Welcome back to our review of subscription beauty boxes. Which ones are worth it? Which ones are full of junk? Reader Brandi Morgan Kirchgessner guides us through this world of mystery treats. Here’s what she’s received recently.
In this installment, I’ll be reviewing the vegan and/or natural boxes and, for the first time, Onyxbox, a box curated especially for black women.
Onyxbox, $25 per month (US only)
I’ve heard many of my black readers complain that most of the beauty box subscriptions send them products that just aren’t appropriate for their hair type and skin color. While I hope that every beauty box will listen to these complaints and start taking hair texture and type and complexion into account when selecting products for their customers, I am happy that Onyxbox has come along.
They sent me this box free of charge so I gave it to my lovely assistant, Katrina.
Here’s what was in it:
- OGX Quenching Coconut Curls Curling Hair Butter (full size, worth $7.99)
- OGX Healing and Vitamin E Penetrating Oil (full size, worth $7.99)
- Curl Keeper Styling Cream (deluxe sample, worth $3.53, full size costs $11.99)
- Profixx Lip Pigment in Wonderland (trial size, worth $5, full size costs $18)
- Curluxe Jojoba Mint Cleansing Tea (deluxe sample, worth $4, full size costs $15.99)
This Onyxbox was worth $28.51 which is more than the cost of the subscription, but not by much. I’m hoping future months will have higher values. My friend, Katrina, was gracious enough to help me out by trying out these products and reporting back.
I’m a big fan of OGX. They have products for every type of hair and they are affordable. I was happy to see not one, but two full size OGX products in here. Katrina had never tried OGX products before, and she couldn’t wait to give the hair butter and the oil a try. She tried the hair butter as a leave-in conditioner (it can be left in or rinsed out) and found it very moisturizing. Her hair felt really silky and it made her curls frizz-free.
The OGX hair oil contains vitamin E, which is great for healing and protecting your hair. It keeps your hair shiny and prevents your hair from breaking. Katrina liked the oil, but preferred the hair butter. She found that it was easy to over-apply and get into greasy territory. If you use a light touch with it, though, you should be okay.
Curl Keeper is a company that makes tons of different products for curly hair of all types. Their styling cream is worked through wet hair from roots to tips and is reactivated when the hair gets wet again. It’s meant to give you softness and shine and allow you to style your curls easily. Katrina was a big fan of this product. She found it very easy to manipulate her curls and make them loose and completely frizz-free. She also found it effective in humidity, as it claims to be, which is great with the kind of summer we’ve been having. The full size is affordable at $11.99, so that is another plus.
The Profixx lip color was in Wonderland, a medium purple. Katrina found the product to be moisturizing and said it had some serious pigment, but did not find the color to be all that flattering. Purple is a hard lip color to wear, so this color is not for everyone.
Finally, we have the Curluxe Jojoba Mint Cleansing Tea. This is a shampoo, of sorts, without sulfates and surfactants. It’s similar to the Unwash Cleansing Conditioner my ex so loved. These types of hair cleansers work amazingly well on curls. The jojoba and peppermint in this cleansing tea are very moisturizing. Katrina loved this and is planning to buy a full size.
Katrina thought this was a fabulous Onyxbox and can’t wait to see what future months will bring. We both thought that it was a little too heavy on hair products and that it would be nice to see some more makeup and skincare included. The value wasn’t quite where I would like it to be, but every box has low months value-wise, so I’m willing to give them a pass on that for now. If boxes are consistently low on value, then I would be a little more concerned, but we’ll have to wait and see.
Vegan Cuts, $19.95 per month (add $8 to ship to Canada, $15 to ship to other countries)
The June Vegan Cuts box had a “Beach Beauty” theme. The Pacifica Sea Foam Complete Face Wash fit that theme, but I fail to see how the other items are directly related to beach beauty. Overall, though, it wasn’t a bad collection.
Here’s what I got in the June Vegan Cuts box:
- Pacifica Sea Foam Complete Face Wash (small sample, worth $1.54, full size costs $11)
- Schmidt’s Natural Deodorant in Cedarwood and Juniper (small sample, worth $2.25, full size costs $9)
- Hello Fluoride Toothpaste in Pink Grapefruit Mint (small sample, worth $0.67, full size costs $4.49)
- Eco Lips Bee Free lip balm in Lemon-Lime (full size, worth $3.49)
- Emani Eye Trio in Coco Black (full size, worth $20)
- Bee All Natural Coconut Oil Soap (deluxe sample, worth approximately $1.50, full size costs $4.49)
This box was worth about $29.45. The Bee All Natural soap didn’t have the size listed, so I had to guess on that one. Most of that value is from the full size eye trio, so if you didn’t like that item, you were out of luck.
I have to say that I am pretty tired of getting Pacifica items in my boxes. Their stuff is okay, but it’s not my favorite. My first Pacifica item was an eyeshadow I got last year in a beauty box and I hated it, so that has colored my perception of the brand. That said, the Sea Foam Complete Face Wash surprised me. I really liked it. It has a light coconut scent, which I loved. It felt very cleansing and removed the little bit of makeup that was left on my face after I used makeup remover. At $11 for a full size tube, this is a good, affordable face wash option.
I’ve heard of the vegan and organic boxes featuring natural deodorant, but I had never gotten one in a box. I was intrigued by the idea of it because I don’t sweat all that much, so I don’t need a heavy antiperspirant. This is strictly a deodorant, not an antiperspirant, so if you sweat a lot, this isn’t for you. The Schmidt’s Natural Deodorant came in a little tub. To use it, I had to pinch off a bit of the solid deodorant, warm it up between my fingers, then apply it to my underarms. Some people might be okay with this, but I am not. I just don’t like rubbing stuff in my armpits with my hands. I am a stick deodorant girl all the way. The scent, Cedarwood and Juniper, also wasn’t for me. I hate evergreen scents. This isn’t necessarily a bad product, but it isn’t something I would use.
I loved the Hello toothpaste. The pink grapefruit mint flavor was subtle, but very nice. I’ve never seen a grapefruit flavored toothpaste before. I love grapefruit, so I might end up buying more of this. The consistency is a little bit thinner than regular toothpaste. At $4.49 for a full size tube, it’s affordable, although slightly more expensive than your average tube of toothpaste. It is available at Target, so it should be easy to find. A lot of people who are looking for a natural toothpaste try to avoid fluoride, so this is not the toothpaste for them.
The Eco Lips balm is a beeswax free lip balm. The lemon-lime had a nice scent to it. It isn’t my favorite lip balm, but it’s acceptable. My girlfriend liked it a lot, so it’s all hers.
The Emani Eye Trio is fabulous. I thought it looked like your average brown eyeshadow and was a little disappointed when I first saw it. This can be used for eyeshadow, brow powder, and eyeliner, so if you’re trying to pack light for a trip, this could be a lifesaver. The colors are medium brown, dark brown, and black, so it will be a pretty dramatic look if you’re pale like me, but I like it. I used the medium brown on my lid, the dark brown in my crease, the black as a liner, and I used the dark brown for my eyebrows. It made my green eyes pop. The color stayed on all day with my Urban Decay primer. I can’t recommend this mini palette powerhouse enough.
Finally, there was the Bee All Natural soap. It has one ingredient: coconut oil. It was nice enough. My hands felt very soft after using it.
The face wash, eye trio, and toothpaste were all great finds for me. The other items were just okay. I was glad I finally got to try a natural deodorant, even though it wasn’t for me. Overall, this is a great box from Vegan Cuts. That Emani Eye Trio is just amazing, so that was enough to make me a big fan.
Petit Vour, $15 per month, $23 per month to Canada
Petit Vour is also a vegan beauty box. They send you four vegan and cruelty-free items per month. I receive this box free of charge, so I give the products away after testing them.
In the June Petit Vour, I got the following:
- Meow Meow Tweet Face Cleanser (travel size, worth $8)
- Fior Minerals d’Fined Lines Organic Eyeliner in Black Betty (full size, worth $18)
- Jacq’s Organics Green Smoothie Scrub and Masque (full size, worth $15)
- 100% Pure Facial Cleansing Brush (worth $9)
Petit Vour had another great month. The June box was worth $50. June’s theme was “Bright Eyed and Fresh Faced” and they picked some wonderful products to go along with that theme. They included an eyeliner and three products to keep your skin looking radiant. All subscribers received the brush, the scrub, and the eyeliner (colors varied), and either the Meow Meow Tweet cleanser or their spot serum.
I’ve always wanted to try Meow Meow Tweet’s products, mainly just because their name is adorable. This company produces small batch skincare products and uses only organic, vegan ingredients. I received the face cleanser. I always love getting a new face cleanser, but I was hoping to get the spot serum as that is something I’ve never gotten in one of my beauty boxes. The cleanser contains sunflower oil, witch hazel, jojoba oil, castor oil, bergamot, juniper, and basil, so it is an oil-based cleanser. The scent of this product was not my favorite, but my girlfriend loved how it smelled. Despite the scent, I liked it. I felt like my face got a really deep cleaning from this.
I got yet another black eyeliner! At this point, I think I have enough black eyeliner to give every woman I know a lifetime supply. There were seven colors subscribers could get, so, of course, I had to get the black one. That said, the formula was very soft and creamy for a pencil. If you’re looking for a vegan eyeliner, this is a good choice.
The Jacq’s Organics masque smells so good. The scent is from a mix of rosemary, mint, and ginger. It’s a powder clay masque that you mix with water before applying to your face. Powder masques stay good for a long time, so that is the big advantage they have over regular, ready-to-use masques. Clay masques are great for sucking the impurities out of your skin, and this masque has the added bonuses of omega fatty acids and antioxidants. The jar is quite small at 1 ounce, but a little goes a long way with powder masques, so you can get multiple uses out of it. My skin felt so soft after I used it.
The 100% Pure face cleansing brush is no longer available for sale. 100% Pure has a new face brush out, but it is very different and more expensive. This face brush felt a little abrasive, but it really rubbed the cleanser into my skin, so I’m a fan. It’s too bad it’s been discontinued.
I like everything in the June Petit Vour. It’s another very solid box from them. I’m in love with the Meow Meow Tweet cleanser and the Jacq’s Organics masque.
Kloverbox, $25 per month (US only)
Kloverbox focuses on natural and organic beauty products and often includes products from very small businesses. The products they include aren’t always vegan, but often are. This month, all the products happened to be vegan, so that’s a nice bonus.
Here’s what I got:
- Deco Naturals Mask in Lemon and Sea Clay (full size, worth $26)
- Pacifica Indian Coconut Body Butter (full size, worth $15)
- Wash Beauty Co. Original Konjac Sponge (worth $14)
- Natalie Therese Be Organized Key Chain Pouch with aqua zipper (worth $14)
We have a Kloverbox worth $69 this month! I’m definitely happy with that value. Everything was full size, which is another plus. The June Kloverbox theme was “Balance.”
The Deco Naturals Mask is a powder mask that you have to add water or another liquid to in order to use it. I got the Lemon and Sea Clay, but some subscribers got Prickly Pear and Aloe instead. Mine had a light lemony scent to it. My skin felt great after using it. I would recommend against using this if you have dry skin, as it is quite drying, but it was great for my combination skin. You can use it as a spot treatment if you just want to get your T-zone or any other oily patch of skin you might have. Clay masks can be expensive, so to get 4 ounces of powdered clay mask for $26 is a good deal. I am kind of lazy, so I prefer my masks to not be powdered, but the huge advantage of powdered masks is that they are a lot more shelf stable.
Here we go with another Pacifica product. Two this month alone! Pacifica has really started to win me over this month, though. This is a huge, full size body butter and the Indian Coconut is an amazing scent. How can you go wrong with a vanilla coconut scent? It’s very moisturizing. My girlfriend was a huge fan and will probably end up stealing it from me.
I am already a konjac sponge convert, so getting another konjac sponge in a beauty box wasn’t some great new discovery for me. These sponges, made from a Korean tuber, are often mixed with activated charcoal or different types of clay to target different skincare needs. Konjac is alkaline and helps balance your skin’s pH when you use it. It is also a gentle exfoliator. Give them a try if you haven’t yet.
Finally, we have the Natalie Therese key chain pouch. The material is cork that has been pressed thin. I didn’t realize cork could be used in this manner. It’s a plentiful, renewable resource, so you don’t have to feel bad about using products made from cork. The pouch is cute, versatile, and hooks to your keychain. It’s not huge, but it’s big enough to hold your license, cash, and credit cards, or some makeup. This will definitely get some use from me.
Another great month for Kloverbox. I loved everything! I can’t wait to see what they have in store for next month. My only complaint about Kloverbox is that in June and May, they had a few supplier issues and ended up shipping the boxes very late. They have promised this won’t happen again. I am hoping that they get the July box out early.
I’m having a hard time picking a winner here because each box had some amazing products that were new to me. Even though I don’t keep vegan, I adore the vegan and natural boxes. They often have products from small businesses that I would never encounter in a more mainstream beauty box. Onyxbox was also a great discovery. Katrina is a huge fan of it and is ecstatic that there is a box that has beauty products that target the needs of black women. The more mainstream boxes are really missing out on a huge demographic here.
Come back in a couple weeks to read my review of the July beauty boxes! I can’t wait to hear all about your beauty boxes in the comments.
Brandi Morgan Kirchgessner has always loved getting mail and wearing makeup, so she was ecstatic to discover beauty boxes. She lives with her three dogs and five cats.
Illustration by Tara Jacoby.