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 #3 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 our final box!
The products arrive in a large colorful box with a magnetic lid. It's the exact same design and size as the second box. A few items are secured inside a black velvet drawstring pouch with "awesome woman" embroidered on the fabric.
Included is an information card that explains what you'll receive with the final box: products to hydrate skin from the inside out, a wrinkle skin test, and an email "toolkit" about caring for your skin.
Good news! Although the information card makes no mention of the products, the email provides some clarity. This installment is all about delivering hydration and moisture to the skin, and it heavily features Clark's Botanicals.
What's Inside The Box
Clark's Botanicals Deep Moisture Mask, 1.7 fl oz - Retail Value $75
This mask-and-moisturizer-in-one means serious business. Housed in a heavy glass jar, it has a thick balm-like texture, and it smells lightly of jasmine but isn't overwhelming. It's also packed with emollients designed to deeply hydrate, soften skin, and repair the skin barrier. You can either use it as a 20-minute leave-on mask or as a daytime/nighttime moisturizer.
I decided to use it as a moisturizer (more bang for the buck this way, right?). Given my discomfort with heavy creams, I made sure to apply only a thin layer. To my surprise, a thin layer is more than enough to fully hydrate the skin. It doesn't feel greasy or heavy. Plus, it dries down fast to a velvet skin finish. This mask exceeds my expectations for a cream this thick. I've been able to use it during the day and night with no problems.
This is perfect for use during colder seasons when my face needs extra hydration. A keeper!
Clark's Botanicals Jasmine Vital Oil, 1 fl oz - Retail Value $99
I'll be honest, I was initially disappointed with this pick. It comes right on the heels of the Pai Carbon Star Face Oil from my second box, and in my opinion, receiving one facial oil is plenty for a cohesive skincare curation. After giving it a go, I've changed my tune. It's pretty good... for an oil!
This is a lightweight oil blend, complete with niacinamide and flower extracts, housed in a heavy glass container. It has a mild botanical fragrance and absorbs quickly into my skin. I don't think it dries down as nicely as the one from Pai, so oily-skinned folks may have to use this sparingly unless you're going for a dewy look. However, I like how it mixes beautifully with serums and moisturizers like the Deep Moisture Mask, and I always wake up with plumper skin. I can see myself incorporating this into my evening routine when my face needs extra moisture and luminosity.
Clark's Botanicals Nourishing Youth Serum, 1 fl oz - Retail Value $115
This is the star of the show. I'm constantly on the hunt for serums that are lightweight, hydrating, and dry down quickly with a non-greasy finish. The Nourishing Youth Serum checks off all the boxes.
The oil-free serum contains algae extracts, niacinamide, vitamin C, vitamin E, and salicylic acid. It comes in a vacuum pump tube, so you gotta give it a dozen pumps at first to push the serum to the top. It has no fragrance to speak of. I love the consistency too: it has a half-creamy, half-watery feel that spreads easily across my face and absorbs fast. It leaves my skin hydrated without feeling heavy. I don't even need to top off with a moisturizer on good days. What a terrific discovery.
But to my utter shock, the link to this serum on Clark's Botanicals' website vanished in the middle of writing this review, leaving only a 404 error! One day the page was there; the next day, gone! It looks to be sold out or out of stock at other retailers too. Heartbreaking. Maybe it's discontinued? Maybe they're reformulating it? Either way, I'll have to take solace in the words of Alfred Tennyson: "Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all."
Awesome Woman Heavenly Body Wild Caught Marine Collagen Supplement Powder, 5.29 oz
Whew, what a long name! This is a collagen supplement derived from wild-caught fish. It looks like milk powder and is mostly odorless with a whiff of something I can't put my finger on. According to the email "toolkit," collagen supplements support your body's natural collagen production, which decreases as you age and leads to character lines and looser skin. Not only has collagen been historically used for beauty, but there's also some evidence to suggest that collagen supplements can improve skin elasticity, signs of aging, wound healing, and joint health.
The science behind it has me intrigued, but the more important question is: does it taste good? It tastes fine straight out of the bag. I would liken it to powdered or malted milk with a slightly fishy smell. Two scoops of the stuff in a 24-ounce fruit smoothie, however, changes the flavor profile. I don't know how to describe it because it's not very strong, but you can tell from the aftertaste that something not-fruity is in my smoothie.
There is no retail value on this collagen powder but a quick search says it sells for about $4-5 per ounce for a bag of similar size. I'm not completely sold on collagen powder just yet, but I'll keep experimenting with different recipes and beverages.
The Final Skin Test
Wrinkle Test Card
The last skin test is for wrinkles, AKA character lines. One strip contains a thin layer of shimmery powder to pat onto the outer edge of your eye, to accentuate your wrinkles, I assume. The other strip has an adhesive patch to capture the look of your eye wrinkles when you smile.
I don't know if I did it correctly, but the test strip didn't capture much. If I had to guess, I have "smooth" skin with a few fine lines.
Now, all three boxes are in my hands. However, the info card still wants me to scan the QR code and go to the Birchbox website for my wrinkle test results. I did what they instructed...
And got an eye cream recommendation as my reward. It's not included with the Skin Lab Box though. You have to purchase this on your own.
The Good: Clark's Botanicals Nourishing Youth Serum. Enough said. The Deep Moisture Mask is also a lovely find.
The OK: I don't see myself using the Jasmine Vital Oil every day but it is worth keeping around. The jury is still out on the collagen supplement; I have to experiment with more recipes.
The Could Be Improved: The wrinkle skin test didn't provide much value. Even if I had deep wrinkles, I would rather receive skincare tips on how to reduce the look of my lines rather than an eye cream recommendation. Plus, the eye cream from the online result isn't helpful either since I'd have to purchase it separately.
The third At-Home Skin Lab box embraced "saving the best for last" with its heavy focus on Clark's Botanicals. I'm happy that the email provided helpful product information, a step up from the previous box. My favorite discovery, the Nourishing Youth Serum, leaves a bittersweet feeling since I don't know what'll happen once I use up my bottle. The total value, sans the collagen powder, is $289. If we were to assume the value of the collagen powder is around $25—that would get us to $314. That's a big difference compared to box #1 ($55) and #2 ($101)!
The At-Home Skin Lab Box promised us science-based skin tests, skincare products, tools, supplements, and knowledge about how to care for your skin. Did it deliver?
- Skin tests: While the tests were fun, I was hoping for deeper insight into my skin's needs. They didn't scream "science."
- Skincare: Yes! Lots of skincare!
- Tools: I received a jade roller.
- Supplements: I received two supplement powders.
- Education: I enjoyed skimming the emails for tips and tricks but they felt removed from the products I received in each box. I was hoping for more personalized guidance.
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: Here's the value breakdown of all three boxes.
- Birchbox Jade Roller: $12
- Korres Cleanser: $26
- This Works Hand Cream: $12
- KNC Collagen Lip Mask: $5
- Clean Skin Club Facial Mist: $18
- Awesome Woman Maca Powder: $10 (estimate)
- Pai Facial Oil: $39
- Golde Face Mask: $34
- Clark's Botanicals Mask: $75
- Clark's Botanicals Facial Oil: $99
- Clark's Botanicals Serum: $115
- Awesome Woman Collagen Powder: $25 (estimate)
Birchbox stated a total value of $525. I calculated a total of $470, sans the value of the skin tests if any. This is about 3.5 times the cost of the box set!