Beauty Subscription Boxes: Are They Worth It?

As a beauty lover, one of my favorite things to do is test out new products. It is always a new experience. And if you are anything like me then you know how excited you get to swatch makeup at the department store, so actually trying them out at home is such a rush. But the worst thing is when you bought something new and it just did not turn out as well as you hoped. Maybe it is fine or maybe you want to return it, but can’t now that it has been used. Well wouldn’t it just be the coolest thing to be able to try out a bunch of new products without worrying about your budget?

Well, you can. With beauty subscription boxes that have taken over these past few years. You get to try multiple products from samples to full size, all for a low cost and high value. But how do you know which box is for you? Especially when it seems like there is a new one popping up everyday. Based on your budget, preferences and style, each box has their own uniqueness and value.

But some would ask… Is it worth it? In many cases, you are unaware of exactly what you are paying for. Maybe you are super picky with lip colors or are allergic to certain ingredients. All of these factor into which box is best for you and worth it. The cost of the items in a box may add up to more than what you paid, but would you actually buy them? These are the beauty boxes that are not only the most popular, but also have the best reviews and most coveted products for all.

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Photo via @Ipsy

Up first is one of the first: Ipsy Glam Bag. This is a monthly service that sends you five tailored beauty products for $10 plus free shipping. At one of the lowest price points, this bag still impresses. After taking a quiz about your preferences, each month you receive items that work for you. But is the quiz fool proof? No. I was a member for a few months, but kept receiving nail polishes, although in my quiz I said I do not paint my nails. With that, it fell flat for me. Another issue some people have is the sample size. You will sometimes receive full size products, but often this bag includes deluxe sample sizes and they are not always so deluxe. Others have said they receive multiples or unflattering colors of eyeshadows or lip products. But the plus side is the low cost and range of products. They send out everything beauty from nails and hair to makeup and skincare. And they include a range of price points, so if you love something, the full size will not always be super expensive. This is a great way to join the subscription box game, and just get your toes wet with what to expect. This bag definitely offers more than $10 worth of items, but it is more about how those items are of value to you.

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Photo via @CassidyyHannah

A newer box to the table is Sephora Play! This is Sephora’s exclusive box. It is also only $10 a month, includes 5 deluxe samples and free shipping. Rather than being personally curated, this box has a monthly theme that includes some of their most popular products. Some brands featured have been Living Proof, GlamGlow, Clinique, Benefit, Josie Maran, Nars, and so many more. Once again a common complaint with this one is the sample size. They tend to be very small, especially with skincare items you need time to test out. But the cost is worth it if you love Sephora, because some other perks of Play! are 50 bonus Beauty Insider points with your next in-store purchase and a free tutorial on how to use the products in that month’s box. Plus there is a monthly event exclusively for subscribers plus a friend to meet up and learn about the products. Each box also includes a unique makeup bag and an instruction card. With the affordable price and exclusive access, this box seems to be worth it if you are a Sephora fan and love interacting with the beauty community.

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Photo via BirchBox

Birchbox has long rivaled Ipsy as it also has a low price tag of $10 per month and features 5 deluxe samples. But rather than spending out trendy items, Birchbox tends to offer more prestige and indie brands. Their sample sizes have also been praised in the past for being so generous. With Birchbox, once again, you fill out a profile so that the products in your box suit you best. Starting with your second box, you can actually choose one out of three products to be featured in your box, and you will get four more that are a surprise. And everytime you review what you received they further curate your future boxes to be even more on point with your preferences. And you can actually purchase the full size of any samples in your box from their site with free shipping. Plus with every $10 you spend on their site you earn $1 in points for a future purchase. So if you prefer luxury or niche brands, and plan to purchase full sizes this may be the box for you.

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Photo via Beauty And The Least

The Target Beauty Box has the lowest price tag at only around $7, which means they sell out fast. These are a great way to try more affordable and full size products for a wonderful value, but you do not automatically receive one as a subscription. You have to stay alert and purchase them right away, which can be a downside. But you not only get to see what is in it before buying, you can also choose from different options. For instance, Target recently launched a Mother’s Day box and a brand box with Sonia Kashuk. Plus anything in your box is readily available at Target and on their website, and the boxes ship for free. So you won't take the risk to receive items you won't like. 

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Photo via @WZH3

As for the Amazon Sample Boxes that offer a wide variety, these are an exclusive for prime members. And they only include small sample sizes, like foil packets. But on the plus side they offer luxury and drugstore brands along with suncare boxes, everyday boxes, nutrition boxes and more. And these range in price from $7 to $20, but however much you spend, you will get it back as a credit for a future purchase in that product category. So in a sense, this box can turn out to be free and if your interest is in trying new products without needing a large size this may be the perfect box.

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Photo via Glossy Box

GLOSSYBOX is higher in cost as $21 per month. You can sign up for a monthly subscription or choose a plan of 3, 6, or 12 months. You will receive 5 beauty products that have been chosen based on your preferences. And the products you get are actually deluxes sample sizes that are quite generous and feature well known brands you may have been dying to try. You can also go to their site to see their previous boxes and decide if they look like something you would be interested in.

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Photo via BoxyCharm

BOXYCHARM competes with GLOSSYBOX as it is at the same price point of $21 per month and include 4-5 full size products. But if you sign up for a 3, 6, or 12 month pre-pay plan you can save money. This box features beauty tools, accessories, makeup and skincare from both well known and indie brands. Plus you get members only access to offers from beauty brands, chances to enter giveaways, and earn points to shop on their site.

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Photo via FatFitFun

Last, but certainly not least is FabFitFun, which you have surely seen shared all over your Instagram by every influencer you know. Rather than monthly, this is a quarterly box that costs $49.99 and is filled with full sized products adding up to a $200 value (sometimes more). This box can feature clothing, accessories, makeup, work out items, skincare and more. From every box I have seen, it seems completely worth it. The price can be a risk if you are picky, but the cost of all of the products is always over the amount you pay for the box. It just depends if you would actually purchase those products. Usually the colors and shades of products are quite universal and everything is pretty high quality. If you really want a box you can count on to be impressed, paying a higher price tag might just be the way to go.

Personally I am so picky that subscription boxes are such a game of chance. I am not a risk taker so the Target box is the most up my alley. Although I have been tempted by FabFitFun everytime I see it on my feed and one day expect to splurge on it as a gift for myself. But the other boxes are enormously exciting. Without any intention of joining, I still watch unboxing videos and reviews of the boxes, because I am so curious. If you want to see previous version of these boxes and how they stand up to one another you can find thousands of unboxing and review videos on YouTube for a more fully rounded look inside what these beauty boxes offer as a whole. Everyone’s taste varies, so what is yours? Which box catches your eye? Will you be joining any?


Cover photo via Yogi Approved