Birchbox sends samples (and sometimes full sizes) of new and exciting beauty products from top brands for $15/month. Birchbox is one of the original beauty subscription boxes and is a great way to discover new makeup, hair care, and skincare products without breaking the bank.
This is a review of Box #2 of the 3-part Birchbox x Awesome Woman At-Home Skin Lab Box.
This box was sent to us at no cost for review. (Check out our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we review boxes.)
The Skin Lab is a series of three boxes that contain science-based skin tests, skincare products, tools, and supplements to help you learn more about your skin and how to take care of it. Let's take a look at the second box!
The products arrive in a large colorful box with a magnetic lid. A few of the items inside are secured with a black velvet drawstring pouch.
Here's a photo of the first and second Skin Lab boxes for scale! The second one is much bigger.
The box includes one information card that explains what you’re supposed to receive with this curation.
The box didn’t come with any product information cards, much to my disappointment. There was no information about why this box of goodies was curated for my combo/oily skin, either. Maybe there was supposed to be one but I never received it?
I was hoping that the email “toolkit” that arrived in conjunction with the box would share tips on how to use everything that I received. No such luck. The email gave general skincare tips (hydrate, exfoliate occasionally, use non-comedogenic products, etc.) but nothing that was specific to my products. For a box that emphasized personalized skincare, my first impression was very not thoughtful or personalized.
What's Inside The Box
Clean Skin Club Pineapple Glow Mist, 3.4 fl oz - Retail Value $18
This mist has a watery formula with a soft pineapple scent that’s pleasing to my nose. Although it’s marketed as a facial mist, it can also be used as a toner, which is perfect because I love getting toners in subscription boxes! Generally, 3 to 4 sprays are enough to cover my whole face. It absorbs very quickly and leaves my skin lightly hydrated. I really enjoy the formula and will continue to use this!
Awesome Woman Maca Me Beautiful Organic Maca Powder, 4.23 oz
Maca powder is a health supplement that’s supposed to give you more energy, healthier skin, better libido. Hmm… too good to be true? Well, the scientific findings are limited. The bigger question for me, though, is: does it taste good?
For review purposes, I licked some straight out of the bag. Bleh! A nutty, bitter toffee flavor. I drink fruit smoothies regularly, so I put two scoops into my usual 30-ish ounce smoothie recipe. I could just barely make out a nutty, malty flavor amongst the fruit. The bag recommends 1 to 2 scoops per 8 ounces, though, and at that ratio, the flavor is much more distinct. A few Google searches said that combining cacao powder with maca powder makes for a good recipe. I wouldn’t use this for its purported health benefits, but the flavor is actually good in a smoothie, so I’ll probably use it up.
I couldn’t find a retail value on the organic maca powder but a quick search says it sells for about $1-3 per ounce.
Pai Carbon Star Facial Oil, 0.3 fl oz - Retail Value $39
As an oily-skinned gal, I’m picky about my facial oils. They need to absorb well and feel “dry” on the skin, or else I’m just not going to reach for them. This one from Pai is pretty good! The star ingredient here is black cumin seed oil. It’s formulated to “fight acne-causing bacteria, clear imperfections, and keep sebum production under control.” Music to my ears!
The oil doesn’t have much of a fragrance. I only need a few small drops to cover my face. Pai recommends applying it directly onto damp skin whereas I like to mix facial oils into a serum or moisturizer to minimize any greasy feeling. Although I haven’t yet seen any noticeable difference to my skin, it could be worth keeping around.
Golde Papaya Bright Face Mask, 1 oz - Retail Value $34
I can never get enough face masks! This one is marketed as a “brightening mask” made from lucuma fruit, papaya, sea buckthorn, and marshmallow root powders. The papaya provides gentle exfoliation and the powder formula allows you to control the mask’s consistency to your liking.
Adding water transforms the powder into a golden-brown paste. Having never eaten lucuma, I think it smells like some sort of tart fruit, perhaps like apricot or dried plum. The mask tightens after several minutes, and when time is up, it washes off easily with water. My face feels oh-so-soft afterward! I’m pleased with this discovery and will continue to use it.
Hydration Test Card
The second At-Home Skin Lab box includes a hydration test to determine the dryness of your skin. The card comes with easy instructions on how to test your skin and includes two paper strips: one for the cheek and one for the leg. Again, I was expecting the science-based skin test to be more state-of-the-art, but the test strips are simple black patches with some sticky residue on them.
The results indicate that I have "normal" amounts of dryness on my face and body. Now to redeem the box that fits my skin type!
Redeeming the Next Box
As long as you have the hydration test card on hand as you go through the steps, redeeming the next box is easy. I selected the black and white image that looked closest to my result. The images don’t feel precise enough to give me an idea of how dry my skin really is. I wonder whether my body test is even useful? It isn’t mentioned at all in the online survey.
Birchbox matched me with the “Awesome Woman Hydration Kit.” As I played around with the survey, though, no matter which image I select, I'll be matched with the same kit. Basically, there's no personalization for the last box!
As soon as I entered the redemption code provided on my card, the price of the kit went down to $0.
The Good: The Clean Skin Club mist (which I use as a toner) is fantastic! I’m fond of the delicious-smelling Golde face mask too.
The OK: The Pai facial oil is a fun discovery, but time will tell if I like it enough to keep in rotation. I’m picky about oils, after all. The maca powder is an interesting addition (and it has a decent flavor) but I don’t see myself adding this supplement to my smoothies every day.
The Could Be Improved: I wish I received some sort of product card instead of having to search each item up on the internet!
The second At-Home Skin Lab box included products that worked better for me compared to Box #1. My favorite is the refreshing Clean Skin Club mist. However, the box did not have the thoughtfully curated and personalized touch that I was anticipating. It didn’t scream “oily skin type.” The total value, sans the maca powder, is $91. If we were to assume the value of the maca powder is on the higher end—let’s say $10—that would get us $101. This is a much better value than the first box, which I calculated to be $55, but it’s still not adding up to the total 3-box value of $525 that Birchbox claims. I’m now feeling a little skeptical but still curious to see how the final box will fare.
Keep track of your subscriptions by adding this box to your subscription list or wishlist!
Value - Was This Box Worth It?
The Cost: $129 for 3 boxes
Value Breakdown: The second box had a retail value of $91 (about $101 if you estimate the maca powder). This is not counting the value of the hydration test if any. Since this 3-part box costs $129, we’ll have to wait and see how the value adds up across all three boxes!