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beauty samples

10 Things We Learned from April 2014 Birchbox Samples

Gala Gonzalez’s Grandma Was One Hip Lady

The Spanish blogger and fashion impresario teamed up with Color Club to launch an exclusive nail polish collection, Gala's Gems. In an interview with us, Gonzalez said she took inspiration from her grandma, who wore pearly pastel lacquers in the ‘70s and ‘80s (and clearly made a lasting style impression).

Most Hair Dye Is Stuck in 1860

Ammonia, a common household cleaning agent, has been a main ingredient in hair dye since the mid-19th century—even though the chemical can damage strands. Madison Reed is bringing hair dye into the 21st century with their ammonia-free botanical-based coloring system that nourishes and strengthens hair. Same goes for their line of color-preserving shampoos and conditioners, which some subscribers got to sample this month.

Cynthia Rowley Does Pastel

Cynthia Rowley’s whimsical New York City store, CuRious Candy, where you can find everything from her latest designs to edible teacups, is the inspiration behind her latest eye shadow palette. Exclusive to Birchbox, it offers a range of pastel shades that are perfect for spring.

We’re Cuckoo for Roucou

Derived from the seeds of an Amazonian tree, roucou—the star ingredient in Davines OI All in One Milk—has major hair-healing powers. The high concentration of antioxidants in the multitasking spray we sampled this month helps protects strands from the effects of UV light, pollution, and aging.

Tint Before You Tweeze

A slew of Anastasia Beverly Hills products hit our digital shelves this month—like the Clear Brow Gel. One pro tip we picked up: Before you tweeze, fill in your brows using a stencil with brow powder or a pencil. After removing the stencil, tweeze any stray hairs that fall outside your newly defined shape.

Prevent “Inflamm-aging” At All Costs

As if free radicals weren’t enough, Air Repair taught us that chronic inflammation—nicknamed “inflamm-aging”—is a major cause of skin issues such as premature wrinkles, rosacea, and eczema. Irritation from the environment can make your immune system go into overdrive, causing inflammation and breaking down skin-firming collagen and elastin. Air Repair’s Rescue Balm is chock full of skin-soothers like lavender, which work to quell inflammation. Think of it as a chill pill for your skin.

Repeat After Us: Eyes, Lips, Cheeks

A word to the wise from our in-house makeup artist, Nathaniel Yordan: When applying makeup like theBalm’s new lip and cheek cream palette, How ‘Bout Them Apples?, start with your eyes and save your cheeks for last. Once you see how intense your eye makeup is, you can dial-down your cheek color accordingly (and avoid the dreaded “off-duty clown” look).

Save Those Coffee Grounds!

Before you toss them on your compost heap, consider this: Ground-up coffee beans are an excellent exfoliator. The founder of skincare line Nyakio learned this beauty secret from her grandmother, who lived on a Kenyan coffee farm. The antioxidant-rich beans are a key ingredient in her luxurious Kenyan Coffee Body Scrub. The gritty formula exfoliates and softens skin like a boss.

We’re Clarifying “Clarifying”

Allow us to clear up the matter of clarifying shampoos. Known for their ability to remove weeks of product buildup, some of these cleansers should be used sparingly. Not so with Number 4’s version. Loaded with vitamins and hydrators and free of sulfates, it cleanses without stripping strands, making it gentle enough for daily use.

An Acne Treatment with a a Secret Identity

Salicylic acid, otherwise known as BHA, is great for nixing the bacteria that cause acne. But as we learned this month, BHA is also an anti-inflammatory. Just as aspirin treats inflammation in the body, BHA can calm skin irritation, minimizing the appearance of acne and stubborn scars. You’ll find a healthy dose of BHA in the leave-on treatment we sampled this month, Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant.

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