The Pros and Cons of Beauty Subscription Boxes

a makeup bag spills over

Over the past few years, beauty subscription boxes have drastically grown in popularity. Actually, I should say that subscription boxes in general have drastically grown in popularity. You can find a company that ships items to your door in basically any category.

Anyways, I hopped on the beauty subscription box trend a little over a year and a half ago. In that time frame, I’ve tried out both Birchbox and Sephora Play. (I actually wrote a post that somewhat compared the two services, if you want to check that out!) And while overall I’ve been pretty pleased with them, I must admit there are just as many negatives as there are positives to beauty subscription boxes. So, today I thought what better way to detail the positives and negatives than a pros and cons list? 

These opinions are based upon my experiences with both Birchbox and Sephora Play. I haven’t tried Ipsy or any other similar service, so I can’t totally speak for them. However, all of these services have the same basis: they’re monthly subscription boxes that send you a sample of beauty products. So, I presume that they have the same problems and conveniences. Hopefully this will give you a good idea of whether or not beauty subscriptions are right for you.

Pro #1: It’s makeup in the mail. Duh.

Obviously the big draw of makeup subscription services is having products delivered straight to your door. It’s such a great convenience because you don’t have to worry about placing orders or driving up to your local Sephora When you’re subscribed to a beauty subscription service, you know you can always count on having five or six new products to test out each month. This can be super useful during busy months when you don’t have the time to research or even pick up new items, which, as a beauty blogger, is something I constantly want to do. Plus, receiving a subscription box in the mail is something you always have to look forward to. It’s exciting to head out to your mailbox and find a package of beauty products waiting for you.

Con #1: Hits and misses

One issue I’ve seen in both of the beauty subscription services I’ve used is that you never know which months will be good and which months will be bad. There are some months when all of the products you receive are hits, whereas other months will feel like total duds. Since you don’t have the ability to handpick your products, you don’t always end up with things that you want to try. This can be frustrating and often makes you feel like you’ve wasted $10.

Pro #2: Discover new brands

It isn’t always easy to find brands you like, but beauty subscription services definitely make it simpler. Something I love about these types of subscriptions is that they allow me to test products from brands that I’ve never heard of before. In particular, I’ve discovered some wonderful skincare gems through Sephora Play and Birchbox. Products I never would have known about had it not been for these services. Subscribing to one helps me find new products, which is especially great for blogging purposes. I love being able to share the things I discover from smaller brands.

makeup l

Con #2: No variety

A lack of variation can be a pretty frustrating quality in a subscription box. You don’t want to receive too many of the same types of products over and over, yet that’s something that ends up happening a lot of the time. When I was subscribed to Birchbox, I found myself getting annoyed by the number of dry shampoo samples I received. While there’s nothing wrong with a good dry shampoo, I was more interested in receiving makeup products, which, strangely enough, didn’t seem to happen a lot. Be sure to read lots of reviews before subscribing to one of these services, especially if you’re like me and in it for the makeup. You don’t want to end up paying for a subscription to something that you don’t even enjoy.

Pro #3: Added Bonuses

One thing that many beauty subscription services offer is added bonuses, or good deals on full-size products that you buy through their company. Sephora Play is a subscription service I’ve found to be chocked full of these little added bonuses. Each play box that you receive comes with a card redeemable for fifty extra beauty insider points that you can use on your next purchase at Sephora. This is a nice little feature that makes Sephora Play all the more worthwhile, especially if you’re a frequent shopper. Added bonuses like this one can also make you feel like you’re getting your money’s worth, even if you didn’t like the products you received that month.

Con #3: Products you’ve previously tried

Another thing you should keep in mind when considering whether or not to subscribe to a beauty subscription service is that at some point you’ll probably end up getting samples of products you’ve already tried. I’ve had this happen to me a couple of times with items like Benefit’s Watt’s Up highlighter and the Eyeko London Liquid Eyeliner. Getting products you’ve previously used isn’t a bad thing if you like something, but it can be sort of annoying if it’s a product you hate. On a similar note, if there’s a beauty-related item that you generally dislike (*cough* *cough* face primer), you also should remember that there’s a possibility you’ll get it.

Side-note: Why don’t beauty subscription services let users list products that they won’t want on their profiles? Imagine how useful that would be.


Pro #4: Bags

Depending on what subscription service you subscribe to, you’ll receive your products in a box or bag. In both of my experiences, the packaging has been fun and stylish. I really enjoy keeping the boxes and bags and finding other uses for them. The bags, for example, are great for travel and storage. Several of my Sephora Play bags are used to keep my skincare and makeup products organized in my drawers. It’s nice to get some long-lasting use out of what you receive.

Con #4: Bags

Are the bags fun and stylish? Yes. But, sometimes, they just end up taking up space. If you’re someone like me who doesn’t like to throw nice packaging away, be prepared for an overload of cute (but necessary) bags to clog up your drawers and closest. I think I’m going to have to start giving my bags away soon. My collection continues to become larger and I’m slowly running out of space for them all. If you have no troubles throwing things like this away (lucky you), this won’t be an issue.

I hope this post was informative! I’ve had some experience with these beauty subscription services, so if you have any questions, never hesitate to ask!

Are you subscribed to any beauty subscription boxes?


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44 thoughts on “The Pros and Cons of Beauty Subscription Boxes

  1. Could not agree anymore with this list! I recently switched from ipsy to glossybox as I found each ipsy bag falling under the cons list more than pros! I like glossybox much better but it’s again a subscription box, which of course has pros and cons!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you! Your experience is definitely shaped by your personal preferences! Having no control over the types of products you receive can get really annoying, especially if there’s a specific category you don’t need/want anything from!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I got Birch box years ago. I decided to subscribe again and was pleased with my first one I got this eeek. However I won,t order any of the products because I was charged $100.00 FOR ONE PRODUCT!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Haven’t tried it myself yet but based on your post, I’m definitely intrigued by the subscription opportunity so will give it a try 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Totally agree with everything you said!! Especially the fact that one box can be amazing and the next could be utter crap. The fact that it’s decided for you is the fun bit but also can bring so many cons with it?! xxx

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I’m subscribed to two beauty boxes. One of them is a build-your-own box, which I think is a great idea, because you choose from a selection of products and only put the things you want to have in your box. The other focusses more on skincare than make-up, and I’m happier to try out new skincare products. With make-up, I’m more interested in choosing what I get, so I don’t end up with things I don’t want. Having said that, I have regular swap sessions with one of my friends and I usually find homes for things I won’t use. Overall I like the idea of beauty boxes, because they help you to discover new things. I enjoy reading blogs about them or watching Youtube unboxings, because even if I don’t subscribe to that box, it gives me ideas about products that I might want to buy.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I was once subscribed to one – Ulta I believe? – and like any other subscription box – I have tried them in books, promotion materials, etc. – some are good; some I dont need. I dont do it any more because I sell beauty products but I did find I ran out of room with a monthly shipment – there is just so many drawers in my bathroom Lol…..and just how many eyeliners does one need?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m subscribed to sephora play, but I used to get birchbox also. Its definitely been fun to try some really high-end products, but I’m very particular about skin care so I end up passing on some of those samples without trying them. I like to find friends to trade samples with, sometimes you end up with something good after all!

    I’ll be posting a review about my July play box on my blog this week 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Love this post. I recently subscribed to Glossybox to see whether it’s something I could commit to long term, and I’ve realized they just aren’t for me. The prices are amazing when it’s full of items you like, but like you said, it can be pretty disappointing when they’re things you dislike or would never use. As someone with sensitive, eczema prone skin I have to be very careful with my skincare routine and can’t use body wash (I use a non-soap replacement), so that’s at least one item a month I won’t find useful. I also find some of the months the boxes aren’t what’s advertised–there was a massive uproar in January when Glossybox’s main item was a box of food replacement pills, even though it’s advertised as a beauty box. Loved reading this!


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