Beauty subscriptions allow consumers to try products before they buy


Brian Achenbach/Iowa State Daily

Each Birchbox comes with an assortment of personalized beauty, grooming and lifestyle products.

Ali Hanson

Imagine having a personalized present delivered to your doorstep each month — that is exactly what Birchbox does for its customers.

Birchbox sends their customers a cardboard box with four to five beauty, grooming and lifestyle samples monthly. Users can expect to see products from well-known brands, as well as some new brands, for $10 a month.

The subscription can be purchased in three, six or 12 month increments.

To start, customers go on the company’s website and request to get put on the waiting list — yes, there is a waiting list for Birchbox.

Most users will receive an email saying they are now in line for access to receive the 7” x 5” box. Around two weeks later, they will receive another email notifying them their subscription is available.

After the company is able to give someone a subscription, that person will fill out a questionnaire answering different questions about her skin type, hair type, fragrance preference or beverage and treat favorites.

The company does its best to send each person a variety of products, generally covering all categories that best conform to the customer’s style and beauty preferences.

While the products are called “samples,” the company makes sure to provide enough product so the consumer can determine if she likes it. Full-sized versions of the products found in a Birchbox can also be purchased on the company’s website.

Some information about each product is included in the box, and gives more in-depth descriptions for users seeking additional information.

One of Birchbox’s biggest competitors is Ipsy, a company also based on a monthly subscription.

Kate Bryan, blogger behind The Small Things Blog, compared the two brands on her site and explained they are both $10 a month, send four to five products that are typically sample sized and the products are personalized based on a customer’s beauty profile.

Birchbox tends to lean toward skincare and body care items, while Ipsy is almost solely makeup-themed. Ipsy also arrives in a mailer with some sort of bag inside, whereas Birchbox is delivered in a box.

“It seems like if you are more interested in skincare, bodycare, hair products and a few lifestyle products, Birchbox is the way to go,” Bryan said in a blog post. “If you are more interested in makeup, maybe try out Ipsy.”