Beauty Subscription Boxes…Are They Worth It?

By Kimberly Roberson

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Beauty subscription box companies like Birchbox, Ipsy, Beauty Box 5, Julep Maven, GlossyBox, and so many more other subscription box services have found a way for cosmetic companies to not only market products, but allow customers to try beauty products prior to purchasing full size versions. You may have seen they hype over videos on Youtube, or your friends on Facebook, as beauty subscription boxes grabbed their stake-hold in viral e-marketing. We can’t give you the answer as to whether these types of subscription boxes are worth it, but we can break down the pros and cons to help you with your decision.

The Costs

Photo: Jason Stitt

Photo: Jason Stitt

Subscription boxes range from $10 to $30+, charged either monthly or quarterly. These boxes include sample or trial sizes of beauty products, ranging from skin care to makeup, and nail care to hair products and beauty tools. Brands range from high-end to low-end, and in some cases, subscription boxes include a few full size products amongst the samples. Frankly, it is a large expense to pay for boxes full of sample and trial  products ($120-$360+ per year, per box). This cost is in ADDITION to your normal beauty budget, so make the decision wisely, this is an extra expense for beauty products you wouldn’t normally purchase.

To Subscribe or Not Subscribe

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Are Beauty Subscription Boxes worth the try?

GO FOR IT IF:

Subscription beauty boxes  are a great way to try a variety of different brands, and different types of products. These boxes are perfect for those who are unfamiliar with beauty products and/or brands, or would like to find those looking to find their next “holy grail” of beauty products. The trial-sized products in the beauty boxes are also perfect for travel, so if you’re a jet-setting FlyGyal, this also allows you to carry a variety of beauty products in your suitcase.

The fact that you are able to try the trial-sized versions of the products in each subscription box, means you don’t have to rely on the opinion on paid or gifted advertising on social networks like Facebook. You are able to form an opinion all on your own based off of your experience with the products, at a cost of course.

Subscription beauty boxes are also a wonderful way to indulge yourself, and give yourself a (or a friend) a surprise in the mail each month.

SKIP IT:

If you’re a brand loyalist to any cosmetic or beauty company, subscription boxes may not be for you. Even so, if the brand you follow releases anything new, you can always ask the company for a free sample at retail beauty counters. Foundations, skin care, and fragrances are the most common samples to come by,  but check with your local retail beauty counter for availability and sample policies. This allows you to stay with the brand you love, but try something new, without the cost of the subscription box.

If you’re a minimalist and dislike clutter, subscription beauty boxes can get monotonous and you may find that you are not able to use the products before the next box is shipped to you. (Although, some of the beauty subscription boxes come in beautiful packaging perfect for re-purposing to organize odds and ends)

May Not Work for Those With Sensitive Skin

Photo:  PhotoAlto

Photo:
PhotoAlto

It is important to note that if you have extremely sensitive skin, it may not be beneficial for you to invest in the subscription beauty products. These boxes offer a myriad of beauty and skin care samples from different brands. That being said, if you already have sensitive skin, and still want to subscribe to test out products, be prepared to handle any breakout or allergy, and/or consult with your dermatologist prior to trying a product.

Still want beauty samples, but don’t want to shell out the extra dough?

Most times, you can request samples of almost any particular product at retail beauty counters for free. Again, check with your local retail beauty counter for availability and sample policies.  When communicating with your beauty counter associates, be honest and courteous with your store associate of your intentions of using the sample, and would like to try the product before returning and purchasing the product. I am sure they will understand that you need to see how your skin reacts, rather than have you purchase at full price, and return it later (doing so does affect their sales goals/quotas). Don’t make it your primary objective that you just want something for free, you wouldn’t want to tagged as be “THAT” customer who wastes a store associate’s time (and affecting their sales)  by just asking for free items. In addition, it’s always a good thing to build a good  professional relationship with your beauty counter associates, just treat them the way you would like to be treated, and you will find that that you may end up with more samples than you originally intended.

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If you’re out and about shopping for your beauty staples, you can also request if there are any gift with purchase deals. Many times in department stores like Macy’s, Nordstrom, and Bloomingdale’s offer these type of deals combined with additional sale savings.

Note: M.A.C. free-standing stores don’t normally have samples on hand, but it doesn’t hurt to ask if they have any available with your purchase.

Ask your beauty counter associate to be added to their event list, many times when brands or stores hold events, they offer incentives during these events such as gift with purchases, special sales, or even swag bags for event attendees.

Do Your Research

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Lastly, if you do decide to purchase a subscription of any beauty box, make sure you research the company and Google their reviews. The reason for this, you want to make sure you are getting the quality of products/samples you are expecting. And remember, every box is different from month to month, where one month may have 3 full size products, other months you will end up with less or none. A numerous amount of bloggers post their monthly reviews, and it’s a great way to take a peak of what’s inside each box. Additionally, visit the company’s Facebook pages, review the recent comments from subscribers. Checking the company’s Facebook page will give you a general idea of the company’s customer service and order/shipment fulfillment.

Real-Beauty

Don’t forget to check out Fly Gyal’s new online shop where you can buy all kinds of dance goodies 😉
COVER PHOTO: Meredith Truax
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