The BirchboxMan Experience and September's Box in Review
BirchboxMan is unique.
Although there are now a plethora of subscription boxes for men, there are only a handful (or less) of subscription boxes that are focused solely on providing grooming and lifestyle products from a large number of different brands. My first box from BirchboxMan included 5 products from 5 different brands. That's an impressive spread. On top of that, BirchboxMan has a "theme" each month, which is a cool way to create a common thread among the products. There are two options for BirchboxMan subscriptions: one is $10 a month (or $54 for six months with code ‘MEN54’) and you receive 5 grooming samples “from anti-aging moisturizers to beard-care supplies to hair styling essentials.” And the second option, called “BirchboxMan Plus,” is $20 a month (or $99 for six months with code ‘MEN99’), and in addition to the five grooming samples in the regular box, you also receive “a hand-picked, full size lifestyle item like a cool gadget, stylish accessory, or handy tool.” I went with the $10 a month subscription.
Oh, also, in case you are like me and don’t have a beard, you have no need to worry about receiving beard products. Right after you subscribe, you set up your personal “Grooming Profile,” so that BirchboxMan will be aware of what products you prefer and will try not to send you irrelevant products. This is pretty cool since (and I’ve confirmed this) may people will receive a different BirchboxMan box in the same month (although there are always 3-4 products that are the same).
Packaging, Delivery & Presentation
I ordered the box on the 6th of September and I received my September box on the 23rd. Not the quickest turnaround, but I honestly thought my first box would be the October box, so I was fine with the wait.
Because there are so many positives, I'm going to start with the only negative that I have: The box that was delivered to my apartment was clearly and distinctively labeled "BirchboxMan.” I'm sure many men are completely comfortable with advertising that they are BirchboxMan recipients, but I am not one of those men. And I'm sure there are many, many other men just like me. I certainly did not appreciate that my neighbor, who had received Birchbox (for women) in the past, recognized and inquired as to why I was getting BirchboxMan (and she didn’t even know such a thing existed). I would have preferred keeping my heavy grooming usage to myself. This can be solved fairly easily, by either not putting the name on the box, or shipping it in another plain UPS/FedEx/USPS box. Either way, if I was running BirchboxMan that would be my very first suggestion: add some discreetness to the packaging.
Now, on to the good stuff.
One huge positive is that there isn’t any shipping fee! So the price per month is $10 flat. As we have mentioned before, subscription services will sometimes charge a fairly large shipping fee (like WatchGang’s $10 shipping fee); so the lack of the shipping fee here is a great value add.
As you can see from the pictures, the packaging is really nice. And they reportedly (will confirm in October), change their packaging design each month. That’s a nice touch to keep things new and invigorated. When you open up the box, there’s a one page card (let’s call it “The Descriptor”) that has the theme of the month: “Time To Redefine – What’s new with you is cool with us. Here’s to your next discovery”, and a description of each product. So the theme for September is to try something new. Kind of a super vague theme that can fit in with any subscription box service, but we will still give them points for trying.
One slight tip to the BirchboxMan folk before we move on to the products is that The Descriptor was very bent when I opened the box since the card was slightly bigger than the box. This cheapened the posh feeling that The Descriptor could’ve conveyed. In fact, the one thing I kept looking at was The Descriptor since it showed the cost of a full size product and it gave a thorough description of each product. So, if The Descriptor was a bit smaller and made with a bit higher quality paper, then I believe the whole experience would be a lot richer.
In sum, very solid overall experience with un-packaging aside from two recommendations: (1) make the packaging more discreet; and (2) make “The Descriptor” a bit smaller and nicer.
The Products & My Favorite
On to the part that you have all been waiting for: The Products. For each product I will include (1) a link to the full size product along with pricing, (2) the size of the sample including an estimated price based on the full price and (3) the description of the product from the company’s website.
Kiehl’s: Facial Fuel Moisturizer – 2.5 fl. oz = $25. The sample size comes with 0.5 fl. oz, which is $5 worth of value based on Kiehl’s pricing. Description: “This ‘facial recovery accelerator’ helps skin resist the effects of environmental stress for a healthy, invigorated appearance.”
Histoires de Parfums: 1899 Hemingway – 2.5 fl. oz = $105. You can also get a 0.5 fl. oz bottle from Sephora for $35. The sample size comes with 0.07 fl. oz, which is worth $4.90 based on the Sephora pricing and $2.94 based on the company’s sticker price. Description: “A seductive night out in the City of Lights… the theater, dinner, a club or a romantic rendezvous. The heady scent of the hide-and-seek of shadows and light for the nocturnal adventurer.”
Anthony: Algae Facial Cleanser – 8 fl. oz = $36. The sample comes with 0.5 Fl. Oz., which is worth $2.25 based on sticker pricing. Description: “This gentle algae facial cleanser moisturizes and soothes the skin, leaving it feeling soft, smooth, and clean.”
Jack Black: Industrial Strength Hand Healer – 3 fl. oz = $15. The sample comes with 0.5 fl. oz, which is worth $2.50 based on Jack Black’s sticker price. Description: “This rich, non-greasy formula helps heal and soothe dry, chapped, cracked hands.”
Hudson Made: Morning Shift Soap – Full size = $16.50 (sold out). I don’t know the exact size of this v. the full size, but it’s definitely not less than half the size, so at least $8.00 of sticker price value here. Description: “Enjoy the nourishing effects of shea butter and jojoba oil, which both heal, moisturize, and deliver antioxidants to your skin.”
AND THE WINNER IS: Histoires de Parfums 1899!!!
I absolutely loved this cologne, and so did my wife (on me, that is), so win, win and win! I find that the right cologne not only makes me smell good, but also literally lifts my spirits and gives me that nice final touch. But finding a cologne that I love has always been a struggle. There are just so many factors that can go wrong. For one, even if I found the right mix of notes I still need it to be the right concentration, so that I don’t want to show up to work with an overwhelmingly strong scent. I also don’t want the concentration to be too low since then the smell really doesn’t do much for me. I won’t list the numerous colognes that I have tried, but until now my favorite cologne has been the Gucci Pour Homme II. It has a super subtle scent, but is also musky and sweet. It’s got a great mix of notes, including, my favorites, cinnamon, white musk, and olive wood. I can go on and on about why I love the Gucci cologne, not to mention the attractive $56 price (check overstock.com).
But enough about Gucci. I’ve just discovered my new favorite cologne: 1899 Hemingway. Honestly, I had never heard of this fragrance house until I tried the BirchboxMan sample. It seems they are a French company founded by perfumer Gerald Ghislain in 2000 and that each fragrance they create is named after a famous person and “mythical year.” Hence, “1899 Hemingway.” They also make fragrances for both men and women. And lo and behold, the 1899 fragrance is unisex. As I dug a bit deeper into analyzing the 1899 fragrance, I noticed how similar it was to the Gucci cologne that I mentioned earlier. The 1899’s middle notes include cinnamon (as does Gucci’s) and the top notes include bergamot (as does Gucci’s). They also certainly have their differences, but it was only natural that I would find myself wowed by this perfume. This perfume also has just the right amount of concentration, and it’s strong enough to deliver you that awesome subtle smell, but not too loud to piss off your officemate. I also completely understand why this can work for women as well, since it has the sweet smelling notes that is beloved by (a good portion of) the female gender. That said, I still think that there’s nothing “feminine” or “masculine” in particular about this smell. Truth be told, I generally don’t like to spend more than $50-75 on my cologne, so I’ll have to wait for this to get a bit cheaper to buy a full size bottle. But until then I will use my sample-size one sparingly, and save it for special occasions.
Value & Conclusion
|Product||Sample Size||Value||Full Size||Price|
|Kiehl’s: Facial Fuel Moisturizer||0.5 fl oz||$5.00||2.5 fl oz||$25.00|
|Histoires de Parfums: 1899||0.07 fl oz||$2.94||2.5 fl oz||$105.00|
|Anthony: Algae Facial Cleanser||0.5 fl oz||$2.25||8.0 fl oz||$36.00|
|Jack Black: Hand Healer||0.5 fl oz||$2.50||3.0 fl oz||$15.00|
|Hudson Made: Morning Soap||~3 oz||~$8.00||5.75 oz||$16.50|
Despite my very slight misgivings that I mentioned right in the beginning, I believe that BirchboxMan delivers more bang for your buck than any other product or subscription service that we have reviewed on this blog thus far. You get a lot of different useful grooming products for a very reasonable $10 a month, especially considering that shipping is free. Plus, the sample sizes are really reasonable, and as you can see in the chart, these sizes allow for more than just 1 or 2 uses. Now, after 6-12 months you will probably find enough core grooming stuff that you love, and you can then comfortably cancel your subscription and focus on spending your money only on products you love. But until then, viva la BirchboxMan. Very well done!