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Beauty Boxes 101: 5 Brands & Why They’re Worth It

How can you, a collegiette with packed class and extracurricular schedules and a love for the newest and best beauty products, stay informed on all the latest trends and brands? The answer is easy: beauty boxes! Pay a small fee every month, and a box of goodies will appear at your doorstep 12 wonderful times a year.

Every beauty box service is different, and HC wants to make sure you choose the right box for your beauty needs and your budget. Check out our picks for the best beauty boxes and what collegiettes like you have to say about them!

1. Birchbox


Price: $10 monthly or $110 yearly

Why Birchbox?: Rewards program and customer service

Collegiettes love Birchbox—for just $10 per month, you can get four to five personalized high-quality beauty products delivered to your door. That’s right, Birchbox knows you!

“I have thick hair with heavy waves, so when they send me hair products, they are designed specifically for MY hair,” says Jen Morgan, a junior at Messiah College. “This is something that Birchbox does so well in comparison to other beauty boxes that send the same products to everyone.”

Birchbox has great brands, like Benefit, Cynthia Rowley, Deborah Lippmann and Smashbox. You can also buy products from their online store—usually, they ship free!

“As an aesthetician, I would prefer Birchbox over ipsy,” says Lisa Flanagan, a makeup artist. Flanagan loved Birchbox’s skin care products and found it had more skin care items than its competitor, ipsy. However, Flanagan says her collegiette-aged daughter was sometimes frustrated the samples of hair products from Birchbox were too small to use on long hair.

Birchbox will sometimes also send “lifestyle” extras, like a discount or a granola bar. “I enjoy the ‘lifestyle’ extras, such as Kate Spade Saturday discounts and the occasional chocolates,” says Julia Serafin, a sophomore at Connecticut College. Who doesn’t love a little something extra with their beauty products? Discounts + lipstick + chocolate = love.

The Birchbox rewards system is also great—for every product you review, you earn 10 points. For every 100 points, you can get $10 of credit on Birchbox.com. Getting a discount just for sharing your opinion? Yes, that sounds like something we would love.

What don’t collegiettes love about Birchbox? “They sometimes send a lot of skin care, and since I already know and love certain skin care products that I use, I’d rather have new makeup samples instead,” Jen says. “And, on occasion, the sample sizes are way too small to get an accurate idea of how well the product works.”

Beware that half of the collegiettes interviewed here had some kind of mix-up or trouble with their boxes, such as the box never arriving, but at least they said Birchbox’s customer service representatives were nice and sent a new box right away.

2. Julep


Price: $24.99 per month or $19.99 per month with three-month subscription

Why Julep?: Nail polish and customization

While this box is more expensive than Birchbox, the splurge could be well worth it for the collegiette who’s obsessed with nail polish! Julep boasts its own brand of nail polish in bold and seasonal styles. Go to Julep’s website to get your first box free (this author is eagerly awaiting hers).

Every month, Julep will send you one of five possible boxes based on your style profile. With over $40 of beauty products (and over $60 if you upgrade to a Maven Luxe box) in every box, you’ll fall in love with their nail care and other beauty products!

Collegiettes also love the flexibility of Julep. With your subscription, you can change, customize, upgrade or cancel your box. You can even add on additional items. But if you don’t feel the need to personalize, a great box will still come to your door.

“The thing I love most about Julep is that you have a lot of freedom when picking your box,” says Susannah Alfred, a sophomore at Connecticut College. “While you have a set profile (given based on a profile survey) that is the monthly default, you have the option to change to any other standard profile box, get add-on items at a discount, or even skip your monthly box if you’re not interested in any of the options.”

Collegiettes rave about Julep’s products. “Let me tell you, their products are fantastic—their nail polish is wonderful (particularly the satin finish), and the quick-dry drops [which make freshly painted nails dry more quickly] actually work,” says Claudia Dimuro, a senior at New York University. “However, sometimes they give you repeated products labeled under different names, such as their gold nail polish.”

Julep’s products meet collegiettes’ needs. “I have nothing negative to say about Julep—great price, quality products,” Susannah says. “The nail polish colors are on point given the current season, and its trends and its nail care and makeup extras are perfect staples for any girl’s makeup bag.”

Julep is also one of the only beauty boxes that sells its own brand of products. For the collegiette who doesn’t mind a little extra splurge for a little more freedom in the construction of your box, Julep may be the perfect choice!

3. ipsy


Price: $10 monthly or $110 yearly

Why ipsy?: Hot brands and reusable glam bag

With the same low price as Birchbox and products from hot brands like NYX, Urban Decay and Benefit, collegiettes everywhere are dying for ipsy’s Glam Bags! When you first sign up for ipsy, you’ll take a personalized quiz so the company can suit your beauty needs flawlessly. They’ll ask you everything from your eye color to your hair troubles to where you love to shop! ipsy also gives you a free reusable makeup bag every month—nothing is wasted here!

Flanagan’s college-aged daughters preferred ipsy to Birchbox because their ipsy glam bags seemed to have more cosmetics than their Birchboxes—perfect for the collegiette who wants to learn to rock lipstick or try a new liner. “ipsy is better for people that are in college; the bags are cute, and the items are trendy,” Flanagan says. “Birchbox has more skin care and some classic items that people may not have tried.”

ipsy also has a rewards system called ipsyPoints where you can earn points through social media posts, referring friends and reviewing the items in your glam bags. With one of the most competitive prices on the market and a great amount of personalization, ipsy is perfect for the price-conscious collegiette who loves makeup for all occasions. Plus, can you say free shipping?

4. GLOSSYBOX


Price: $21 monthly or $220 yearly

Why GLOSSYBOX?: Luxury products

GLOSSYBOX appeals to a different kind of collegiette than Birchbox or ipsy. With GLOSSYBOX, you don’t get to choose any of the items in your box—but when it arrives wrapped in an adorable box with luxurious samples, you’ll be glad that you splurged.

GLOSSYBOX collaborates with some posh brands—among the ranks are Burberry, Lancôme Paris, Fresh, OPI and Tom Ford. Who wouldn’t want in on that?

“I absolutely loved this box! The nail polish was a dream to apply, both [drying] opaque in one coat,” says Emily, one reviewer of the June box. “The hand lotion was great and smelled really good. The eye pencil was also nice and easy to work with, super easy to blend.” Almost all of the reviews for July’s box were either four or five stars on a five-star scale.

For the collegiette who wants extremely high-quality products, completely trusts the taste of her beauty box service and doesn’t mind a little extra splurge, GLOSSYBOX is the package she will wait for all month!

5. Allure Sample Society


Price: $15 monthly

Why Sample Society?: Because you trust Allure (and big samples!)

If you’re a little skeptical of the quality of the products in certain beauty boxes—or you just love Allure magazine—you’ll feel great about spending $15 a month on the Allure Sample Society from BeautyBar.com. This service offers five “deluxe-size beauty samples,” a $10 monthly gift to spend on a $50+ Beauty Bar purchase and an Allure mini-magazine with extensive product reviews.

“They recently had a bit of a revamp – they now have new packaging, and so far it seems like they are more makeup-oriented now,” writes Liz Cadman, the founder of My Subscription Addiction in a review of August’s box. “Even though nothing was full sized, I think the sample sizes were generous, and I really like all the new products I’ve tried so far.”

If you’re the kind of girl who loves to watch beauty tutorials and read about beauty products in magazines, this service may be for you. Not only can you actually try the things you read about in the magazine, but you can also learn how to use products just like the professionals!


So, collegiettes—which one of these is the best choice for you? Overall, these services are amazing for getting the hottest beauty products delivered hassle-free—which box do you want sitting on your doorstep every month?

Hannah Grace is a junior at Stanford University majoring in English. In her spare time, she loves to horseback ride.
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