Posted by Liz Cadman on Nov 12, 2013 in Subscription Box News | 28 comments

My Subscription Box Review Process

My Subscription Box Review Process

I started the original My Subscription Addiction blog over a year ago to address the problem I was having personally with subscription boxes: I wanted to see exactly what was in each box before I subscribed. Since then, I’ve been dedicated to building out a site that gets you all the information you need to find the best subscription boxes for you. (I’ve also enlisted my developer husband on this mission!)

One thing that doesn’t help you find the best boxes are misleading “blogger boxes” – and I’d like to share my thoughts on these boxes, and also provide more background on my reviews.

If you aren’t familiar with the term, “blogger boxes” are boxes bloggers get sent that are different from the subscription box paying customers receive. The best example I can think of for a blogger box is the original FabFitFun VIP box. Some bloggers were sent pre-launch boxes, and then most paying subscribers received the same boxes but with some products missing. (I was a paying subscriber and did not get the blogger box, so I got to experience first-hand feeling misled and taken advantage of opening a box that didn’t match up to the reviews I had seen).

FabFitFun learned from that initial mistake – all their boxes are consistent now. (I believe they also gave anyone who contacted them about it their next box free – but I didn’t reach out to their customer care, so I can’t speak to that).

From observation I learned a lot too – I never want to review a “blogger box” – it doesn’t help anyone.

How I handle reviewing subscription boxes:

When a company contacts me to send me a free box to review, I let them know first and foremost that I only review boxes a paying customer would receive.

If I received a box at no cost, I will always mention it at the very beginning of the review.

While my reviews are generally positive, I will never accept compensation for a positive review. (To be fair to subscription box companies – I can only think of one time I’ve even been asked to give a positive review in exchange for a free box, and I responded letting them know that I could only promise an honest review. And I just never received that box). No company has ever offered to pay me money for a review.

My reviews are typically positive because most boxes meet by expectations. When a box is amazing and exceeds my expectations, I believe that’s pretty apparent in my review – I tend to use words like LOVE a lot in those reviews! 🙂

My expectations for boxes are:

  • Did they deliver what they promised on their website? (5-7 products, $100 value, full size beauty products, etc.).
  • Did the value of the box come close to or exceed the cost of the box? (While some companies make no promise of value, I don’t like feeling ripped off).

Most boxes do deliver on those expectations, hence my generally positive reviews. I have been sent complimentary boxes by companies that didn’t meet those expectations about value, and I was honest about that in the review. (Here’s a recent example of a complimentary box I received that was great but didn’t have a good value).

There are some boxes that will have absolutely nothing in them I will use, but it still might be a great box to a lot of subscribers, so while I’ll likely mention I intend to gift an item, I won’t give them a negative review. (Examples of great items I won’t use: any food item with gluten or dairy, silver jewelry, most perfume).

I also subscribe to a ton of boxes – I love trying out new subscriptions, and I also see it as part of the cost of running this blog. So we definitely spend a lot on subscription boxes each month. On the flipside, I can’t remember the last time I spent money on makeup, clothing, cleaning supplies, bath and body products, or tea!

I try to use a personal email address when setting up accounts with subscription box companies so I can make sure I am getting the full customer experience. (My Birchbox account is an example of a subscription I have that is in no way tied to My Subscription Addiction).


I hope that adds some clarity to my review process, and I truly hope you find the reviews helpful. Let me know if you have any questions!

Written by Liz Cadman

Liz Cadman

Liz is the founder of My Subscription Addiction. She’s been hooked on subscription boxes since 2011 thanks to Birchbox, and she now subscribes to over 50 boxes. Her favorites include POPSUGAR Must Have, and any box that features natural beauty products!
All views in this review are the opinion of the author. My Subscription Addiction will never accept payment in exchange for a review, but will accept a box at no cost to provide honest opinions on the box. This post may contain affiliate/referral links. Read the complete My Subscription Addiction disclosure.


  1. Liz- I’m trying to add the $20 Updated Beta box onto a new Birchbox subscription but can’t find a way to do it. Have they discontinued it?

    thank you!


    • I don’t think they discontinued it, but I’m not having any luck finding a direct link on the site for you. I recommend asking their customer care:

      Hope that helps!

  2. I’m curious. How do you determine the value of each sample?

    • I look at the price per ounce of the full size and then apply it to the size of the sample. Hope that helps! 🙂

  3. Do you ever think that you get so many of these that the novelty wears off? Or are they all still interesting?

    • I still check out front door for packages multiple times a day – the novelty hasn’t worn off yet! 🙂

  4. Just found your site through instagram and I LOVE it. What a brilliant idea and your refusal to accept blogger boxes for review is freaking awesome. Keep it up, we need you lol.

    • Thank you so much!

  5. I just want to say thank you. I live subscription boxes and anytime I’m considering buying a new one, I always check your site first to see what you’ve said about it as there have only been a couple you haven’t reviewed that I’ve tried. I love your site and while I dont come to the site much, I get your posts my email and read every single one. Thank you!!! I really really want to start my own review blog, I’d really like to focus on pet products and beauty products but maybe just sub boxes in general like I just don’t know how to start….sigh. But I wanted to take a minute and say thank you as I love your site.

    • Thanks so much! I’m so glad you find the site helpful (That’s my ultimate goal!). If you’re blocked on how to start blogging, I recommend trying out Blogger for a free blogspot account. It’s very user friendly, and that’s how I started out. After about a year I ended up switching to WordPress, but I think Blogger is best for when you are starting out and just want to get a sense of how everything will work. Hope that helps!

  6. Great article! I would love to do a subscription box review thing on my blog, but I feel like you cover everything so well here that there really isn’t anything I could add, lol. I love following your blog. You all do such a great job!

  7. What do we do if we have a box that isn’t on your site that we would like you to review? I just started subscribing to a box called the 16 Minute Club for breastfeeding mothers, and it is amazing!! It’s “theme” is breastfeeding, but gives lots of information and advice on new babies and development as well as lots of mommy gifts that aren’t BF related. I would love for it to get the kind of exposure that your site would bring! Is there a process for this?

  8. I love your blog and check it everyday! I’m in school, so its not realistic for me to subscribe to that many boxes (though I do have Ipsy and the Scratch monthly mani box which I love), but I have so much fun living my subscription service dreams through you! You have one of the best jobs in the world 😀 You seem like a great, honest, down-to-earth person and your friends must love getting all those gifts 😉 I chose the homegrown collective box to put on my Christmas list, so I hope it lives up to what I’ve seen from you! I’ve seen so many boxes that I’ve never heard of on here and it’s great piecing everything together from your reviews. You provide all the information I need to see if I want to subscribe! I’ve never had a problem (though sometimes I search a box I see in a review that I want to add to my list and it doesn’t show up in the list, so am I searching wrong?) Okay, sorry this is so long! OH, also, I absolutely love that picture of you surrounded by all your boxes from a while ago- it must be like Christmas everyday! (do you get a box everyday?) Sorry again this is so long, didn’t realize I had that much to say 🙂

  9. Love your website and love your reviews! You really help me pick which boxes would be best for me. I appreciate your honest reviews and I always find your positivity refreshing. Thank you for all the work you do. I would not be the happy box addict I am today without your site!

  10. I never knew some companies did blogger boxes. That is… weird. Neat to see a bit of insight on how you run this blog.

  11. Always love reading your blog! Your blog was the first one I starting reading about subscription boxes and since then I have started getting we’ll say “several”. I feel like your blog gives me realistic expectations and has helped me find boxes I LOVE and has also kept me from getting ones that just aren’t a fit for me. Thanks

  12. Thanks for posting this, although, you didn’t need to. Your reviews are always upfront and I like your neutrality on the boxes.

    • Glad to hear it – thank you! 🙂

  13. Thanks for posting this, Liz!! Really the only time I was upset after subscribing to a box post-reveiw was Bleu Box, and it was a unique situation because it was jewelry. Like you said, you just laid out the facts, it was my fault I thought the jewelry was cheapo! That being said, I LOVE your blog, and have subscribed to a ton of boxes after seeing reviews! I’ve been reading it religiously for almost a year. I love the camaraderie, haha! 🙂 🙂

  14. Love this! While I may receive something that I don’t totally love (cough, cough, tea and eyeliner) or won’t use, I recognize that it doesn’t mean other people wouldn’t love to receive it in a box!

  15. I’ve been a lurker for some time, but have always thought you have an honest vibe to you (and genuinely enthusiastic with subscription boxes themselves). Thanks for confirming that this is the case!

  16. I don’t even use the same name when subscribing to boxes (and am often accused of getting a better box than regular subscribers or whatnot), and frankly, I don’t think companies really bother. Sometimes despite best efforts I have ended up with a blogger box. They are completely meaningless for purposes of a review.

    My family just visited and I sent them home with a box of items that I have saved from my boxes that I thought belonged in another home. I’ll be giving them during the holidays (and won’t do an ounce of shopping!),

  17. Great post. I think it’s always nice to know how a blogger does their review.

    I also think that the items that you don’t use can be a great gift item around the holidays or birthdays. 🙂 No waste there!!!

    I currently only subscribe to 4 things (ipsy, birchbox, ecoemi and poopbuddy) and I enjoy them a lot. I don’t use/like everything, so I put it in my “gift bag” and they will be gifts for friends and family. 😀

  18. Thank you for letting a company know that you only like to review boxes a paying customer would receive, it’s let’s me know that you are a great person and wants you reviews to be fair for your readers. I love reading your blogs everyday. 🙂

  19. Of all the box bloggers out there,
    you and Ramblings of a Suburban Mom are the only ones I can read on a daily basis. And what you just wrote explains why. You are so genuine and i truly know what I should expect from boxes I’ve subscribed to thanks to you. Keep them coming!!

    • Thank you so much – that means a lot to me! 🙂

    • Aww, that’s me too. Thank you!

  20. Thanks for this post. Interesting and informative.


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