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.


  1. I love your writing style Daniel, the review of the Coola After-sun lotion is still making me laugh. I also feel like less of a man, now that I know these fine products are out there and I am not using them.

  2. Thanks Andy! I really appreciate the feedback. I also was unaware of just how childlike I must have appeared to every man that was using a weekly exfoliating facial scrub. I was like a complete savage, just walking around with, get this, dead skin follicles just hanging on my face!