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March 24, 2015

Indie Subscription: Black Violet Clue Blackbox Review

The very first Black Violet quarterly Blackbox subscription box arrived! The first box had a theme inspired by Clue! I'll include more info about this subscription below, but it's a quarterly sub, $34/3 months (+ shipping), and is a chance to get exclusive scents and sneak peek new products from Black Violet. It also looks like there will be guest indie products, hopefully in every box. I couldn't wait to get to try and smell everything, it seemed like such a long time between announcement of this new subscription, and finally getting it in my hands. And it did not disappoint!

AboutBlack Violet is owned by Leilani, and they are an indie perfumery and bath and body shop based out of Maryland. Black Violet offers perfume oils in sample sizes and full size rollerballs, body butters, creme soap, detangling mists, facial cleansers, and a few other kinds of products.

ShippingBlackbox was supposed to ship between the 10th and 20th of March, with mine shipping on the 19th. It arrived in 2 days via USPS Priority 2-day from Maryland to California.

Product Size - Only the perfume and blush were full size products, the rest were all sample sized.

Free Samples - There were no free samples per se, but there was a decorative key included, as well as two discount codes.

Here's the info card for the first Black Violet Blackbox. You can see that none of the products have actual scent descriptions, but instead just go along with the Clue theme.

Crimson Kiss Perfume Oil - ($16) "She plays the part of a Hollywood starlet too well. Dressed in slinky red silk, she makes it hard to keep your eyes away from her. Never without a glass of Blackberry Cabernet Sauvignon, with a disposition just as bold, yet smooth and refreshing." Blackberries, cassis, sweet musk

This smells instantly like blackberries, and I get the bit about it being a blackberry cabernet sauvignon. It's not just straight fruit, it's got a bit more to it. I actually really like this one, I always love a good blackberry scent. Though I wouldn't mind future boxes to have something alternative to the perfume as the main high ticket item. For instance it might be fun to get one or two perfume samples along with a full size body butter in another box. Just any other configuration might be a nice way to change it up, and hopefully ensure that the main highest value item isn't too high a value that if someone doesn't like it, they feel disappointed.

Mister Green Phyto Mist - ($4.50) "As a wise 'businessman', he claims to have the key to a new venture with a quick return. With a sharp edge, it's hard to figure him out. To earn your trust, Mr. Green shows his grounded, earthy side." Crisp, fresh green leaves, oakmoss, vetiver, galbanum- as if you're walking thru a damp rain forest after showers have passed.

The value of this seems a little high considering this is only a 1 oz sample, and the 2 oz version sells for $6. I smell basil in this one, it's very green, obviously mostly plant and herb notes in this one. Possibly a bit of citrus as well. This is the new formula for the old detangler sprays, which I have a bunch of and love. This one is clear instead of milky colored, and seems much lighter than the old ones. I usually spray it in my hair after washing it, and then comb through to get out any tangles. It drys normally, and keeps my hair shiny and smooth. But the directions only say to spray on hair for smooth and tame locks, nothing about when to use it, or even really what it does.

Bluebird Body Oil - ($5) "The grande dame of all socialites, she's a classic beauty. A touch of powder here, a fix of feathers there & bribe to round out the event. Though a bit of a fading flower, Mrs. Peacock lives a flamboyant lifestyle, enjoying the fruits of her labor." Blueberry accord, soft white flowers, fruity powdery musk

Right up front I get blueberries immediately. But like the candy version of blueberries, not the smell the actual fruit has. It reminds me of those berry candies that Jelly Belly and other companies make that are made to look like blackberries and raspberries. It smells like those. I would use this body oil as a spray on my legs after I've shaved them right after the shower. Spray on, rub in, and smell good and stay moisturized all day. 

Detective Notes Body Butter - ($4.50) "Suspects gather in the Study with accusations and wine flowing. Pipes are nervously lit, while Scarlet lounges on a chaise like a panther." Tangy wine accord, dried tobacco leaves, almond, sweet smokiness

The Black Violet body butter formula is really thick, and the scent smells familiar. Like a deeper version of the Affogato perfume. Vanilla, coffee, maybe tobacco? It does remind me of what I imagine an old study to smell like. I like it a lot actually, it just doesn't feel like a spring scent. But I think it absolutely goes with the Clue theme.

Secret Passage Creme Soap - ($4.50) "Locked behind a false armoire, a hidden door leads to a room & a bed with garnet covers. Candied sweets waft thru a cracked window from the baker's kitchen." Blood orange, sugar frosting, peach slices, apple, light musk

The scent of this reminds me of the Spring seasonal Black Violet scent, Candy Rocket. It smells like candy or sweets of some kind. Definitely fruity, with a hint of something deeper than just fruit. The creme soap formula itself is pretty thick, almost the consistency of buttercream frosting. It seems like I am always looking for a new soap to throw in the shower, so this might be next. It lathers well on a loofah too.

Tonique - ($2)

Leilani was kind enough to send me both scents of this facial toner for review purposes. I will be completely honest and say I don't understand why we were sent such a small sample. Skincare products take some time to tell if they are working how you'd like, and since this sample is only good for a few uses max, it would be hard to judge how it's working. The 2 oz sample sells for $7, with this little spray bottle only being a .15oz portion. And again, the directions for this just say to shake before applying, not how to apply it. I will be applying a spritz or two to a cotton pad, and applying all over my face after cleansing. I use a toner morning, night, or both, so I will probably do the same with this product.

Chamomile Lavender -

This one has a very nice lavender scent, and mixed with the chamomile, it makes it very calming and relaxing. I think I prefer this one only because I already use another lavender product on my face, so it will match. This one might be better for at night to help relax before bed.

Rosemary Geranium -

I seem to get more of the geranium out of this than the rosemary, but I think the rosemary is what's giving it a bit of an herbal woodsy note. This scent is more invigorating than the Chamomile Lavender, so I might use this one in the morning to help wake me up!

Gift Item - ($1.75)

I hope this was not supposed to be included in the value of the box, as I feel a trinket key should just be a small bonus item. The folder also included a ticket for a giveaway, a discount code for the Phyto Mist, and a Blackbird Cosmetics discount code.

Blackbird Cosmetics Professor Plum Blush - ($13)

I love the Blackbird blush formula, it feels so plush and blends really easily. I love the look of the color in the jar, but swatched (bare skin, blended out) it comes off more like a contour color than a blush. I imagine it would also work great as an eyeshadow, but I don't know if I can make it work as a blush. I will definitely try, but it could be a better contour color for me instead.

Overall, the first Blackbox had a total value of $49.50 not including the value of the gift item/key. That's not bad for a $34 box, but I don't understand why the key was given a value on the info card, that should be just a bonus trinket not included in the overall value of the box. And I question some of the other sizing decisions for some of the products, as this is a fairly expensive subscription. But in terms of the products themselves, I really like everything in the box. There is not a single one I can't see myself using on a regular basis. I don't even know if I could pick a favorite scent when it came to poll time, since Leilani has said there will be a poll about what scents to bring back or make permanent from the box. I completely trust Black Violet skincare products, and I am glad the Tonique will be available for purchase in case I want more. And I use a Black Violet detangling spray after every shower, so the Phyto Mist will be a favorite.

I know I personally was getting a little antsy and impatient waiting for the arrival of this, and being quick to judge what we were getting before it got here. I have almost completely changed my mind about that, it was worth the wait. I still can't help but feel this is an expensive subscription. I probably would be open to switching out the full size perfume for a 1 dram vial instead, and lowering the cost a little. I am sure there are plenty of business reasons that can't happen, but something to offset the cost might be a good idea. For me personally though, I wouldn't unsubscribe just because of the $40 cost, but I know that is out of reach for some. I think it does help that this is quarterly though, and not a monthly subscription.

I am also a little at war about the concept of exclusive products versus being able to purchase the products in the shop after receiving the box. I think for me, I don't mind the exclusivity of the scents only being available in the box, after all that is a big reason why I subscribed. But I can also see the other side of loving a product or scent so much, and wishing you could buy more. What is the right choice, I don't know, but I am currently fine with most of the scents being exclusive, and subscribers getting the first look at new products. Mostly because I don't mind using up something I can't purchase again, because there is always the next thing to come along that is limited edition to use up. Saving it forever is not really enjoying it, so I will be fine when the day comes that my Secret Passage soap is gone.

Things I would really like to see change for the next Blackbox:
  • Scent notes on the info card, not just cryptic descriptions. Also descriptions for any bonus products, like the color description for the blush this time would have been nice.
  • Instructions for how to use new products, or anything that is not self explanatory.
  • Slightly larger sample sizes, or possibly something other than the perfume as a full size product. Maybe one-two sample perfumes, and something else as a full size.
  • Possibly some of the products/scents available to purchase without voting on a favorite.

Customer Service - I contacted Leilani about not receiving a tracking email for my Blackbox, and it turns out she had combined it with an order, which I had received an email about. I wasn't expecting them to be combined, so that was appreciated.

Availability - New slots for the subscription will open May 9th at 3 PM EST, for the June Blackbox.

Overall Satisfaction - I really enjoyed everything in the first Blackbox, I will continue my subscription. My favorite scent might actually be Mister Green, so I'll probably be picking up more Phyto Mist with the discount code we received.

About the Black Violet Blackbox subscription:
  • $34/quarter + shipping
    • US shipping - $6
    • Canada shipping - $14
    • International shipping - $21
  • New slots open May 9th, 3 PM EST
  • Sneak peeks at new Black Violet products
What did you think of the first Black Violet Blackbox? Let me know in the comments!

For all other Black Violet reviews, click here

Disclosure: One product was sent to me for review purposes. The rest I purchased myself, with my own money. This is my honest review.


  1. I was really pleased with all the products in this box (though the blush didn't work for me either), and I also wished there were better descriptions and directions. I didn't think about the sample size, until I read your review though, and it did make me consider that we get about the same amount of products and sample sizes in the Fortune Cookie Soap box, but for half the price. That's something I'll be keeping in mind next quarter.

    Sorry to hijack your comments! Just appreciated your honest observations, they got me thinking!

    1. Yeah, I imagine FCS can afford to do it much cheaper though. Whenever there are values listed on the info and I paid a fair bit for the box, I always add that stuff up. For a lot of people, subscription boxes are about getting a good value for your money, so that's what I notice. You're not hijacking!

    2. That's a good point about FCS. Honestly, I think the best solution would be your idea to maybe do a few bigger sized sample items, then it's just a bit more bang for your buck. I really liked all the products, so I'm definitely staying subscribed-but I wouldn't complain if we got some upgraded sizes.


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