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Comparison of Top Beauty Subscription Boxes/Services

Updated on May 31, 2014

What Are Beauty Box Subscription Services?

Beauty box subscriptions are the most popular sub genre of the sampling service industry. A subscription boxes were created with the main idea of providing an avenue for consumers to discover new brands, try out sample size products so they do not have to commit to a full size product, and to get it all at a reduced rate.

With new subscription services popping up every day, it can be hard to decide which one to invest your money in. Each company has a unique take to how they will curate their products, which is really what differentiates that box. Most subscription services are monthly, however there are also quarterly, and six times a year options as well.

The prices vary as much as the contents, ranging from around $10 up to $200 or more. Because this is a review and comparison of the most popular, and mainstream, beauty boxes, they are at a reasonable price point of between $10 and $40.

There are thousands of subscription services, from a beer of the month club, to a toddler toy selection, you can have it all delivered directly to your front door. Even within the beauty box sub genre there are hundreds of options. I have chosen the boxes with the most subscribers, and established brands.

If you are looking to try out new products that you may never have heard of if not for a service, these boxes are for you. Also, most boxes tout having a way higher value than the cost of the box, which translates to big savings for you, the consumer.

In each box review you will see the box basics, the demographics of the box, as in what percentage is face product, makeup, and hair product, along with the cost, etc.

Sample Society

Sample Society Review

Cost: $15 a month

Sample Society is a collaboration between Beauty Bar and Allure. The subscription service also includes a subscription to allure magazine, which is an added value which should be taken into consideration when calculating the worth of the box. The products tend to be higher end and are curated by the Allure editors.

I sampled 19 boxes with a total of 98 products.

Face Products: 47.1%

Makeup: 17.3%

Hair Products: 12.2%

Lotion/Body Wash: 7.1%

Perfume: 7.1%

Miscellaneous: 6.1%

Nail Polish: 3.1%

Some of the miscellaneous items include: cuticle oil, candles, self tanner, and hair accessories.

This is the box to choose if you want high end products and a subscription heavy on face products.


Birchbox Review:

Cost: $10 a month

Birchbox is credited as being the first beauty box subscription. It is one of the most affordable options, and is highly customizable. About 50 boxes are curated each month, and the box you receive is determined by your answer to a survey when you first subscribe. The products are mid-tier and usually well balanced between categories. Another amazing addition to this subscription is their reward program. For ever product you review you get points which you can redeem for full size products in their online store. The points add up quickly, and really do add value to the box.

I sampled 20 boxes with a total of 105 products.

Face Products: 21.9%

Hair Products: 20%

Miscellaneous: 20%

Makeup: 16.2%

Lotion/Body Wash: 8.6%

Nail Polish: 7.6%

Perfume: 5.7%

Some of the miscellaneous items include: chocolate, tea, and hair accessories.

This is a great starter box, and the box to choose if you want a well balanced, affordable option.

Beauty Army

Beauty Army Review

Cost: $12 a month

This subscription is a little bit different. Just like with Birchbox, you complete a survey, and the curators choose products based on the results. However, instead of just having those products shipped to you automatically, you then can go online and pick which six products, out of the approximately ten options they presented to you, you actually want. If you don't like your results, you can redo your quiz! This offers more control but takes away the surprise element. Then again a lot subscription services have spoilers.

I sampled 18 boxes with a total of 108 products.

Face Products: 30.7%

Miscellaneous: 24.9%

Makeup: 20.2%

Hair Product: 14.5%

Lotion/Body Wash: 7.8%

Nail Polish: 1.9%

It is important to note that the demographics of your box can be very different based on what you choose.

Some of the miscellaneous items include: soap, gift cards, and tea.

This is a great box to choose if you want more control over what you receive.

Ipsy Glam Bag

Ipsy Glam Bag Review

Cost: $10 a month

This subscription service is actually not a box like the others, but a bag. The products come in a reusable makeup bag every month, which adds to the value of the subscription.This subscription always seems to be in direct competition with Birchbox. They are probably the two most widely known, and are also at the same price point. One think that differentiates this subscription is that you receive a lot more full size products than with other boxes. However, it is very makeup heavy. It is also known for having a wide range of brands.

I sampled 23 boxes with a total of 121 products.

Makeup: 60.1%

Face Products: 12.4%

Hair Products: 11.5%

Nail Polish: 10.7%

Miscellaneous: 8.2%

Lotion/Body Wash: 4.1%

Some of the miscellaneous items include: tools, makeup brushes, and jewelry.

This is the subscription for you if you want an affordable option with a lot of makeup.

New Beauty Test Tube

New Beauty Test Tube Review

Cost: $30 every other month

It is important to note that there is the QVC Test Tube, and the New Beauty Test Tube, which is the one I am reviewing here. This subscription, which comes in a cool tube, is bi-monthly, while the QVC Test Tube is quarterly. Although it only comes every other month, they pack it full of about double the products that other subscriptions have, making it work out pretty equally in comparison. This box offers a lot of variety, both in products, brands, and tier of quality. Unlike some boxes who include mostly eyeliner or eye shadow in their makeup category, this one always has variety, with unique picks.

I sampled 10 boxes with a total of 107 products.

Face Products: 38.3%

Hair Products: 24.3%

Makeup: 17.8%

Lotion/Body Wash: 8.4%

Miscellaneous: 8.4%

Nail Polish: 2.8%

Some of the miscellaneous items include: makeup brushes, candles, and a perfume bar.

This is a well rounded box with the most bang for your buck.

Beauty Box 5

Beauty Box 5 Review

Cost: $12 a month

Out of all the boxes I have reviewed, I would consider this the most new and up and coming subscription service. This box includes a lot of glitter, and seems to be targeted at a younger age division, compared to other services who have subscribers of all ages. The box has more miscellaneous items than most beauty boxes, and there are also a lot of repeat brands. Although that means less of a discovery element, they are cult favorite brands, and it is still an affordable price.

I sampled 20 boxes with a total of 105 products.

Makeup: 29.4%

Miscellaneous: 26.5%

Face Products: 21.7%

Lotion/Body Wash: 10.3%

Hair Products: 6.5%

Nail Polish: 5.6%

Some of the miscellaneous items include: a brush, mirror, and self tanner.

This is the box for you if you want odds and ends to go along with beauty products.


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