When Birchbox launched in 2010, it allowed beauty junkies to try new products monthly via samples. For product aficionados, one of the best parts of shopping for makeup is when a line offers a “free gift with purchase,” and Sephora’s sample policy is part of the reason that the store is so popular with makeup lovers. Since its launch, Birchbox has seen competition, notably from companies like Beauty Bar, Julep and now Sephora. With so many options, it can be tough to decide which subscription service to use.
Birchbox: With a wide range of brands, including some that are less popular, and therefore, less available, Birchbox offers a lot for the $9.95 monthly subscription fee (although the company has a higher tiered membership for additional benefits). Samples come in a variety from fragrance to skincare, and include brands like Benefit, Liz Earle and Beauty Protector. The samples are decent sized, and each box usually includes a good mix of product. Birchbox also offers boxes for men with products like shaving cream and cologne, and the company occasionally puts a food product in the box, such as tea or granola bars. Perfect for anyone who likes a wide variety of samples from popular and lesser-known brands, Birchbox is a good bang for your buck.
Allure Beauty Box (Formerly Beauty Bar): Allure magazine has been a beauty bible since 1991, and it serves as one of the first resources beauty junkies use to keep up with trends and find accurate assessments of beauty products. The magazine recently acquired Beauty Bar, and now offers its own sample subscription. For $14.95, members are treated to a box that has 4-5 samples of products cultivated by the magazine’s editors. Allure Beauty Box is great for anyone who wants to try the hottest products on the market, as well as readers of the magazine. Each box also comes with a guide to each included product, including a review and shopping guide.
Julep: Founder Jane Park began her beauty career with a line of destination nail salons in the Seattle area. The company now also offers monthly subscriptions from which users receive two polishes and one other product for $19.99. Subscribers build a color profile and can choose from many different combinations each month. With long-wearing polish that is free of harsh chemicals typically found in other polishes, Julep is great for those who love switching up their manis on the regular. The company has some other cosmetics products too, but the primary draw of this subscription is the polish.
Play! by Sephora launches in September, so stay tuned for a review of the service.