THAT GRACE GIRL is an editorial endeavour dedicated to creating intelligent beauty coverage for women who are as passionate about prose as they are perfume. 

Birchbox June 2013

DSCN1539 The 'stuff in a box' trend really seems to have taken off this year. I've seen everything from health foods, coffee, 'one night stand' essentials, 'time of the month' care packages, fruit and veg, and of course beauty products, all delivered in monthly boxes. It's a concept which completely clicks with me. I love receiving things in the post, and knowing that a box full of makeup and skincare goodies is going to land on my doorstep once a month means I always have something to look forward to.I've been eager to try a beauty box for some time now but as there is now quite a wide range to choose from I waited it out to see which box looked best for me. I eventually narrowed my choice down to either 'Glossybox' or 'Birchbox', two of the most popular beauty boxes on the British market. Both are priced at £10 with £2.95 P&P. After reading numerous reviews and watching pretty much every Birchbox and Glossybox unboxing on YouTube, I settled for Birchbox. The reviews in general swing more in Birchbox's favour. They appear to provide better sized and better quality samples, less high-street and more high-end products and, looking back over the past editions of both boxes, products more suited to me.

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My only gripe with Birchbox is that I had great trouble signing up, to the point where I almost considered giving up and signing up with Glossybox instead. Their payment system continually rejected my attempts to pay based  on an apparently incorrect billing address which no amount of fiddling around with my details would fix. The customer service I received from Birchbox was however excellent, and on account of this I became even more determined to persevere instead of resorting to Glossybox. As it turns out the customer service at Barclays and PayPal is not so good, and I still haven't fixed the problemm. Luckily though I have a lovely boyfriend who suggested signing up with his details and (to my great relief) the transaction worked with his card (I still have no idea what was wrong with mine).

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After choosing the monthly Birchbox subscription I completed a short profile survey which basically asks you about your hair/skin types and makeup preferences etc. which I'm guessing gives Birchbox something to base your product selection on. When my Birchbox arrived I truly felt like a child at Christmas! (It took about three weeks to arrive but I'm hoping this is because it's my first time ordering!) The packaging is really beautiful, Birchbox have just undergone rebranding and a packaging revamp and the result is successful in terms of both functionality and appearance. The outer packaging is a sturdy cardboard box with a flip lid. Inside this is a smaller but equally sturdy box, and inside this is a little drawstring bag with the products inside. As someone who can't bear to throw things away and finds a use for everything, the boxes look great for storage and the bag is the kind of thing I'd use to keep bits and bobs together when travelling.

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The general form of the Birchbox consists of 4 beauty products and a lifestyle product based around a monthly theme (in this case 'Festival Chic'). However I think this months box was a little different. I received a hair product 'Beauty Protector: Protect and Detangle', a suncream 'Green People Sun Lotion SPF 15 With Tan Accelerator', an eyeliner 'ModelCo Eye Define Eye Pencil', a moisturiser 'Carole Franck Fluide Fraicheur Phyto-Hydrant' and two nail polishes 'Color Club Wanderlust Collection' in 'Mod in Manhattan' and 'London Calling'. The box also contained a really cute set of postcards depicting the four capital cities where Birchbox has offices.  I was really pleased with my box as the products are all ones that I will use regularly. So far I have used the 'Mod in Manhattan' nail polish (see below and excuse a few days chipping), the 'Beauty Protector', which smells amazing and is a great travel friendly substitute for my beloved Aussie leave-in conditioner, and the moisturiser which is lightweight and leaves my skin feeling matte but glowy. I've also tested out the eyeliner and was pleasantly surprised by the quality. I tend to prefer crayony or liquid eyeliners but this one works really well for a pencil liner. I only usually wear eyeliner on nights out or for special occasions but this one will be great for travelling or keeping in my 'on the go' makeup bag as it has a built in pencil sharpener. I haven't yet used the suncream, ( thanks to the "great" British summer) but it will be perfect for my summer holiday. I'm actually trying to save all of the products for my holiday as they are the perfect size for travelling, but they're all so lovely I just want to use them now!

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The Birchbox also comes with a monthly magazine which provides tips on how to use the products inside, mini features on the brands used, interviews, and travel pages. I especially loved the 'Birchbox in Manchester' spread in the June edition which listed some cool and quirky places to visit in the city, definite inspiration for my next trip.

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On a whole I've had a great first Birchbox experience, and will definitely not be cancelling my subscription anytime soon. If you're looking to subscribe to a beauty box I recommend checking out the market and looking at previous boxes to see what kind of products the brand offers and how it will suit you. But on a whole Birchbox seems like a safe bet. The quality of the products and customer service has been great, the samples are very generously sized, as well as usable and relevant, and the friendly, informal user experience of Birchbox (magazine, Instagram, Twitter) brings a little more to the table than larger beauty box distributors.

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