Canada

Check out all of my Birchbox reviews and the Beauty Subscription Box Directory!


Each box comes with a card detailing the items included and some tips on how to use them.


Manefit Beauty Cucumber Soothing + Moisturizing Mask – Value $2

This mask was refreshing, but I think sheet masks just aren’t my preferred mask – I don’t like the slimy feeling while it is on! I ended up taking this one off a few minutes before I was supposed to, but I still think I got most of the benefits! The remaining formula absorbed quickly and it was gentle on my skin.


Goodal Waterest First Essence – 6 ml – Value $1.20

This product is a gel/liquid hybrid moisturizer. It’s very light and hydrating – I wish the sample was larger!

IPKN New York Flash Cream Radiant Primer – 7 ml Value $4.90

I’ve liked all the IPKN products I’ve sampled from Birchbox, and this one is another winner! It has SPF 15, and a it gives you a very luminous finish.


Goodal Phytowash Yerba Mate Cleansing Foam – 5 ml Value $.70

Goodal Phystowash Yerba Mate Bubble Peeling – 5 ml Value $3.30

Normally I would complain about foil packets, but these are listed as a bonus item on the card. (No complaints about freebies!) I liked both of these cleansers. The cleansing foam had a creamy cleanser consistency, and the bubble peeling cleaner had an expanding foam formula with exfoliation too.


TONYMOLY Delight Tony Tiny – Sample Size Value $2?

This little lip stain has some serious staying power! I wiped off a lot from the applicator before trying it on my lips, so the look was a little more subdued, but I swatched it in full-form below – it’s a lot of pigment!

RE:P Bio Fresh Mask with Real Calming Herb – .7 oz Value $6.30

This is my favorite discovery in the box! When I put it on the formula immediately felt calming and soothing. Then after a few minutes, it began to dry and tighten my skin. (My favorite kind of mask is the kind that I can feel working – so I love masks that dry and tighten!) After wearing it for 10 minutes, I washed it off, and my skin was so clean and smooth! I had a little redness for a minute or two after, but my skin didn’t feel irritated at all.


Verdict: This box has a value of about $20.40 – I think that’s great for a $10 box. (And I’ll get $6 back in Birchbox shop points for reviewing the samples). My favorite thing about picking the curated box this month is that all these samples are new to me! (When you’ve been subscribing to boxes for years, that’s kind of rare!). My favorite item is definitely the RE:P mask, and I’m happy with the sample size of that item too.

What do you think of the January Birchbox? Did you pick a curated box or a sample?

Birchbox ($15 per month) was one of the very first beauty subscription boxes—we’ve been reviewing it since 2012! Each month, subscribers get a new mix of 5 beauty samples, such as makeup, skincare, haircare, and fragrance items. Birchbox lets you choose whether you’d like a box of items picked just... read more.
Liz Cadman
Liz Cadman
Liz is the founder of My Subscription Addiction. She's been hooked on subscription boxes since 2011 thanks to Birchbox, and she now subscribes to over 100 boxes. Her favorites include POPSUGAR Must Have, FabFitFun, and any box that features natural beauty products!

Liz Cadman
Liz Cadman
Liz is the founder of My Subscription Addiction. She's been hooked on subscription boxes since 2011 thanks to Birchbox, and she now subscribes to over 100 boxes. Her favorites include POPSUGAR Must Have, FabFitFun, and any box that features natural beauty products!
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I literally did not receive this box until today. I didn’t resubscribe until January 15 so I wasn’t sure when to expect. I didn’t get to choose my box but was very pleased to get the curated Korean box. I loved the lip tint and also the primer – very nice glowy finish to the skin. I was afraid the lip tint would be too much on my fair skin but it looks awesome either alone or glossed. Both of these products also smelled great to me! I can’t wait to try the masks. I could not determine if the Goodall products were all meant to be used in conjunction, or in a certain order. The waterest product was tiny and I really could not even tell what it was so thank God for reviews like this one.


BB got back to me about the masks and confirmed that the 10/19/15 is the manufacture date, not expiration date.


Love this box !!! So fun to try all this samples ! This lips stain is so Awesome !


I loved this box SO much. If anyone has an extra that they’d like to part with, please contact me at s.a.sorensen (at) gmail (dot) com. I’d so love it! I want to get another! 🙂


I just went through my box and was checking the expiration date on my Manefit Cucumber Soothing+ Moisturizing. My mask had an expiry date of 10/19/2015. You may want to check your dates.

I have quite a few mask and I always put them in order of expiring soonest so I never let my masks expire. Honestly, with all the Korean beauty boxes I have purchased it is not uncommon to receive an expired mask.

I just contacted Birchbox to notify them of the expired mask.

I just thought I would share that information for people who have a problem with expired products.


Are you sure it’s the expiration date and not the manufactured date? Most Korean products list the manufactured date and rule of thumb is that it expires three years from that date.


No, it was an expiration date. I have a big stash of Korean masks and checked the codes against one I have…mine is expired.

I have had this happen with Korean subs. They always took care of it. I know Birchbox will too.


I also chose this box and love it! I love Korean beauty and skin care items I’ve been using these type of items for the last 2 years. It’s best to find a Korean/China Town in your city so you don’t have to pay for shipping or the items being over priced. I love chicago because every ethnicity has its own area


Does anyone’s tracking work? I’m wondering where box is and the link never works. I got the Korean box too and it seems very late.


I got my curated box last week but never got a shipping e-mail – the box just arrived. I got a shipping e-mail for my second sub four days ago, but the Newgistics site still has no information on it. Not even initial tracking info.


Yikes. I just got this email from Birchbox about one of the samples in this box:

“We discovered that the Goodal Phytowash Yerba Mate Bubble Peeling sample included in the On Trend: Korean Beauty Featured Box you reserved for January did not include messaging in accordance with California Prop 65*. We can’t apologize enough for the oversight and sincerely appreciate your understanding.

As always, let us know if you have any questions or concerns at We’re happy to help!

Team Birchbox

*Proposition 65, California Health & Safety Code Section 25249.6 et seq. requires us to state that Goodal Phytowash Yerba Mate Bubble Peeling contains a chemical known to the State of California to cause cancer.

Which chemical?!


I found it on reddit, it’s cocamide diethanolamine If you do a search for that you’ll find several articles warning that it can cause cancer.


I found this thread searching to try and find out why the Korean Birchbox said it can’t be shipped to California. I really wanted to order one. I think I read once that Yerba Mate can cause cancer so that’s probably why. That being said, almost everything here in California has that label. It’s posted on the doors at McDonalds. Here’s a really ironic one…the cancer treatment center here has these labels posted on their doors! The place to be treated for cancer warns things in there may cause cancer. This state is label happy.


In addition to what everyone has said above, it could be the yerba mate. This is traditionally consumed as a hot beverage in parts of South America. It has been shown to cause oral cancers in some men who drink it PIPING hot on a daily basis (usually multiple times per day) for many years. It doesn’t seem to have the same effect at cooler temperatures (I drink it sometimes). Also rubbing a small amount of it on your face is different from drinking a lot of it.


It’s unlikely to be Yerba mate, and the packages of yerba I buy at the store here in California don’t have a prop 65 warning.


I live in CA and got the email as well. IMHO I really don’t think it is anything for people to worry about. Here is the Prop 65 list of cancer causing ingredients and I bet if you scan it you will find several things in your household with some of them;


Good to know. Thank you!


The problem with the Prop 65 warnings is that they’re on so many things, that it becomes rather meaningless. For example, Disneyland has a Prop 65 warning. So does the Cheesecake Factory. And grocery stores. And parking garages. And hospitals. Our lives are full of carcinogens, but if you’re not from California, you may be unaware of them. And if you are from California, you probably just tune these out until someone draws your attention to them.


I don’t tune them out when they are in products at all. Yes, I expect prop 65 warnings in gas stations and other places where cars idle and in industrial facilities, so I tune them out, it’s not like you can avoid them. But I take the warnings very seriously when they are attached to actual products. But then again, I have children so I’m always concerned about hidden sources of lead and heavy metals.

It takes quite a lot of certainty that an item causes cancer or birth defects before Prop 65 triggers, products with parabens, for example, don’t have such warnings.


Just got that too already used it. Kinda questions why they would sample a product like that?????


I am in California and the Bubble Peel was my favorite. I looked on the website to order did not see it. Now I kinda think well maybe that’s not why it is on to order?


Here’s the page with it:

just search for “california” or “65” on the page and there’s a few comments regarding it


I read somewhere (on this site – I think it was someone else’s comment) about the fact that its just some law in California that almost everything has that “warning” on it… I want to say it might be one of the comments for the RZ winter box… bc I think she sent out some kind of small bag for longtime/loyal customers?…


My box showed up and the Tony Moly lip tint had opened during shipping, spreading red gloss over everything. I sent BB a note and 2 days letter I received an apology note along with a prompt refund. I was sad that they were unable to ship a new box, but they are out of stock. I am impressed with BB’s Customer Service and will remain a loyal customer.


Mine leaked over everything as well, but was still closed, which is weird. It was such a mess.


Birchbox has by FAR the best customer service of any sub box. They always honor their words and work with their customers.

I know who has the worst too, but I probably shouldn’t say. Suffice to say, not everyone holds their own words, even if you can quote them in an email

This is why I’ll stay loyal to birchbox!


That has not been my experience. I got a shipping notice for my December box, but never received it, so I contacted them 20 days later, and they said they’d send a replacement OR notify me if they were out of stock. So I waited a week & got no other contact. I e-mailed them again. Got a “be patient” response that the first person had already ordered a box for me — which I doubt, since directly following that, I finally got a tracking link for a replacement box. But it’s been over a week since THAT, and no one has contacted me further, and it appears the box STILL has not actually shipped, since the tracking on the site has no info on the box.

VERY unimpressed.


Birchbox does have awesome customer service. If there is a problem they immediately rectify it. I also love their rewards program. The best by far in the sub box industry.


I’m happy I chose this box. I’m intrigued by K-beauty and always on board for any kind of mask, so the fact this box has both a sheet and a clay mask is aces in my book.


I received my box on 1/5 or 6 (I am in NYC). Super fast. I am looking forward to trying everything, but am a little bit afraid of the lip tint…


I just got my box and was surprised at how TINY all the samples all (well, other than the sheet mask). But, I love to try new products and am excited to dive into this. The TonyMoly is STRONG. My friend swatched it on her hand and the next day said she had 5 people ask what she did and she could not get it to come off. LOL!


I got the curated box for one sub, and my other box was just shipped over the weekend*. I’m very happy to read what the deal is with some of these products because the instructions are in Korean. (I’m looking at you, foil packets.) Thus I didn’t know if these are things I need to apply, then leave on before rinsing or rinse immediately. I won’t put anything in my eyes, though, I promise.

I expected to love the Tony Moly lip tint. I’m slowly getting on the red lips train, so long as it’s wearable on a semi-regular basis. I thought this would be a good way to start. What I didn’t think about is that my lips should have been exfoliated and moisturized FIRST. Duh. This stain lasts, but it REALLY lasts on any portion of your lips that is dry. So by the end of the day I looked like I had bloody spots on my lips, as if I’d been gnawing at them. Thankfully I always have lipstick on hand, so I could cover the chewed-lip look, but now I know. And knowing is half the battle 😉

*My other box has Ciate Mistress Nail Polish, nugg De-Stress Mask, another Tony Moly lip tint (sample choice – I already have two of those Eyeko eyeliners and don’t need more primer – I figured if I didn’t like the lip tint I got in the curated box, I would give away or trade the second one, and if I liked it then yay for doubles), Cartier La Panthere eau de parfum (second perfume sample in two months on this sub), and Cynthia Rowley Beauty Eyeliner.


Also, on the lip tint, I recommend using a lip liner. I did notice some bleeding/feathering on the outside of my lip lines. It was probably only noticeable to me (I had my face up to the mirror), but a nude lip liner would probably help.


I like most products that come from Korea for skin care so I was really excited about this box. I haven’t tried everything yet so I cannot comment right now on that, but I will say I was extremely disappointed in the size of most of the products. There isn’t enough in most of them to give a real idea on whether or not it is a product you would like to purchase. Right now I use Naobay as my moisturizer and it is a product from Korea and it was given as a trial size in one of my earlier Birchbox boxes. I love it, but I was given enough to actually try it out versus what I have been given in this box… that was my only disappointment.


the sheet mask is actually insanely good. I fell asleep in it accidentally, and when I woke up, I kid you not…my skin looked a good 5-10 years younger. leave it on longer than 20 minutes to see that kind of result!


I also loved that mask! The sheet mask not do much. I also prefer the wash off kind.


I am in LOVE with the Tony Moly lip stain! It’s one of the best I’ve tried. I had virtually no problems with it sinking into my lip lines – much less than with other stains I’ve tried. And I adore the color. I’ll have to fiddle with it to find some less bold applications.

The mask was only meh for me, but I have special needs skin. 😛


I picked this box too and I loved it. My favorites were the Goodal products, especially the essence which feels great on my skin. I might consider buying the Goodal cleanser when my foaming rice water cleanser from The Face Shop runs out. I also really liked the primer and the Re:p mask although the smell was a bit off-putting to me (smelled a bit like alcohol or something that was fermenting). I haven’t tried the sheet mask yet but I’m saving that for a night when I want to relax. The only thing I wasn’t crazy about was the TonyMoly lip stain. Maybe I didn’t apply it right or maybe my lips need to be scrubbed first because it settled into the lines of my lips and looked all splotchy and horrible.


This was the box I was going to pick and it looks even better seeing the review. But I was sick on sample choice day so I get a surprise box this month. Which is fine with me. Surprises are fun too!


I am always tempted to get anything Korean and the single use masks.


I picked this box too and I really enjoyed it. The RE:P mask was my favorite as well. Unfortunately the Bubble Peeling cleanser made me break out, which is a shame because I really liked it at first!


I am definitely looking forward to trying the masks. I used the primer today and really like it. I haven’t tried the lip color yet, but will do so in the next day or so.

Nancy L.

I very much disliked this box especially the gooey red TonyTint!!! It stains and the most awful red color there ever was. It stains and doesn’t wash off. Gets on your clothes and they are ruined. No way would I ever buy this stuff and wouldn’t even wear it if given free to me for the rest of my life. Nothing in that box was for me and was a waste to even send it to me. I threw it all away!! Just awful nondescript stuff. If I can’t read the ingredients I don’t wear it.


Due to an allergy to parabens, I’m totally with you on the ingredients. HOWEVER, birchbox has all of the ingredients for every single sample is here online on their page! I picked this box up as an add on and quite enjoy many of the products after realizing I can use them.


K-beauty is amazing. You should really give it a shot! You can look up most things online if that is an issue. Did you choose this box during sample choice?


I have been pretty much K-beauty for skincare only for a couple years. My advice is to make sure you don’t spend money at Sephora or Birchbox for K-beauty! There are several good subs out there, tons of stuff available online and the mainstream companies are too pricey and the brands/products chosen just aren’t that interesting!


ITA. K beauty is way superior than the Western products (at least my skin thinks so). My skin has never been so soft and supple since using it. I buy all my products from Wishtrend and MemeBox. Have you heard of 3B beauty box? For $12 a month, they always send out one full size item and 3-4 samples. Also, I recommend reading Fiddy Snails blog. Such an informative blog on all things K beauty.


Nelliebelle, exactly! I’ve been in love with KBeauty products for about 5 years now. Ever since I discovered KDramas. hahaha. I’ve been very lucky as I’ve found tons of Korean Sheet masks at TJ Maxx over the years. When that happens, I scoop as many up as I can. Especially the under eye ones! $4.99 for a pk of 5 sheet masks or 24 under eye masks. It’s good to see another KBeauty lover. 🙂


Wait- your TJ Maxx has K beauty??? Mine only has piles of Bliss and odd brands I have never heard of!


I totally agree! I’ve been on the K beauty train for a year and absolutely love it. I wish there were monthly subscriptions like this. Anyway, I’ve noticed a lot of the mainstream companies are ridiculous with the prices.
Another suggestion is to visit your nearest Korean town (i.e. NY.) Not as cheap as eBay but your more likely to get genuine products without the lengthy shipping wait. They always give me tons of samples without even asking.


I live in NYC and work by Ktown. Would you recommend a place to go?


Do you know about Mishibox and Beauteque?


I chose this box too since KBeauty is new to me. My favorite was the TonyTint, a little goes a long way and lasted several hours. Also, the Phyto Wash was very concentrated so I will get several uses from the foil pack.

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Our reviewers research, test, and recommend the best subscriptions and products independently; click to learn more about our editorial guidelines. We may receive commissions on purchases made through links on our site.