Friday, March 29, 2013

February and March Starlooks subscription Starboxes: Swatches and Review

I've never been terribly interested in beauty sample subscription services such as Birchbox, Sample Society, Glossybox, Ipsy, etc. I've always figured, why bother spending $10-20 to get products I may or may not even like - many of which may not even be full-size - when I can put that money toward something I KNOW I want? But when I read on Lauren Clark's blog in January that she was collaborating with Starlooks, a cosmetic company that sends out surprise makeup products monthly to subscribers, on a special edition Starbox for which she got to choose the products herself and it offered four full-size products, I figured it was a good time to try a subscription service for the first time. I love Lauren's work and I trust her judgment, so I signed up for Starlooks.

I got my February Starbox on 2/23. It came with a lovely brochure about Lauren and her work, as well as the four full-size products promised. They turned out to be the Starlooks Tipsy lipliner, a vivid coral; Pink Oasis lip gloss, a sheer and shimmery pink-purple; Barbie HD Fluid Blush, a cool and vivid medium-dark pink; and Princess Diaries gel eyeliner, a shimmery cool pink.

Here are my thoughts on each (see the bottom of the post for swatches):

- I really like Tipsy. I don't wear lipliner too often, but I can see myself using this a lot in the summertime. It is extremely pigmented and goes on smoothly without being too hard or dry. I really like the formula of this lipliner.

- Pink Oasis is a good "functional" product if you want a gloss to add shine and shimmer to your lips but not much color. I think it'd be good for layering. I don't really "do" lipstick/lip gloss layering myself though; I tend to prefer lip glosses with more color coverage, personally, so I can choose to wear either a lipstick OR a lip gloss and not feel like all of my lip glosses look the same on me when worn alone. If you prefer less color or want a gloss for layering, though, this could be right up your alley. One thing I do appreciate is that Pink Oasis feels less gritty on the lips than other shimmery lip glosses I've tried that have as much shimmer as it does.

- Barbie is... WHOA. I absolutely adore the color, but I have to say that this is one example of "too much of a good thing" - it is so, so pigmented that it is incredibly difficult to blend and hard to avoid ending up with clown cheeks no matter how little you start with. In the swatches below, I had to rub so hard to create the blended swatch that I think I bruised my arm. However, when I tried mixing Barbie in about a 1:1 ratio with my Too Faced Primed and Poreless Pure, a clear silicone-y smoothing primer, I ended up with a product I absolutely love! Mixed with the primer, it developed a mousse-like texture I found super easy to smooth into the skin, and then it was the perfect level of pigmentation: difficult to overdo, but still wore all day. Yay!

- Princess Diaries impressed me more than I expected it to. Most light-colored gel eyeliners I've encountered are lacking in pigmentation and apply patchily, but this one goes on very evenly with just one swipe of an eyeliner brush. There's no need to layer it heavily, so I have no issues with it flaking off (like some eyeliners do). My only gripe is the color... how often am I going to use this, really? I might use it as a cream eyeshadow occasionally, or in a double-layered eyeliner look (with a thin pink line placed immediately above a thin black line on the upper lash line), but I wouldn't use it as an eyeliner by itself.

All in all, I wasn't unhappy with the box, but I wasn't thrilled with it either. None of the products were ones I'd immediately turn around and repurchase at full price if I lost them (except perhaps Tipsy, if I wore lipliner more), so it didn't feel worth the $17 price tag to me ($15 for the monthly box + $2 shipping) to keep my subscription going. I initially canceled it, but then after emailing back and forth with Marci, the owner of Starlooks, decided to give it one more try; Marci graciously provided the March Starbox free of charge for review. I received my March Starbox on 2/24:

Inside were the Starlooks Lengthening Mascara in Black; the Moisture Rich Lipstick in Flutter, a shimmery burnt orange-red color; a sample pot of Lip Sugar; and the Matte Eye Shadow in Disarray, a dark navy color.

I have to be honest... I found the March box far more disappointing than the February one. First of all: I'm not sure if the Starboxes are intended to provide a cohesive look (colors that coordinate well together), but I would never use Flutter lipstick and Disarray eyeshadow in the same look. I was also less impressed with the individual products themselves:

- I tried the Lengthening mascara for several days. It was definitely not for me, but if you like the big brush and comparatively dry formula of the original Diorshow but wish it provided a more natural look, you will probably like it very much. It provides moderate length and definition with no clumping; just don't expect much volume out of it.

- I love bright orange lipstick (it's fun!) and I love brown-reds (they're sultry!) but the frosty orange-brown-red color of Flutter is just not flattering on my fair, neutral-cool skin. I do imagine that it could be extremely flattering on someone with darker, medium-tan or African-American skin. I find the "Moisture Rich" title odd because my impression of the formula is that it's not even trying to be moisturizing: it's thin and a bit dry, not creamy or balmy at all. I wore it around the house for several hours and found that it wore well on me, but my chronically dry lips were in worse shape when I took it off than they were in when I put it on.

- The lip scrub I like, except... I don't really see how it is any different from a sugar scrub I could make myself at home with 10 cents' worth of sugar and honey. It also doesn't appear to be available for sale on the Starlooks website like the other products are.

- The eyeshadow was honestly a complete letdown. I love navy eye makeup, so I got really excited when I first saw Disarray, but I found the formula awful to work with. It was super hard and unpigmented. I couldn't get anything but the sheerest color payoff from it with a sponge applicator, brush, OR finger, no matter how hard I tried. I even tried pressing Scotch tape to the top a few times to see if there was any hardened surface I might be able to remove, but it didn't make a difference. Finally I just scraped some powder off the top with a knife, ground up the loose eyeshadow that resulted from that, and used it to create the swatch below for you so you could see the color accurately. And I will not be using it again.

Here are the swatches of the products (sorry for the goosebumps!). From left to right: Pink Oasis lip gloss, Princess Diaries swatched with an eyeshadow brush, Princess Diaries swatched with an eyeliner brush, Barbie HD blush blended, Barbie HD blush unblended (that was the tiniest amount I could apply, less than a pinhead's worth!), Tipsy lipliner, Lengthening Mascara, Disarray eyeshadow (ground up), and Flutter lipstick.

So, would I recommend Starlooks' Starbox subscription service? Only if you love the surprise of trying new and different products every month. (I don't, really. I was one of those kids who hunted around in closets trying to find my Christmas presents starting in October every year.) I find the Starlooks products I've tried, on average, to be decent - not poor, but not excellent - quality.  If you are considering shopping on the Starlooks website, the only product here I can recommend without reservation to everyone is the lipliner (and if you're the kind of person who likes to "franken"/mix products, the HD Fluid Blush).

And now, we return to our regularly scheduled programming - that is, me only buying what I want to buy, and no more of this "grab bag" stuff!

Disclaimer: I purchased the February Starbox with my own money. The March Starbox was provided free of charge for review.

1 comment:

  1. Nice photos, I like your blog!! Following you now!! What do you think about following me back??? :)


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