We find the 10 best options, so you can make informed decisions on tons of products and services.
Remember when you were a teenager, and you’d go to the MAC counter at the mall, and you’d try on all the fabulous eye shadows and lipsticks and revel in your reflection? Chances are, as you’ve matured and life has handed you more and more responsibilities, your adventurous trips to the makeup counter have lessened, and you’ve taken to buying or ordering the products you know work for you. You stick with the Maybelline mascara, the Revlon eyeliner, the Clinique foundation and cover-up, and for blush, you’ve got that perfect shade of coral shimmer that works in both the winter and summertime.
It’s nice to have your go-to, dependable beauty products, but wouldn’t it be fun, like, really fun, to shake things up a bit? To recapture some of the excitement from when you were a teenager, to try out new and fabulous products, to rediscover yourself in a way you’ve forgotten how?
Sure, it sounds fun. But when you have a work deadline and you have to pick up the clothes from the dry-cleaner and you have to buy groceries and you have to make dinner for the kids… gosh, who has the time for adventurous make-up escapades?
Fortunately, there’s a way to have your cake and eat it too - in other words, you can inject some fun into your beauty life without having to spend time you don’t necessarily have.
How? By treating yourself to a personalized beauty subscription box.
What is a Beauty Subscription Box?
A beauty subscription box is a seasonal or monthly box filled with various make-up, nail polish, skincare, and hair products that you can sign up to receive in the mail for a nominal cost.
Before signing up for a subscription, you’ll be asked to fill out a beauty questionnaire, which is actually pretty fun. Whichever company you choose will then cull a personalized box full of beauty products based on your answers.
These boxes are a relatively new but ever-growing trend, and they are the perfect answer to women who love everything cosmetic but don’t necessarily have the time or motivation to go to the store and pick out new products for themselves.
Beauty subscription boxes are great for women who enjoy being pampered, because frankly, there’s nothing more pampering than receiving a gilded box of beauty products delivered right to your doorstep. They also make great gifts, and are a fabulous way for make-up artists to discover new products and keep their business current.
Sounds Like a Scam—Is it?
There’s nothing scammy about beauty subscription boxes. The boxes are bought and paid for by women who knowingly purchase them and are aware of what they will receive. If someone isn’t happy with the box they receive, that’s a different story—but a scam it is not.
The only thing we can say about beauty subscription boxes is that yes, they are products that are meant to make their companies money. This is normal. The idea behind sending beauty boxes is to hook women to buy more of the beauty products they receive. Also normal! In fact, this is a win-win situation—women who receive beauty boxes get great products that they may want to purchase more of, and companies make money. Not a scam, just good marketing!
Below we’ll take a closer look at some of the top beauty subscription boxes, and the various aspects they entail. This way you’ll be able to make the most educated choice possible. Remember, you are paying for these, so you want to do as much due diligence as possible so that you don’t end up unhappy with your purchase.
Quality and Products
As with any product, there are regular versions and more upscale versions. Birchbox, Walmart Beauty Box, GlossyBox, and Ipsy are what we’d term “regular” beauty boxes. Yes, they contain a variety of products from a large number of brands, but these are not necessarily the brands you’ll find at Sephora. That doesn’t mean they’re not good and you won’t have fun using them— it just means that you shouldn’t expect the highest-end labels.
On the other hand, Julep, FabFitFun, LookFantastic, Dermstore’s BeautyFix, BoxyCharm, and Play! by Sephora are considered higher-level. While these won’t necessarily grant you an arsenal of Estee Lauder, Lancome, or Chanel, they will send you higher-quality products, both from recognizable companies and from more obscure brands.
Monthly versus Seasonal Beauty Boxes
Birchbox, Ipsy, Glossybox, LookFantastic, Dermstore’s BeautyFix, BoxyCharm, and Play! by Sephora are subscription boxes that arrive monthly on your doorstep.
The Walmart Beauty Box and the FabFitFun Beauty box come seasonally, which amounts to 4 times a year.
And still there is Julep, which allows you to pay per box, not per month.
You have the choice to decide how often you’d like to receive your beauty box. That choice will also depend on the cost of each subscription.
Don’t think that the marketing mavens of beauty products are giving away free gifts! While beauty boxes offer the anticipatory excitement of receiving new beauty products, remember that you are, in fact, paying for them.
The cost of each beauty subscription box varies, and it’s up to you to determine what your budget is or how much you’re willing to spend.
At the lower end, Birchbox, Ipsy Glam Bag, and surprisingly, Play! by Sephora, all cost $10/month.
Glossybox, Lookfantastic, and BoxyCharm cost about $20/month, while Dermstore’s Beauty Fix and FabFitFun are on the more expensive end, at $35.95/month and $50/season.
Julep and Walmart dance to the beat of their own drummers. Julep allows subscribers to create their own beauty boxes from a given selection of products, which means that the cost varies with each box. And Walmart doesn’t charge for the beauty box, but rather, charges a flat shipping rate of $5 per season.
Many of these companies offer yearly subscriptions (as opposed to monthly), which usually come out a bit cheaper in the long-run. Also, some offer free shipping, so that’s something to look out for as well.
Product Size and Amount
Some subscriptions will send you full-size products, while others will send you samples. The boxes that send you samples often offer the option to purchase the full size product, sometimes with a member-only discount. (Membership is free.)
For example, Birchbox, Dermstore’s BeautyFix, and Play! by Sephora offer sample-sized products, while FabFitFun, GlossyBox, Julep, and BoxyCharm offer full-size products.
On the other hand, how many products would you like to receive? Most beauty boxes come with 5, but there are some, such as Dermstore’s BeautyFix and Walmart that offer more.
Keep in mind, the beauty boxes that contain samples tend to cost less.
Making Your Decision
The main thing to remember is that signing up for a beauty subscription box is awesome! It’s a way for you to recapture some of the fun you used to have or to invent new fun altogether.
This means that you don’t need to stress about your decision—it’s not a marriage, after all. The worst that can happen is that you order one and don’t like it. It will be a $10-$20 one-time expenditure, and that’s it.
But the best that can happen is that you’ll love it! And receiving your box will be something you look forward to every month/season. While this might seem like a small drop in the bucket of life’s joys and dreams, it’s the little things that count, right?