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Subscription Box Value Analysis – The Top 9 Boxes!

This post may contain referral/affiliate links. If you buy something, MSA may earn a commission. Read the full disclosure.

A big thanks to Reddit user abacu5 who put together this subscription box analysis and wanted to share it with My Subscription Addiction readers!

If you are looking to see which box will consistently offer you a significantย value, or you want to know the average breakdown of item categories in a box, I think this is a great tool.


What do you think of the data?

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 100 boxes. Her favorites include POPSUGAR Must Have, FabFitFun, 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. If you buy something, MSA may earn an affiliate commission. Read the complete My Subscription Addiction disclosure.


  1. Another spreadsheet lover!!!

    I want to trim my subscriptions, so I did some calculations too.

    Since I am too fair for black mascara/eyeliner, don’t wear nail polish and worry more about breakouts than wrinkles —- I wasn’t sure if any of the boxes were a good value.

    So I calculated the box’s cost and value — then the value of the things I like and used.

    This is what I found:

    Blush Mystery Box, Feb- Sept
    Cost- $199.60
    Value- $946.75
    Value of items I like: $341.95

    PopSugar Must Have, Jan – August including Limited Edition
    Cost – $560
    Value – $2,973.57
    Liked – $1165.38
    (Still working on Sept/Fall LE/Oct)

    I did this for all my boxes. Overall, I come out ahead on each subscription, but the things I enjoy most are from PopSugar — even though I swapped the entire February and May boxes.

    Of course this doesn’t take into account the value of the items I received from swapping the things I don’t want.

    There are many, many ways to decide if a box subscription is of value — I found both ways of looking at the boxes helpful.

    Thank you abacu5!

    • I thought I was the only one that did this. It’s helpful to see which boxes are the best fit. Great job!

  2. Wow Liz just wow.
    I defend you and you delete my post?
    Must be nice to live off subscription boxes that you can write off as tax deductible.
    Keep it up and I will expose you deleting my post on MUT.
    Also, better do your taxes right ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Debbie – following up with an email – a follow up comment (not made by you) was inappropriate and it was getting too off topic and personal.

      • I sent the email detailing the situation to your email listed in comments. If that didn’t get to you – please email me [email protected] so I can fill you in. Sorry!

  3. It would be nice to see an analysis like this for boxes such as Petit Voir and Yuzen. I would like to shift my money to more earth (and human) friendly choices in the future. It’s harder to judge these types of boxes because I’m less familiar with the brands. I know the term “natural” doesn’t hold any legal definition, but “USDA organic” does. Abacu5, the sub box world needs your help!

    • That’s a great idea! Maybe that will be my next endeavour! ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Thanks so much for doing this breakdown. Very helpful for me as I’m new to subscription boxes.

  5. WOW! Great breakdown! So interesting to see this. Going to have to refer to this for my next box.

  6. This is awesome! Thanks for sharing ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Wow this is incredible. I love being able to see the date and compare thank you so much.

  8. Birchbox points give about $60 a year in credit for their shop with hundreds of products to choose from, whereas after a year of Ipsy all I got was one cheap extra. Also, the fact that you can choose the products you want definitely increases the value of Birchbox for me!

    • Great point! I think it’s very telling so many people have commented on BB’s points system. I would love to redo this analysis and factor in points systems for each box. I’m sure the conclusions will shift.

      • You can manipulate the points a lot, too. I’ve been canceling and resubscribing every month with 100 point codes. So there’s an automatic 110 points (because they give you 10 when you sign up for a monthly subscription).

        Plus you get at least 50 points (and sometimes more) in product reviews, so I am getting a minimum of 160 points a month — worth more in their shop than I paid for the box. Then I save up the points and use them at the same time I use a discount code (usually 20% off). So it’s kind of like prepaying for items in their shop — but also usually getting at least a couple of things I can use.

        It took me awhile to appreciate this. But I will never earn a reward of any type from another sub with points because I’m not a blogger and I don’t make any referrals and just going month-to-month (like with ipsy or Glossybox) is too slow.

        • Where do you find the 100 point code every month?

        • Sneaky Burrito you just rocked my Birchbox world! Do you do it at the end of the month, or does it matter?

  9. This isn’t accurate for Birchbox because of the points system. Reviewing items makes each box come out to $3 to $5. And if you use a 100pt code over and over then it’s like you never pay for a box, you just get money racked up for future purchases and all the samples just become freebies.

    • Hi Jennifer – yes good observation on BB!! However I didn’t do an analysis on points structure. I simply noted if the boxes have a points system available. This analysis was truly meant as an overview based on hard numbers instead of subjective attributes. The structure of a points system can make or break a users purchase decision. But since it is very subjective, I chose not to analyze points structure and its impact on value. I can certainly see how or why a user would prefer BB. But there wasn’t a very good way to add an accurate importance level to how good the points system is. If you can think of a way to do this that’d be great. I’d love to add it in somehow and re-analyze the numbers! It’s a fantastic way to look at this!

    • But then you have someone like me who doesn’t take the time to review any of the monthly stuff. I appreciate that abacu5’s research reflects that. From here, one could continue the research to compare sites that offer return on reviews.

  10. Thank you so much abacu5! I spent about a week on this site looking at beauty subscription boxes to find the best bang for my buck, and ended up with ipsy, boxycharm and blush beauty box. Nowhere near as scientific or as pretty, but I love seeing this! Also, it so validates my hating of beauty box 5…. Anyways, I feel validated ๐Ÿ˜‰ and appreciative… Might need to give fff a go! Thank you!

    • Glad it was useful!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. I’m confused as to why Ipsy is listed with an average monthly number of items as 6. I’ve been subbed since July 2013 so I’ve received 16 bags so far. One bag had 6 items and another had 4 items. All the other months had 5 items and as far as I can tell this is true of every subscriber. Did you count bonus/referral items ?

    • The bag counts as an item! ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Yes exactly! However I did not assign the bag a monetary value. Simply included it as an additional item. Good catch to you both!

  12. Stop reading my mind!! Ive been toying with myself of doing something like this and it really helps to analyze the good, better, best ones, lol. I get most of these and my predictions were abut the same on most, I want boxes full of value and quality. I’m thankful for being able to swap my “unwanted” items. Even if I don’t like some items in the boxes I still might find I’ve got my moneys worth and stilt have a few items to try and get more of what I want/love. This is amazing someone has done all of the dirty work on these boxes and really mapped out a good model for future and continuing boxes. Congrats to you, and thanks lox for the post.

  13. Awesome information, thanks abacu5 for doing this and thanks Liz for sharing. I also agree a summary would have being cool for those that like to read and interpret, I know not everyone is a picture interpreter. Needless to say thanks again for doing this because now I know for sure what other boxes I want to give a try to ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Hi Vianny! Since you asked, below are my original takeaways. I actually left them out initially because I wanted others to draw their own conclusions since certain attributes are completely subjective, such as a points system or its structure (which I have not analyzed here). But I understand what you mean, that not everyone can necessarily interpret pictures! I hope this helps those who could use a quick verbal summary:

      In the case of Makeup dominant boxes, Eye products prevail (i.e. eyeshadow, liners, mascaras).

      After August of last year, Birchbox values increased by a few dollars. A few dollars may not be relevant at all, but I found it interesting as around this time, 4 new beauty boxes were introduced.

      After Blush was acquired by Target in late 2013, it looks like the box values tapered off somewhat and have been more stable since.

      Anyone looking for Makeup would do well with Ipsy, Boxycharm, or Glossybox. I personally would prefer Glossybox even though it’s lower ranked and has mostly deluxe samples instead of saleables. The reason for this is the prestige level. I like that I can sample higher end cosmetics without paying a huge premium for them.

      On that note, I must say I was very surprised to see how much value Ipsy has. Especially given the newer boxes that launched after. I expected all of them to be better performers, but only Blush beat out Ipsy. My guess as to why is because Ipsy seems to distribute a lot of eye products (liners/mascara/shadow). This may be a cost-effective way to provide universally flattering items while adding value to their boxes. I love eye products, so I can’t say I mind!

      Regarding Popsugar, I was a little disappointed to find that the dominant Lifestyle items, which already makes up 72% of the box, are Food/Drink. In general, Food/Drink products do not provide much value for a box, so it shouldn’t be too surprising Popsugar falls toward the bottom.

      You could say the same for FFF, but I think the reason this doesn’t rank lower is because there’s a fair amount of other categories, not just Food/Drink. However, it’s only quarterly which might skew one’s purchase decision.

      • Thanks for all the work, abacu5! You are awesome. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • I felt the same disappointment too about Popsugar. I did not realize that until I saw the graph.

      • Thank you for going into detail and explaining.

  14. I think I’ve tried all of these except Popsugar. Have canceled most for financial reasons. However, this is interesting in terms of getting the best value when/if I am able to resubscribe to some beauty boxes. Looks like I should give Blush a second chance.

  15. I enjoy reading this and looking over the graphs. It’s nice to see the breakdown of the boxes and then a further breakdown of the top category. It’s interesting to see how the values jump all over the place. I’m not surprised Beauty Box 5 made the list. My sister receives it and calls it her fun box. Maybe it’s because the products are lackluster compared to highend boxes.

  16. This is awesome, and a lot of work! I find it really interesting– some of the boxes I thought were a better value (Beauty box 5– it was actually one of the worst!) really weren’t. I think Birchbox’s points system adds value to their box. I get some really great deals on full size products.

    However, this is really useful in choosing between boxes. I’ve been wanting to add Blush Beauty Box to my subscriptions. After seeing the data, it has pushed me over the edge. Next time there’s a great deal (hopefully black Friday), I’m signing up.

    • I know I always think beauty box 5 is one of the worst boxes, always underwhelmed and getting repeats when I’ve only had it a couple months. I’m surprised it made this list and turns out to be a high value box. Still thinking of canceling it though, just never impressed with it.

      • Hi Sara โ€“ Iโ€™m the original author of this overview. You are absolutely correct. According to my numbers, BB5 is one of the poorer performing boxes. Since the ratio is higher, I ranked it lower. A little counter-intuitive, I know. Anyway, I listed it in my analysis since I wanted to see how much better or worse it was than other boxes. I apologize if this was unclear, but I hope you were able to get some use out of these numbers.

    • I’ve had the Blush Mystery Beauty Box on my wishlist as well. I visited the site just now and they have a 30% off Friends & Family discount using the code SAVE30. I’m still not sure if I want to take the plunge this month with the items Liz received. Did anyone ever find out if the shampoo is indeed sulfate-free?
      It’s nice to see the dominant categories in the subs (skincare, makeup, lifestyle, etc.) so we can better know what to expect. Thank you abacu5 for this valuable tool.

  17. Wow, This was a lot of work! Thank you, abacu5!

  18. This is awesome Liz! Thanks for sharing.

  19. Love this. I would have loved to see a summation paragraph about what these results say to you as well.

  20. This is pretty cool. I call boxes like Popsugar and FabFitFun the Walmart of subscription boxes b/c you get so much for so little, but I know every subscription box just can’t do that. So I do factor in other things besides total value such as curation, brand discovery, etc…

  21. Very comprehensive! And I’m sure it will be wonderful for new subbies out there to pick and choose which box is best for them. Great idea and I love it!

  22. This is so cool! Thanks for sharing!

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