Review & Rant: November Black Box

Hello world! Another catch-up review coming your way from the ever-well-meaning-but-habitually-tardy Camophile! This review will entail both what I received in my November Black Box, what I thought of them, and my newly-shaped opinion of Black Box as a company.

Do you want the good news or the bad news first? What’s that? You’ll have to speak louder. G– Good news, you say? Alright, but only because you’re so persistent!

Good news: Good stuff in the Black Box, albeit only a couple of new items, and a couple that I’ve already received in my Limited Edition Birchbox Man box.

The Black Box came with a notecard (which has since been thrown away), which I will paraphrase:

“Howdy! In this ultra exclusive holiday box, all the items are from the Anthony Logistics line. We’ve teamed up with them to bring you these great products in this uber tubular special edition one of a kind box! We didn’t send you products all from the same company because it’s all we have left. Seriously, we didn’t. Honest.”

Maybe I’m reading too much into things! 😉

In the box:

Anthony Logistics Shave Cream – Previously reviewed in Birchbox post (see link above)

Anthony Logistics Lip Balm – Previously reviews in Birchbox post (see link above)

Anthony Logistics Facial Moisturizer – I have never been one to use facial moisturizers, but after using the Jack Black stuff from the Birchbox I got, I have to say that I feel less avoidant of them in general. My skin is fortunately a good medium between oily and dry; I don’t have any problems either way. I thought that this product was nice, and similar to Jack Black’s moisturizer in that it makes your skin feel soft, without any undesirable stickiness and is barely noticeable within minutes of application. And just so we’re clear – guys, there’s nothing wrong with having a soft face! You don’t want your face to feel like Mount Rushmore, now do you? I’m glad you’ve seen it my way! Oh, one more thing about this product – one thing I didn’t like so much is that this tan-colored product of a creamy consistency smells like.. wait for it… wait for it… SHERBET. Yeah, like the ice cream. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good sherbet every now and then, but I’m not sure I want my face to smell like it. Personal preference, though. Great product otherwise.

Anthony Logistics After Shave Balm – I really liked this item. I don’t care who you are: we’ve all experienced razor burn at one time or another, whether due to shaving in a rush, using a low-quality shave cream, or just using a dull razor. Gone are the days where you dad splashed on aftershave and pretended he didn’t mind the burn. This product is truly soothing, and has a fantastic cooling effect when applied. It’s got kind of a menthol-y scent to it, but nothing offensive. Personally, I like it a lot. Once I run out of this sample, I will definitely consider purchasing a full sized bottle. Good stuff!

That’s it. But it was a couple of new things I liked quite a bit, so I’m happy. It’s not HisBlackBox’s fault that I got two of those samples from Birchbox too. I like the balm and the shave cream okay. I wouldn’t mind giving the extras to other guys in my life who desperately need grooming help. Share the wealth!

So, the bad news: I think HisBlackBox is already a thing of the past. I was hoping that they would be able to pull themselves together and continue to offer guys some cool samples for a reasonable price, but it is looking bleak. Let me explain why I think so.

I had my suspicions by mid-November, when I was wondering where my November box was. I moseyed on over to Facebook, where I “liked” them earlier and initially was impressed with how much they interacted with their fans. So when I went back to check out the page again, I was disheartened to see they were no longer on Facebook. I knew they were previously on Twitter too, so I checked there. Gone – without a trace. Then, I went to their website, which prominently proclaims, “Due to limited product availability and the holiday season, we are not taking new orders at this time.” All that was enough evidence for me to believe that they were not planning to continue. But I also thought to myself, they never mentioned current subscribers, so I must still be getting a box. WRONG!

I emailed  them on January 4th: “Hi there, I was just wondering when I can expect December’s Black Box. I see I was billed on 12/16/11, but still have yet to receive anything. Thanks for your time.”

I received the following reply on the 5th: “Unfortunately, due to high product demand and the holiday season, we are unable to fulfill orders at this time. An announcement regarding this is forthcoming. We will reach out at a later time should things change. Again, so sorry for the inconvenience.”

Seems pretty ominous to me. Despite calling this a rant, I actually have no ill-will toward HisBlackBox. They credited me back for December, since they will not be able to fulfill it. I think it is a bummer that they seem unable to continue. Well, this gives Birchbox and even bigger niche to fill once they decide to move forward with their men’s subscription. Hopefully it’s soon. Anyway, when I hear more about HisBlackBox’s plans moving forward, I’ll be sure to share.

I guess I’ll just have to find some other stuff to review in the meantime.

‘Til then!

Review: Limited Edition Birchbox for Men

Dear Groomers (and those who love them) – I must apologize that it has been so long since my last post. The holidays have kept me extraordinarily busy, and I’m sure that you can sympathize. This review will be on the items I received in the Limited Edition Birchbox for Men that I received in late November. I should note that this item went FAST. Only within a week or so of having put this box up for sale, they announced that they were sold out. I suspect they were both pretty surprised, and pleased with the reaction to this item. Anyway, without further ado, let’s jump in!

Anthony Logistics Advanced Formula Lip Balm – I really enjoyed this product. It’s not sticky like a lot of lip balms I’ve tried. It goes on relatively light. Also, guys who fear lip balm: don’t! This product does not go on shiny, so you don’t have to worry about the women in your life adjusting their hair in the reflection of your lips. It has a matte finish, which I personally find pretty attractive in a man’s lip balm. This particular one was “natural”, which I think refers to the fact that there was no scent/flavor added to it. They also offer citrus and vanilla types based on my research.  Although I do like this particular product very much, it was not impressive enough to unseat the one I currently use. (Lypsyl)

Anthony Logistics Shave Cream – I really enjoyed this shaving cream. It has a nice cooling effect when applied, which I completely appreciate. It leaves the skin feeling super soft and moisturized after shaving with it, which is great also. It doesn’t leave my skin irritated like others have before. Although, I am still loving Billy Jealousy’s Hydroplane more, and it is for one specific reason: it does a much better job on longer facial hair. This shaving cream would be great for me if I used it every day, but the truth is that I only shave twice a week at the very most, but once a week is even more typical. Anthony’s shave cream is a great product, but personally, it is not a good fit for my regimen. If you shave several times a week, or even like feeling like your facial hair is being ripped out, then this product is for you! Not recommended for guys who shave with 7 days worth of hair.

Jack Black Double-Duty Face Moisturizer SPF 20 – I’ll be totally honest: after my past experiences with this brand, I did not have high hopes for this product. I was pleasantly surprised though! This stuff smells pretty good. It’s got a light powdery scent, but nothing too overwhelming or feminine. The consistency is creamy, and it goes on very well. I usually have a problem with lotions, because I really hate the way it cakes on, or “sits” on your skin. Jack Black’s face moisturizer hits the mark in that it leaves your skin feeling soft, but does not leave any noticeable film on your face, in either feeling or appearance. This sample was a generous size compared the last ones I received in black box (1.5 oz vs .5 oz). I would seriously consider purchasing this in a full size once I use this sample up, but I suspect it’ll last a while!

BVLGARI MAN Cologne – I enjoy this cologne quite a bit. It’s very fresh and crisp smelling, which is made by what is in my opinion a perfect marriage of citrus and wood-type notes. As I have mentioned before, I don’t often wear cologne, but this seems like it would nice in both daytime and evening settings. I’m definitely going to shelve this one and use it for my next hot date. I just hope it’ll keep for a decade or two…

Field Notes (Notebook Mixed 3-pack) – These notebooks were maybe 3 x 5” in size. This was a cool little extra, but I’ll be frank and say that I have no use for it. I think it would come in handy if you like taking notes on the go. If you’re like me, then you typically write yourself notes on your cell phone. Call me old-fashioned. This is one of two items that ended up making a great prize for my family’s first annual Christmas bingo game.  Hopefully some lucky winner will have better use for it than I!

Bonobos Pocket Square – Another cool little extra. I’ve never owned a pocket square before, so now I can say that I do! Although, I am not sure how or when I will use it, since I don’t own a tux, or even a nice coat. For note, it’s something that sits on my desk and looks cool. It is identical to the photo above – the red background with white polka dots. After doing some research, it’s pretty expensive for what it is, though. I don’t know how I would justify spending so much money on a pocket square. Check out http://www.bonobos.com if you dare!

Bonobos $25 Gift Card – If you looked at the above link, you’ll see how expensive everything is there, and most of it doesn’t really appeal to me. So I began my search for something under $25.00. What did I come up with? Underwear! Olive colored boxer briefs that were $22.00, with free shipping. One of my favorite colors, so I thought that was pretty cool, and the fact that they paid for my shipping despite only using a gift card. Cheers, Bonobos!

Kerastase Pate Capital Force Densifying Modeling Paste – I’ll begin by saying that I don’t generally use hair pastes or gels at this stage of my life. I used some anyway just to test it out. I like the smell of it, it’s got a very musky, manly, incredibly masculine smell to it. I think this stuff works great for keeping your hair where you want it, but even with trying to be as conservative with it as possible, the white, creamy consistency was very apparent. I found that pretty disappointing, especially with a product that sells for $30.00 for 2.55 fl oz. This appears to be a higher end L’oreal brand, but was not worth what they ask for it at all. By densifying, do they mean we’re going to coat your hair with white stuff to make it look thicker? Hmm! Moving on.

Kerastase Bain Capital Force Densifying Shampoo – This product has an identical smell to the aforementioned modeling paste, which is a good thing. This stuff, however, didn’t really stand out to me as anything special either. It smells good, and it cleans your hair, but I’m not sure I would have described it as “densifying” my hair. Trust me, I wouldn’t mind a bit, and I was looking for it! Not too sure about this brand, other than it is incredibly overpriced. A regular bottle of this goes for about $36.00. The verdict? It’s not for me! In its defense, however, I keep my hair pretty short (about ¼” all around), so maybe the results would be far more effective on someone with longer hair.

Kerastase Gym Bag – Another that ended up being a Christmas bingo prize. This was a cool little bag though. If I didn’t already have bags and numerous other types of storage, I would’ve considered keeping it. But I thought it was pretty generous of Birchbox to include another nifty item with the box.

Supersmile Whitening Toothpaste – I’ve yet to really give this product a fair shake. I want to try a long-term experiment with it and see if it really whitens my teeth. Look for a more in-depth review in the future for this product.

EBOOST Super Berry Shots – I don’t normally consume items like this (5 Hour Energy), or even energy drinks like Red Bull or Monster. Based on that, maybe I’m not the best qualified to say much about it, but I will tell you that it tasted only slightly better than Nyquil. I wasn’t impressed with the taste of it. I also did not really notice much of a difference in my energy level, but again, don’t take my word for it. I’m not an energy junkie!

Skullcandy Earbuds – Yet another cool bonus. These things are usually pretty pricey, so I was surprised to find these in a box. I don’t personally like in-ear earbuds, so I never did use them. Instead, I decided I would sell them on the Amazon Marketplace, for which were sold at a steal of $43.00! Basically, that paid for this special edition Birchbox for Men, which I was pretty stoked about. And they made a lovely birthday present for somebody in South Carolina. Win-win, I guess!

Final thoughts – this Birchbox was an incredible value for its $45.00 price tag. While I didn’t love everything inside, I enjoy the thrill of trying to new things, and even if I find one or two things I love, I think it is a worthwhile experience. Birchbox seems to be toying with the idea of offering a monthly box to men, of course at a lower rate closer to what women pay for boxes ($10). I’m pretty excited about this prospect, and will be the first in line to subscribe. All in all, I enjoyed this box very much, and look forward to more things geared toward men in the future.