Wednesday, August 20, 2014

I Like Stuff: An Honest Review of Subscription Boxes

It seems like every time I check my email or look at Facebook I see an ad for some sort of subscription box. They range from beauty samples to dog treats to organic food. There is a subscription box for everyone! 

Just what is a subscription box? For a monthly fee, usually 10-50 dollars, you get a box filled with goodies. Some will make you fill out a questionnaire and they will customize the box, the majority of the time, especially with sample boxes, you get whatever they have on hand. Below are a few of the more popular subscription boxes out there. 

This was the original beauty subscription box for me. I kept hearing about how great it was and what wonderful samples were in it. The samples are all beauty products, from make up to hair products. It is 10.00 a month and arrives at your door around the middle of the month

The Pros:

  • I liked that there were products that I usually wouldn't try. There were a lot of companies that were completely new to me. 
  • You are able to buy the product that you try.

The Cons:

  • I always received a fragrance that I would never in a million years use.
  • I never received anything but a sample size, they touted that you would get full sizes and I never did. 
  • I received more advertising than product. 

Bottom Line

While 10.00 seems like very little a month for beauty product, would you really spend 10.00 a month on a sample that you might not use? I traded some of my unused samples with friends. By the end of the 3rd month, I was tired of getting perfume meant for someone half my age, a sample that I would probably get at a store for free and a box I had to recycle. I ended up canceling my subscription and using the 10.00 for monthly online donations to my favorite dog charity. 

Because I couldn't get enough makeup and I am a product junkie, I decided to give Ipsy a try. Ipsy is another beauty sample box. Each month, for 10.00 you get a little make up bag, samples and full size beauty products. Each month there is a theme and the bag and products go with that theme. 

The Pros:

  • Full size products! I love that every one of the bags comes with several full size products. I have fallen in love with a lot of what they have sent me and I will be buying the product again.
  • Discounts on the sample products. You will get an email with discounts if you want to buy the beauty products they send you. A lot of the stuff is already affordable but a discount never hurts.
  • The make up bag. Yeah, they are cheap but they are great for craft supplies
  • They do not use a box to ship, you get it in a padded envelope that is pink and shiny. 

The Cons:

  • You have to be on a "waiting list" to get Ispy, which I suspect is really a bunch of BS. If you go on Facebook and say you want it, then you get off the list. Basically, you have to advertise for them.
  • I did receive mascara that I believed was out of date and mentioned that to them on Facebook but got no response. It kind of bummed me out that they didn't acknowledge it. Not really a con, but still ticked me off. 
  • You will get product that you won't use. 

Bottom Line:
This subscription, I believe is worth it. The full size products alone are worth 10.00. I love their themes and none of the product I have received has gone to waste. 

Barkbox is a box for your dog. Each month, for a price of 29.00 (you can pay all up front if you want to) you will get 4-6 treats, toys, and sometimes a grooming product. 

The Pros:

  • They do have allergy sensitive dog boxes.
  • They offer boxes for different size dogs.
  • They will replace defective items in the box.

The Cons:

  • The price is a bit steep for me, but if you really love to pamper your pet, it may be worth it. 
  • Your dog might not eat the treats. Since you don't know what you are getting, you may be wasting your money.
  • Not sure if this is a pro or con, but if you sign up for more months, you get a discount. 

The Bottom Line:
I am on the fence about this one. It would be nice to treat my dogs every month but I'm also wondering if we are wasting money if they don't eat the treats and splitting it between 4 dogs. It might be good for a one dog person. I do like that they have excellent customer service. I guess if you are willing to spend the money, then give it a try. 

Graze Box:
Okay, so this one has me stumped and maybe that is because I like in a city that caters to healthy and organic eating. You can sign up for every week or every other week deliveries of healthy organic snacks for 6.49 a week. 

I am really trying to figure out a pro to this....

  • If you don't have time to shop, you can have healthy snacks delivered to your door
  • There are multiple choices to pick from


  • You can find healthy snack alternatives at any store or even on Amazon. 
  • If you have any allergies, you can't order.
  • Even though 6.49 seem inexpensive for snacks, you are paying that 2-4 times a month and you really don't get a lot for the price

Bottom Line:
It is a complete waste. A little bit of work and you can have the same snack and in greater portions for you to break down. Just don't do it! 

This is just a few of the subscription boxes out there. I started looking around and couldn't believe all the options there are now. A word of caution, they can get expensive and if you are doing 2 or more a month, you might want to look at the value again. So many of the boxes are merely samples that you can get for free if you just take the time to do the leg work,  so basically you are paying for their advertising. On the plus side, they are special little treats and will open you up to new products to try. My advice, buyer beware and read the fine print! 


Becky said...

Thanks for this. There are so many side-ads on facebook for sampler boxes I have often wondered if any are worth the effort.

Now I know!

JLVerde said...

The only pro I can offer for Graze is it's a nice way to sample healthy offerings to learn what you like (then ditch it and buy them at the store).

I know that's what I did. I was trying to make my diet more healthy and graze was good to introduce me to flavors/things I wasn't willing to buy a big portion of. After a month or two, I knew some things I liked and got rid of it (and I think it was cheaper when I did it and I got a deal when I signed up).

The same holds for Nature Box. Good for trying things, then cancel and just get them at the store.

Crafty Like Lindy said...

Good to know about the Graze box! The first box is free but I will probably be cancelling after I get it.

Kendy P said...

I was stoked at first about the Graze box and even bought a trail month as a gift. Then I kept getting the same stuff over and over. I know being vegan some what limits me but it seems I kept getting like the same 3 products over and over...A new 4th was not worth it.

It was nice to have purse sized boxes just to toss and go but then I figured I could buy a box of granola bars and a small bento and do the same and save $!