Sunday, March 17, 2013

Subscription Services : Real Talk

Well friends and readers, it's about time I do another subscription service post. I think that I may continue to do this monthly to give you an idea of what each month entails when you have a beauty subscription service. In this post, I'm going to talk about three boxes: Birchbox, Ipsy, and Starlooks and I'm also going to tell you about two boxes that I cancelled. Keep reading to see what I got and if you might be interested in one of these subscription services!

First up is ipsy, which isn't actually a box, it comes in a pink bubble mailer as seen above. Ipsy is $10 a month and that includes the shipping costs. They generally ship out on the tenth of each month and the service includes 4-5 beauty samples, some of which are deluxe sized. What makes ipsy a little different than the other services is that all of the goodies come in a makeup bag that relates to the "theme" of the month.

ipsy's samples are usually what I refer to as more "affordable" than those that come in other boxes. I don't feel like they are luxury items, but they aren't cheap. The other thing about ipsy is that the samples are generally more makeup related and less overall beauty related. Nail polish, eyeliners, eye shadows, and lipglosses are all things to expect in an ipsy bag. For March, the theme was travel and the samples included were: Juice Hydrating Spray, Fresh Makeup Removing Wipes, GlamRX fillable palette, and two eyeshadows (see below). The little card that comes with the bag has discount or promo codes for all of the brands included in the bag.

These two shadows are each about the size of a dime and fit into the refillable palette. The bottom of the palette is magnetized so that the shadows don't fall out. ipsy, along with other subscription services, give out different colors for their samples. For the month of March, the only difference between the bags was eye shadow colors; I received teal and sand colored eye shadows, but the other options were a dark pink and a pink toned white. If you are interested in ipsy, you can check them out at

Next up is Birchbox, which is also a $10 a month subscription box. The Birchbox is targeted more to customization as they have a fairly detailed profile that you fill out prior to getting a box. This subscription service also tends to have more "luxury" samples, meaning that they pull from more prestigious brands such as Lancome and Stila. Birchbox does send out makeup samples, but they also pull more from the overall beauty category so you may receive perfume, nail polish, creams, lotions, and a little Birchbox favorite, a lifestyle extra. Lifestyle extras can be anything from a Luna Bar to headphones, it just depends on what the theme of the month is. I'm showing the March box from Birchbox so that you can get an idea of what their boxes look like.

When you open your Birchbox, you have a little card that tells you all of the samples that you received and what they are used for (and their full size cost). The other side of the card has a little greeting from the founders, but... to be honest, I never read that. Birchboxes come with 4-6 samples and you can review each samples for points. The points that you accumulate turn over into dollars to spend in the Birchbox shop. For example, if I got 6 items and reviewed all of them, I would get 60 points. Once you reach 100 points, you get a $10 credit to spend in the Birchbox shop which sells tons and tons of products. Your points expire after a year, so you can stack your points up for quite a while.

What you see once you peel back the tissue paper.

And all of the goodies inside the box! I won't lie to you guys, this month was a particularly good month for me with Birchbox and it seems a little unfair to use this in a comparison post, but that's just how it works. Anyway, what I got in this box was: Macadamia hair oil, Macadamia Deep Repair Hair Masque, Make Makeup Remover, Make Lipstick, Rollerball perfume, and a nail file from Madewell + Birchbox. One thing that I really like about Birchbox is that they often work with up and coming companies, which makes sense, because Birchbox was an up and comer at one point. This month, since Birchbox also teamed up with Madewell, they emailed all subscribers a coupon for $25 off a $75 purchase. The nail file is what would be considered a lifestyle extra, but it adds a nice touch to the box. You can also see that only one item I got is truly a makeup item, the rest fall under the beauty category. If you are interested in Birchbox, you can check them out at (please note that this is a referral link).

Starbox is the last box that I have in my possession that I'm going to review for you guys. I am not a current subscriber of the Starlooks Starbox and I actually won the box that I have. However, they are a newer company and I wanted to review this because it's the only 100% makeup centered box that I've found out there. I'm not 100% sure what month this is, but I think it's the February box for them. Starbox is a tad more expensive than the other two with a monthly price of $15, but again, it's completely makeup based. One thing about this box is that you would really need to like this company's makeup because that's all you get in these boxes. They do not pull from numerous brands; they only pull from their own makeup. That being said, you can buy previous boxes on their website (at an elevated price) to test it out and see if you like it enough to subscribe.

When you open up the Starbox, it looks very similar to Birchbox with the tissue paper and a card telling you what each item is. 

This was a curated box and the theme was pink, so that explains why everything was pink. Unfortunately for me, I'm not a huge fan of this particular box, but I thoroughly appreciate the idea. What was included in this box was: a pink lipgloss, a pink liquid blush, a pink lip liner, and a pink eyeliner. The pink eyeliner troubles me, but I think it can double as an eyeshadow (kind of like the Maybelline Color Tattoos). I'm still observing this box service before I decide if I want to subscribe just because I want to see the variety that goes out every month. If you are interested in the Starbox, you can check it out at

And now, two reviews of boxes that I previously got and do no longer (and why).

Sample Society: I had this for about 6-7 months before I decided to stop my subscription to this service, so I feel like I can speak pretty well about it. The quality of these boxes is actually pretty amazing and I don't regret quitting my subscription, but it did make me a little sad. First, the facts: this box is $15 a month and includes anywhere from 4-6 samples. A lot of the products that they sample are truly luxury brands and can carry a hefty price tag. They also include a coupon every month for $15 off a $50 purchase that includes one of the brands sampled.

The reason that I quit this box (and I mentioned this in the first post I made about subscription services) is that I felt like it was reaching for a slightly more mature audience. I think that this box is perfect for women 30 or 35+ since a lot of the products seemed to be geared toward women that 1) make a decent salary and 2) have aging concerns. I did get some pretty awesome beauty items in these boxes, like the full sized Deborah Lippman nail polish, but it was just too mature for me and my wild beauty ways.

Glossybox: I have been subscribed to Glossybox on two separate occasions and neither occasion turned out well. The first time I was subscribed to Glossybox was when they first came to America in 2012 and the second time was this year. Glossybox bills itself as a luxury box and it costs the most of all at $21 a month. They also have a points system, but it confuses me and the only thing I can comprehend from it is that once you reach 1000 Glossydots (points), you get a free box. 

The first time I was subscribed to Glossybox, the biggest issue I had was with the quality of the items. Sure, they included some stuff that would be considered "luxury", but it was the kind of stuff that you use it and you look at the price and think "They charge how much for this???". They also include a lot of international items, which I like in theory, but most of the items just struck me as cheap. That was why I cancelled the first time around; I didn't feel like I was getting enough value for my money.

The second time around, I subscribed because they had a box curated by The Man Repeller (who I love!) and they sneak peeked some of the items and I liked them all. Honestly, the box was worth well over the $21 that I paid; I got a full sized lipstick and a full sized OPI polish, which together were worth $35. Glossybox often has a lot of samples (more than 5) and really, the Man Repeller box was amazing, but the customer service was atrocious. I read horror stories from other people about multiple charges on their credit cards, charges and no boxes, and no response from the CS team. The other big issue that I had with that second time around is that they kept pushing back the ship date. I subscribed in December for the January box... I got the box in February. They sent email after email about delays and posted on their Twitter about delays, which I can understand, but it got to an insane point. I just didn't like how things were handled, so I cancelled again.

There you guys go, there's a break down of some subscription services. I think that I will continue to show you my monthly ipsy and Birchbox boxes so that you can get a good idea of what to expect each month. Any questions on these services? Feel free to ask me below!

(all photos copyright Allison Richardson Photography and not available for use without permission)

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