Is Birchbox Really Worth Up to $15 – My Direct Comparison Between the New and Old Boxes and Its Newest Competitor, the Allure Beauty Box

When Birchbox moved to its new tiered pricing structure on March 25 of 2019, it went into direct competition with the Allure Beauty Box. New month-to-month subscribers could choose to spend $15 with Allure Beauty Box or $15 with Birchbox. With the price increase Birchbox promised an extra sample, better brands, more choices, faster shipping, and more. I’m here to review my experience from before the change and since to change to let you know if it is worth it at $15 or if you should spend your $15 with Allure Beauty Box instead. Of course, you can always stick with a $10 box from Ipsy or Sephora Play (while you can, because these could also get increased).

Birchbox Old Pricing

The month-to-month plan was $10 for the first three months of the year. During that time, members received 5 samples making the cost of each $2.

January 2019

My January 2019 Birchbox had a $49.66 value of which I had a $42.41 personal value. This arrived on January 22nd, so it took 21 days from payment to delivery. There were 3 sample choices and one featured box. It included:

February 2019

My February 2019 Birchbox had a $37.03 value of which I had a $27.42 personal value. This arrived on February 12th, so it took 11 days from payment to delivery. There were 3 sample choices and one featured box. It included:

March 2019

Birchbox notified members on March 19th that the pricing structure would change on March 25th. We were told this was necessary to bring the promises given in the open paragraph and the cost of shipping had risen substantially since it started mailing boxes more than eight years ago.

Original Box

My March 2019 Birchbox had a $37.01 value of which I had a $13.51 personal value. This arrived on March 9th, so it took 8 days from payment to delivery. There were 3 sample choices and one featured box. It included:

Second Box

I received my subscription for March before I even knew Birchbox was about to change its pricing structure, which is why the articles were separated. The day before the price increase took effect (March 24th) I purchased two additional three month subscriptions. My goal was to have multiple subscriptions to give me a better view of how much the program improved. If there was improvement to a single box, it could be a fluke. Improvement to multiple boxes would measure it better. Yes, three is still a small sample size, but I did not want 30 subscriptions.

My second March 2019 Birchbox had a $35.16 value of which I had a $6 personal value. This arrived on April 8th, so it took 15 days from payment to delivery. There were 3 sample choices and one featured box. It included:

Third Box

My third March 2019 Birchbox had a $41.29 value of which I had a $12.19 personal value. This arrived on April 3rd, so it took 10 days from payment to delivery. There were 3 sample choices and one featured box. It included:

Birchbox New Pricing

The month-to-month plan was $15 for anyone who signed up after March 25th. That would make April the first official box with the new pricing. Though the number of items moved from 5 to 6, the increased cost brought each item from $2 to $2.50. I still paid $10 a box for these, but the boxes I received were no different from the ones people who paid $15 received.

April 2019

My April 2019 Birchbox had a $35.73 value of which I had a $35.73 personal value. This arrived on April 11th, so it took 10 days from payment to delivery. There were 3 sample choices and two featured boxes. It included:

Second Box

My second April 2019 Birchbox had a $52.32 value of which I had a $47.26 personal value. This arrived on April 9th, so it took 8 days from payment to delivery. There were 3 sample choices and two featured boxes. It included:

Third Box

My third April 2019 Birchbox had a $42.50 value of which I had a $31.13 personal value. This arrived on April 9th, so it took 8 days from payment to delivery. There were 3 sample choices and two featured boxes. It included:

May 2019

My May 2019 Birchbox had a $51.58 value of which I had a $41.66 personal value. This arrived on May 24th, so it took 23 days from payment to delivery. In fairness to Birchbox, it would have arrived on May 14th if USPS did not lose it. As such, I am counting it as 13 days. There were 3 sample choices, a Discovery Kit, and two featured boxes. It included:

Second Box

My second May 2019 Birchbox had a $65.06 value of which I had a $54.82 personal value. This arrived on May 8th, so it took 7 days from payment to delivery. There were 3 sample choices, a Discovery Kit, and two featured boxes. It included:

Third Box

My third May 2019 Birchbox had a $42.40 value of which I had a $14.66 personal value. This arrived on May 8th, so it took 7 days from payment to delivery. There were 3 sample choices, a Discovery Kit, and two featured boxes. It included:

Birchbox Old Versus New

Is there improvement from the old Birchbox program to the new Birchbox price?

Quick Reminder

When looking at the boxes, the only repeat items come from different boxes, sample choice, or choosing a featured box. Birchbox does not randomly place an item you’ve already sampled in your box. My main subscription has never had a repeat that I did not request via sample choice or curated box in the 4 and a half years I’ve had it. In other words, if you request a featured box, every item in that box is still fair game to send you as a sample in the future. Curated Box items do not get removed as possible future inventory in your profile.

Extra Sample

Not only did we switch from 5 to 6 items, but there seems to be at least one full size item in each box. While full size items came in the $10 boxes, it was rare. They were almost exclusively Birchbox brands when it happened, too. We can still expect to see Birchbox brands take on the place of the full size item, but there are plenty of other brands filling the role now. This is no longer all samples.

Better Brands

I do see a difference in the name recognition of brands from the earlier boxes this year to the later boxes, so it is clear more name brand samples sold at Ulta and Sephora are going into the boxes. My feelings on this are a little mixed. Discovering new brands I can’t get at Sephora is a part of the appeal. This, along with the extra sample is also driving up the average box value. The average box value was $49.66 in January, $43.35 in February, $37.01 in March, $39.86 in April, and $42.20 in May. January had an unusual high, which artificially inflated it, but it was dropping until April. Then, it steadily started rising again. This shows the boxes are improving in value.

More Choices

We went from three sample choices and 1 curated box almost every single month for the last few years to getting an extraa curated box choice in April. In May, we got two curated box choices. For the first time ever, we were even able to choose a discovery kit in place of our box. This was a kit that retailed for $18, so even those paying $15 would save over buying it outright. Those of us paying 10 got almost 45% off. June brought 5 curated box choices, so I look forward to seeing where we land in July. If the bar keeps raising, it could add too many customization options, which would slow down production. While I like seeing the added curated box options and discovery kits, I’d like to see them go from 3 to 5 sample choices. Three is not a lot and unless the curated box is out of this world, I would rather have a surprise on most items.

Faster Shipping

From payment to delivery, it took 13 days on average for the boxes to arrive under the old pricing structure. That covers the five subscription boxes I mentioned above from January through March, excluding shop orders, which process faster. My June Birchbox has two subscriptions. One took 10 days from payment to delivery. The other took 11. When I average those with the 6 I mentioned above from April and May, I see it took 9.25 days. So, it took about 13 days from payment to delivery in the first three months and 9.25 days from payment to delivery in the second three months. Birchbox is delivering on this promise as well.

Promises Fulfilled

We are less than three full months in and Birchbox is already delivering on all its promises. The experience is improving and even small changes like adding tissue paper back into the box, so the contents do not remove around as much will likely help more products arrive to the subscriber intact. I’m not sure how I feel about the new box, but I hope it helps them save money. If you want to see the new box (which looks like a prettier version of the old men’s boxes), come back tomorrow when I post my June Birchbox review.

Is Birchbox Worth the Price Increase?

This is where Birchbox faces its biggest issue. Now that a new month-to-month subscriber has to pay $15 to get the box, it is no longer in direct competition (for those customers) with Ipsy and Sephora Play. It is now up there with Allure. While it is easy to see that Birchbox has improved, has it improved enough to thrive or even compete with Allure? To answer this, I decided to subscribe to Allure and compare the boxes. Allure Beauty Box is just one of those subscriptions that I subscribe to then cancel often. I’ve been doing this since it was Sample Society. Whenever a $10 subscription disappoints me, I am more likely to brush it off. That is harder to do with a $15 subscription.

Because my primary Birchbox account is in ACES status, I still pay $10 a month for my box. This means I can overlook a disappointing box. I am looking at this from the perspective of someone paying more though or even from my own on my second and third account. If I wanted to continue my second or third subscription past the original term, I would have to pay $13 a month. While box 2 had a $54.82 personal value, box three only had a $14.66 personal value. The March boxes were abysmal at $13.51, $6, and $12.19, but that was before the improvements.

Ultimately, I decided I do not need three Birchbox subscriptions, so I canceled my second and third subscriptions after I completed my experiment. With a limited beauty budget, I would rather limit how many subscriptions I have. That way I get a mix of surprises and new things to try with the funds to buy the things I fall in love with. As long as I have the $10 price on my main Birchbox subscription, I will probably stay subscribed. If it went up, I could see myself dropping it. I guess it would all depend on the changes. For now, the changes look good. There is not enough to have it compete with other $15 boxes though. At that price, I fear for the future of Birchbox. Subscribers are likely to leave if they have not already. It will be a sad day, because I have discovered so many gems thanks to this subscription.

Thankfully, there are still a lot of start up offers, so people can get a deal when they sign up.

Allure Beauty Box

You’ve seen my Birchbox offerings and now I want to go over what I received from Allure Beauty Box, so you can see the difference. I was only subscribed from March through May, so I only have three boxes to share with you. That was my original plan, but I went in with the expectation of extending it longer if I really enjoyed the subscription. Since I liked the boxes in order, I felt like it was going downhill. March was great, April was good, and multiple things in May disappointed me. As always, I could resubscribe at some point in the future. If my budget ever expands, I would really consider it.

March 2019

Birchbox did not raise to $15 for new subscribers until March 25th. For anyone who subscribed before that, March would not be a direct comparison. It is for those who did though.

My March 2019 Allure Beauty Box had a $97.76 value of which I had a $79.76 personal value. This arrived on April 20th, so it took 27 days from payment to delivery. I was new (again), so I received a different variation than older subscribers. It included:

April 2019

My April 2019 Allure Beauty Box had a $71.69 value of which I had a $59.25 personal value. This arrived on April 22nd, so it took 19 days from payment to delivery. It included:

May 2019

My May 2019 Allure Beauty Box had a $76.42 value of which I had a $61.42 personal value. This arrived on May 14th, so it took 11 days from payment to delivery. It included:

How Does Birchbox Compare with Allure Beauty Box?

One of the biggest draws for the Allure Beauty Box is it consistently has one or more full size products in it. While Birchbox is starting to do this, it will take a while before it catches up if ever. Birchbox is limited by brands it sells in its shop, but Allure can pull more in. This leads to Allure offering more luxury brands like Natasha Denona, indy brands like Juvia’s Place, and subscription brands like LARITZY. I call it a subscription brand, because it is hard to find it for sell outside of a subscription box. Subscriptions without their own store use these as box filler, so it is a huge drawback. Getting a luxury brand is a huge plus though.

It’s clear Allure has a higher average box value than Birchbox. Even if you only factor the averages of the April and May boxes (since those are the only months I got both after the price increase at Birchbox), the average Birchbox was worth $48.27 while the average Allure Beauty Box was worth$74.06. That is a pretty staggering difference. When there was a $5 price gap, it was acceptable. For those paying $15 for each, the people getting the Allure Beauty Box are getting far more box value. To make matters worse, my Allure Beauty Box personal value for April and May is $60.34. That places it significantly above the box value for Birchbox.

Personal Value (the value you receive from the box after you remove the items you will not use) varies widely, but I cannot see many people getting higher personal value from Birchbox on average. Things could continue to change over time, and this was a very short experiment. If you are looking for a new $15 box, I would recommend Allure Beauty Box as of June 2019. Those looking for a $10 box should go for Sephora Play. Birchbox is a good subscription, so I recommend it if you are an ACE and can get it for $10 a month or if you can use a welcome offer to get it as close to that as possible. It may take a while before it can command a $15 per month price, and I hope it survives long enough to do that.

Birchbox Women

What are your thoughts on Birchbox versus Allure Beauty Box? Do you think they compare at $15 a month? Let me know below. See my list of Birchbox subscription offers. Want to subscribe to Birchbox? Click that link to see the current start-up offers. If you’re reading this around the time I’ve posted it, the one I posted below will work. If your purchase is over $25 (longer subscriptions or purchasing something from the shop with the subscription), you can pick a free item from the bonus shop if you do not use a subscription start-up offer or discount code, which I cover on my Birchbox Deals Page. Some discount codes on that page will not work on subscriptions, but I will post any that work on my Birchbox Subscription Deals Page. You can always add a free two piece sample pack when spending $35, because it combines with any promo code. Tips For Getting the Best Deal lays out all the ways I know to save money at Birchbox. Product reviews do not always make it into the haul article, but you can always type the product into the search bar to see if I’ve mentioned it or reviewed it elsewhere.

Ready to subscribe to Allure Beauty Box? New members get $5 off your their box and a welcome gift. This gift usually ships separately from the first box. See all Allure Beauty Box and/or old Sample Society articles. Subscribe to the blog to get updates on all posts. View my main page for the guide map to the site and deeper deal exploration.

Disclosure: Affiliate, Direct, and Referral Links

Deal or No Deal? What do you think? *Comments are moderated, so I review them before they post.

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