Birchbox promises to deliver beauty samples and it takes the word "sample" seriously. This means that you can expect to see a fair amount of those little perfume samples (like the ones you get in a department store) and a lot of foil packets that contain one or two uses of a product. You will occasionally -- although quite rarely -- find full size products in your Birchbox as well. They promise five products per month, and the items for your box are chosen based on the beauty profile that you complete upon signup (you can change this later, fyi.) There are usually at least 30 different possible Birchboxes each month, and it's anyone's guess which you will get. You will, in most cases, be able to depend upon receiving new products each month rather than constant repeats.
Birchbox has featured brands like theBalm, ModelCo, and Embryolisse -- but they are also fond of throwing items like teabags and Luna bars into your box as "lifestyle extras". Some people love them, but many people don't want protein bars in their beauty boxes and would prefer, say, another little beauty sample instead. With Birchbox, it truly is a gamble: You'll have a chance of getting an amazing item or two, but mainly you will get small sample sizes. The samples can be from very impressive brands, to be sure -- but my personal aversion to foil samples holds me back from loving Birchbox completely.
The big advantage that Birchbox has over Ipsy is their points system and their referral program. You get 10 points for each box you receive, you get 50 points each time a friend signs up using your referral link, and you get 10 points for each product you review per month (five review max per month.) Essentially, this means that you can earn an easy 60 points per month -- which equates to $6.00 in credit. Each time you reach $10.00 in credit you can use it to buy anything you want in Birchbox's extensive online store. This points program really makes the value of the sub higher: Sure, the samples are small and maybe you wonder if they are worth $10 per month. But, they are certainly worth $4 per month -- and if you do a few short reviews each month, that's all Birchbox will really cost you. Then, when you fall in love with one of your samples you can buy a full size one with your credit! Want to try it? Go here: Birchbox You'll usually have to get on a waiting list, which takes up to 4 weeks to get invited. If you just can't stand to wait, shoot me a message and I'll send you a direct invitation by email. I've heard that an email invite gets people in faster, worth a try I suppose.
It's no secret that Ipsy is one of my favorite sub boxes right now -- and when you compare it with Birchbox, the "why" becomes more apparent. Ipsy actually gives you five deluxe samples every month (and pretty frequent full size products instead of just a deluxe sample!) Ipsy has a great blend of makeup, body care, and even some occasional makeup tools like brushes. I've yet to see a single protein bar, candy bar, or other edible type sample included. In my four months with Ipsy I haven't received a foil sample, either. Generally the samples are big enough to last multiple uses so that I've got a real idea of whether I like the product or not. I've had some amazing samples -- items like Benefit mascara and Josie Maran argan oil -- that were worth my $10 all on their own.
One of my very favorite things about Ipsy is the bag: Every month subbers get an adorable little makeup bag! The samples are carefully placed inside, and I have not had any leaking/breaking issues as yet. I've heard from some people who have had issues that the customer service has been prompt and efficient. The makeup bags are on the smaller side, so if you're a chick who likes to carry the world in a makeup bag they won't work for everyday (ME). However, these makeup bags are little gems for gifting. A lovely little Ipsy bag, some of my favorite products, and voila! A great last minute gift for any female in your life!
Each month I am not just happy but THRILLED with Ipsy, so it's hard to have anything bad to say about them. Here's hoping the keep it up forever! Want to get in on the Ipsy fun? Click here: IPSY
By now I think the answer -- for me, anyway -- is clear. If I have to choose just one, Ipsy wins hands down for my best $10 beauty sub of 2012.