Pretty-Stuff-of-the-Month Club

Beauty Bar is fancy. The cosmetics retailer is so fancy, in fact, that you have to pay for samples. But, for some people, joining their “Sample Society” may be the most economical way to indulge in the newest beauty products not coming to a Walgreen’s near you.

It’s worth it if you:

1. Like to try trendy things but don’t want to gamble and waste money on ones that don’t work

2. Can hardly finish a bottle of anything without it expiring or losing its appeal

3. Think mini things are cute and surprises in the mail are fun

4. Want a free year-long subscription to Allure magazine

How it works:

They charge you $15 (includes shipping) at the beginning of the month and send you a box with a mystery mix of five travel sized perfumes, makeup, hair and/or skincare. The selection is somewhat customized to your preferences according to a short survey you complete. The package also comes with a little booklet of tips and a coupon worth $15 off your $50 purchase of any of the brands featured. I probably won’t use it, but if you love one of the products and decide to buy it, the whole set pays for itself.

And, of course, you can cancel whenever. “It’s a free country,” as they say.

What you’ll get:

No ketchup packets of moisturizer here. Every sample is large enough to use regularly for at least a month. Here’s what my first package contained:

allure beauty bar

Neato owl bookends and boring books not included

1. Fekkai Olive Oil Glossing Cream– No, it doesn’t smell like olives. I once coated my hair in actual olive oil for an at-home treatment, and I smelled like a salad even after two shampoos. Unlike most of the stuff in your kitchen cabinet, I’d recommend this for frizzy hair. It’s perfect for when you’re wearing your hair down and don’t need the hold of a gel.

2. Ren Glycolactic Peel Mask– I’m intimidated by the word “glycolactic” and hadn’t tried an acid peel before, but at least this one is natural. It smelled and felt like putting apricot jam on my face. At the prescribed 10-minute mark it started to burn a little, but my skin felt fine after I rinsed it and my complexion was better than usual in the following week.

3. Oscar de la Renta Esprit D’Oscar roll-on perfume- smells sort like baby powder, but more sophisticated. I didn’t love the scent, but it grew on me. Plus, the thing’s exceedingly portable.

4. Skyn Iceland Relief Eye Pen– This is a magic wand for hangovers. My body may still be on strike until I get a breakfast taco and Vitamin Water, but at least this helps my sleepy zombie eyes.

5. Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant– You shake a bit of this powder onto wet hands and it dissolves into a paste with which to scrub. It wasn’t scratchy or even grainy, so I was surprised at how well it exfoliated my skin. It was as smooth as I’m gonna assume dolphins are. People with sensitive skin should check it out.

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