The subscription box conundrum

[cf-shortcode plugin=”acf” field=”press_sample”]

Every time I think I’ve reached the pinnacle of first world problems, another one comes along and launches me to new heights. Today’s edition: subscription boxes. Completely trivial, right? But they’re sort of a thing right now (I consider something a ‘thing’ if I see it in my facebook feed from my non-makeup-obsessed friends) and it’s easy to get caught up in all the hype. So today I thought I’d ramble through a few of the ones I’ve tried, and my thought process on whether or not to keep them.


BirchboxWhat it costs: $10/month

What I got:

  • Ghirardelli Toffee Crunch chocolate squares
  • Eyeko Skinny Liner mini in Black
  • Folle de Joie fragrance sample
  • Tiossan Dakar body cream sample
  • Kerabond Moisture Shampoo & conditioner samples
  • Chella Ivory Lace Highlighting Pencil

What I thought: I realize everyone gets pretty much the same thing in the first box, but I was so underwhelmed by this one that I didn’t continue my subscription. The chocolate was definitely tasty, but the ‘main’ product – the Chella pencil – wasn’t better than any highlighting device that I already own. Actually it was sort of worse – difficult to blend on the skin, and it didn’t really last on my waterline. The other things? They were fine, I suppose, but not any better than the samples and points perks I get with my Sephora orders, and I didn’t happen to be too interested in any of these.

Was it right for me? Nope. I felt like I’d be paying for a random assortment of foil samples, when I can get those things with Sephora/Nordstrom orders for free. Even the deluxe samples didn’t float my boat as much as similar products I already own.

Who is it right for? I think this is a nice beginner box for someone who’s just getting into makeup/beauty stuffs and doesn’t have a well-rounded collection of products yet. This is especially true if you don’t get deluxe samples/foil samples through some other method.

Sample Society

Sample Society May 2014What it costs: $15/month

What I got:

  • Sonia Dakar Flash Facial Exfoliating Treatment
  • Juice Beauty Stem Cellular Repair CC Cream
  • Freeze 24-7 Eye Serum
  • Dermalogica Dynamic Skin Recovery SPF 30
  • Ouidad Climate Control Heat & Humidity Gel

What I thought: I’ve been getting Sample Society for a while now – around 6 months, I think – and overall I’m fairly pleased with it. The brands are a little more high-end than what I had seen in Birchbox (things like Dermalogica, Butter London, Alterna) but it skews much more toward hair and skin care than makeup. The samples are usually very generous, which makes it much more worth the price in my opinion. The only thing is…. how many eye creams, CC creams and serums can I realistically try in a month? Not to mention I know right off the bat that certain things aren’t compatible with my skin or hair. So I’ve slowly seen a lot of these samples make their way from my ‘to try’ box into my ‘give away’ box.

Was it right for me? Ehhh, sorta-not-quite. On the one hand, I really like the brand selections and the size of the samples. On the other hand… I already pretty much know what works for my hair and skin, and don’t have much of a desire to experiment with that stuff as much as I do with makeup. As much as I like it, I’ve cancelled my subscription because the balance of keep vs give away has tipped too far to the ‘give away’ side.

Who is it right for? This would definitely be a great box for someone who wants to test run higher-end skin and hair brands on the cheap, with the occasional nail or makeup item in the mix.

PopSugar Must-Have Box

PopSugar Must-Have Box April

PopSugar Must-Have Box April

PopSugar Must-Have Box April What it costs: $39.99/month*

What I got:

  • NatureBox trail mix
  • Graphic Image “Run the World” pocket-sized notebook
  • Caldrea Rosewater Driftwood Hand Soap
  • Blue Avocado Eco Shopper resusable shopping bag
  • French Pastry Stand Tea Towel Set
  • Graphic Image “Run the World” notebook
  • Too Faced Natural Eyes Palette

What I thought: In terms of value for price paid, this box was a damn good deal. The standout for me was the Too Faced palette, which isn’t a brand I’m normally into, but I actually really like it. The thing is… given the option, I would have purchased zero of these things on my own. Not that any of them are bad – objectively they’re all great – but it feels like it’s geared toward a much different (read: younger) demographic than I’m in. Nothing in it strikes me as particularly sophisticated or luxurious, and that’s where my product preferences tend to run.

Was it right for me? Not so much. All the things in this box read as ‘in college, just moved into my first apartment’ and so do a lot of the previous boxes I’ve looked up. That’s just not the place I’m at, and forty bucks is a lot of money to spend each month on things I potentially won’t like.

Who is it right for?  Anyone whose personal style is still evolving, and folks whose stock of worldly goods could use a little bit of filling out. From what I’ve seen, the items are things that come in really handy if you don’t already have them, and are higher quality than what you could buy individually on a similar budget. FYI, now through 6/7/14 you can get $10 off a three-month subscription with the code MAYSELECT10.

Which leaves us with…

Nothing. At the moment I’m not subscribed to any boxes, and there aren’t any other ones that I’m ready to pull the trigger on (though I’m still tempted by Cate & Chloe VIP). I think maybe I’m just not a subscription box kind of lady – I tend to know what I like. My beauty and home goods stashes have pretty much all the staples. And it’s entirely possible that I’m just too damn picky, because if I’m going to spend x number of dollars, I’d rather pick out something that I’m relatively sure I’ll like.


Am I totally wrong about subscription boxes, or do you have a favorite that I should give a try?


* – I received this item from the company free of charge. As always, opinions are 100% my own because I hate BS and I bet you do too.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.