Monday, September 03, 2012

Birchbox of beauty

I don’t like surprises. Surprise means I am unprepared — and probably wearing the wrong shoes or without enough cash.
No, I like to know what’s going to happen to me. It gives me that illusion of control, which is particularly essential when you are the mother of three teenage girls.
However, I recently found one surprise I actually like.
It’s called Birchbox.
Birchbox is a makeup sample subscription. To the men reading this column who are tempted to stop reading at the word “makeup,” hold on just a minute. If there is a woman in your life, you need to know about Birchbox.
For $10 a month, the Birchbox subscriber receives a selection of four to six makeup samples. A neat brown box arrives on your doorstep with little packages of goodies like perfume, eye shadow, lip gloss, moisturizer, skin cream or nail polish.
The items aren’t just thrown into the box, either. The Birchbox elves actually wrap the samples in colored tissue paper tied with a ribbon. It’s like opening a present.
Each month has a theme, like “Jet Set,” “Holiday,” or “Glamour.” And what woman doesn’t want a little jet setting, holiday or glamour in her life?
Birchbox customers fill out a profile that helps tailor each delivery to their interests and age, but you never know what you’re going to get each month. And that’s the fun part.
The eye shadow brand you read about in a magazine, that moisturizer you’ve seen at Nordstrom but didn’t want to pay $48 for, sparkly eyeliner, lip gloss that comes with a funky Q-tip applicator, and designer perfume. It’s all in the Birchbox.
Birchbox knows we women love samples. We love smelling and sniffing shampoos, dabbing and dipping designer face creams, swabbing and swiping shadows. It’s like each little sample contains a promise — a promise of a new look, a new you. Life is ordinary enough, but a new eye shadow is enough to perk up any mom’s day.
What’s even better than a box of makeup samples? Swapping your samples with someone else’s samples. My co-workers Michelle and Jillian are also into Birchbox. One day we brought in our boxes and did a little beauty bartering.
I made everyone try the Q-tip dispenser lip gloss. (Verdict: Looks good on, but the applicator is odd.) We insisted that 20-something Jillian take Michelle’s bright blue glitter eyeliner.
Are you still with me, men? Besides a great gift idea, there’s also Birchbox for men. Why not get in touch with your metrosexuality? Your dry skin and the people you shake hands with will thank you.
There was one problem with my Birchbox. A certain Huffman decided to help herself to a few items in my Birchbox without asking. After a scolding, I resorted to hiding my Birchbox treats, which makes it hard to impulsively sample my samples.
So when her birthday rolled around, I made a strategic decision. I got the Birchbox thief her own three-month subscription.
I’m hoping she’ll leave my lip gloss alone now.

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