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Birchbox Vs Ipsy Vs Play by Sephora – May 2017

$10 Beauty Subscription Box Breakdown!

The Birchbox vs Ipsy vs Sephora post series compares my Birchbox and Ipsy subscription every month to give you a good idea what you can expect from the three most popular beauty subscription boxes. (And since all 3 boxes are $10 a month, it seems fair to stack them up against each other).

If you are interested in finding other great beauty boxes, check out our Top 31 Beauty Subscription Boxes for 2017!

FYI – I pay for these subscriptions, and as a regular customer, I get one of many variations available each month. So while one month alone might not be enough info to make a decision, looking at the results over several months should give you a good picture of what to expect with each box.

Birchbox May 2017 (Check out the full Birchbox review)

Number of items: 5

Full-size items: 0

Deluxe size items: 0

Brands featured: Ouai, Coola, Clarins, MAC, Manna Kadar

Categories featured: Skincare (2) Makeup (2) Haircare (1)

Total Value: $26.50

Favorite item in the box: COOLA SPF 50 Sport Fresh Mango

COOLA makes the best scented sunscreens! If you love tropical, fruity scents, I recommend checking out their line. (I just wish my sample was larger!)


Ipsy May 2017 (Check out the full Ipsy review)

Number of items: 5

Full-size items: 2

Deluxe size items: 1

Brands featured: Urban Decay, Luxie, City Color, Pixi, South Mane

Categories featured: Makeup (3) Tools (1) Haircare (1)

Total Value: $47

Favorite item in the box: Pixi by Petra Endless Silky Eye Pen in Black Noir

I see a lot of black eyeliners in subscription boxes, and this one really impressed me!

The “silky” part of the name of this eyeliner is accurate – it just glides on. The pigment is stunning, too. You’re not going to get super accurate precision, though. (Even sharpening the pencil provided a pretty thick line.)

Also, excellent staying power! No smudges after I let it set for a few seconds.

If if you’re looking for a bold statement eyeliner – I recommend it. (Not good for barely-there looks!)

Play! by Sephora May 2017 (Check out the full Play! by Sephora review)

Number of items: 6

Full-size items: 0

Deluxe size items: 0

Brands featured: Tata Harper, Rahua, Trestique, MILK, Clean Fragrances, Grande Lips

Categories featured: Makeup (3) Skincare (1) Haircare (1) Fragrance (1)

Total Value: $38

Favorite item in the box: Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask

This box was worth it for this sample alone.

This mask is a gel that dries and tightens as you wear it for 20 minutes. I didn’t think I noticed a difference at first after removing the mask – but then I touched my face. My skin has NEVER been smoother! 

It gets great reviews for helping with acne, too. (And smells so natural and lovely!)

Verdict: My favorite this month is Play by Sephora. The samples in Birchbox this month were small, and the MAC mascara was a bust, so it was out of the running. Ipsy was a good contender, but I’m really loving my Tata Harper Mask, and MILK Makeup Blur Stick (a new discovery for me), so Sephora is the winner this month!

Of course, my favorite box varies every month, so here are my general suggestions for which box to pick:

Birchbox: Birchbox allows you to pick one of your samples or the curated box for each month, so if you want to have a little more control over your box, this is a good choice. They also have a ton of great high-end brands. If you are concerned about the value of your boxes, I recommend going for the curated box each month – the values with those boxes seem to be consistently good.

Ipsy: This will likely be the highest value out of all 3 boxes every month. It’s also the best of the 3 if you are looking for full-size items. The one thing to keep in mind is that Ipsy samples both high-end, mid-tier, and drugstore brands, so you’re going to get a mix of price point brands.

Sephora: I recommend this box for the brands – if Sephora carries the brand, it may appear in the box, which means they have a ton of inventory to pick from, and you’re going to get great brands across the board. Sample sizes may be small for some products, but you get 5 beauty samples PLUS a fragrance sample.

What was your favorite box for April? And what was your favorite product?


How do subscribers rate Birchbox?

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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!

Posted in Birchbox vs Ipsy, Birchbox vs Ipsy vs Play! by Sephora| Tags: birchbox | ipsy | play by sephora | 13 comments

Comments (13)

  1. I loved the reviews I have been thinking I would subscribe to one of these beauty boxes. I here more positives bet sephera and ipsy.

  2. I get 2 Birchboxes, 2 from Ipsy, and 2 from Sephora, and I have to say that Ipsy is my favorite of the 3 subscriptions. Birchbox is forever sending me hair products and skin care products. I get 1 tube of mascara or 1 eyeliner pencil. Many times I get items that do not match my skin tone (dark) or my hair texture (coarse). I have a HUGE box of items that I will probably never use. Samples are small- I never receive full sized items.

    Although I have 2 separate profiles (for all of my subscriptions) with different skin tones, hair types, etc., Sephora continues to send me the exact same items for both. This includes perfume samples which I indicated that I did not want at all. Most of the items I have received from Sephora are for skin, and I seldom receive any make up, and hardly anything is full sized.

    This leaves Ipsy which I love. I receive 2 different sets of items (most of the time), deluxe and full sized samples, tons of makeup, and I like most of the bag styles. Ipsy seems more modern and fun to me.

    Frankly, my Birchbox and Sephora is prepaid and I cannot wait for my subscriptions to run out. I’m very disappointed.

  3. I get Ipsy and Sephora (I got the identical box as you for Play!). I have to say, after my spoilers for this month, Ipsy is doing great for me! I have 4 make-up and one hair product coming in June. I feel like they really do pay attention to feedback and profiles. I was a bit disappointed with the teensie sample sizes in Sephora, but the BI points plus the Sel Santal scent from Clean Reserve was the clincher for me to try anther month. I know the fragrance is a throw away sample for them, but man, I am seriously tempted to drop almost $100 and I never really wear perfume, lol.

  4. One of the biggest annoyances about Birchbox is you can’t select categories you want v. the ones you don’t. Even in Beta. So what am I paying for?

    Today, I sent them this suggestion, cross your fingers they heed my advice. Otherwise it’s Adios, BB!

    “If I’m paying for Beta, I should be able to elect to OPT OUT of certain categories altogether as part of my program. It could be used as an additional selling point/incentive. Because by now, after 5 months, I never want to see another can of dry shampoo in my life!”

    • Seriously! For me it’s wave/salt sprays. I have enough of those to last the rest of my LIFE. And I have tried adjusting my preferences to avoid it over and over, and still keep getting them. I’m SO close to quitting BB and going for something different.

  5. Love reading everyone’s comments. I actually just cancelled my Play subscription because I feel like I have been getting the same things over and over (the box is very repetitive). True the brands are different but it’s like I get highlighters after highlighters. Never have I gotten an eyeshadow or nail polish. I happened to come across this website because I have been considering either Birchbox or Ipsy to replace Play.

    • I love my ipsy bags so far! I like how you end up having control of what you’re getting. The first couple months were a little disappointing only because it included things like green eyeshadow, which I would never use. But, if you do the reviews of the products each month, the bags come more tailored to your wants & needs. I’ve gotten a new brush (foundation, blush, eyeshadow, blending) every month and they are great quality. My favorite bag by far was the one I just got – it even included a full size eyeshadow palette in colors I love. Doing the reviews before the end of the month is key though. Plus, you get points for every review and can redeem them for products once you get enough. I’ve been saving mine so I can get something cool 😊 Also, you get a bunch of points if you refer someone so that’s nice too! Hope that helps!

      I’ve never tried either of the other 2 but was thinking about it just to change it up…after reading reviews, I’m gonna stick with ipsy. Also, whatever I don’t use I either give to my daughter for her collection (she’s 5 haha) or I’m going to include them in Birthday/Christmas gifts for friends & family.

  6. I’ve been very unhappy with birchbox lately. All i get is hair and skin care products. Very like makeup. The brands are good though and there are several products exclusive to bircvbbox that i really love. I hate they changed their point system. Ipsy has too many drug store products and play by Sephora has good products but i hate having to go into the store and buy something to get my points. So far I’m still with birchbox but not sure for how long.

  7. It’s funny…I didn’t get a Play in May, but I got the Tata mask in my April Birchbox. Tried it last night, felt so super luxe!

    My Ipsy bag for May was killer though…the Mellow lipstick in Posh is wonderful. I’ve gotten compliments on it several times and it’s a perfect Nude (much NudeR than the shade Nude which was also sent out this month, but leans way pink), the Pacifica eyeshadows (gifting since I am gravitating to matte shadows lately), the Opal eyeliner, the cream blush and the dreaded split pan everyone is sick of from Manna K…

  8. Birchbox has really lost it’s gotta get this box appeal it has gone down hill quickly headed for rock bottom

  9. Oh now I need that mask. Thanks for the great review!! I love reading these comparisons. I feel like I’ve tried all of these boxes and I still go back to play the longest because of the high end brands.

  10. Thanks for reminding me to try the resurfacing mask.. wearing it now. I love Play, it always feels high end. Ipsy feels so cheap.

  11. I got the tata resurfacing mask in my first birchbox and ended up buying the full size (expensive, eek), but save it for a treat, since my skin feels amazing after, so easy to put on foundation after. Bummed I didn’t get that in my play, but still loved my play this month. The Grande lip is nice for hydrating lips, but doesn’t really make them look any fuller for me. I cancelled my ipsy due to small unusable sample sizes two months in a row, but this month does look nice. I have to say, I wish I hadn’t done a year sub on birchbox. It has been very blah these last few months, and the samples quite small. It just isn’t worth the money anymore to me.

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