Skin care

The Box Trot

A few months ago I decided to give in to the hype, and sign up for a couple of beauty subscription boxes in the name of research. It has been really exciting to get little gifts in the mail every month. I am going to begin a weekly compare of products that I receive, but first I want to do a review of the boxes themselves. All is certainly not created equally in the world of the boxes.Birchbox– Birchbox is perhaps the most well-known of the subscription boxes. The subscription is $10 a month, or $110 a year. A typical box contains between four and eight full sized and deluxe sized samples.

What I like about Birchbox– Birchbox offers samples of high end brands like Smashbox, Claudalie, Oribe, Dr. Brandt, Benefit, and Liz Earle. These are the brands you’d find at Sephora. Occasionally they will send a brand like Pixi, which is still higher end, but available at Target, but this is the “worst,” it gets. Birchbox also offers a variety of natural products, which makes me happy. Each month has a new Lifestyle theme, so along with makeup and skincare, they also sometimes send gourmet food, tea, and home samples like Love Organic Teas, Kind Bars, and Greenleaf candles and sprays. It is a really nice touch. The boxes are sleek, prettily packaged, and also contain literature, coupons, and other information about the products included. All in all, I consider it a wonderful deal, and I very much look forward to getting it each month. Birchbox makes purchasing easy as well. They have a shop built right into their website featuring full sized versions of the samples they send. (I encourage you to shop around though, as you can often find them cheaper elsewhere.) The upside to buying on the site is that you get “points” which can be applied to purchases. These points can also be earned by reviewing, and “sharing” your product preferences. (I have not taken much advantage of this aspect. But it is a good thing to offer.)

When you sign up for Birchbox, you take a quiz that accounts for everything from your skin tone to your preference for types of product that you receive. I felt, from jump, that Birchbox got this pretty spot on. I can’t think of a single sample that I have rejected out of hand.

What I dislike about Birchbox- It is rare that I cannot think of something to complain about, but I’ve got nothing here. It is an amazing deal, high quality products, fun to unwrap, and always a surprise. If I HAD to complain, the one thing I can say is that I wish they’d pick up MY products!!Ipsy (Glam Bag)– Ipsy’s big claim to fame is that, instead of a box, your samples come in a different adorable pouch each month. As a collector of many fine tiny bags, this really appealed to me. Subscription cost is $10 a month, or $110 a year.

What I like about Ipsy- The bags. The bags are SO adorable. Each month has a theme, like Birchbox, but Ipsy focus more on style that lifestyle. Ipsy offers brands like Urban Decay, Dr. Brandt, and Pixi. They also include a number of natural products. (Which you can specifically express preference for in your profile quiz.)

What I dislike about Ipsy- There are only five samples each month, and they often seem skimpy. While they DO offer luxury brands, they also slip in a number of drugstore brands like Big Sexy Hair, Pacifica, and Costal. (High end drugstore brands, but still…) They also often include brands that I have never even heard of. Sometimes that is a wonderful new discovery, and sometimes it feels like I raided the shelves at Ross or Marshalls. Not bad, per se, but very inconsistent. Ipsy offers a quiz on joining, as do most of these subscriptions, but this one seemed to have less of an impact on what I actually get. It took months of very poorly rating colors that my complexion can’t handle before they stopped coming.You can also earn points with Ipsy by reviewing products and showing off the looks you create, but these points can only be redeemed for a limited selection of bonus samples. There is no store on the website. You will be linked to external sites to purchase. They should also carry my products.

Beauty Box 5– BB5 is a newcomer to the scene. Subscription is $12 a month, $30 a quarter, or $99 a year. Each box contains between 3 and 8 full sized and deluxe samples.

What I like about BB5- It contains a wide variety of offerings, and often comes with a full sized product. It also offers a quality variety, which allows people to sample drugstore brands as well as higher end brands. They offer a quiz upon sign up, and they seemed to do well translating my look and preferences into my orders. They also offer an on-site store which is convenient.

What I dislike about BB5- The variance in quality can be a bit much, especially when held up to the other two subscriptions. The brands they offer range from Secret Deodorant, to Rusk and Welda, but tend to trend more towards the former. The upside of this is that they are able to include more of the full sizes, which makes it mostly worthwhile. They don’t carry our products, either.

There are a number of other subscription services out there that I have not tried. In particular, I want to try Meme Box and Fab Fit Fun. Maybe in the new year? What about you? Have you tried any of the subscription services? What do you hate, or recommend?

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