I love sampling new things. The thought of discovering my latest and greatest FabuFind is always with me. There are items I adore and will probably always repurchase, but trying new things gives me the chance to find things I love even more. My sample obsession started with purchasing packaged sets. These usually contain items I really want to try or items I’ve tried in the past and need more time with. Sometimes, you find sets that are great values, so it is actually cheaper to purchase them if you really want most or all the items in the set. Although I still purchase sample sets, there is something surprisingly welcome about not knowing what I will get. Subscription Boxes seemed like the logical step to try items I had not considered.
I started my addiction to Subscription Boxes in February 2014 with Birchbox. The landscape changed over time as some boxes came and went while others stuck around. Many of my favorite items are things I discovered in subscription boxes that I probably would not have tried without receiving a sample. If you love to explore as much as I do, subscription boxes are perfect for you. On the contrary, I suggest avoiding them if you have a good idea of what works for you and do not like the thought of receiving a box where none of the items may work out.
Subscription Boxes are a gamble, and while I plan on covering the winners in this article, there are plenty of duds you have to sift through along the way. Most boxes are not all rainbows and sunshine, which is why I’ve canceled some, including: Ipsy, Glossybox, and Sample Society. Others repeatedly show me the benefits outweigh the cons, including: Birchbox, Julep, and Fabletics. The drugstores have impressive boxes, too. Walmart is hit or miss, but I’ve only had one box I did not feel was worth it. Target allows me to choose the boxes I want, because it is not an actual subscription. There are many more boxes to explore, and I am looking forward to starting Sephora Play! This has been a family affair with my younger son trying Citrus Lane, my older son has Nerd Block Jr, and my husband has Birchbox Man.
How do you know when to subscribe? Most subscriptions have boxes that vary. Looking at reviews is a good way to get an idea, but it will not always be indicative of what you may receive (unless you’re looking at the rare subscription where everyone gets the same thing). Every subscription with varying boxes will always have a large range in desire and value. A wonderful box to one person may be a dud to another, because we all place different value on certain items. To get an idea of whether or not to subscribe, read reviews of more than one box. Seeing a particularly great box can trick you into subscribing to an otherwise mediocre subscription or seeing an off box can keep you from subscribing to a better one. My opinions are mine, so you may love a box I hate or hate a box I love.
Boxes with the least risk are those where you can customize your items, like Julep or Fabletics. Customization usually gives you the option to skip the entire month as well. I have not skipped with Julep yet, but I’ve skipped plenty of times with Fabletics. Birchbox allows you to pick a single sample or know the entire box (if you select the curated box). That gives the feeling of some control but also leaves the element of surprise. Walmart does not allow any control and only selects items based on the age of the recipient. Sample Society (now the Allure Beauty Box) gives everyone the same box. While this eliminates the chance of box envy (not all boxes are created equally with some subscriptions), it also increases the chance of boxes not working well for everyone, because there are no one size fits all beauty products. Hair products are wonderful for me, but a lot of people hate receiving them. Some people love receiving fragrance, and I prefer to skip it.
How do you know when to cancel? If you get too many boxes in row that make you feel like you’re not getting your money back, cancel. Even though Ipsy is only $10 a month, I did not feel like I was getting $10 in value with most boxes. Of course, the box value was always over $10, but I was not using $10 worth of product. I always calculate the box value, then my personal value to see if the box is worth my while. Some people may be reluctant to cancel, because they are saving rewards points or feel the subscription does not really cost that much. If you’re not getting the value you’re putting in, cancel regardless of cost. Only stay on for rewards if you are really close to the next reward and the value of the reward is greater than what you’ll spend to stay on to get that reward.
Here are my Top Ten (technically 11 if you count the shampoo and conditioner separately) Subscription Box Finds of all-time. It was difficult to narrow them down, because I’ve received so many incredible items. I can think of quite a few that barely missed this list.
I dedicated an entire article to how much I love Egyptian Magic I discovered in a Birchbox. This all purpose beauty product is amazing. It is the single greatest item I’ve discovered thanks to a subscription and my daily reminder that there are always wonderful products out there I’ve never heard of waiting for me to discover.
I love sampling hair products, because my hair is so frizzy. It is nice to find shampoo or hair oil that reduce it. Of all the shampoos I’ve tried recently, this Davines Minu Shampoo is my favorite. This is another great item I found in a Birchbox.
The Davines Minu Conditioner came in the same Birchbox I received the shampoo in and even though the sample was small, I could tell it was amazing. It worked better with the shampoo than anything else I used with the shampoo. They are a great pair.
Not Soap Radio The Stuff That Cupid Dips His Arrows In (because sometimes fate needs an assist) was another great item I found in a Birchbox. This smells irresistible. It is quite possibly one of the best scents I’ve ever used. The product lathers beautifully and rinses clean.
Julep no longer has a subscription program as of February 15th, 2019. If it continues to sell its products online and at Ulta, I will still purchase items. I love its amazing nail polishes and while I’ve discovered some great colors, finishes, and polishes, the real gems I discovered before the subscription ended came from other products. The Konjac Sponge is amazing. It gently exfoliates, lathers well, and dries out after use to prevent bacteria from being harbored. I’ve repurchased this several times.
My favorite Julep find is It’s Balm, which is an incredibly moisturizing and beautifully pigmented balm. I love these so much I ended up collecting all of them. It wears like a balm, but it looks like a lipstick.
I love most of my Fabletics outfits (when they’re dry), because the quality is wonderful. They hold up well washing and drying. It helps that I get to select the ones I want. This Genessee outfit is my favorite. Other than being incredibly comfortable, this is very cute. The pattern is adorable.
If you love trying new things and like the idea of finding something wonderful you would not have discovered otherwise, Subscription Boxes are for you. Take some time to look into the box you want to subscribe to. There are great ones I’ve read about but have not even tried yet, so I may expand my horizons as well. See all Subscription Box articles. View my main page for the guide map to the site and deeper deal exploration.
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I'm Kimberly. Shopping is always more fun when I've found the best deal available, so I am always on the hunt. My father instilled that in me, and I love that I carry a piece of him. Sometimes, my husband and sons (12 and 7) let me shop for them, too. They do not use as many beauty products as I do. We can all benefit from nice products, even though their routine ends with moisturizer. That is when I can convince my 12-year-old to apply it.