If you're as interested in cosmetics as you are in fragrance, you've no doubt become aware of the "subscription box" craze of the past five years or so. It usually works like this: you subscribe by filling out a questionnaire about your tastes, and for a monthly fee you're sent a box of trial-sized products purportedly chosen to fit your profile. Everyone loves getting surprises in the mail, right? I've joined two or three of these subscription brands in the past, and for a while I enjoyed receiving my packages; as the months ticked by, however, I ended up owning too many items that I just never used (bright coral lipsticks! sparkly highlighting powders!) so I unsubscribed.
More recently, variations on the subscription theme have emerged — several fragrance clubs, for example, and now Boxwalla, a service that "curates" boxes in four categories: Beauty, Food, Film and Books. The Beauty box promises to offer "luxurious and effective products to nourish your skin and body," all made in the United States with non-toxic and cruelty-free ingredients. I've just tried Boxwalla's December Beauty box, which seemed to have a "winter comfort" motif, and — unlike some of the cosmetics subscription services I've tried —it was an all-around success for me.
The selection of beauty products compiled by Boxwalla for December feels indulgent yet practical at the same time; they're all the sorts of products that I would normally use, but nicer, like presents I'd hope to receive. For example, there's a lip balm, but it's a Hurraw! Moon Balm Night Treatment Balm, which contains several botanical oils (including argan and blue chamomile) and is designed to be used at bedtime. I've been a Hurraw! fan for a while, and I've been meaning to try this balm for ages; it's naturally scented with vanilla and Peru balsam, and I think it will give me sweet dreams.
For the rest of the face, Boxwalla has packed a 4-ounce bottle of Lilikoi Living's Bamboo Buff Exfoliating Facial Wash, made with bamboo stem and walnut shell powders in a gently cleansing gel-liquid base. It smells like freshly peeled grapefruits and it leaves my face feeling smooth and pampered. "Lilikoi" is the Hawaiian word for passionfruit, and every product from this indie brand (which is new to me) includes a dose of this antioxidant fruit.
Who can't always use a new bar (or two) of soap? I've never heard of Aunt Nancy's Soap before, but I'm charmed by these chunky little cold-processed bars. One bar in my box is unscented, and the other is fragranced with essentials oils of ginger and orange, perfect for a bit of holiday-season cheer. My husband, who is picky about soaps, also liked these bars for their soft lather and their moisturizing feel.
Soap & Paper Factory is one of those brands that makes good-smelling toiletries with beautiful packaging, and I can never decide which of their fragrance blends I like best. Boxwalla included a travel-size tube of their Shea Butter Hand Cream in the Beauty box, and I received one in Winter Vanilla, a modern-gourmand blend of vanilla, sandalwood and bourbon. The cream itself is medium-weight and absorbs easily into the hands, so it's perfect for carrying in my purse on winter days.
I've tried many, many candles over the years, and I'm glad that Boxwalla introduced me to Aura Candles in this box. I received a 6-ounce travel candle in a scent called Grounded, a fig fragrance that nicely balances green, creamy, and woody notes. Aura's candles are made in small batches from soy wax and lead-free wicks; this one burned cleanly and diffused its scent consistently through two rooms. I'll definitely be looking further into this brand.
So, there you go: this subscription service isn't exactly cheap, but all five items I received (six, if you include both soaps) are good-smelling, high-quality products that I'll use to the bottom and possibly re-purchase directly from the companies.
Boxwalla’s subscriptions are available through the Boxwalla website. Here's the fine print:
1) The subscription box is priced at $49.95 and ships every two months. The box contains mostly full sized items with one or two large travel sized products.
2) Shipping within the U.S is free.
3) With one subscription, subscribers have the ability to switch between the four different categories before the cut-off order date (from their second box on).
4) The service operates on a bimonthly basis, and the cut-off to order and receive the February Box is January 15th.
Also, a sort-of-disclaimer: although I've never met Lavanya, one of Boxwalla's founders, and I don't know anything about her personally, I'm acquainted with her from her past comments here on Now Smell This and I've corresponded with her via e-mail. She offered to send me this box as a sample; after doing a little research, I thought it would suit my interests and I agreed to try it.