Reusing Birchboxes (DIY Z-Palette Alternative)

birchtowerIt’s been almost a year since my last post and during that time away from this blog I’ve been searching for ways to utilize and organize the mass of beauty products I’ve accumulated. I began to delve into the world of “upcycling” and although I no longer subscribe to Birchbox, I still have a gigantic collection of their pretty boxes that I don’t want to just throw away (in the recycling bin of course). I’ve always used them as gift boxes but most of the presents I give are too large to fit. I also use them as drawer dividers/organizers but I still have a tower of them left. So below are a few additional ways I’ve put my boxes to use:

Wall Art

birchwallThis one is straightforward. All you need are push-pins and a ruler to evenly space out your boxes along the wall. Although my design is different, credit for the idea goes to Tiffany Johnson on Youtube. I would not have thought of it otherwise.

Another great thing about it is that they can be interchanged as often as I like! I could have a day when I want to hang all the blue birchboxes or all the purple ones or only the geometics, only the flowered ones, etc.

Empty Magnetic Palettes

diybirchZ-palettes are a huge deal in the beauty industry and before their recent (now deleted) Instagram rampage on customers…

worstzpalette…I was already planning a way to create my own. When you really think about it, Z-palettes are just slim cardboard boxes with colored paper around it, magnetic sheets, and a thin acrylic lid. They can be easily duplicated and many cosmetic companies already have their own custom palettes. You can get them in metal or hard plastic instead of cardboard. Some versions have a mirror on the inside instead of a clear lid. You can also find some very inexpensive ones on ebay and amazon. That being said, none have the cute prints that are on Birchboxes and I still wanted to make my own. The only thing I had to actually buy was the magnetic sheet from Michael’s which cost me $2.99 without a coupon.needbirchdiyITEMS USED:

  • 1 Birchbox or any sturdy box
  • 1 cutting tool (scissors and/or x-acto knife or even a regular knife)
  • Tape (preferably clear and durable) or glue
  • 1 pencil
  • 1 magnetic sheet (strong enough to hold the weight of the eyeshadows)

ADDITIONAL ITEMS:

  • 1 ruler (I didn’t end up using it but it helps to create an even square on the lid)
  • glue (any strong bond type of glue will work)
  • 1 foam sheet (to add an additional layer of padding to the palette)
  • 1 piece of cardboard (for the additional layer of padding)
  • 1 sheet of plastic (doesn’t have to be acrylic but it should be thick, unwrinkled, and easy to clean/not stain)

*The foam I’ve had from multiple subscription boxes and mailed packages. The sheet of plastic I used came from hosiery packaging but additional household sources can be the plastic around products like my hot glue gun, markers, insoles, the plastic cover on bakery boxes, etc. It took me only a few minutes to find supplies around the house.

plasticsPart 1 (skip this step if you don’t want the added protective layer)birchbotsMake sure the piece of foam fits the dimensions of the box. Then use it to trace around the cardboard and magnetic sheet and cut those so they all are the same size. Then glue the foam to the bottom of the birchbox, making sure to spread an even layer (paying extra attention to the four corners).

zgluePeel off the backing of the magnet and attach the magnet sticky-side down to the cardboard. Use a little glue if necessary for extra adhesion power. Then apply glue to the other side of the brown cardboard in order to attach it to the foam layer already inside the birchbox. Now your custom palette has extra protection!

zstandPart 2

If you skipped part 1, cut the magnetic sheet to fit the dimensions of the bottom of the birchbox. Remove the paper backing and attach it to the bottom, adding extra glue if needed.

Now we’re moving onto the lid. In my example, I followed the pattern of the print but you can use a ruler and pencil to trace a rectangle underneath the lid and then cut it out to form a hole in the cover.

birchtopsCut the sheet of plastic to fit on the underside of the Birchbox lid. It should be large enough to cover the hole with a little extra room. When you tape or glue the edges of the plastic to the box, you don’t want tape lines to be visible once the lid is flipped over.

birchxAnd that’s it! I like how sturdy this feels (it can even be stored upward but give the glue a day to dry before use). If you find this to be too bulky you can always cut the edges of the lid and base by half and then line it all with colorful tape to hide any jagged edges. In fact, next time I will line the edges around the lid hole with solid colored washi tape before I tape the clear plastic underneath. birchzfinzstandsideThis has room for a minimum of 24 MAC sized eyeshadow pans.

24shadI have SO many Birchboxes left that I should start gifting these to my eyeshadow loving friends. And with all the different Birchbox tops just imagine the number of unique magnetic palettes you could create too!otherbirch

But really this could be done with any cardboard box, magnetic sheets, plus cutting and pasting tools. An ordinary box can be easily spruced up with printed paper or washi tape. 🙂

-Lili ❤

Arrow, a New Beauty Brand

birstufYou may have heard of Birchbox’s first cosmetics line called LOC (Love of Color) which launched in 2015. They partnered with Tati the GlamLifeGuru in their initial release of lip crayons and eyeshadow sticks. This year, Birchbox created their second brand called Arrow, which has nothing to do with the CW Television show or DC comics.

arrowmemeWhat makes this one so special is that all the products in the line are vegan, paraben-free, cruelty-free, and gluten-free.

I purchased the starter kit as soon as it was available on the Birchbox website. Everyone received a $10 off promo code from their December Birchbox and I had 100 points on my account. That means I received this kit plus the mystery pack for only $16!

 ARROW BOOST Color Enhancing Lip Balm

lip1Price: $14

In my early high school years, I was obsessed with mark Glossblossom Ripening Lip Tint. A clear gloss came out of the tube but turned pink on contact with the lips. The ARROW balm brings me the same joy but is prettier and has much better ingredients. To quote the product page, “Formulated to adjust to your unique pH, it enhances each wearer’s natural lip color to create the perfect, just-for-you hue. Nourishing ingredients like mango seed butter hydrate and protect lips, and the lightweight, subtle formulation allows it to go wherever you do…”

I put this on and went about my day, which involved eating, drinking, and licking my lips (the lippie isn’t flavored). The actual balm wore away after a few hours but the color stayed put for the rest of the night! And since my lips weren’t dried out, I didn’t feel the need to reapply. I was very impressed by the performance of this balm and it has become a new favorite! It brings out the natural pink in my lips!

drylip

ARROW REVIVE Cooling Cheek Tint

cheek3Price: $18

This line caters to people on the go, and this is why the creators decided to put this cheek stain in a clickable pen with a brush. The concept is smart but the packaging…

Pros: The actual cheek stain is fantastic quality. It glides over the skin, is buildable, and long lasting. The formula isn’t sticky. It comes in two colors: Pink Punch and Berry Flush. The one I bought is Berry Flush. It can be used under the ARROW lip balm for a bolder lip shade. It does feel comfortably cool on the skin. When it comes to the actual stain, I love it!

Cons: On the first day I used this, I only clicked until a tiny dot was visible on the brush.

noclickclickThat tiny dot grew to the size of a nickel which is way more product than necessary. Part of my Instagram photo (pictured above where I listed the price) shows how much came out from holding it upside down for just a few seconds. I chalked it up to first time use, wiped the tip of the brush until it was clean, then put it in my blush drawer.

The next day I opened the cap to find this.

insideAgain, I thought it was a fluke and wiped the top but I noticed it continued to pump out gel without any clicks at all. I put it on the counter in the upright position and it continued to come out. That’s when I realized there must be a problem with the inner mechanism of my product. I don’t know if it happens to be just my pen, or if all the cheek tints are like this.

I continued wiping until the pen went a solid ten minutes without leaking. That’s when I tried my last test. Whereas my other pen products only require 2-3 clicks, this one needs at least 6 before it starts to drip. And it drips at a snail’s pace. The drip is far too slow to be practical. So then it takes an additional 3 or more to get a tiny dot. By that point, the same overflow issue happened again. I took a five minute video to show the progression of the leak. Some stills are below.

zoom1zoom2zoom3zoom4zoom5This is a very big issue for someone on-the-go to deal with a cap full of blush stain. Where should they put the excess product? That style of brush is good for packing on color, which isn’t what most would want to do with a stain. So the packaging is a fail but the actual gel was worth saving for me. So I took one of my sample jars and clicked out all the remaining product.

fullstainI don’t know how long my little jar will last me before it potentially dries out but if I kept it in the pen, I wouldn’t use it anyway. Now, it’s exclusively a lip brush!

endARROW PROTECT Aluminum-Free Deodorant

deo2 Price: $9

Finding the right deodorant is a very individual experience. Some sweat more than others. Some produce stronger odors. Unfortunately, I require heavy duty deodorant. So when I say that I went two hours with solid protection but needed to reapply after 3-4 hours, that happens to be my personal experience with it.

Less subjective comments about this deodorant is that it looks clear in the tube and applies clear as well under the arms. It’s made without alcohol and aluminum. It does have a fragrance which reminds me of an Arnold Palmer beverage, which I love. The actual notes are pink grapefruit, mint leaf, ginger flower, and sea spray.

I should also note that it’s the same size as the $8 travel size of LAVANILA. I like the scent of the ARROW deodorant better, although the actual performance is nearly identical.

deoARROW Makeup Bag

bagPrice: $12

My bag smelled like a mix of chemicals and gasoline. I’m accustomed to Ipsy’s bags occasionally smelling like this, so I immediately put it in a corner to air out. It should take several days before the smell dissipates. I believe it comprises of a vinyl water-resistant material. One could easily find a larger, cuter, and cheaper makeup pouch but the water-resistance is what this bag really has going for it.

There are additional products coming to the Arrow line. The one I’m most excited about is the facial mist, since I’m looking for something which can replace my beloved Aloe Water Mist from The Skin House. Overall, I am still happy with my purchase. The Arrow lip balm is a sample choice option for February’s Birchbox, so you could potentially try it for yourself if you’re a Birchbox subscriber!

❤ Lili

Note: The link provided is a referral link, not an affiliate link. This is not a sponsored review.

October Subscription Box Favorites

submeme1I hope everyone had a safe and fun Halloween! It is November 1st but these are my favorite beauty items from October’s Subscription Boxes.

Ipsy

oc2$10 monthly, 4-5 items

Royal & Langnickel Moda Standard Medium Eyeshadow Shader Brush

This is a product from R & L’s new brush line called Moda. The individual brushes are not currently for sale on their website (it says coming soon) but their travel kits are available. This particular brush has soft synthetic bristles that I’ve been using exclusively for cream eye shadows.

oc4Delectable Ultra Nourishing Hand Cream in coconut & cream

This has a lightweight, almost watery, texture. It’s hydrating and smells nice, although the coconut scent is weak compared to the lemon and strawberry hand creams within the same be Delectable line.

 Birchbox

oc1$10 monthly, 4-7 items

Birchbox partnered with Estee Lauder in October for Breast Cancer Awareness and included pink ribbons in all their boxes. I ordered the Power Pose box directly from the website, selected the Game Face box on my main subscription, and selected the regular box on my second account. Between the three boxes there were many more items I wanted to include in my favorites, but I shortened the list to three.

 Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Eye Serum

I haven’t tried this product long enough to determine if it works. I can say that the texture is quite thick for a “serum.” It provides nearly the same amount of moisture as an actual moisturizer.

Darphin Stimulskin Plus Total Anti-Aging Multi-Corrective Divine Cream

I was unfamiliar with this brand prior to receiving the sample in my birchbox and due to its exorbitant price, I will not purchase the full size. What I like about this is that it made my skin feel smooth like Embryolisse but a bit better. Fragrance is listed in the ingredients, which I find strange considering it isn’t a good smell (but not horrible either).

Clinique Moisture Surge Extended Thirst Relief

I’m much more familiar with Clinique’s Moisture Surge line than the previous two products above. It is incredibly moisturizing for an oil-free product. My dry skin loves it!

Allure Beauty Box

oc3$15 monthly 5+ items

Rituals…Ginkgo’s Secret caring hand balm

Last December I got the Miracle Scrub in my Glossybox, so I was excited to pair it with this hand balm considering both products have ginseng and gingko biloba. I like how this one performs and the wonderful scent is strong enough to last for a decent amount of time but without being overpowering.

This concludes my October favorites! As much as I have enjoyed my beauty subscriptions over the past year and a half, I cancelled all except Birchbox. I have an ever growing collection of samples (and full size products) that I would like to test more extensively. And with Christmas just around the corner, I think it is best that I reserve that money for tried and true products! At least, that is my intent.

❤ Lili

September Subscription Favorites

mainsepI initially signed up for beauty subscription services to test makeup shades and formulas, then compare similar products across different brands. Ipsy and Birchbox were the most affordable options in early 2014, and I’m still with them today. I try new boxes every so often and sometimes return to subscription services I previously canceled.

Past Subscriptions: Beauty Army (1 month), Glossybox (4 boxes), Beautybox 5 (three months), Julep (1 month), Frenchbox (1 month), Sample Society (1 month), Wantable Makeup (7 boxes), Wantable Accessories (5 boxes), CHOIX (two months), Sexybox (2 months), Jouer Le Matchbox (1 month), Loot Crate’s Lvl Up Wearables (1 shirt).

Current Subscriptions: Birchbox (16 months), Ipsy (15 months), Loot Crate (5 months), Love With Food (11 boxes), Naturebox (7 boxes – Currently Paused).

submeme2Below are some of my favorite items I received this month!

1. Loot Crate: Pikachu Hat

pika2I’ve been obsessing over this since I got it. Although I’m not a true PokĂ©mon fan, I love Pikachu. The tasseled pokeballs are adorable additions too. The material isn’t too thick or thin, which will make it perfect to wear in Florida’s cooler months.

Loot Crate is $19.95 for the monthly rate. My rate is around $21 with tax included.

In July, Loot Crate started three additional subscriptions called Level Up: +1 Wearable, +1-2 Accessories, and +2 socks. I resubscribed to Wearables for October, as I am a huge Doctor Who fan. In fact, I used to start my unboxing videos on my youtube channel by waving my Doctor Who pen (which I also used to open boxes). There will be four main items in October’s box, all fitting the “Time” theme.

loottheemeThe fan in me cannot resist continuing this post without sharing a quote which sums up the biggest reason I love the show and cannot wait to see what next month brings.

dochero2. Ipsy: Eau Thermale Avène Soothing Moisture Mask

avenThis was a big win for Ipsy because I love masks and have always wanted to try something from this brand. It’s $26 for only 50ml (which explains the tiny sample size). The directions say to wear for 15 minutes before wiping away or to keep it on overnight. I used this to spot treat the driest parts of my face and I can attest to it really working. The only disappointments are that the texture feels exactly like a facial moisturizer and the results are comparable to my Embryolisse Lait-Crème ConcentrĂ©. I was hoping for a traditional mask.

3. Birchbox: Harvey Prince Eau So Divine

harvI typically don’t care for the Harvey Prince perfumes that are so commonplace in Birchbox subscriptions. The full size is $55 for 1.7 oz. The notes are Italian Lemon, Pink Grapefruit, Japanese Lily, Moroccan Jasmine, Dry Woods, Sweet Iris, Indian Patchouli, Madagascar Vanilla, and Clean Musk. Sounds exotic, right?

I can’t isolate any particular note besides smelling something citric, sweet, and floral. The combination is a pretty and feminine scent which fades after three hours.

4. Target Beauty Box: Dove Quench Absolute Supreme Creme Serum

dov

Although this is not a subscription service, these boxes are released often enough if you’re able to snag one before they sell out. And they certainly sell out quickly! This was my second time getting a box out of the many months I tried.

The hair serum is $5.99 and really does emphasize and tame curls when applied to wet hair. It can be used on dry hair but I prefer it damp even though it takes much longer to air dry.


 

I have several topics I’ve been working on and I’m excited to reveal them next month. Here is a sneak peak:

vi4I’m giving myself a few more weeks to play around with this palette before I post a review. I’ll see you in October!

❤ Lili