Can You Get The Latest “It” Ingredient On The Cheap?

From The Lab promises high-end ingredients for a fraction of the price. Consider it the Neiman Marcus Last Call of beauty.
Publish date:
June 5, 2014
skin care, beauty trends, beauty ingredients, subscription sites

Before I entered the world of beauty and started receiving endless bags of press samples, I read magazines and experimented with every trend and bought every product the "experts" recommended, just like everyone else. And just like everyone else, I wasted an ungodly amount of cash on a bunch of crap that didn’t work. I should also mention that I made a little over $21,000 at my first gig as a fashion assistant 14 years ago, which I just rediscovered while switching apartments and shredding old documents. I was a broke 22-year-old, but hey, if XYZ magazine said XYZ serum was going to clear up my zits, I was down for the cause.

Today, I can dabble with products and not worry about my credit card catching on fire. For example, I attended a launch for an eye serum hitting counters in October and the $275 .5oz sample was in the gift bag for me to test. Time will tell if it backs up its claims, but even if it does, the average woman isn’t shelling out $275 for an eye product unless it comes with a pair of sunglasses, an outfit, dinner and a few cocktails. Of course, there are less expensive serums on the market that are effective as well. However, come fall, this highfalutin' serum will be in every magazine and some woman at her wits' end with dark circles and bags will think it’ll be her miracle antidote and she may be disappointed at the end. Or not! Who knows.

The eye serum may be amazing, but is it $275 worth of amazing? We as editors are so privileged with perks that I think we often lose sight of reality since we usually don't have to front our hard-earned dough. A former colleague once said to me, “Dude, it’s ssssoooo hard to find a decent handbag under $800.” Well, if you shoot $800 handbags and are gifted $800 handbags on a regular basis, you say comments like that. It sounds douche-y because it is douche-y. When we produce stories, we need to be mindful of our recommendations because budgets vary and very few people exist in our bubble.

For beauty junkies that love to experiment, but can’t afford to test-drive the glitzy items featured in the glossies, From The Lab may be your ticket to skincare and makeup utopia. It’s a monthly beauty subscription site ($20 to $30 a month), where customers sign up to receive a box containing one to three cosmetic, hair care or skincare goodies every 30 days. And they’re full size, not sample size! The company uses the same fancy pants labs in Italy, Switzerland and France as the bigwigs and undergo the same clinical studies, but the lack of retail overhead, ad campaigns and no-frills packaging keep costs low.

You receive a pink box in the mail the first week of every month, which makes me feel like it’s a never-ending birthday celebration. My first package contained the Hydrating Lip Primer No. 629, Illuminating Under Eye Treatment No. 628 and the Micro Cellular Body Treatment no. 615. The lip primer isn’t suitable as a stand-alone moisturizer, but your lipstick is pretty much glued to your face for a majority of the day. Since I never get a full night’s sleep, I use the under-eye treatment in the morning to battle the fatigue and bags. And while I can’t say it’s better than the expensive creams that already exist my arsenal, it’s definitely comparable. As for that body treatment, I would’ve been pissed if I unloaded $70 for it at a department store. The Nicotiana Sylvestris leaf cell culture and other weird ingredients I never heard of didn’t improve the appearance of my décolletage or any other part of my body for that matter. However, I didn’t sweat it since it didn’t cost much anyway, which makes From The Lab convenient. I can experiment with very little investment. Also, if you like something, you can always buy it again using their online store.

The downside is, you never know what you’re going to receive on a monthly basis. What if I get a hot pink lipstick that doesn’t match my skin tone or a heavy anti-aging cream that may be too rich for my acne-prone skin? I can always pass the rejects to friends, but it’s a glitch the company needs to address with a customer questionnaire of sorts. Apparently, they’re working on it. Of course I’m overloaded with products as it is and the last thing I need is this subscription, but I live for the hunt. And since I found fancy makeup counter products at non-department store prices, I must share the news.

Are you into the whole beauty subscription service thing? Which ones have you tried?