Are beauty boxes worth the hype?

We look at two of the most popular options on the market

I've been told by several men in the past that a box could make me better looking - not sure this was the kind they were referring to, mind.

Beauty subscription boxes are not a new concept - as people's interest in hair and makeup grew, so too did the demand for the service.

Each month, you pay a fee a monthly delivery of (mainly) sample-sized products, tailored to your specific hair and beauty needs.

Two brands currently lead the pack here in Ireland - Glossy Box and Birchbox.

Glossy Box

  • How much: €14 + p&p for a one month subscription, €12 per month for a yearly subscription
  • What you get: 5 products plus a gift with your first order

Packaging

If you're going to spend €14+ on a box, in my opinion, it better be a nice looking one.

Glossy Boxes come with a glossy (shocking, I know) pink lid embossed with black text, with a black box underlay. The products are wrapped in black confetti and black crepe paper, and tied with a signature black ribbon. 

Admittedly, the packaging is very luxurious and it feels like a treat to open.

Products

The April box includes:

  • SportFX Definition Duo Eyeliner Pencil (€12)
  • Mitchell & Peach English Leaf Shower Wash (€20)
  • ModelCo Contour Stick (€14.95)
  • SportFX Double Time Brush Buffer + Powder Duo (€11)
  • Rodial Glamolash Mascara XXL in 'Black' (€30)
  • Elgon Deliwash Cleansing Conditioner (€14)
  • A bonus sample of The Balm's Meet Matt(e) Trimony eyeshadow in 'Matt Kumar' (roughly worth €4.40)

The two brands I was familar with prior to this month's box were ModelCo and The Balm - the latter of which I am a fan; the former, not so much. The Balm sample was teeny-tiny, but it gave me enough of a taste to suss out the full sized product.

The variety of the box is good, but the only product that struck me as unique was the Elgon Deliwash Cleansing Conditioner - a sulfate, paraben-free condition that can be used on its own. It's targeted at gym-goers, so it's perfect for me.

The shower wash is lovely, but hell would have to freeze over before I paid €20 for something that you are essentially pouring down the drain. Again, the mascara was good - but not €30 good.

I initially didn't like the duo-brush because of how cheaply it was packaged compared to the other products, but it's since proven itself to be very useful for applying cream and powder products. However, I'm not sure I would repurchase, given the packaging. I also have a funny feeling that after a few washes it's going to shed more than a Shetland pony.

My least favourite product was the ModelCo Contour Stick. Not only is the packaging garish (why you would make a contour stick pink, I will never know), it's the lowest quality product in the box. The eyeliner comes a close second though - I don't generally use pencil eyeliner anyway, but this did have a tendency to drag on the skin.

Birchbox

  • Where: www.birchbox.co.uk
  • How much: £10 + £2.95 p&p for a monthly subscription (roughly €15 altogether), £100 + £2.95 per month for a yearly subscription
  • What you get: 5 products

Packaging

This month's box is a collaboration with the designer Boden, hence the super colourful, graphic box.

With this, it's a more simple, drawer-pull cardboard, but I'm a sucker for floral so the design alone had me on board. 

It definitely has more of a younger feel to it than the Glossybox, but it also undoubtedly looks and feels cheaper.

Products

In Birchbox's April edition, customers get:

  • Manna Kadar Cosmetics High Definition Powder (£27)

  • Polaar IcePure Gentle Scrub (£23.50)
  • Baïja Paris Crème Moana in Fleur de Tiarè (€13.90)

  • Nip + Fab Colour Correcting Concealer in 'Lavender' (£8.95)

  • amika The Shield Style Extending Spray (€23.20)

The only brand I was familar with in this box was Nip + Fab, and truthfully, I thought they only did skincare. 

Speaking of skincare, this box was definitely more catered to that as opposed to makeup. As well as that, the value of the box was higher and it came with more full size products.

The Polaar scrub came in handy as I'd just run out of my own, and I'm always looking to try new exfoliators. It's one of the only products out of the two products that I'm strongly considering repurchasing - gentle on the skin and smells DIVINE.

Being honest, I can't tell much different between the Manna Kadar powder and the one I own that costs a tenner. I'll definitely use it (you always need powder), it's unlikely I'll be repurchasing. Also, Birchbox's website says the sample you get is full size, but the one I received certainly isn't.

The Baïja Paris body creme is another gem - again, who could say no to that packaging? Between that and it's dreamy scent, we're on to a winner.

I don't really colour-correct within my makeup routine as I, thankfully, don't suffer with redness/pigmentation/significant under-eye circles. It made road-testing the Nip + Fab product that bit trickier - I'll probably pass this on to someone who'll get more use of it. 

The amika spray, in my opinion, is a bit gimmicky. It's hard to tell whether it's actually working at extending style or protecting from UV rays. However, it is a decent dry shampoo - and again, that tropical can design looks so cute on a bathroom shelf.

Top line - Glossybox product, bottom line - Birchbox products

 The verdict

Honestly, I wouldn't be rushing to repurchase either box - purely for personal reasons.

I think both give a good selection of products. However, I didn't really feel either was personally catered to me and my beauty needs, something which both claim to offer. I would rather go out and spend money on a product I absolutely know I'll use to the last drop.

Obviously, it also entirely depends what month you purchase. Perhaps both of May's offerings will change my life, but that's unlikely. Personally, I preferred Birchbox's spread this month, as I know I will absolutely reuse each product, with the exception of the colour correcter.

I do, however, think both would make great gifts - I know so many gals who are mad to try new products, or have no idea where to begin with makeup and skincare. This would give them a lot of variety and things to choose from.

There are other options on the market beyond these two - LookFantastic sells boxes at a variety of different price points, while the Nourish Beauty Box boasts a conscious collection of glam goodies.

Let us know your thoughts on beauty boxes on Twitter - @NewstalkFM