What’s the only thing better than going on shopping spree to Sephora and buying things you definitely don’t need? Having a shopping spree delivered right to your house and spending way less than you would in the store for the same amount of stuff.
That’s right, ya’ll, we’re talking about beauty subscription boxes. These are a clutch way to discover new brands and decide if you like a product before buying it at full price, especially when you’re too lazy to return stuff to the store (raises hand). The best part is that these boxes are always valued significantly more than what you’re paying — so you could end up paying $25 for a box that contains $150 worth of stuff. One tiny item at the store is usually $25. Who’s gonna say no to finessing the system like that?
Plus, subscription boxes basically guarantee that you’ll never have an “I’m out of something” emergency again when it comes to your makeup bag. You’ll be getting a constant supply of new beauty products, like moisturizer, mascara, lipstick, and more, so you’ll always have backups when you run out of your staple products. And if they’re travel sizes, you can throw them in a purse or duffle bag and always be fully stocked when on the go.
Our main point? Signing up for a subscription box is like getting a birthday gift every damn month. Get ready to be on #fleek always.
We’ve picked out the best of the best beauty boxes, from makeup-only ones, to skincare-only ones, to fragrance-only ones, and everything in between. Some are ace for beginners who are just dipping their toes into the beauty stuff, and some are perfect for the experienced gurus who are willing to drop a little more dough. Seriously guys, there’s one for everyone.
Most will have some way to personalize the items you get, which is an appreciated extra convenience. (We all know makeup is far from one size fits all.) But remember: Subscription boxes are still like a grab bag. They can’t please everyone every single month, nor can they guarantee that every single item will be perfect. They’re trying to please the masses with a small rotation of items, and even if you don’t like an item, you’re still getting an insane value for what you actually paid.
Luckily, the cheapest ones come in at just $5 or $10 a month, and the most expensive one doesn’t exceed $40, so if you’re unhappy, it’s not a huge dent to your wallet. You can also cancel any time if your service sucks that bad (even though we’re pretty sure it won’t).
Without further adieu, here are the best subscription boxes for beauty junkies:
Loyalty points for discounts • High value for the price • Super customizable
Samples can be tiny • Less than stellar customer service
Getting five samples each month allows you to discover new go-to products constantly — just don’t expect a $10 box to singlehandedly stock your collection.
Each month, you’ll receive five beauty treats ranging from makeup, to hair stuff, to skincare, to fragrances from both premium and niche brands. The actual value of the boxes ranges from $20-$40 and considering you could spend that much on a single item at Sephora, so that value is pretty insane since you’re getting five items for $10. Keep in mind that most of the items will be really small. These are perfect to try new items before jumping all in on a full size or to throw in your bag for an on-the-go emergency kit — but you’re gonna be disappointed if you wanted Birchbox to singlehandedly stock your beauty collection. It’s $10, guys. You get what you pay for.
However, if you get a sample you really like, you can order a full size version (with free shipping) in the Birchbox shop, and then get $1 back in loyalty points for every $10 you spend. Hell yeah.
You can also choose between two different boxes each month: Choose a curated box (where you can see everything you’ll be getting) or you choose one of your samples and be surprised by the rest.
A reviewer from HelloSubscription writes about the June 2018 box:
“Birchbox did a great job yet again for this curation. Talk about variety! They sent a combination of skincare and makeup. I know there are a lot of versions of this subscription and they curated this box for my profile, but it really shows that they thought about which goodies to give us. I have a hair mask, shampoo and conditioner, brow gel and mascara, and moisturizer and serum. I like the serum the best as it offers anti-aging properties and protection to the skin. I can definitely bring these samples to try out for summer trips.”
Sign up and get 15% off of your first purchase here.
Affordable • Good amount of full sized items • Top of the line customization quiz
Long wait list • Some product repetition
Focusing more on makeup than on hair or skincare, Ipsy offers an impressive value for how low its monthly price is.
Worried that you’re going to keep receiving products that are just the wrong color or shade for your complexion? Don’t be. Ipsy’s beauty quiz will ask about your skin tone, hair and eye color, what colors of everything you usually go for, and even how much makeup you like to wear. Given that specificity, it’s pretty unlikely that you’ll get something that you hate in your box — but if you do, just review it online and Ipsy will take that into account for the coming months.
While Birchbox leans more toward body, hair, and skincare products (with a few makeup products thrown in), Ipsy is cosmetics all the way. If you’re looking for a box to show you new makeup brands, you can count on Ipsy to find your new favorite highlighter or liquid lipstick. We’ve heard that of all of the $10/month boxes (Ipsy, Birchbox, and Sephora Play), Ipsy is probably the best value (up to $80 worth of stuff) and is the most likely to include more full-sized items. Because of this, there can be a long waitlist for some months, but it’s definitely worth the wait.
Kristen R., a reviewer on Influenster writes:
“I love getting my Ipsy bag every month! I ALMOST never get products that I hate or won’t use. If you go on a review your bag each month it really helps to get better products that you actually will like and use. I’ve found out about a ton of new products that I now repurchase and are staples in my beauty routine. Some people complain about the size of the products but it’s $10, they’re not going to give you a full size UD lipstick or Tarte eyeliner! It’s not meant for you to build a collection the size of a makeup artist off of this alone, it’s to try new products and looks that you maybe otherwise wouldn’t. It’s like a little surprise in the middle of the month!”
Take your quiz and sign up here.
Test designer fragrance for cheap • You’re 100% in control • Excellent gift boxes
Questionable customer service • Lack of niche scents • Wonky shipping dates
With the slogan “Date perfume before marrying them,” Scentbird is a bang for your buck box with over 450 fragrance options.
You’re probably assuming that they’re those little tubes that are done after two sprays, but nope. Scentbird is unique in that it focuses just on scents, so your money is going toward a way bigger bottle than it would if makeup and what not were involved. Each month, you’ll get a .27 ounce, 30-day supply of a designer fragrance (men’s or women’s) of your choice, which is nice. Plus, if you’re really unsure of what to choose, you could always slip into a Macy’s or Sephora and take a whiff of a few scents, just to figure out which ones you like. There’s no return policy if you happen to not like your scent, but at any rate, you know what *not* to spend money on at full price.
Gifting is also made insanely easy with ScentBird — who would dislike a gift that makes them smell good? You have two options: Send the once-a-month subscription as is, or send a one-time gift box that includes three different vials based on a theme.
Stephen P, a reviewer on Highya.com, writes:
“I’ve been a happy customer from day one and plan on being one for a very long time! A very convenient system they offer, and anyone who loves Cologne like I do will love this subscription! Don’t hesitate and listen to me and subscribe to Scentbird. And the only advice I have is to research your cologne just to make sure you’re not ordering an inexpensive one that you could buy a whole bottle for at almost the same price and you will always be happy! They are very professional, friendly and always reply if you ever wrote them with anything!”
The general consensus seems to be that when Scentbird is good, it’s good and when it’s bad, it’s bad. Most issues arise from boxes not being shipped on time, which is definitely annoying — but at least it’s not a major dent to your pocket. Learn more and sign up for one, two, or three vials per month here, and read AskMen’s full review here.
Affordable • Tons of member perks • Insanely good reviews • Bonus fragrance sample
Only available in US • All sample sizes • Not customizable
If Sephora is your second home, this box is about to be your new best friend — complete with tons of in-store member perks.
is full of tons of sweet member perks aside from the makeup. You’ll be getting samples of the newest products to hit Sephora’s shelves, which is a smart way to make sure you’re not showing up to the store just to see that that just-released highlighter than you’ve been eyeing is already sold out.
The box will obviously only include items from brands that are sold in Sephora’s stores. Sephora has a massive assortment of brands you know you can trust, so this isn’t technically a bad thing — just something to keep in mind if you enjoy discovering the more obscure brands, or if you’re particularly a fan of MAC, Colourpop, Keihl’s, or NYX. Another thing to note is that the box is extra clutch if you live near a Sephora. You’ll be able to attend PLAY! Dates: Subscriber-only events that give you and a friend the opportunity to come in store, play with products, and meet beauty experts — AKA getting to do a whole face using free samples without getting yelled at. You’ll also get a Play! Book that offers tips and how-tos on each sample, and Play! Passes, which you can redeem in store for 50 bonus Beauty Insider points with a full-size purchase.
Rachael, a reviewer on ConsumerAffairs.com, writes:
“I love Sephora and I liked that I would be guaranteed to get samples of products that are carried in Sephora. If I like something I can go to Sephora and buy it and plus it comes with a bag and a card for 50 BI points. The brands are also ones that I am familiar with and so I know they are good. I love skincare and this had some skincare that I wanted to try and a hair product I had been wanting to sample. I also like that it includes a small fragrance sample each month. I was very pleased and I plan on continuing to purchase this bag.”
Learn more and sign up here.
6+ items each month • Very prestigious skincare brands
Pricey • No customization options
BeautyFIX is the ultimate self care box that will make skincare addicts very happy.
Self care has been a major buzzword on the internet in the past year or so, and BeautyFIX does an amazing job of helping its subscribers stay on top of their self care game. While they’ll usually throw in one or two luxury makeup items, you’ll mostly be collecting moisturizers, foreign soaps, anti-aging items, face masks, hair serums, dry shampoos, and more. Because what’s the point of buying expensive makeup if it doesn’t even stay on your skin, and what’s the point of getting your hair done if your hair is too damaged to hold color?
Lauren, a reviewer from Influenster, writes:
“I recently dropped every single subscription box I had (3 total) because the Beauty FIX box by dermstore was all I could ever possibly need. They are SKINCARE oriented and every brand they use is luxury and gentle. My favorite part is that you ALWAYS get at least one full size product. The amount of product they stuff into this box is amazing.”
One thing we did notice is that BeautyFIX doesn’t really offer any customization options or a quiz to let them know what type of skin you have. This seems a little strange, as skin types and the products that work with them usually aren’t one size fits all. This may not be a huge issue, as many items like toner, dry shampoo, and cleaners are things that everyone uses, but if your skin is temperamental, it might be best to stick with the routine you know.
Sign up and “get your fix” here.
Unique focus on K beauty • Can skip months • Control over your items
Pricey • Nail polish overload
Current skincare routine not cutting it? Julep Maven can help you get a youthful glow with the help of Korean beauty products.
Trying a completely new skincare routine can be intimidating, but Julep’s box allows you to dip your toes into the K beauty waters without forking over a ton of coin. You’ll receive things like special sponges, masks, and daily restoration items like moisturizers, de-puffing serums, and hydrating oils, as well as a ton of premium nail polish options. Falling asleep before you do your skincare routine at night is no longer an option, y’all.
Another bonus is that Julep Maven is hella customizable. There are five box types, focusing on nail polish only, makeup and skincare, or both. Then, for a four-day span each month (right before your box ships), you’re able to skim the website and pick a few products that you’d like to try. (This is especially helpful if you’ve had issues in the past with beauty boxes sending you items that don’t mesh with your skin or complexion.) However, if you’re clueless and don’t trust yourself to pick the right items, Julep also has a curated box. If the box isn’t in your budget for a month, you even have the option to skip the month or gift it to a friend.
Nicole, a reviewer on Influenster, writes:
“I never thought I’d be a beauty subscription box person. But after trying the Julep box for the first time I knew I’d be hooked. With the expanded make up and facial care products you get a chance to try out all kinds of neat products. The price point is nice and the option to change your box from what is curated for you is fantastic. Also, the flexibility to skip a month and the opportunity to earn Jules for free product is a nice added bonus.”
Upon signing up, you’ll receive a free nail polish set worth $168 when you enter promo code POLISHGIFT. Check it out here.
Extremely affordable • Pages of positive reviews • Customizable
No actual makeup items
Facetory’s monthly masks keep you fully stocked for spa nights at home.
Every month you’ll receive four unique masks, each offering a different benefit for your skin. Choose between the hella fun K beauty theme box or one of three personalized boxes that cater to your skin type (with options for oily skin, dry skin, or combo skin). Better yet, each box contains masks that combat whatever weather you’re facing in the current month. For instance, August’s box contains a green tea mask and a sunflower seed oil mask (as well as others) specifically chosen to reduce sunburn redness, hydrate after a long day in the sun, and protect against aging and skin damage. Boxes all come with instructions, so you’ll know the nitty gritty of how each mask can help your pretty face.
Reviewer Katy N. writes:
“This past new year, I made a resolution to spend more time on self care. Cliche, I know. I decided to schedule “Face Mask Friday” for myself and went in search of a subscription service because let’s face it – resolutions are hard, even without having to go to the store to become overwhelmed by mask selections. Facetory was exactly what I was looking for! The four pack works well, as it supplies me for the entire month of Face Mask Friday. There’s been a great variety of masks, and they have all be wonderful for the needs of my skin. The quality of the masks, the convenience of the service, and the practice of some self care/me time has been worth the price of the monthly subscription and more!”
All full sized items • Certified organic and cruelty-free • Great customer service
Pricey • Small number of items
Beauty shouldn’t sacrifice health — the Clean Beauty Box is the perfect mix of green and luxury.
According to the experts at Art of Organics (the people behind the Clean Beauty Box), people who use makeup and skincare items use about 12 products per day — and those contain an estimated 168 possibly toxic chemicals. (*Rethinks entire face routine.*) Not only is that disturbing on its own, but your skin is paying the price — just like your hair would if you dyed it and used heat on it constantly. If you refuse to leave the house without foundation or concealer or feel like you need to cake on layers, making the switch to organic products could be your key to naked face confidence.
The Clean Beauty Box partners exclusively with your new favorite grassroots brands that are committed to using safe, organic, ethically-sourced ingredients, while still making sure that everything feels luxurious. Each month, you’ll receive up to four full-sized items, including masks, face mists, eye gels, replenishing balms, lip exfoliants, and more. It’s an all-natural spa in a box, complete with totally Instagram-able packaging — what’s not to love?
Reviewer Sara B. writes:
“My first box and I’m completely hooked! After a few weeks of clean quality beauty products my skin is so happy! I stopped wearing foundation. I just throw on mascara and go. I want [to] savor the mineral mist, but my skin loves it. I end up spritzing all over – my face, body and hair. 💗 it’s so versatile!”
There are pages and pages of 5-star reviews, with numerous customers raving about the permanent changes they’ve seen in their complexions — but are we really surprised? A trustworthy box like this doesn’t come around often. Learn more and sign up here.
May the Instagram likes be with you.
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