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Beauty Subscription Boxes: Birchbox vs. Ipsy

Which of these two beauty subscription boxes is for you?

Beauty subscription boxes are the rage among beauty-obsessed college students. During spring quarter, I recalled seeing a girl walking out of the post office with TWO Ipsy shipping bags (you know, the pink foil kind) tucked under her arm.

There are two subscription box services that have been consistent, reliable and insanely popular: Birchbox and Ipsy. They both cost 10 dollars a package and deliver monthly. But how does each of them actually work? Here are the details:

Birchbox

  • $10/month for Women’s subscription, $20/month for Men’s subscription
  • Makeup, skincare, hair care, lifestyle
  • Sampling service – all items are samples 
  • Big brands like Keratase
  • Shop — can buy full-sized versions of the samples after you try them
  • Customizable beauty profile helps you find your ideal samples

My Experience with Birchbox

I received a tiny mascara, some BB cream samples, and some other makeup samples. Ultimately, I ended up regifting the mascara and even though I enjoyed the face exfoliator and BB cream, I didn’t go out to buy their full versions afterward. Since I don’t often shop around for department store beauty products, a sampling service probably wasn’t the best fit for me. 

Ipsy

  • $10/month
  • Makeup, skincare, hair care
  • Most products come full-sized, but a few come in trial sizes
  • Unique makeup bag included each month
  • Big brands  like Urban Decay, Benetint mixed with smaller brands
  • Personality quiz (less so) and product reviews (more so) help customize your future bags
  • Shopping: Ipsy links you to the website where you can buy each product, usually with a coupon code.

My Experience with Ipsy

I’ve continued subscribing because their products come in larger sizes, and I like the cute makeup bags. I’ve gotten full-sized eyeshadows and blushes as well as trial-sized UD eyeliners, but the dud happens occasionally as well, such as the weird tanning oil I received in July even though it didn’t reflect my personality quiz or product reviews. Each package comes with 4 to 5 products. 

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