Product Smackdown: Subscription Beauty Boxes

Some girls like flowers or sweet treats delivered to their doors. We prefer subscription boxes. There's something about a package arriving in the mail stocked with teeny-tiny products that makes us feel like it's our birthday, once every month.
Subscription boxes are monthly deliveries of new, trial-sized beauty products that you can later purchase in full-size for yourself. The idea here is totally try-before-you-buy, and while you're at it, you can stock your travel toiletry bag with TSA-approved items far better than anything you could find even in the fanciest of boutique hotels.
The beauty and wellness world knows no shortage of subscription boxes these days, so we get how it might be a little difficult to decipher which one is right for you. We asked our intrepid Chicago editor, Shani Silver, to put six of the most popular services to the test. Read on for the inside info (literally) and find out which you should have delivered to your doorstep.
Photographed by Shani Silver
The Contender: Birchbox
"I think of Birchbox as my gateway drug. I can't stop looking for more boxes to sign up for, and BirchBox is the one that started it all. At $10 per month, BirchBox is an amazing value (hence my initial attraction). It came with six samples, and each one was a product I had never tried. If you're looking to integrate some new goodies into your routine, but get nervous about spending lots of cash on beauty experiments, this is a good compromise."
"Birchbox also offers up some really cool collaborations. Starting next month, they're working with Glamour on a box curated by the magazine's editors, to go along with a 'Five Senses Of Summer' feature. That means everything from Oscar de la Renta perfume to LaraBar and custom-designed headphones. If you've been on the fence about signing up, July is a going to be a great month to start."
Result: "A must for newbies or anyone interested in dabbling in subscription boxes. Very fair price and fun products. This box really feels like a treat, and if you're into the size and price of this one, but wish it came more frequently, I'd suggest signing up for Beauty Box 5 as well."
Birchbox, $10 per month, available at Birchbox.
Photographed by Shani Silver
The Contender: Beauty Box 5
"Beauty Box 5 is a great way to try new, practical products. Anyone in love with their current self-tanner or body lotion would typically have no reason to buy a full-sized product of something new (read: risky!)."
"This box lets you road test products you're probably already using (or need to use), but from new, unexplored brands. It makes you feel open-minded, while still maintaining fierce brand loyalty. A huge plus is the extremely reasonable $12 price tag, and that will get even smaller if you make a longer-term commitment. Who knows, you just might find something you love even more than your old standbys."
Result: "This is a good value and provides insight into brands you might be unfamiliar with. The products are practical and will be excellent additions to your travel bag."
Beauty Box 5, $12 per month, available at Beauty Box 5.
Photographed by Shani Silver
The Contender: KlutchClub
"Generally I'm a huge fan of having treats delivered to my door, but healthy treats? Now we're talking. At first glance, I thought the $18 price tag was a little steep (the price goes down with higher-commitment subscriptions), but then I really started thinking about it. The box introduces you to healthy snacks and beauty products you've never tried (but should)."
"Better still, if you pay attention to the coupons in the box, you can score some pretty sweet deals. My box came with a $25 coupon to a fitness clothing web site, which, once I spend it, will more than pay for the box (and help me replace my sad-looking yoga pants!)."
Result: "Excellent quality wellness products, and the box is well worth the price if you're using it to its full potential. I recommend trying the three-month option to make sure you're really enjoying and using the box, before making a longer commitment."
KlutchClub, $18 per month, available at KlutchClub.
Photographed by Shani Silver
The Contender: Glossybox
"You know you want beauty products from Europe. And Asia. And everywhere else, too. Don't deny it. The products in Glossybox are useful, fun, and really high quality, and you'll get the chance to try popular products from around the globe. So, if you're into luxury beauty, you're going to love Glossybox — and there's just no way around it."
"There are, however, a few points to take note of that you might not love. First of all, the cost is $21 per month. Kinda steep when you look at it in comparison with the rest of the boxes, but not so bad when you factor in what you'll get inside. Also, Glossybox kind of bends the 'subscription box' rules a little, because it sells out. You've got to be on your toes (or signed up for the Glossybox newsletter), to know when to purchase it; it will not just come automatically. A little extra legwork, yes, but sort of worth it."
Result: "Not for the beauty minimalist, this box is for fanatics who don't mind spending a little cash. The $21 price tag is tame, but the brands it will introduce you to are not, so be prepared to fall in love with some pricey products."
Glossybox, $21 per month, available at Glossybox.
Photographed by Shani Silver
The Contender: Blissmo
"Anyone seeking out completely new products of a green, earth-friendly nature, needs to start getting Blissmo Box. I hadn't heard of a single product in the box, and I think that's the reason we're all signing up for these things anyway! Particularly with green products, I like to test them out in small doses because I've had such extreme reactions with them. This box is a great way to familiarize yourself with what's available now."
"The packaging on this one was pretty minimal, which I actually liked, since it's all about being green. All the products are explained in a leaflet, too, so you won't feel overwhelmed by unfamiliarity." My only concern is that $19 seems a little high for the four products that are inside.
Result: "This box is great for anyone seeking off-the-radar, eco-friendly products. If you're having a hard time green-ifying your beauty routine on your own, this is a good jumping-off point to help you find brands that you can switch out your chemical-laden creams for."
Blissmo, $19 per month, available at Blissmo.
Photographed by Shani Silver
The Contender: Goodebox
"Goodebox focuses on 'healthy beauty,' so you won't have to worry about smearing something on your face that you can't pronounce. The products are clearly concerned with utilizing natural ingredients and shying away from the chemical world. Anyone willing to try truly off-the-radar products and all-natural beauty remedies will have no problem diving into Goodebox — and think of all the legwork that $16 per month will save you."
"This is the right box for anyone who wants to make big, chemical-conscious changes to their beauty routine. If you're looking for more tried-and-true products that aren't quite as experimental, you might want to select a different box. One of my favorite Goodebox features is that your subscription is month-to-month, and you can opt in or out whenever you want, as opposed to making a long-term commitment."
  Result: "Much like Blissmo Box, you're not going to find familiar brands in here, but if that sounds like a good thing to you, the $16 per month is money well spent. This also has a month-to-month option that is really reasonable, and is great for anyone who is brand new to subscription boxes."
Goodebox, $16 per month, available at Goodebox.
Photographed by Shani Silver

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