FACE | July Violetbox & some more thoughts on money

July Violetbox contents

The July Violetbox* was waiting for me when I got home from an average day at work last week. I don’t think anyone is averse to surprise parcel deliveries, and especially not ones that contain beauty products. That being said, I’m not really on the boat with subscription beauty boxes and I don’t think this one has done much to change my mind. I was more receptive to the June Violetbox, largely because of the Glyco Peel product, and the fact it was my first ever subscription box, and it was all a bit novel and exciting.

The biggest thing weighing on my mind with subscription boxes is whether they’re worth it. Not in pure monetary value, because on paper you always get more than what the box costs, but in real, actual, I-have-twenty-five-dollars-to-last-me-to-payday terms. So that is how I will evaluate this one.

July Violetbox contents

Appelles Apothecary & Lab Blackseed Shampoo and Tamanu Conditioner
Appelles is an Australian brand I hadn’t heard of before, which doesn’t set off my excitement levels to begin with. (Then I saw Lilian had an Appelles makeup bag in the video she did with Shannon, which at least confirmed it is a brand that exists in reality and not just in beauty boxes.) The monetary value of these is $7.58 each, or $15.15. I don’t use sample shampoo and conditioner, because I’ve got my haircare sussed already, so these get a Morgan-value of $0 (although Callum will probably use them).
Things I’d rather spend my $15 on: a cheese scone and a long black, two mornings in a row.

Chella Ivory Lace Cinnamon Highlighter Pencil
Chella is what I called my then-best friend, Rachel, when we were eleven. Apparently it’s also a brow product brand, but it’s a brand that exists only in beauty boxes – their website doesn’t even list stockists. The pencil I received is in the shade ‘Cinnamon’, rather than the Ivory Lace shade advertised on the card. I presume people who actually paid for their boxes received a shade that corresponds to their skintone, but sending me something that has literally no utility to me isn’t a good incentive for getting me to subscribe. The monetary value of this is $22, but I wouldn’t spend $22 on a brow-highlighting pencil. Morgan-value of $0.
Things I’d rather spend my $22 on: an Essie nail polish from Farmers.

Skin & Co Truffle Therapy Serum
Italian brand I’ve never heard of with the most un-Google-able name ever. After a read of the ingredients list this serum looks like it will be pretty effective, but probably not because of the truffle extract. Once I was on holiday in Italy in a district known for its truffles (tartufo, in Italian, which sounds much nicer) and we ate a number of truffle-adulterated dishes. I say adulterated because they were certainly made worse by the addition. Why would you ruin a nice plate of gnocchi with extract of armpits?
Monetary value is $12.50. Morgan-value of $0. If someone handed me this little tube and said “I’ll give you this for $12.50”, I’d say no.
Things I’d rather spend my $12.50 on: Two glasses of Happy Hour bubbles with Amy, and fifty cents change.

Sukin Skin Purifying Facial Mask
Finally a brand I recognise. I haven’t used any Sukin products before, but have always been interested to. Also, clay-based masks are my favourite and I am always open to more of them. In the July Violetbox you get two foil sachets, which means two masks, or one for you and one to give away if you didn’t like it the first time. The thing with masks is that a couple of uses is enough to get some good utility (rather than a cleanser where you really need at least a fortnight to decide if it works for you) so these sachets are very welcome. Monetary value is $2.40, which is decent and yes I would spend $2.40 on giving these masks a go.
Things I’d rather spend my $2.40 on: Come on Morgan, if you’re not prepared to throw some small change at a skin treatment designed for your skin type, you’re not a good beauty blogger.

Chella and Laqa and Co swatches

Chella highlighter pencil and LAQA&Co lip pencil swatches

LAQA&Co Sheer Lip Lube Pencil
My last makeup clear out involved the purging of a large number of bright pink lip products from my collection. Bright pink is not my colour. I do like the LAQA&Co branding, but branding is not worth the monetary value of $20. It’s a shame, because if this pencil was one of the more neutral shades the brand does (or even purple, or red, or orange… just not pink!) then I’d be interested in using it. As it stands, it will probably languish in my drawer until I give it away to someone.
Things I’d rather spend my $20 on: Petrol. Less than 10 litres of petrol (who else remembers when it was less than 90c a litre?) but petrol nonetheless.

So Susan Flutter Mascara
Susan, I’m really sorry. I have more than enough mascaras on the go at the moment that I am desperately trying to use before they dry out and/or harbour too many germs for me to feel comfortable putting them near my eyes. Violetbox says this mascara is worth $32. I visited the So Susan website and found the mascara would cost, including shipping, NZ $26.75. This doesn’t give me much confidence in the other prices Violetbox has supplied me but I’m too lazy to go back and figure out what they are actually worth.
Things I’d rather spend my $32 or $26.75 on: my overdue power bill.

There’s clearly an underlying current here that is causing me to have a pretty big bias against this box: the fact that I’ve got a bunch of real-life debts to pay off before I could justify spending $30 a month on a subscription beauty box. $30 doesn’t seem like a lot, but if you’re spending it every month, it adds up.

You may notice that lately there have been less ‘haul’ type posts on Hyacinth Girl. I haven’t really been in a position to spend money on beauty products for a while – there have been ‘grown-up’ expenses including getting a Warrant of Fitness for the car; paying for an eye test and new glasses (more on those soon); an astronomical power bill because it is winter and my house is poorly insulated, like every other house in Wellington; my rent is going up in a couple of months… and so on. I’m not listing these to make anyone feel sorry for me. I’m listing them because it’s easy to overlook the reality behind a beauty blog. I don’t actually entirely know why I’m doing so badly with money at the moment, because I’m not earning any less than I have been for the past eighteen months, but there you go. I still allow myself some treats, like coffees and scones and occasional after-work drinks and the odd nail polish. I’m grateful I’m in the position where I can still do that for myself, because when you’re stressing about debt, a little self-love treat can help you relax, even if it’s only slightly.

My own financial situation aside, I would recommend subscribing to Violetbox if you’re in certain circumstances – if you’re prepared to spend $30 a month on the thrill of a surprise parcel, the excitement of opening it and the novelty of trying new things. Like I said above, a little self-love treat can be a good thing! This just isn’t the right self-love treat for me right now.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on TumblrEmail this to someone
  • Charli Marie

    LOVE the honesty Morgan! This was a really unique way of doing an ‘unboxing’. I’ve never subscribed to one of these boxes because to be honest, I’d rather put money in my savings to travel than buy a lot of clothes and makeup. Probably makes me the most boring blogger ever but oh well!

    • Thanks Charli! I felt like I could come at it from a ‘generic beauty fan’ perspective or from my own personal perspective, and the second one is a lot more real. There’s plenty of other things I should be spending my money on!

  • Rachel is Elsewhere

    I’ve never tried a subscription box, mostly because I don’t want to spend money on products I might not even like. And I definitely understand the money thing, it sometimes comes across that bloggers are buying products simply to feature on their blogs. Awesome for them if they can afford to do that, but it just doesn’t quite sit right with me. I’d prefer to put that money into savings for something bigger and better later on.

    Rachel | Rachel is Elsewhere

    • Absolutely, I think the more time and money I spend on the blog the easier it is to continue justifying that time and money, but when I step back and evaluate, there are better things to put your money towards!

  • Madeleine

    I laugh-coughed all through this post (I’m sick otherwise it would just be laughter), love the “things I’d rather spend $ on”. I was considering trying a beauty box at some point last year but never ended up committing, because a) I’m terrible at committing & b) I’m terrible at decision-making, but I’m kind of glad I didn’t because at this point I’m on the verge of becoming the poster girl for the poor student stereotype–not quite at the obligatory pantry-full-of-2-minute-noodles stage YET though. Thanks for being open and honest as always, this is why I read all of your posts! 🙂

    • I hope you feel better soon! It’s easy to pick new makeup over sensible things like food… until it comes to the week before payday and there’s nothing in the cupboard. Subscription boxes are really best suited to people who have stacks of cash to spare – but then, they’re probably not the people who would get most excited about trying tiny samples of affordable brands!

  • Love Love Love the honesty, I have an accounting background so fully would weigh up the costs vs benefits of the box compared to your current financial situation. If you have the disposable income without the ‘adult bills’ and you enjoy it then sure it’s worth it. Otherwise no harm in cancelling and using the funds on other things!

    • I generally have a very loose approach to budgeting because I’m not in crushing debt or anything, but I do think it’s important to revisit your priorities spending-wise when it comes to things like this!

  • Laura Curwood

    Yes!!!! Yes!!! You have just put it all out there in the digital world and I am so happy. I feel like it is way more all about the thrill sometimes rather than the actual products – I myself have been dissapointed by some subscription boxes lately and left wondering if it really is all worth that much too.
    Laura: lauralovesbeautyblog.com

    • I think beauty boxes are limited in New Zealand by the balance of reasonable cost vs. exciting contents – it’s hard to get recognisable brands on board who are prepared to give away products for a loss. I understand that, but it just makes subscription boxes a bit less viable in our market.

  • Nicole

    I love this! It’s definitely difficult for them to operate in New Zealand, but the real lack of recognisable brands made me super disappointed with subscriptions in the past. This one does, at least, look as if it gives reasonable sample sizes – but still, not sure if it’s impressive enough to get over the fact that I feel like I’m getting sent a box of stuff no one else wants each month. That $20-$30 is also steep in the long-term. I don’t know, I guess I’m undecided – they have so much potential, but NZ is a hard market for it.

    Nicole | Pocahontes

    • I think Goodiebox did something smart working with Benefit to get the Push Up Liner in their most recent box, but judging on reviews of recent Goodieboxes, they might not be able to keep that up. It’s a tricky one!

  • Sophie ♥

    So much yes to this post! This is basically exactly what I wanted to say about subscription boxes. I’d never pay the money for these boxes personally, unless there was some sort of way to know what was in them before you buy perhaps. I think with Violet Box the problem for me is they’re including too many brands I’ve never heard of, which makes me wonder if they’re even good brands to begin with. Yes, it’s good to try new things, but if they’re brands I have never heard about on blogs before then I do get a bit skeptical. I agree with the whole pricing and ‘value’ assigned to products too. That often seems quite fishy. Great post Morgan!

    Sophie | Nana Wintour

    • Thanks for your support, Sophie! There is that Korean company Memebox, who do boxes where you can see what’s in them before you order. That might be something to look into…

  • Love this post! I feel you on the finances. I’ve never seriously considered a subscription box because if I’m going to be plonking down $25-30 I want it to be on stuff I really want, not a random selection of things that I might try someday, or more likely – will languish in a cupboard somewhere until I pass them on.

    • I think the person who is benefiting most from these boxes is my Mum, to be honest! She gets all the stuff I don’t want to keep and that I feel bad about just stashing on a shelf somewhere.

  • Shadesofyay

    Great post! I’ve been thinking about signing up for a goodie box of sorts but wasn’t keen on spending dollars on brands I’ve never heard of. I think I’m gonna go with my gut on this and your post has seconded it for me! Perhaps in a larger country with more exposure and demand for mini products and beauty brands, I could see goodie boxes working really well… but NZ not so much.

    • Thanks, I’m glad I could help!

  • Co-signed! I feel like subscription boxes would be good for people who have no idea where to start with cosmetics — it’s a good way to try bits and pieces out and figure out what you like. Other than that, I don’t see why anyone would get them, especially not the ones we get in New Zealand. They just don’t have the draw of decent brands behind them.

    • You’re right – the New Zealand market might just not be right for subscription boxes! I wonder if there’s a way it could be made to work…

  • Thanks for your kind words, Sarah! It’s probably not good advice but I would definitely recommend stocking up at Sephora before you get here… your heart will break when you see the price of everything in store! I might do a post on where to buy makeup in New Zealand, if you think it might be useful for you & other readers?

    Where in New Zealand are you moving to?

    • Sarah

      Yes, that would be very helpful! So far I’ve just gotten the impression that basic makeup items can be purchased at Farmer’s. I’m starting off in Auckland, but I have a year-long working holiday visa, so my plan is to travel throughout the country. Can’t wait!

    • Zoe

      Hey Morgan! I would be really interested in reading a post about where to buy makeup in NZ or something along those lines. Also in regards to Sukin, I’m currently onto my second jar of their Rose Hip Day moisturiser and its really decent stuff. The price tag is also a winner at $32.50 for 120ml.

      • Cool, I’ll get brainstorming! And I’ll have to take a closer look at the Sukin range next time I’m in Farmers, thanks for the rec!

  • I feel ya Morgan ~ Being grown up is no fun. I have thought of the whole wasting money on a box of subscription that I probably won’t use and I have also thought of cancelling them all but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it! I always feel like, I might miss out on something good if I cancel the subscription now haha xD I love surprises so that explains why I can’t quit ~

    • I guess the thing is, if you miss out on something in a box, you can always go out and buy that for yourself anyway!