At Your Doorstep: the Rise of the Beauty Box Brigade

Getting mail is fun, but it's even more fun when it's packed with tailored-to-you beauty samples.
Publish date:
September 19, 2011
make-up, beauty boxes, birchbox, samples, glossybox, glymm, mail

I love beauty samples. I shyly badger the sales associates at department stores for the mini-versions of products I can't really afford to see if they're actually worth their hefty price tags. I collect those little tubes of perfume by the bucket, and I have many little shiny tear-away packets of skincare products waiting to be slathered on and assessed.

The only problem is, getting these samples can make you feel a bit like a naggy cheapskate. Sales associates will sometimes be generous, offering you bounties of tiny goods, whereas others keep the supply on lockdown. That's where the new crop of beauty boxes comes in.

"Beauty boxes?" you ask. Yes, beauty boxes! These are little monthly boxes full of generously portioned product samples from trusted and up-and-coming beauty brands, sent straight to your door completely free of the salesperson's judgemental stares.

The gist is that you fill out a little survey covering your beauty wants and desires, and then for an inexpensive fee, a new box is shipped to you each month full of goodies (and the occasional full-size product). It's a great way to try out products you normally wouldn't, or to see if something fancy-schmancy is worth the cash.

A lot of these companies also offer points for subscribing, inviting friends and reviewing products, which in turn can be used toward the purchase of full-size goods.

Here, a run-down of boxes from around the world.

Birchbox (U.S.) $10/month + small shipping fee

My sources (AKA Google) tell me that previous boxes from Birchbox have included Blinc mascara, sample bottles of Smashbox primer, Zoya nail-polish, Philosophy cleanser, and Korres shower gel, just to name a few. It also appears that Birchbox is known for throwing in little doo-dads here and there, like jewelry or hair accessories.

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Glymm (Canada) - $10/month + small shipping fee

Glymm is the company I've signed up with, seeing as I'm a Canadian lady. My most recent box contained a full-size blush from Vasanti (retailing at $15), a Canadian brand, along with travel-size bottles of John Masters Organics Body Wash and Lotion, a sample of a new fragrance from Oscar de la Renta, a cute little brown crocodile make-up bag for stashing everything, and a jar of Jelly Bellys. Make-up AND candy? Thank you, Glymm. I've also seen previous boxes containing O.P.I. nail polish, Smashbox glosses and minis of Benefit's primer.

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Glossybox (U.K.) - £10.00/month + small shipping fee

Glossybox shows its U.K. pride by featuring national brands (most of which I honestly haven't heard of) as well as beauty powerhouses, including Nuxe, Str-Vectin, L'Oreal, AHAVA and Murad. Just like the others, it's always a mish-mash of cosmetics, skincare, fragrance and hair care items. (Personally, I'm a little jealous of their assortment of swag.)

So let me know, do you subscribe to any of these wonderful services? Are there any I'm leaving out? Do you think it's worth it or would you rather save your $10 for lattes? I'd say a little bonus of receiving and then stashing these products will allow you to build a nice little collection you can grab from when packing for trips. Or you could throw them into gifts for friends! ANYWAY -- thoughts?