Monday, May 12, 2014

beauty boxes: choices, choices, choices!

If you're even slightly obsessed with products, what could be more fun than receiving a monthly package filled with products you've been wanting to try? Nothing. Around my house generally any mail, other than junk and bills, is considered exciting- and these beauty boxes just take it to another level. I've been experimenting with a few of these companies, you know, for the sake of the blog... it's purely investigative purposes that I try them out and let you know my thoughts. I think the "good, better, best" theory applies really well here:

Good: Birchbox
contents (all mini sizes): GUYandGIRL Shower Gel, Anastasia Clear Brow Gel, CLUB Color Nail Polish in Gold Struck, davines Absolute Beautifying Shampoo & Conditioner (packets), KIND Maple Pumpkin Seed granola bar

Birchbox pioneered these beauty boxes, making them one of  the most popular brands.

- When you initially sign up, Birchbox has you fill out a questionnaire in order to customize the contents of your box based on your skin & hair type and makeup preferences. 
- There are lot's of subscription options and price ranges. The standard (base package) is only $10 a month. 
- If you like a product from your box, you can order the full size version through Birchbox and get a discount.
- The box itself is really cute and I find myself using them around the house for storing items or reusing them for gift packaging.

- I've been less than impressed with the contents. All the products are travel sizes or little sample packets. Most of the brands are really niche and I've never heard of them. While I'm okay with trying new brands, there's not enough to really try.
- I've even received some random food items- one time it was tea, another time it was little pretzels and a granola bar (pictured above). Since this is a beauty box, I honestly don't know why food is thrown in.
- Even if you're only signing up for a one-month trial, your credit card info is stored in their system and if you don't cancel after the first month, you're automatically getting a box every month. This is fine if you want to continue with a monthly subscription, but if you don't then you need to remember to cancel it.

Better: Julep

contents (full-sizes): Julep Kajal Eye Glider in black & brown, Julep lip gloss in Charming, two nail files (orange cubes)
Julep is a originally a non-toxic nail polish brand that has branched out into cosmetics and skincare. Their beauty boxes are called Maven.

- Julep has you fill out a style profile that helps you choose between five different options. The good thing is you're not pigeonholed into your profile. Each profile offers different content. For instance, the "Bombshell" profile gets two nail polishes and one full-size beauty product. Maybe one month you want to switch to say the "It Girl" (which gets three nail polishes)? No problem! Julep totally lets you change up your Maven box each month, if you want.
- Maybe your friend has a birthday and you want to gift her your Maven box that month- Julep let's you do that too!
- Full-size product is a great perk!

- Maven boxes are pricier- there are two tiers to choose between and they start at $19.99 a month to $34.99 a month.
- While I really like Juelp nail polishes, their makeup is underwhelming.

Best: TestTube 

contents (left to right): GlamGlow Youthmud Tinglexfoliate treatment mask, Philosophy Full of Promise moisturizer, IT Cosmetics Heavenly Luxe Powder Brush (full-size), GrandeLash-MD Mascara, It's a 10 Miracle leave-in Lite, ORLY nail laquer in Beach Cruiser (full-size), Bioxidea Miracle 48 Excellence Diamond & Gold brightening mask, Stila face the day moisturizer, Mally High Shine Liquid Lipstick in (full-size), Lumene Pure Radiance Night Cream, Perlage luminous face primer, Tarte Pure Maracuja Oil Rollerball (full-size)  
New Beauty Magazine is one of my favorite reads and they created a subscription box called TestTube

- 4 full-size products + 9 other sample/deluxe sizes = worth the money. 
- The products are really good. A great mix of skin, hair, body and makeup with some brands I've heard of, some unknown brands, and some brands I've been wanting to try. They also give you a booklet of information on the brands and products. 

- TestTube is the most expensive all the three (of course) and is $29.95 but you only get it 6 times a year, so at least it's not a monthly cost.
- Well you only get it 6 times a year. That kinda stinks. 

*** In all honesty, I had a Birchbox subscription for over six months and just recently canceled it. It's just not for me, but I think that's partly due to the fact that I'm surrounded by beauty products and I just had higher expectations for the brand. I still think Birchbox would be great for someone who is interested in trying new brands but doesn't have a lot of time to research products.

As for Julep, I'm going to give them a couple more months and then I will probably cancel. I don't love their makeup and if that's what I keep receiving then it's just not worth the $20 a month. I'm going to keep TestTube for a while and see if each tube continues to be really good. 

There are so many other companies that offer monthly beauty box subscriptions, like Sample Society and Fab Fit Fun, and maybe someday I'll try 'em all. Do you have any experience with subscribing to a beauty box? I'd love to hear about it!

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