Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Get off my lawn, Birchbox. You're too early. August 2014

Embrace luxury you filthy swine.

Birchbox is trying it’s absolute hardest to convince me that it is August. My calendar disagrees. Despite it being the 29th day of July, I received my Birchbox in the mail yesterday, which is fantastic because I have very little patience in regards to when my anticipated mail arrives. For the uncultured swine that may read this and are unaware what Birchbox is I’ll clue you in. Birchbox sends me a few samples of grooming product and one lifestyle item every month in the mail. I pay them $20 and they make me smell like the manliest of roses; more commonly known as pine cones or moss rocks. My wife was using a lot of reverse psychology on me with this box. There was a lot of “that scents going to give me an asthma attack” and “That bracelet looks weird” so naturally I knew she loved the whole thing.
Good luck keeping your precious calluses.

Baxter of California; Moisturizer: I’m not really a lotion kind of guy. My problem isn’t necessarily that I enjoy cracked skin, it’s that I don’t want to reverse the years I’ve spent culturing these manly calluses on my hands. Seriously, they’re bound to pop up within a year or two at this rate. My fear is that if I apply lotion every night my hands will become indistinguishable from my wifes. That being said, this stuff isn’t greasy. The benefit of this is that your hands don’t feel like you’ve just massaged a hagfish and if you find yourself in a room that spontaneously catches fire you won’t be trapped because your hands are no longer compatible with standard door knobs. It’s a good lotion that does the trick with little scent and no grease.

Warning: Does Not Prevent Backney.

Ursa Major; Face Wash: Endless emerald fields of mint and rosemary violently erupt into your minds eye when the invigorating aroma of this face wash permeates your olfactory system. Until it suds up and blocks your nostrils so you breath out of your mouth and suddenly discover it tastes nothing like the smell. Suddenly those fields blur into a dark bitter world filled with sharp, irritating sensations. The effect is worsened by attempting to wake from the nightmare. Pain jabs into your retinas like hot needles should you attempt to raise your eyelids prematurely.. You can’t breathe, you can’t see and all you feel is pain. Aside from making a few minor mistakes while using this, the experience was quite pleasant and my skin felt nice and fresh. Would use again (with slightly more attention to caution).

Actually just a nice smelling rock.

Dr. Squatch; Pine Tar Soap Bar: This tar black bar of soap was responsible for an (arguably) pleasant aroma that I originally took to be bug spray permeating from my mail box. I can’t decide if this is the best bar of soap I’ve ever used or the worst. The bar itself smells like essence of pine-soul. That is to say the soul of a pine forest, not Pine-sol the stuff used to poison that little girl in The Sixth Sense. The Birchbox itself smelled like a concentrated dose. The soap smelled nice, but seemed to have left it’s strength lingering within the box. It contains chunks of oatmeal in it so that you get a nice exfoliating clean feeling. This furthers the illusion that you are in fact rubbing a pine cone against your more sensitive areas. And when they list pine tar as an ingredient, they aren’t kidding. This thing bleeds black, to the point where the bottom of my tub looks like a black hole. It’s the best smelling coal pinecone you’ll ever groom with. I think I love it.

Wait...This isn't Dapper Dan!!!!

English Laundry; Pomade: This is some Don Draper next level pomade right here. The goop has a silicone futuristic look and feel to it. I was skeptical when I scooped a small heap onto my fingers. My concern was this: What if Birchbox had successfully set up a subscription grooming business for the solitary purpose to prank thousands of paying customers into putting glue or acid or something on their head. The board members would laugh and laugh and I would look like a fool. Unlikely. I spread the concoction through my mop and suddenly had complete control of my otherwise anarchic hair. Neo learned Kung Fu in seconds using futuristic technology; I got nice hair. This is probably my most likely “re-buy”.

I don't even- I can't belie- What am I suppo- Huh?

Bison Made; Double Wrap Bracelet: I once left my home riding a schwinn one-speed bicycle wearing a fedora, boat shoes, and a deep V neck T-shirt. I was also wearing Rayban aviator shades and had my zune sitting snugly in my khaki thigh length shorts blasting NPR so that I wouldn’t have to trouble with my bluetooth headphones. I did this all for the sake of going to the local food co-op to pick up kale, greek yogurt and some coconut water. I felt less pretentious that day than the moment I put this leather scrap onto my wrist. This is seriously a thin strap of leather that’s meant to wrap around your wrist twice. That’s it. It wouldn’t be so bad if they didn’t claim the regular retail price to be $40. FORTY DOLLARS! We’re talking more than the Pathfinder core rulebook, more than a couple expansions for Smash Up, more than the Cornetto Trilogy on Blu Ray! Is it comfortable? sure, as far as much as a thin leather strap on your wrist can be. Does it look good? You bet! for a leather strap. Am I wearing it? Absolutely! I had to give it a fair test drive, and it’s at least worth the judgmental glances my wife gives it when she sees it smugly resting on my wrist. It’s like a hippie merit badge. Pretty soon I’ll be on my way to becoming a Woodstock scout (like Eagle Scout...get it? it sounded better in my head) like my sister, Julie. ***That top story never happened. I haven't succombed to that level yet.***

Julie covers her blemishes with bracelets. 

Conclusion: I was absolutely aware that this bracelet was a potential lifestyle item this month, but I was really rooting for the boxer shorts (again). Every month it seems like they’re giving out good quality boxer-briefs and let me tell you, there is nothing in the world so fantastic as wearing a brand new pair of high quality boxer-briefs. Try as I might, this leather wrist band would never pass for a pair of underwear. All in all, I’m still enamored with my subscription to Birchbox. I’m trying out products I would have never bought in a million years, and it’s awesome getting goodies sent to my door each month

If you’re interested in trying it out, the investment is small and in my opinion worth it. Men's box is $20 a month and Women's is $10 a month but comes with no lifestyle item. I get a bonus if you use this link, so use it.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Birchbox man: July 2014 review

The box is like a very impractical cardboard drawer. But isn't it cute manly? 

I have become an elite member of society, distinguishing myself from the common vermin that plague the majority of the surface of the world. I've earned this new position by paying $20 a month to an online company that sends me fancy soaps and lotions every month. Because of this, I look and smell like a 1970s department store mannequin. It’s fantastic. This month’s Birchbox was delivered far earlier than anticipated, which certainly helped boost that impatiencey vibe I've had going on lately. It contained a few surprises, the lifestyle item not being one of them, because I cheated and watched a “preview” video before obtaining my box-o-loot. Also, I need to point out that like 90% of the people that review Birchbox have a similar table as me. Enough chit-chat let’s get cracking on this review.

If I didn't want to, I wouldn't even have to look at the items in the box.

Alfred Lane “Bravado” Solid Cologne:  This is a cologne that you don't spritzing on, rather, you dab your fingers into the waxy concoction and massage it onto your "pulse points". Despite using cologne very infrequently, and never in the past while on vacation, I would say the tin and solid-state makes it a decent travel companion; though a little on the quiet side and terrible at road trip bingo. The scent is described as having hints of tobacco, gun smoke and victory. If a campfire decided to attend a Halloween party dressed as a sexy cowboy, it would smell like this. It’s a very manly scent, but since that term is in constant flux I would say it’s the Val Kilmer as Doc Holiday sort of manly, rather than the Val Kilmer as Ice Man.

Does it smell like a sexy campfire in here to anyone else? 

Clinique For Men SPF 24 Moisturizer: It being the 4th of July this weekend, and me being an American, I played baseball (or Chicago ball, I should say. It’s similar to baseball except it’s slow pitch and requires no gloves because the ball is so large and soft). And because I played baseball, I was out in the hot sun, which gave me a chance to use something that has become absolutely necessary after living in Washington State for over 3 years; Sunscreen. Now normally it is not a necessity, but because it was actually sunny outside for a change, I was going to have my newly developed vitamin D deficiency challenged. I didn't burn and it wasn't greasy like other sunscreens, so it worked!   

You mean I can moisturize my face while protecting it from the evil sun? 
Coola After-Sun Lotion: I ventured out last week and made a lemon meringue pie completely from scratch for the first time in my life. It was absolutely beautiful. The crust was buttery and flaky, the filling tart and fresh, and the meringue was thick and perfectly browned on top, becoming an excellently sweet compliment to the other components of the dessert. Had I been so inclined (and it was tempting) to place my face gently into the center of the pie dish and then rub it around for a while, it would have smelled about the same as this after-sun lotion did. The product worked well enough, but I have found greater relief from the sun with a simple bottle of aloe vera with a less powerful smell.

Warning: Not Edible

Number 4 Hair Hydrating Shampoo (and Conditioner): I received a generous sized sample bottle of the shampoo and then a small foil packet of the conditioner. Smell is a huge factor in my enjoyment of these samples, and this one wasn't unpleasant. It did, however make me think back to when I was 9 years old and spending the weekend at my grandparents and they decided my hair was far too long for a respectable young man and that it ought to be cut by their personal barber who happened to work at the nearest fantastic Sams and had an incredibly thick Vietnamese accent (run on sentence! it was going to be longer but I got lazy). It smelled like that trip. A little of this stuff goes a long way, I put, what I thought was a conservative amount onto my hand and lathered it right up. Within seconds it was as if I was massaging a smooth mixture of soft serve ice cream and peanut butter onto my scalp. In texture, that is not smell.
The conditioner had a simple, clean smell to it. unlike other conditioners I’ve used in the past, it washed out. It’s always a nice feature, when you can wash the conditioner out of your hair, because who has time to wait an hour before your hair stops feeling like pond scum? Also it made my hair silky smooth.
"He must have just come from the salon; look at that hair!

Harry’s Truman Razor: It has been close to three years since I used a cartridge razor. As it stands I’m a firm “double sided safety razor” kind of guy. I love my Merker, and enjoy a closer shave at a fraction of the price. I’ll say this for the “Truman Razor”: it offers a ton of flexibility. You can shave any which way and the flexible head will bend to your every will. It offers a close shave and comes in a variety of stylish colors to match… you know, stuff. The handle, though as stylish as Danny Zuko, is made of plastic. Just like every American man, I received a gillette razor in the mail for my 18th birthday for free, and that was a stylish razor that felt far more sturdy(and had a precision trimmer to boot!). I also miss the double sided nature of a safety razor. I could have two good swipes without having to rinse, with the cartridges I was forced to rinse twice as often. If only the handle were slightly longer, I could have had a decent tool to combat unsightly back hair. When I finally decide to shave my chest hair into the Batman logo, I'll have the correct tool for the job.

It's the razor your face deserves, just not the one it needs right now. 

Conclusion: The Razor was honestly a bit of a disappointment. I knew that it might be coming, but expected a sturdy construction. It gave a decent shave, but not near enough of one to sway me from my current routine. My hair is silky soft, and my skin is glowing (I hope that's normal). The cologne was my favorite bit this month, it has unique and convenient packaging, and smells pretty great. The beauty of Birchbox is the veriety you get in stuff to try. If you like something from your box, you can buy it from their online store with free shipping.

If you're interested in signing up for Birchbox yourself, I'll give you my referral link so that I can glean from your impulsive lifestyle get points for your decision. They have a women's box as well, it's $10 a month and does not include a lifestyle item.

Check out my review of June's box here.