Which Beauty Subscription Boxes Are Worth the Cost?


The cost of makeup and skin care items can really add up. Trying new items can be fun, but it can wreak havoc on your wallet. This is where a makeup or beauty subscription box can really come in handy. It will allow you to try sample-size or full-size versions of new makeup, skin care, and hair care items at one affordable monthly cost, all delivered right to your door.

The average woman spends $43 per shopping trip on makeup and beauty essentials, and a subscription box typically costs less than that (and includes various must-have items). This means that you can actually save money by relying on subscription boxes, as long as you aren't still buying makeup and beauty items on the side.

To ensure you're getting the most for your money, it's important to carefully consider which subscription is likely to yield wins for your style. Once you've found a subscription that interests you, take a look online at some of their past boxes to see if they suit you. If it looks like you'd be happy with most of the boxes that they've sent in the past, then there's a good chance that you'll be happy with their future boxes as well.

The Benefits of a Beauty Box Subscription

With a beauty subscription box, you can try items that you may not have tried otherwise. This can help you expand your makeup and beauty horizons and find items that can change up your look.

Getting a subscription box in the mail can feel like you're getting a gift every month, and can even help you avoid Sephora's impulse buys altogether. Best of all, instead of getting nothing but bills and spam, you can receive a subscription box full of goodies that you get to unwrap.

How to Save With a Subscription

Beauty subscription boxes aren't necessarily a frugal purchase. They can cost anywhere from $10-$40 every month. However, if you tend to purchase beauty and makeup items for yourself every month anyway, then this can help prevent the need for retail therapy, and actually help save you money in the end.

What to Expect With Your Subscription

You can expect to receive new makeup, skin care, and/or hair care products in your makeup or beauty subscription box. You can skip a month if needed, put your subscription on pause, or cancel if you find that it's not worth the cost. They typically renew automatically, so it is up to you to cancel after the first box if you aren't happy.

Subscription boxes have grown substantially in popularity and now comprise a multibillion-dollar industry. With so many beauty and makeup subscription boxes available, it can be difficult to find the right box for your life. To generate customized boxes to your liking, the subscription service will most likely have you complete a simple profile with questions about your lifestyle and preferences.

1. Birchbox

Birchbox was one of the first companies to jump on board the subscription box train, and they are still doing it better than anyone else. Birchbox takes pride in never sending the same samples twice. This ensures that you'll be able to try new items every month, and will never get bored.

What Makes Them Different

Birchbox is perfect for both makeup mavens and beginners. Every month, you'll receive 4-5 high-end hair care, skin care, makeup, and/or perfume items, based on an online questionnaire. Sometimes they even include sweet treats, coupons, stationery, and other unexpected surprises. Once you sign up, you can complete a short online profile, which allows Birchbox to customize each box of samples to fit your needs. At only $10 per month, it's worth a try.

Birchbox also offers a box for men at $20 per month. It frequently tops the list for best subscription boxes for men. They send high-end style, shaving, hair care, skin care, and body care items every month.

BuzzFeed and NY Times also recommend the men's and women's Birchbox subscriptions thanks to their generous loyalty program, which provides discounts to shop on the Birchbox site for the products you like. If you refer friends or review your samples every month, you can earn points, which can be redeemed in the online Birchbox shop. If you review all five items in your box, you'll receive $5 to spend in the online shop, which means the woman's box comes out to only $5 and the men's box comes out to $15.

Cost: $10 per month for women, $20 per month for men

2. Ipsy

Ipsy was created by YouTube beauty vlogger, Michelle Phan, so there is a huge YouTube community for tutorials and fun new ways to use the items included in each month's box. After filling out a personal quiz, you will receive 4-5 deluxe sample and full-size makeup, skin care, and hair care items to try every month.

What Makes Them Different

They send everything from high-end items to drugstore brands, so you never know what to expect. Most months have a retail value over $40, so it's a great value. The items come in a new collectible makeup bag every month, which is worth the $10 alone.

Cost: $10 per month

3. Glossybox

Glossybox allows you to pamper yourself by sending five luxury beauty products every month. It all comes packaged in a keepsake pink box. Everything from the upscale products to the packaging is carefully designed to make you feel posh.

What Makes Them Different

Glossybox also goes the extra distance to make you feel like you're receiving a gift every month. The deluxe samples are chosen from all around the world, so you can be sure that you're really getting the very best beauty and makeup products available. You can even take part in beauty trends you've never even heard of from other countries. They also offer special limited edition boxes every month, which typically cost $40, with a retail value over $100.

Cost: $21 per month

4. Allure Beauty Box

Every month, you'll receive deluxe sample products from high-end brands. Previously known as Sample Society, the Allure Beauty Box includes items that are hand-picked by Allure editors.

What Makes Them Different

These items are deemed the best of the best, so you'll get to try what everyone is raving about.

Cost: $15 per month

5. Wantable

Wantable offers a variety of different boxes, including fitness, makeup, fashion accessories, intimates, and "ready-to-wear" boxes.

What Makes Them Different

The makeup box includes 4-5 full-sized makeup and skin care products, designed to fit your style profile. Wantable has some of the highest user reviews online. They will also accept returns, if there is anything that doesn't suit your style, skin tone, or personal preferences.

Cost: $36-$40 per month

6. New Beauty TestTube

New Beauty TestTube is a bimonthly box that includes at least eight deluxe-size and full-size New Beauty editor-tested beauty favorites.

What Makes Them Different

If you find that it takes you awhile to use up everything in a beauty box, then these bimonthly tubes may be best for you. They sometimes send the same products, so if you subscribe for more than a year, you might receive some dupes.

Cost: $29.95/every other month (plus shipping)

7. Beauty Army

Every month, you'll get to choose six samples from a new selection of beauty samples with Beauty Army.

What Makes Them Different

This will allow you to try new things every month, but you'll also get to choose what you want to try beforehand, so you'll be more likely to actually use everything in your box.

Cost: $12 per month

8. BoxyCharm

You'll receive 4-5 full-size products every month from some of the best beauty brands. BoxyCharm offers one of the highest values of any beauty or makeup box.

What Makes Them Different

They also offer tutorials and looks online to help you get more from your monthly box.

Cost: $21 per month

9. Beauty Box 5

With Beauty Box 5, you'll receive a mix of five deluxe sample and full-size makeup, body care, skin care, nail care, and fragrance products, from some of the best brands.

What Makes Them Different

This will allow you to try new items every month, at a fraction of the cost of the full-size versions.

Cost: $12 per month

10. Beauty Fix

Beauty Fix includes 6-8 professional grade beauty items every month.

What Makes Them Different

You will see a lineup of 60 items and can choose your favorite deluxe samples and full-size items to try each month. They feature high-end items from DermStore.com, so the value of each box is over $100 every month.

Cost: $24.95 per month

11. Julep Maven

This is the perfect box for nail polish addicts. The Julep Maven box includes new nail polish colors and other beauty items, based on your personal profile.

What Makes Them Different

Typically, each box includes two new nail polishes, plus items like hand scrubs, moisturizers, or nail files. Each month, you'll receive an email with a preview of the following month's items, so you can choose to keep it or skip the month.

Cost: $19.99 per month

So Is It Worth It?

Each of the boxes included here includes at least the value of the box, so it will pay for itself every month. If you find that you aren't using the items in the monthly boxes, of if the monthly fee is cutting into your monthly budget or goals, then it may be time to cancel. The best way to determine what's right for you is to determine what you're actually spending on beauty items each month, and aim to spend less than that on a subscription box.

With subscription boxes, you are able to try different products that you may not have otherwise tried. They may also send items that you've been wanting to try, but haven't purchased yet. With subscription services, you can conveniently try the items out before you spend full price on the full-size.

Which Offers the Best Value?

Both Ipsy and Birchbox charge $10 per month. Some subscribers prefer Ipsy for the included makeup bag and online community, while others prefer the higher-end items and themed boxes from Birchbox. Typically, Ipsy includes a greater value of items, but may include some off-brand items, while Birchbox offers items from better, more renowned brands.

Both BoxyCharm and Glossybox charge $21 per month. BoxyCharm guarantees that your box will have a retail value over $100, while Glossybox sends favorite makeup and beauty products from around the world. Nearly every reviewer will agree that BoxyCharm offers the best value for the cost of nearly any box. However, Glossybox offers a better selection as they usually include a good balance between hair care, skin care, and makeup items each month.

You Can Always Cancel

Subscription boxes are an affordable way to try new things every month, but if you're not getting use out of the products, then it can be a huge waste of money. If you find that you aren't using most of the items in your box, or you just don't feel that they're worth the value, then cancel your box. Some boxes, like Wantable, will also allow you to return any items you don't like (or the whole box).

You can always rejoin later if you start to miss the monthly gift. Keep in mind that if you sign up for multiple months upfront (like a three-month subscription), you may not be able to cancel it at-will and will automatically receive the boxes you already paid for.

Take Advantage of Future Discounts

Most subscription boxes have some form of discount included in the box. While some will send coupons for the full-sized products, other boxes will automatically provide a discount if you decide to purchase the full size of a sample included in your box.

Swap It Out

There are various swapping platforms available online, which allow subscribers to swap out makeup and beauty products that they don't like for a product another subscriber received in their box. This will ensure that you get what you want in the end.

Try It for Free

Most subscriptions will offer some form of a free trial, so look for a promo code before making the investment, if possible. Once you sign-up, you can usually earn points toward free boxes when you refer your friends.

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