It had been exactly one week since Memebox Luckybox #1 arrived at the fanhutch when the doorbell rang in the bizarre pattern only used by the legally insane and our local postal employees. I ran outside to find, not the sample of $1000 face cream I ordered one month ago, but another Memebox (Luckybox #2). It’s time to make some decisions about what stays and goes from Luckybox #1 so I can move on to experimenting with Luckybox #2!
Memebox is a subscription mystery item beauty box company minus the subscriptions. Each box may be purchased individually and the regular Memeboxes come with 4 to 8 deluxe samples and full-size Korean products, with most of the products focused on skincare. Since its launch Memebox has received mixed reviews due to some PR and customer service missteps by the company, but the overall value offered by the boxes made this a chance I was willing to take. The thing that convinced me to take the leap was the Luckybox, which costs $23 like the regular boxes, but contains the most wanted items from the earlier boxes. That sounded like a good way to maximize value, minimize the risk of dud products, and “catch up” with some of the hot items I’d missed.
Ordered: 9 March
Shipped: 1 April (shipping dates are set by the company; check the product description for information about when the box is scheduled to start shipping)
Received: 19 April
The vast majority of the critical information about the Memebox products is in Korean, of course, so Memebox includes a helpful description card with each Memebox that has product and use information along with measures of size and valuation. Here’s the Luckybox #1 Restocked info card (click to enlarge).
Luckybox #1 Restocked Review
The philosophy behind this blog is that I need to get my skincare and cosmetics supplies up-to-date after 10 years of broke studentness, but I don’t have tons of space and cash to do it, so each product is scrutinized for its value and could be immediately eliminated from my supplies if it’s not performing well. With my goals in mind, here’s the fanserviced-b ratings rubric:
- Five stars: I love this product so much that I want to give it to people as gifts and discuss it all the time. I want to buy more immediately.
- Four stars: I really like this product, I’ll use it happily, and it is welcome in The Drawers for the rest of its beautifying life. I will consider buying it again in the future.
- Three stars: This product is good, but I’m hoping to find something better one day. It can stay for now and I’ll consider it under review, but I haven’t yet fully welcomed it into my heart. Given the range of great products out there, it is likely that this one will be out of The Drawers before I’ve used it all up. I doubt I’ll buy this again.
- Two stars: I have mixed feelings about this product and I’m going to send it out for a second opinion. Product: to the Mommebox (the boxes of items I’ve rejected that I’m shipping to my mom for a second opinion)! I will not buy this product again.
- One star: I actively hate this product and I wouldn’t even give it away. I consider it my life’s work to convince other people not to waste their money on this terrible product.
I’ll also assign a “value to me” for each product. This is the amount I’d be willing to pay to keep this product in my supplies; if I’m only planning to use a little bit of a so-so item, expect those values to be slashed mercilessly. When I find something really great I’ll assign the item the full value and possibly note a “+” if it’s really exceptional and makes my heart beat faster.
Let’s see how the products in Luckybox #1 fared after one week of testing.
Glory Nail Vegan Lacquer 15ml (full-size) in color Jindalae, value: $20
First off, I don’t think I paid $20 for my wedding manicure. Are there thankful tears from saved animals in this? I had expected that the vegan ethos might translate into a less toxic-smelling formulation, but I was wrong–it smelled pretty much like any other polish.
As for the color, which is a warm milky white-cream, my husband compared it to the whitewashed windows of a Soviet prison or mental institution and criticized my uneven technique. This is what one gets for marrying a man who subscribes to Real Simple (his “girlie magazine,” as he calls it) and studies the history of food. Some much Home Ec shade in this household, I swear
I painted two coats on one hand and by now it has chipped off pretty well. That said, I didn’t use any base or top coats and I’m notoriously rough on nails.
All that said, I actually liked this. I thought the color looked professional (or could, if my nail skills were better) and I liked what it did for my hands. Would I buy this again? No. Would I buy this for $20? Absofuckinglutely not. Will I keep it for now? Yes.
Rating: 3 stars.
Value to me: $2 (I’ll probably only use 10%)
Nuganic Customize Pore Control Essence 30ml (full size), value: $46
First: a discussion about size and value. Would I ever pay $46 for 30ml of a beauty product? Possibly, especially if it could guarantee that I’d have Kai’s thighs while eating as much fried chicken as he does. But considering that I’ve found great products that I really love for a fraction of that cost, this one was going to have to wow me to overcome the sticker shock.
A week of testing isn’t much, but I don’t find that this product is doing much that my usual skincare routine isn’t doing. In addition, the use of antibacterial and antifungal agent triclosan in personal care products like this freaks me out a little. On one hand, it’s not been found to be effective in regular personal care products for anything other than preventing gingivitis. On the other, triclosan is used for preventing the recurrence of MRSA superbug infections, which makes me think that maybe we shouldn’t be putting it in random products for fear germs could adapt to it. This is not a scientific argument at all, just my thoughts when I smear this clear, odorless liquid on and think of all the ways I could die. So yeah, it’s not blowing me away.
What would blow me away would be if a Korean retailer could develop stable skincare products that contain active probiotics. Certain beneficial bacterial strains have been shown to be effective in treating and preventing acne, for example. I’m far more positive about the idea of treating skin with good bacteria rather than wiping out the good, the bad, and potentially making the bad stronger.
I’ll keep this around in case I run out of my usual salicylic liquid, but I have a feeling that this will be voted out soon.
Value to me: $4.60 (I’ll probably only use 10%)
NoTS 28 Remedy Acne Pore Deep Cleanser 60ml (full size: 120ml, $31), value: $15.50.
I like this cleanser quite a lot. As someone with “troubled” skin, I love getting new, really useful products that might help clear things up. This face wash foams up really well with the help of my basic spin brush and leaves a good, clean, almost medicinal feeling after I use it. I dig this. Would I buy a full size container when mine runs out? Well, if the deal is good and this somehow outperforms anything else I’ve tried over a long test.
Value to me: $15.50
IOPE Bio Essence Intensive Conditioning 18ml (full size: 168ml, $60), $6.43
This was a mega super standout in the box. I didn’t get that it’s supposed to be a first step in the skincare process–used as a toner before layering on all sorts of other stuff–so I just added it to my skincare lineup after essence and it’s great! I only learned that IOPE Bio Conditioning is a first treatment essence like SK-II from Japan or Missha Time Revolution when I read Kerry’s Skin & Tonics review of it from a few months ago. Perhaps because it has support from all of the other things I’m using, it makes my oily skin super hydrated with zero heaviness.
I like the product so much that I had a crisis because I want to give a sample to my mom for her drier skin, but I also didn’t want to give up the rest of my own sample. I looked on eBay, but the prices for samples of this are terrifying. Luckily, TesterKorea currently offers samples WITH another IOPE deluxe sample for cheap. I’m going to stock up and make sure my mom and friends check this out. I’m also way more into the idea of first essences now that I’ve tried this—I’m curious about whether they’re all this good for my skin.
Value to me: $6.43+
Sep Face Lifting Mask 30g (full size), value: $14
Confession: I’m not a mega fan of sheet masks. I live for pack masks, but I’ve never really connected with sheet masks fully. Perhaps it has something to do with my giant face architecture not quite working with the sheet mask paper design. I think I wear them because I see people on Korean dramas doing it and because it seems like a pampering thing. The selling point for this mask is that it’s made out of the fabric used for body shaping underwear. And thus the jokes began. My husband spoke highly of this mask above all other products in the box because it involves putting underwear on your face. Helpful.
So I’m going to assign this review to him, fanserviced-m (m for male and Moscow, where he was born). I would very much like to see his perspective on face underwear and thank him for his critique of my manicure skills.
Value to me: I think that the most I’d spend to see my husband wear face underwear is about $5, but I may need to revisit this.
Too Cool for School Aqua Gel Mist 100ml (full size), value: $12
The moment I heard about this gel mist all I could think of is the magical moment from kpop group Big Bang’s Secret Garden (mega popular Korean drama from a few years ago) parody when Daesung, dressed as the evil rich mom, sprayed his face with a moisturizer like this and kept saying “smelllll.” It is one of the most hilarious things I’ve ever seen, and fans still remember this classic parody moment. In fact, I think I like the Big Bang parody more than the drama.
So the idea of spraying my face in public is kind of a no-go because I’d do it ironically and laugh the whole time, which basically means I’ll be the scariest person in the subway car and you never really want to be the scariest person in the subway car.
And yet I really dig this spray. The scent is incredible, actually. It smells fresh and light, a little sweet. My husband and I were sniffing my face happily after I sprayed this on. As far as moisturizing effect, this seems to deliver some moisture, but it mostly works as a sealant to keep moisture locked in your skin. It’s not oily or particularly heavy, although it clearly isn’t just water–it has a thin gel consistency.
I like this. If I find that my skin is drying out due to summer air conditioning I may even be willing to be the scariest person in the subway car and apply this in public.
Value to me: $12
Tonymoly Delight Tony Tint Red 1.5ml (full size: 9ml, $3), value: $.5
I’m so happy that this lip tint was included in the box; I’ve been wanting to try more lip tints, and this one was at the top of my list, so I was delighted to be able to get it without paying lots for shipping it individually. The tint itself is good: the taste isn’t bad (whereas the Tonymoly cat chu lip tint tastes terrible). The color and staying power are good. The only problem with the really red, liquidy tints is that when I try to make gradient lips with darker insides fading to light at the edges of my lips I somehow end up looking like I spent the morning putting on my makeup while breakfasting on the blood of small children. It ends up looking very “horror” between my light skin and stained red lips. I’ll need to experiment with this, but I’m happy to have a sample to play with.
Value to me: $.5+
Dear by Enprani Bounce Cheese Cream 30ml (full size: 75ml, $29), value: $11.6
This product was the hook for me to look at Memebox in the first place. I bought a jar on eBay for $15.50—it was at that point that I realized that it would be better to just buy Memeboxes and get lots of products rather than overpay for and ship individual items. So I ordered the Luckybox and it turned out that the Bounce cream was included.
Bounce…cheese…cream what the what? In truth, the best adjective used to describe the Bounce cream is ropey or thready. Here I am playing with it (it’s lots of fun to just mess around with).
It turns out that it’s made out of whey, which isn’t even the bouncy part of cheese. Whey is the liquid left over from milk once the curds have been scooped out. The curds could be formed into mozzarella through stretching, but the whey from that batch of cheese could be heated again and made into ricotta, which really lacks the mozzarella bounce. So the bounciness is not coming from the whey. I know this by the way because I had a cheese-making phase about five years ago (see evidence to the left). Not even kidding.
Let’s get the biggest question out of the way: nope, it doesn’t smell like cheese at all. In fact, the Bounce cream is quite potently fragranced in the way that often throws me when using Korean products that tout natural ingredients or are used for faces; I expect light fragrances or less heavily perfumed products (like the Too Cool mist), but the fragrances in some of these products make me wonder if I’ll get called in to HR and lectured about not overwhelming my colleagues with SMELLllll.
After all of that, the cheese cream really didn’t work for my oily skin; it was too heavy and rich. I’m glad that I tried it though, and I can see it working as an eye cream for those of us with oily skin. I currently use it as a foot cream (hey, they’re my only vehicle, so I’m not opposed to spoiling them).
So now I have two cheese creams and no pressing need for the new second one. But I do have a mom who is looking for more moisture and is willing to roll with using random Korean products I send her! I’ve introduced a new fanserviced program called the Mommebox: items that get cut from my supplies, sent to my mom, and tested by her. If my mom thinks that I’ve been too quick to dismiss a product or she finds that it works well for her skin, she will let us know.
My rating: 3
My value: $12.50 (what I paid for the same item on eBay before buying this Memebox)
5 stars: 1 product
4 stars: 3 products
3 stars: 4 products
Memebox’s valuation of Luckybox #1 Restocked: $126.03
My valuation of Luckybox #1: $58.53++
What I paid (before shipping): $17.48
Overall Rating: 4
I consider this box a win in terms of value, learning, and excitement. Even according to my highly subjective and tough valuation, this box is worth a bit over three times what I paid. As a value shopper, I’m also delighted to pay one $7 shipping fee rather than separate shipping fees for even a few of the items; bundling the products together means a much better shipping deal. I’m pretty happy that I missed out on the rocky beginnings of Memebox and started with such a good box—I’m keeping my fingers crossed that they’re all this good.
Where to Find It: Memeboxes quantities are limited, so this box sold out awhile ago, but you can find the current selection of Memeboxes on their site. I’m currently eyeing the Oil & Troubles Superbox…hmm…WANT!
Memeranking: #1 so far. This box was rock solid and I liked most of the stuff quite a bit or at least thought it was temporarily useful.
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