Review: September Black Box

Why am I writing a review about my September Black Box when October is almost through, you ask? Life – it has a way of interfering with these types of things! Oddly, I just received my October Black Box today, so that gave me motivation to get this one done.

Since I’ve already received two boxes, I would like to take a moment and talk about the service I’ve received from Although their site leaves a lot to be desired with regard to navigation, sign-up was pretty easy, and managing your billing information is straight-forward. I suspect that they plan to eventually implement an area where you can view/rate the items you’ve received. My understanding is that they will eventually establish a points system very similar to that of Birchbox. It has some potential, but in total honesty, it seems that they have a ways to go. It is a relatively new service, so such difficulties are to be expected, I’d imagine. I can’t wait to see what brands they add, and what other services they add in the coming months.

I also wanted to add that I was incredibly impressed with my correspondence with this company. I emailed them to inquire about the status of my September box (around the 22nd of September). I literally received a reply within 2 minutes to let me know it would be shipping out that very day. I received the package only 2 days later. How exciting!

What did I receive in the September box? I’m glad you asked…


Bravado 2 Cologne, by Baxter of California – I am all for trying out new scents. Truth be told, I am not a daily applier of fragrances. I find that my deodorant alone is fragrant enough for most days. I do enjoy wearing something different on occasion. I have mixed feelings about this particular scent, though. There is no mistaking its very citrusy qualities, which I do not mind a bit. In fact, I think the smell is, dare I say, delicious. I would describe this one as more on the citrusy side of woody, citrus scents. The initial smell is excellent, but I was not particularly a fan of how it wears throughout the day. I hate to use the word “pukey”, but that is one of the words that came to mind after wearing it for a whole day. I realize that body chemistries are different between individuals, so one might find a different result than I did. I suspect that it had mostly to do with the smell becoming fainter throughout the day, and less distinct than the initial application. I’ve worn other colognes with no such problems, and after trying this one twice, I can say that it left me feeling a bit disappointed.

Shaving Cream, by The Art of Shaving – I have always seen TAOS stores at higher end malls, so I knew this product is probably an expensive item to buy.  I have to say firstly that I was so excited to try this stuff that I used it incorrectly on the first try. I squeezed a small pearlescent blob into my hand and immediately lathered it in. To my surprise, it was sticky and completely unsuitable for shaving! This prompted me to read the directions, which directed me to lather it up with warm water. DUH! I think that this only speaks to the fact that I’ve been a Barbasol man for far too long.

Anyway, I really enjoyed this product. It lathers up wonderfully when water is added, and it does help in achieving the nice, close shave that it promises. I personally found that my skin was less irritated after using it, as opposed to using other, common name brand shaving creams. A little bit goes a long way, too. I was impressed that just a small pearl in your hand when lathered with some water is more than enough for the initial shave, as well as touch ups afterward. Also, I personally enjoyed the fact that it was unscented. When I wake up in the morning, the last thing I want is to be assaulted by a barrage of offensive smells. That sounded ominous, didn’t it? Anyhow, I would certainly consider buying this product after I finish up this sample!

Pre-Shave Oil, by the Art of Shaving – I liked this product, but I’m not sure it was necessarily for its intended purpose. It is supposed to soften the beard and make shaving less irritating, but I personally didn’t notice much of a difference when using it in concert with the aforementioned shaving cream, and without it. I will say, however, that massaging the oil onto the beard brings about a sort of spa experience. Despite having no added scents, it has a really nice, light smell to it, clearly given to it by its botanical ingredients. I have a hard time describing it, but I would almost say that it has a forest-esque quality to it. It feels great on the beard, and the smell, for me, makes it worth using. I enjoy it a lot. It is hard to justify the price for a full-sized bottle of this product, in my opinion, but it is a nice product all the same.

Lip Plumping Treatment, by City Cosmetics – This is the one product that I was disappointed by as soon as I opened the box. I personally feel the fine folks at Black Box were stretching to incorporate this as a men’s product. But, being the good sport that I am, I went ahead and tried it anyway, just to experience it. I already have naturally full lips, so a small part of me feared looking like a Joan Rivers botch job. I will be the first to admit I probably didn’t give it a fair shake. Using the applicator, I smeared some on, and left it on for about five minutes. I will say that it does have a nice vanilla smell to it, but that’s where my compliments end. Toward the end of the five-minute mark, my lips were burning at an uncomfortable level. I looked in the mirror, and my lips were noticeably turning red. At that point, I removed it post-haste. Can I just say, that even on their website, City Cosmetics claims it doesn’t burn, but a video review posted on their site by an independent review said it burned his lips, too. Not impressed by this product, but I was not disappointed either. You can’t be disappointed if you weren’t excited for it in the first place. Less lip plumping, Black Box. Tyvm.

Thanks for sticking around! You can expect a review of my October Black Box in the next couple of weeks. ‘Til next time!