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Beauty Boxes 101: What’s The Difference? Who Are They For? How to Pick

There are hundreds of beauty boxes in the market. Our MSA directory has 285 of them! And there’s no sign of subscription boxes going anywhere as more and more users want to jump on the subscription lifestyle. But, as a beauty lover, sometimes I ask myself, what’s the difference? What makes one beauty box better than the other? With so many options to choose from, it’s almost impossible to sort them out. So, we decided to help you with a lot of the legwork and create this beauty boxes guide.

This or That: Beauty Boxes Edition

Now let’s dive into the most popular boxes. To keep it simple, we’ll be pairing similar boxes against each other to help you decide which one is best for you. Shall we?

Ipsy Glam Bag Plus vs. BoxyCharm

Cost: The IPSY Glam Bag Plus starts at $28 per month while BoxyCharm begins at $27.99 per month.

The IPSY Glam Bag Plus starts at $28 per month and personalizes its picks based on a short quiz members take. BoxyCharm begins at $27.99 per month, and it's one of the most popular subscription boxes ever.

What’s Included: IPSY Glam Bag is a very affordable beauty box, considering it sends subscribers 5 full-size products with a value of $120 per month. For about a cent less, BoxyCharm promises to send 4-5 full-size beauty products each month with a value over $100 in every box.

How They Work: Both IPSY Glam Bag Plus and BoxyCharm are personalized subscription boxes that send variations based on the subscriber's beauty profile. IPSY Glam Bag Plus allows you to choose 3 out of the 5 products, while BoxyCharm base only lets you choose one of the items (other tiers allow for more customization).

Best For: IPSY Glam Bag Plus is perfect for anyone who wants to choose more of the products that match their preferences. BoxyCharm is suitable for anyone who wants the trendiest beauty products out there.

Allure Beauty Box vs. GlossyBox

Cost: The Allure Beauty Box is widely recognized by everyone in the industry and starts at $23 per month. GlossyBox has been around since 2011, and at $21 per month, it’s one of the best-value boxes out there.

What’s Included: The Allure Beauty Box includes Allure-approved makeup and skincare products. Every month you’ll get at least six or more products, including 3 full-size products valued at $100. GlossyBox also includes between 5-6 products, including makeup, hair, and skincare products.

How They Work: Both Allure Beauty Box and GlossyBox offer little personalization and are focused on providing subscribers with expert-curated products. There's no customization available but Allure Beauty Box states that subscribers should not receive repeat items more than once and GlossyBox strives to limit repeats as well.

Best For: Both boxes are great for beauty lovers. The Allure Beauty Box is better for people who enjoy getting full-size products. At the same time, GlossyBox is better for anyone who wants various beauty products in their box.

Margot Elena Discovery vs. FabFitFun

Cost: Margot Elena Discovery Box is a quarterly beauty subscription starting at $60 per quarter and a retail value of $200. FabFitFun is one of the most popular lifestyle subscriptions starting at $49 per quarter, with products valued at $300 per box.

What’s Included: In every Margot Elena Discovery box, you’ll find $200 worth of luxuries, including skincare, haircare, makeup, self-care, journals, and more. The FabFitFun subscription box includes 6-8 items per season worth $300. Expect anything from beauty products, skincare, wellness products, accessories, and even decor.

How They Work: Every season, the Margot Elena Discovery team rounds up their favorite products to try that season. On the flip side, the FabFitFun team lets you pick at least 4 items yourself to make the most of your subscription.

Best For: Both boxes are perfect for those who love the idea of subscription boxes but don’t want the monthly commitment of receiving new products. If you like surprises, the Margot Elena Discovery is best. Still, if you prefer to have more control over what’s in your box, FabFitFun gives you that option.

Birchbox vs. Ipsy Glam Bag

Cost: Birchbox is one of the first beauty subscription boxes, and it’s only $15 per month. IPSY is one of the most popular and affordable beauty subscription boxes, starting at $13 per month.

What’s Included: In every Birchbox, you can expect at least 5 beauty samples, including fragrance, haircare, skincare, and makeup items. IPSY boxes include 5 deluxe samples, mostly makeup and skincare products.

How They Work: Birchbox lets you choose whether you want the box with items picked for you with some items chosen by yourself or a curated box by the Birchbox team. IPSY lets you pick one of the products in your bag and will choose the others based on your beauty profile.

Best For: Both bags are perfect for anyone who loves samples. Perfect for beauty beginners who are still figuring out the brands they love and the types of products they prefer.

Walmart Beauty Box vs. Target Beauty Capsule

Cost: The Walmart Beauty Box is only $6.98 per quarter, making it by far the most affordable beauty box. Meanwhile, the Target Beauty Capsule box is a one-time purchase and these limited edition boxes generally cost $14.99 per box. There's no set release schedule for the Target box but new sets are generally released every season.

What’s Included: In your Walmart Beauty Box, you’ll find mostly samples of products sold at Walmart and on Walmart.com. Expect a blend of wellness, skincare, haircare, self-care, and makeup products in full-size or deluxe sample sizes. Target Beauty Capsule includes seasonal picks, including full-size and deluxe sample sizes of makeup, haircare, self-care, skincare, and even nail care products sold at Target.

How They Work: Since both boxes are released every season, you need to be on the lookout for the next shipment dates. Basically, you can sign up for either one today, and you’ll be ready for when the next boxes are released. You can always signup for our newsletter to be notified when they go on sale!

Best For: These beauty boxes are perfect for drugstore beauty brand lovers. The Walmart Beauty Box is ideal for wanting something more than beauty, such as candles and hydration powders. While the Target Beauty Capsule box is excellent for anyone who wants more makeup products.

How to Pick The Right Beauty Box for You

Now, picking the right beauty box for you involves more than comparing the hundreds of boxes out there. But, if you’re eager to try at least one of these boxes, here’s how to figure out which one to pick:

  • Determine Your Budget & Timeline: Think about how you generally use beauty products. Do you think you’ll get through all your full-size products within a month? Or do you think a seasonal box makes more sense for your beauty habits? By being sincere about how you’ll use the products in the box, you’ll narrow down your search significantly.
  • Figure Out Your Box Type: If you can’t justify spending $15 on samples, a samples-only box might not be your best option. Will you get through the products every month? Decide whether you want more makeup or skincare products to see which box you should pick.
  • Do You Want to Discover New Brands or Try All-Time Favorites?: This is paramount because some boxes make their picks from cult favorites like MAC, IT Cosmetics, and Dermalogica, while others use more indie brands. Figuring this out will help you find the type of boxes you’ll enjoy the most.

Final Note On Beauty Boxes

Honestly, beauty boxes are pretty amazing. But they can get overwhelming too! When you’re receiving loads of samples and beauty products to try every month, your skin can go a tad crazy. So, read reviews and learn as much as you can about the box you’re eyeing before committing to it.


What questions about beauty boxes do you have? Let’s start a conversation in the comments!

Geraldine Orentas
Geraldine Orentas

Hi there, I'm Geraldine! I'm a Florida-based copywriter and content creator at MSA. When I'm not going through my skincare routine or diving into the latest trending products, you'll find me writing for online publications about home decor, wellness, and lifestyle. When I'm not writing or creating content about all things that bring me joy, you can find me flowing on my yoga mat, cooking up a new recipe in the kitchen, or walking my German Shepherd Cora. 


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6 comments

Snow

Would love to see a list of all 285 beauty boxes….hard to believe there are that many?! Even the more popular ones have had issues…
Also, what the heck is a “hydration powder”?

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Melissa

Hydration powder refers to those powders you add to water or other drinks to increase your internal hydration. This is not about moisturizers.

There is a list of the 285 boxes – it is linked above in the MSA directory.

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Christine

Three important points are missing. One, the ability to customize the box and two, whether or not the items you get match the profile you submit. Third, the ability to reach and resolve problems with customer service.

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jenn

this. a thousand times this.

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Melissa

I see information in the article about customization. Or are you talking only about filling out a profile and hoping that they customize the box to your profile? To me customizing means choosing some of the items in your box, which is indeed included in the article above.

Whether or not the items you receive match your profile would be pretty hard to address in an article unless the writer were to do a poll of people who subscribe to that box.

I agree, though, that it would be helpful to know which boxes are “reachable.”

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Annie T.

Enjoyed this post!

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