Along with the huge spate of monthly or quarterly subscription sample boxes that have popped up lately, there have been a few more sporadic offerings. These are similar boxes of beauty samples, but they are one-time purchases that come around every now and again, not subscription programs. I recently learned about two of these offerings and thought I'd review them for you here. I can see both costs and benefits to this model--you aren't tied into anything and it's not a monthly (or quarterly) expense, which is nice. However, you have to remember to order each time a new box comes out, and the regularly arriving gift in the mail aspect is lost. Mostly, it probably depends on what you are into these boxes for whether these types of services are better or worse for you.

Beauty Cache

The first non-recurring offering I found was the SkinCareRx Beauty Cache bag. For $29.99, plus S&H, the Beauty Cache promises "a myriad of products designed to exfoliate dull skin, create luscious locks, repair sun damage, and add vibrant color." Unlike the majority of these programs, everything that will be in the bag is detailed on the site, aside from one "full-sized mystery gift." The site does not, however, tell you how large each sample will be.

I ordered my Beauty Cache bag on May 23, got a shipping notice for it the next day, and received it on May 26, so shipping was very quick. The packaging was unremarkable--a regular mailing box, with the blue plastic Beauty Cache bag and a few loose items inside.

This is what I received from Beauty Cache:
beauty cache.jpg

-10 CANE + AUSTIN Retexturizing 10% Glycolic Treatment Pads ($60 for 60 pads; estimated value $10)
-2 oz Oscar Blandi Smoothing Shampoo & 2 oz Oscar Blandi Smoothing Conditioner ($23 for 8.45 oz each, estimated value $5.44 each)
-.5 oz Nuxe Reve de Miel Hand & Nail Cream ($22.85 for 2.6 oz, estimated value $4.39)
-1 oz DHC Deep Cleansing Oil ($26 for 6.7 oz, estimated value $3.88)
-2 .05 oz Priori Smoothing Eye Serum packets ($66 for .5 oz, estimated value $6.60 each)
-.07 oz elta MD SPF 47 UV Clear Sunscreen for Acne Prone Skin packet ($29 for 1.7 oz, estimated value $1.19)
-.068 oz Peter Thomas Roth Laser-Free Resurfacer packet ($75 for 1 oz, estimated value $5.10)
-full-size Delux Beauty lipliner in Nudey Shimmer (discontinued product)
-.34 oz NIA 24 Physical Cleansing Scrub ($35 for 3.75 oz, estimated value $3.17)
-2 small (estimate .25 oz) M2 Skin Recovery Moisturizers ($49.98 for 1.7 oz, estimated value $7.35 each)
-small (estimated .1 oz) Jane Iredale PureLash Extender and Conditioner ($16.50 for .3 oz, estimated value $5.50)
-full-sized Cargo eye shadow duo in Vienna (being discontinued, estimated value $6)
-$20 off $100 purchase at coupon

Total estimated value: $78.01

There were definitely things I liked about the Beauty Cache bag. I thought the CANE + AUSTIN pads were a great inclusion, and it's awesome that there are ten of them, so you can really get a feel for how they work. The shampoo and conditioner samples were very generous and Oscar Blandi is a good line, in my experience. I'm curious about the deep cleansing oil and, again, happy with the sample size. I'll also look forward to trying the M2 moisturizer, and I think it's great that they included two tubes, since they're fairly small.

The thing I'm always most excited about, however, is the makeup, and it irritates me that both of the makeup products included in the bag (including the special "full-sized mystery gift!") are discontinued/being discontinued. That kind of feels like a cheat to me. While I will probably use both products, I don't like feeling that I am paying for what amount to remnants. More practically, what happens if I decide I love something (which is part of the idea of these sample collections, after all)? It's no longer available. I'd prefer companies stick to samples of products that are still on the market.

Overall, this is one I'll probably try again next time it comes up--the value is definitely there. I just hope they don't lean too heavily on the little foil packets (though at least there were plenty of them!) or outdated makeup in the future.

Total Beauty Collection

Total Beauty Collection works pretty much like the monthly sample services--for $15, including S&H, they send 4-6 "deluxe beauty samples." The only difference is that it isn't a subscription--you have to re-order every time they come out with a new box (and I'm not clear, based on their site, on how often that happens). I ordered my Total Beauty Collection box on May 24, got a shipping notice on May 25, and the box arrived on May 29 (with the 28th being a holiday), so once again, shipping was very fast.

Packaging was so-so. The cardboard Total Beauty Collection box arrived inside another, plain cardboard mailing box. It's not anything re-usable. The products inside were packaged loosely in paper packing material, but nothing was broken.

This is what I received:
total beauty collection.jpg
-.3 oz Alterna Bamboo Smooth Kendi Oil ($24 for 1.7 oz, estimated value $4.24)
-.09 oz Senna Lip Lacquer in Awake ($19 for .25 oz, estimated value $6.84)
-.15 oz likewise Daily Skincare Moisturizer/Sunscreen ($44 for 1.69 oz, estimated value $3.91)
-.1 oz Scientific Organics emerginC Phytocell Detox Mask ($50 for 1.69 oz, estimated value $2.96)
-.006 oz Pixi Eye Bright Primer ($18 for .08 oz, estimated value $1.35)

Total estimated value: $19.30

I bet you can guess what I am going to complain about! These samples are SMALL. The two skincare samples are not more than single or, at most, double use size, and the makeup samples are only a few uses worth as well. Because of these small sample sizes, and the general quality of the products (Pixi, for example, is sold at Target), the total value of this box is barely over the price tag paid for it--unusual for these types of boxes. More than most boxes I receive, these samples felt like samples I'd get free, either with a purchase or just by being polite to a salesperson. With the exception of the likewise moisturizer/sunscreen, which I am excited to try, there was also nothing included in this box that wowed me. These are products I've either seen before or products that don't strike me as particularly "deluxe." I'll be skipping future Total Beauty Collection offerings.

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June 2012

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