6 Beauty Subscription Boxes, Reviewed
Lisa Shin (Glossy Box)Are subscription-box services as much of a beauty blessing as they're cracked up to be? Health editors weigh in on which ones are really worth it.
Box #1: GlossyBox
$21 per month; monthly subscription required; glossybox.com
Perfect for: Lovers of luxe
How it works: Fill out a beauty profile, answering questions like "Which makeup style do you prefer: natural, nude, sultry, glamorous, dramatic?" and "What's your favorite type of makeup product?" You'll get a box of five or six sample-size items each month—from brands like Burberry Beauty, Tom Ford and SpaRitual—that match your preferences, as well as other products meant to surprise you. Also neat: You can see all the items in your box on the GlossyBox website before it arrives.
Tester's pro: "The limited-edition boxes you buy separately are my favorite part. They're often even more upscale than the basic box, and I love that you can send one to friends without having to sign them up for a subscription."
Tester's con: "It's on the expensive side—I do see the point of subscribing if you want to try out a lot of high-end stuff, but I'd generally rather buy something really nice that's full-size than throw down $21 every month for mostly samples."
Lisa Shin (RocksBox) Box #2: RocksBox
$19 per month; monthly subscription required; rocksbox.com
Perfect for: Accessory addicts
How it works: Take a survey about your bling style—do you gravitate toward sleek bangles or big statement necklaces? Then the service will send you a box of three designer pieces (worth about $200). You can sport them for as long as you'd like, or mail 'em back for another box. And if you click with a piece—or the whole box—you can buy whatever you want for 20 percent off.
Tester's pro: "I got to test-drive some really nice jewelry I otherwise wouldn't have splurged on—I wore one bangle to a black tie wedding and received tons of compliments."
Tester's con: "This could really add up. I got attached to a pretty pair of House of Harlow 1960 earrings I now have to have; I can see myself getting obsessed with expensive pieces."
Box #3: Birchbox
$10 per month; monthly subscription required; birchbox.com
Perfect for: Beauty dabblers
How it works: The original beauty subscription-box service, Birchbox sends five beauty products (our tester got goods like a Stila lip gloss and Dr. Jart hand cream) tailored to your profile. The teched-out site also has how-tos for what you receive, so stuff won't go to waste.
Tester's pro: "Getting the box felt like a treat. The gloss was exactly what my lips needed for the winter months— I just didn't know it at the time."
Tester's con: "The first 'welcome' box wasn't totally geared to my preferences— though once I filled out the profile, the items did get more personalized."
Box #4: Goodebox
$19 for pay-as-you-go or $16 per box for a yearly subscription; goodebox.com
Perfect for: Fans of all things eco
How it works: As with the other beauty services, you take a survey about your skin and makeup routines. Then Goodebox mails you a box of clean, health-conscious beauty products. Just know that they won't be some of the bigger brands you're used to. For example, our tester got Au Naturale Cosmetics Organic Eye Shadow Stick, which is gluten-free, paraben-free and vegan.
Tester's pro: "I like that in my box there was one non-beauty product—an adorable notepad by the brand Ecojot that I plan to keep in my purse."
Tester's con: "It was a little too granola for my taste—even though the products are made with great intentions, they didn't all do the job."
Perfect for: No-time-to-shop types
How it works: It's like hiring a stylist for a fraction of the cost (and the per-box fee goes toward purchases). Highlight your style preferences on the site and you'll receive a box of five items, with a card of ideas for what to pair the threads with. Choose what you want (get 25 percent off if you buy it all), then mail back the rest.
Tester's pro: "Even though I didn't buy anything, I did get a cute vest I never would have thought to pick out."
Tester's con: "It's important to take the time to tell the stylist what you like—or you're just eating the styling fee."
Lisa Shin (Ipsy) Box #6: Ipsy
$10 per month; ipsy.com
Perfect for: Total trendsetters
How it works: Started by beauty YouTube star Michelle Phan, Ipsy sends a little cosmetics bag that you can keep—bonus!—filled with four to five great products from brands like Smashbox and Josie Maran. The service also focuses on creating a community, so you can connect with and follow other beauty fans on the site, comment on their profiles and even earn "ipsyPoints" by completing product reviews or other tasks. Members can redeem the points for free samples and full-size products.
Tester's pro: "I'm an organizing nerd and wind up separating my stuff into little bags anyway, so I like that the products come in a small pouch you get to keep."
Tester's con: "Every month, there's a trend-based theme, such as Girl Meets Glitter. If you're not into it one month, you could be receiving products that you'll never really use."