Wantable Makeup Edition: Beauty Treats Tailored for You

By Amy Lu on 12 August 2013 (Updated 8 July 2014) 2 comments

Remember Wantable, the company that surprises you with beauty or jewelry products you'll probably love, for a flat fee? I received a box of jewelry to review last month, and those products were right up my alley — in terms of style if not in price. But if you're curious about their beauty offerings, too, I'm back to report my experience with Wantable's makeup box. (See also: Pretty, Cheap: Makeup Advice for the Frugal)

About Wantable

Here's a quick rundown on the Milwaukee-based company. (If you want the extended version, hop on over to my review of the Wantable jewelry box!)

  1. Complete a survey regarding your style (for the jewelry box) or makeup preferences (for the makeup box) — basically, tell them if you love, like, or dislike certain looks or products.
     
  2. Pay $40 for a single box or subscribe for monthly boxes at $36 each.
     
  3. Wantable's curators match you up with products you'll probably like based on your survey answers. They put together a personalized box valued at $80-$100 (50-60% savings) and send it to you.
     
  4. You receive the box and enjoy the products. (It's OK if you don't like them; the boxes include a prepaid return label.)

The Goodies

Wantable got my style just right with the jewelry box. How did they fare this time? Let's take a look at some of my survey responses:

  • Love: Eyeliner, Lip Color, Nail Polish, Tools
  • Like: Brows, Blush, Highlighter, Lash Product, Eye Shadow
  • Dislike: Bronzer

And here's what I got:

Brazen Cosmetics: Loose Brow Powder in Jane

I learned a very important lesson when I tried brow powder for the first time (meaning, this time) — a tiny bit of powder takes you so, so far. Once I figured out the right amount to use, the brow powder from Brazen Cosmetics was actually really easy to handle. It was creamy and it spread evenly. The Jane color might be too brown for my black hair and brows, but I'm willing to give it a chance to grow on me.

Speaking of growing, apparently this powder is fortified with green tea and rosehip extracts (mega antioxidants!) as well as vitamin E "to condition the hairs and inspire hair health and growth." Score!

Retail value: $18

FACE Stockholm: Matte Shadow in Joy

After the brow powder experience, I was much more careful about not going overboard again. It took a few passes with my brush before the color showed on my lids, and another few passes before it was as dark as I wanted for that day — so, not very dark. (I was only going to a Dungeons & Dragons session where tacos and buffalo wings are the normal fare; no need to glam out.)

Still, I think this color, a dark grayish brown called Joy, is versatile enough for a dragon-slaying day and a night around town. It's a nice, neutral color and the shadow itself seems very good at staying put in normal, not-sweating-a-bucket-or-dunked-in-water conditions. This matte shadow is definitely a keeper.

Retail value: $20

Cala: Travel Retractable Lip Brush

So uh, the lip brush broke on me before I even got it out of the plastic sleeve packaging. I pulled on one end, and the brush popped out followed by a narrow spring, and I was left with the outer casings still in the packaging, thinking, "Oh, crap! I broke it." I eventually figured out how to reassemble it, but there's no way the brush won't pop out again. (It does. It still does. See above, lower image.)

I really wanted to like this. I love the idea of a retractable lip brush because I hate dealing with the tiny brushes enclosed in makeup kits, and I'm paranoid about a full-sized lip brush smearing lip product all over my stuff if I haven't had the chance to clean it yet. Cala's retractable brush could've been the answer — but it wasn't. I might just apply small amounts of non-toxic glue in key spots to keep everything attached, but I'm disappointed that I would even have to go there.

Well, the brush itself gets the job done, so there's that.

Retail value: $8

29 Cosmetics: D'Vine Mascara

I like the D'Vine Mascara — I really do! After three coats of the water-based mascara, my lashes were longer, fuller, and darker than I had ever seen them. It wasn't clumpy, and I hardly felt the mascara on my lashes. In fact, by the end of the day, I'd forgotten that I was even wearing any. I did notice some smearing on my lower lid about two hours in, but that's pretty much normal for me and it's an easy fix. (I usually roll the end of a Q-tip in a small dab of lotion, then gently wipe at any messy or too-heavy makeup areas, such as smeared mascara or overenthusiastic brows. Works like a charm!)

Retail value: $26

Three Custom Color: Simply Beautiful Cheek Tint

I once tried the pressed powder blush that came with a makeup kit gifted to me long ago, but the results were…unfortunate. Still, I recently realized that I had the complexion of paste — I needed some color. Thankfully, Wantable sent me Three Custom Color's cheek tint, and I love it. It was easy to apply with my fingers and, when necessary, easy to tone down by gently wiping a clean finger over the excess. No fuss, no muss!

And for the record, Three Custom Color's Simply Beautiful Cheek Tint really is simply beautiful. It's such a gorgeous color. I count this as a Wantable win — I wouldn't have picked this on my own, nor would I have guessed it could go so well with my sun-deprived complexion. In case you missed it the first time, I LOVE IT!

Retail value: $22

Frownies Eye Gels

I love these eye gels less. This single set was a freebie (they usually come in packs of three sets), but you can use it for 2-4 treatments, 30 minutes each time, if you rehydrate the gels with the Frownies Rose Hydrator Spray. I did not have the Frownies Rose Hydrator Spray, so I looked around the web and found someone who used water instead with similar results. Good enough (and sufficiently cheap) for me!

Now, about the treatments. The eye gels are supposed to reduce fine lines and dark circles. The eye gels smelled like roses and they were refreshingly cool on my skin. And they were pretty secure where I placed them under my eyes, enough that I was able to walk around and be productive during the treatment. Then, about 10 minutes in, my eyeballs began to burn and I had to close my eyes for the remainder of that treatment. I noticed after removing the gels that the skin under my eyes looked smoother, but the gels did nothing for the dark circles. In fact, I think the strain of dried-out eyeballs made the dark circles even more prominent.

I figured, hey, maybe I wasn't supposed to keep my eyes open. The next two treatments, I made sure to keep my eyes closed for the whole 30 minutes. The burning sensation was less severe, but same deal — skin looked slightly better, dark circles seemed to worsen. (See also: 10 Spa Treatments You Can Do at Home)

Even as a freebie, I think I'll pass on this one.

Retail value: $0

Is It Worth It?

I noted in my last Wantable review that four to six brand new makeup products seem a bit much for me to handle, but it actually wasn't that bad. I already knew how to use the mascara and eye shadow (I mean, I get the gist of it), and though I've never used loose powder or cheek tint, I'm happy to have them in my makeup regimen now. The eye gels didn't work out for me, but I can shrug that off easily by virtue of it being a freebie that didn't count towards the total retail value of my box. The Cala lip brush was disappointing, but now I know that retractable lip brushes exist, so I can look for one that's (hopefully) better designed and (preferably) lower priced.

For me, that's where the value of a service like Wantable lies — it introduces me to products that I didn't know about, and I have it, right then and there. I can experiment, mess up, clean up, and look for ways to make it work, all in the comfort (and privacy) of my home, whenever I want, at my own pace. I can't really do that at makeup counters. And although there were some misses in this box, the hits were good enough to make me want to keep the goods rather than return everything. Remember, returns are all or nothing!

Of course, this is my first makeup box, and I don't own many beauty products, anyway. Odds were excellent that I wouldn't have and haven't used the kinds of goodies they send me. However, if you already have a sizeable cosmetics collection and you know what works for you, a makeup subscription with Wantable will probably just add more stuff that you won't ever finish using.

The retail value of everything in my box came out to $94, yielding 57% savings. I'll admit, that's a really good deal if you consider how expensive cosmetics can get…but I don't use expensive cosmetics. I can't justify it with my lifestyle and my budget. Likewise, with my lifestyle (and again, my budget), I can't justify a monthly subscription to Wantable. (See also: Cheat Sheet: Retail Markup on Common Items)

As an occasional treat for myself or a friend, though? Should be fun!

Disclaimer: I received another free box for another honest review.

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PurchaseWisely

Have you ever heard of Sephora? Or a department store makeup counter? No cost unless you decide to buy something, and the consultants will direct you to products you might not have tried on your own.

Amy Lu's picture
Amy Lu

I have, actually! I think makeup counters and Sephora are great and super useful for a lot of people, but the way I shop (accompanied by other people, sometimes on a time crunch) doesn't really allow for a thorough "What is this and how do I not hurt myself with it" session with a makeup consultant. And even if I don't have to buy anything, I always feel like I should if the consultant spent more than a few minutes trying to enlighten me. (I know, that's an anti-frugal trait I need to work on!)

Having the products delivered to me, ready for me to experiment with whenever I feel like it, seems like a good alternative. But since it costs more than I usually spend on makeup anyway, I think I'll stick to reading style blogs and researching product reviews and testing the cheapest version I could find.