Are We Over Beauty Subscription Boxes?

They've been around for years now, but somehow I only tried my first beauty subscription box in December. When Birchbox ran a Black Friday offer that was too good to resist (two boxes for £5 plus delivery... when one box usually costs £10!), I signed up for my first subscription to see what the fuss was all about. The cost and 'unknown' element of these boxes had usually put me off, but given that it was such an awesome offer it seemed the perfect time to see what kind of service and products you receive each month.

As it was such a bargain, a lot of other people clearly got on board; with the overwhelming demand came delays with shipping the two boxes. A few 'sorry for the delay' emails later, the boxes finally arrived just over 2 weeks later (which was kind of like receiving a nice little early Christmas gift to me, from me, as I had almost forgotten about my order by then). With this aside, I opened the package and inside were two gorgeous boxes. Each design, for Birchbox at least, seems incredibly unique and stunning- so much so that I've just had to keep them to try and find a way to re-use!

Inside each box was five sample sized products; so if you get the normal subscription the overall cost averages to £2.60 per product. This is significantly cheaper than if you were to buy the miniatures in store, so value for money appears to be a tick. However, with this brings a point which leaves me still undecided on whether I'm sold on these beauty subscription boxes.

On the one hand, if you're in a bit of a beauty rut it's a great way to discover brands you've never heard of and products you never knew you needed. It encourages you to try new things and subsequently experiment a bit more with beauty looks. You can fill out a questionnaire on the Birchbox website, outlining your skin type, preferences and what you're looking to get out of the subscription, which all help to curate your monthly box. One thing I loved was that the boxes contained some sample sizes of brands I can't really afford otherwise. Some particular gems included an Eyeko eyeshadow crayon in a gorgeous smokey grey, a BalanceMe serum for congested skin and a product by Mannakadar called 'Diamond Dust' whose pink shimmery tones can be used as an eyeshadow, highlighter or dabbed onto lips for a glitzy finish. You can't go wrong with a multi-functional product!

That said, when I first opened the boxes, I wasn't wow-ed by the selection. I guess I was expecting more make-up; I've heard that subscription boxes do tend to fill out more with miniature skincare samples (which you tend to get less uses from than make-up). That said, I'm a huge skincare lover so this wasn't a deal-breaker for me. I think I also expected more big-name brands that I knew of- again, not a deal-breaker as I guess the whole point is to discover new things, but it's nice to also be able to receive samples of those big cult products that you otherwise couldn't afford to try out. I just wasn't excited by the variety of products presented to me. They seemed a bit like a random mish-mash of leftover products they had in the warehouse that needed using; not bad products, but not wow enough to make me want to receive them every month. As such, I put most of the products aside; it's only now that I've started properly trying each one that I've grown to really love a few of them.

I think the element of surprise with beauty subscription boxes can work two ways; you either discover gems that work really well for you that were otherwise unknown, or you can open the box and be very disappointed. It's essentially a lucky dip, so if you are open to and actively wanting to uncover new brands and products, I think they can work really well and are relatively affordable. I have moments when I think would rather spend £10 or so on a full size product (or two) that I have chosen and know I will like, but then think that if you get a box with products that you enjoy then the subscription is worth the money. It's almost a gamble...and I'm still not sure whether I'm the gambling type!

What do you think of beauty subscription boxes? Which ones have you tried and loved?

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