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How to Use a Sample That’s Too Light or Too Dark: Special Ops

We’re always talking about the staffers in the Birchbox office, but the ones who you interact with everyday are the ladies of our hard-working Ops team. These fabulous femmes handle all of your customer service woes. We wanted to give you a chance to get to know them even better—so here’s a peek at who’s on the other side of the phone.


Every month we try our absolute hardest to fill your Birchboxes with samples we think you will love. (Did you know that we use a special algorithm to maximize your happiness?) But we also understand that sometimes a sample can feel like a match that’s not quite made in heaven. On the off chance that this occurs, we wanted to help you figure out how to turn that so-so sample into a so-awesome sample.

We always do our best to ensure that the colors you receive are a good match for your skin tone based on selections in the Beauty Profile (you can read more about how we decide what you get in your boxes in this FAQ with founders Katia and Hayley). But if a foundation, concealer, BB cream, or tinted moisturizer ends up not quite matching your skin tone, there are still plenty of ways to use it!

First, try testing out the product just to see if the formula feels like a good fit. Do you like the consistency or do you look for thicker/lighter coverage? How is your skin reacting to the test spot? These questions can all be answered even if the color isn’t perfect. If you find that you love everything except the color, don’t forget that we have an amazing return policy. If you purchase the full-size version of the product and the color still isn’t right, we’ll process a full return within 90 days of purchase (and we provide the return label!).

After you’ve tested the product, put it to use! If the shade happens to be too dark—up to two shades darker than your skintone—try using the color to contour your face! Use a darker tinted moisturizer or BB cream in place of bronzer to create the same definition. (This is an especially good tactic for ladies with dry skin). For shades that are too light, don’t be afraid to mix a bronzer in with your formula to give it a slightly darker hue. 

Also, don’t forget that it comes in handy to have a range of shades in your makeup collection as your skin tone changes from season to season. 

We hope that you never have a sample that doesn’t work for you, but just in case you do, we hope these tips help improve your experience. 


As always, we’re here to talk and help—reach out to us at or tweet @BirchboxOps!

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