If you've found your way to our site, chances are that you're most likely a subscription box addict who lives for the high that comes with receiving your next set of monthly goodies after what seems like waiting forever. While you certainly have your favorite subscriptions, you're always looking to add to your collection and it doesn't seem like you'll ever grow tired of trying something new. However, some of you may be completely new to the subscription box world and have no idea where or how to start, whereas the rest of you may currently have a handful of subscriptions but are stuck on where to venture next.
Regardless of your current subscription status, we decided to throw together a mini overview on what subscription boxes are in general as well as what to expect in most cases. We've also pulled together some of our favorite brands and developed a list of gateway subscriptions that may be the most useful or affordable to try out when first starting. A few of these subscriptions are more on the practical side, whereas others can be considered mini luxuries that may add some fun to your normal daily routine.
What Is A Subscription Box?
In general, a subscription box contains several specialty items that are either handpicked by the consumer or are put together by a brand each month. In some cases, certain brands will allow you to customize your subscription box by adding or removing items, whereas other brands may not allow you to change any item within your subscription box and may even keep you waiting in total suspense by not disclosing the identity of any of items in your upcoming order.
Subscription boxes can fall under practically any category, but some of the most popular types of subscriptions you'll see on our site and elsewhere in the online world include beauty, skincare, and food. Typically, subscription boxes that fall under the first two categories tend to contain 10 or fewer items, usually 4-6, that each serves a specific purpose, whereas food or snack subscriptions may contain as many as 10 or more individual meals.
For example, if you were to sign up for the October IPSY Glam Bag, your subscription would come with 5 beauty items including body scrub, makeup removal pads, lip gloss, brow gel, and eye cream. On the contrary, if you were to choose Butcher Box then you could sign up to receive 6 or 12 cuts of meat. Keep in mind that the number of items for each brand varies greatly and that this is just an example of what you may run into while exploring different types of subscriptions.
How Do Subscription Boxes Work?
After you've chosen which type of subscription box to try out you may be curious as to how often you'll be charged for your new subscription box and when you'll receive it. Most subscription boxes recur on a monthly basis but some may renew every 3, 6, 9, or 12 months. However, some subscriptions can even be set to be received every 1-2 weeks, but this is generally not as common with most brands (i.e. this is most commonly seen with meal delivery subscriptions, like Freshly).
After making your initial subscription box purchase, most brands will automatically set up your account to be billed the same day of each month (assuming it's a standard monthly subscription) and will deliver your box within either a few days or 2 weeks. However, if you signed up for a seasonal subscription then you may only be billed quarterly and receive a new box every 3 months (yes, the suspense is killer for these).
If for any reason you need to skip a shipment, most brands will allow you to either pause or delay your upcoming subscription by going to your account settings as long as it's done before the next pay period. If you ever have to cancel your subscription, you can generally do so through your account settings but some brands require you to go a step to two further by actually calling customer service or sending them an email. Most brands are quite user-friendly and don't put you through loops and hurdles to pause or cancel, but we have come across a few subscription services that desperately try to keep their consumers (really just their money) by making the cancellation process as difficult as possible.
If you're looking to try out a subscription box for the first time or want to add a few more subscriptions to your collection, then we highly recommend exploring the following gateway subscription options. We've included several of the most basic and practical subscriptions available up first on our list but have also included other subscriptions that are not quite necessities but can certainly enhance your lifestyle. You'll come across several different categories of subscription boxes in the following list, including cleaning, personal hygiene, and food, and we've even thrown in one box that's a mix of several categories.
1. Blueland - Best Cleaning Products Subscription
Price: Starts at $27 per month. Sign up here!
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About the Box: One of the best ways to get started in the subscription box world is to choose a subscription service that is going to be the most practical option for you and your family and actually useful, not just fun. What better way to start than by choosing a cleaning products subscription box?
We all need cleaning supplies and it seems like most products available can only be purchased in standard, single-use plastic containers. What's worse, most of these cleaning supplies contain allergens and toxins that have been clinically proven to lead to rashes, skin sensitization, and potential long-term side effects after decades of exposure.
Blueland offers a more eco-friendly and incredibly less toxic approach to cleaning by offering a refill-style cleaning service that derives its products from natural ingredients. Initially, you'll purchase your desired cleaning supplies (hand soap, dish soap, laundry detergent, toilet cleaner, etc.) along with a forever bottle and then receive recurring refill packages that are 100% compostable.
In case you need more convincing on Blueland's quality and safety, here are the certifications they currently possess: B Corp, Cradle to Cradle, EPA Safer Choice, EWG Verified, Leaping Bunny, Climate Neutral, USDA BioPreferred.
The following Blueland subscriptions are available for home cleaning products:
- The Clean Suite ($74 for initial purchase; $41.40 for refills) - Includes foaming hand soap, laundry detergent, powder dish soap, dishwasher detergent, multi-surface cleaner, bathroom cleaner, glass and mirror cleaner
- The Everyday Clean Kit ($62 for initial purchase; $28.80 for refills) - Includes foaming hand soap, powder dish soap, dishwasher detergent, multi-surface cleaner, bathroom cleaner, glass and mirror cleaner.
- The Clean Essentials Kit ($35 for initial purchase; $7.20 for refills) - Includes foaming hand soap, multi-surface cleaner, bathroom cleaner, glass and mirror cleaner
- The Clean Up Kit ($27 for initial purchase; $7.20 for refills) - Includes multi-surface cleaner, bathroom cleaner, glass and mirror cleaner
- The Hand Soap Duo ($27 for initial purchase; $9.90 for refills) - Includes 2 reusable bottles and 6 foaming soap tablets
- The Dish Duo ($32 for initial purchase; $21.60 for refills) - Includes powder dish soap and dishwasher detergent
- Laundry Essentials ($37 for initial purchase; $17.00 for refills) - Includes laundry detergent, oxi laundry boost, laundry dryer balls
- Laundry Duo ($27 for initial purchase; $17.00 for refills) - Includes laundry detergent and oxi laundry booster
Best For: People who want to start using non-toxic cleaning products for their homes and want to reduce their consumption of single-use bottles.
Check out our Blueland details and reviews to learn more!
2. Dollar Shave Club - Best Shaving Subscription
Price: Starts at $5.00 per month. Sign up here!
About the Box: If you're tired of buying cheap razors that dull within a few months of use or nick your skin way too frequently then it may be time to check out Dollar Shave Club. Dollar Shave Club offers a variety of shaving and grooming essentials that help women and men look and feel their best.
In order to get started, you'll first need to complete an online quiz that asks you questions about your preferred grooming methods and the products you generally use for shaving. It will also request information on problems you may experience while shaving so that it can better personalize your recommendations for products. Before placing your order, you can customize your plan and add or remove items that best suit your needs.
Examples of items you may find in your monthly shaving subscription box include prep scrub, a razor with a pack of blades, shave butter, and post-shave lotion. In addition to shaving products, Dollar Shave Club also sells other personal hygiene products like face wash, shampoo, body soap, and deodorant.
Best For: People who are tired of using cheap, ineffective razors or shaving products that lead to irritation and breakouts.
Check out our Dollar Shave Club details and reviews to learn more!
3. The Detox Box - Best Green Beauty Subscription
Price: Starts at $58.95 per month. Save with a longer commitment. Sign up here!
About the Box: One of the most popular types of subscription boxes among our readers is beauty products. However, some people may be hesitant to sign up for a beauty subscription box when they can just go to their local Sephora or Ulta and buy some products individually at cheaper prices.
While I can certainly understand the convenience aspect of making this decision, wouldn't you want to ensure that the beauty products you're using are what's best and most effective for your skin? On top of that, if you've ever read the full list of ingredients of most products in beauty stores then there's a chance you've run into questions as to what exactly their ingredients are and why on earth you have no idea what half of them are- not a good place for a consumer to be when they're trying to make a decision on whether or not to buy a product. What's worse, a lot of these brands are known for using animal testing and lack transparency in their manufacturing methods.
Rather than run into the dilemma of trying to decide whether or not the tradeoffs are worth purchasing these products, you should instead turn to the use of a green beauty subscription box, specifically The Detox Box. The Detox Box offers eco-friendly, naturally-derived beauty products that are cruelty-free and do not use any of the following ingredients that are known to have toxic effects. It sells products such as cleansers, moisturizers, makeup, shampoo, conditioner, and each product's ingredients are provided.
Best For: People who are looking for beauty products that are healthier and more effective than what's sold in most stores.
Check out our The Detox Box details and reviews to learn more!
4. Persona - Best Personalized Vitamin Pack Subscription
Price: Starts at $21.99 per month. Sign up here!
About the Box: If you're looking to venture into the world of vitamins and supplements but have no idea where to start then you should definitely consider using Persona. Rather than have to worry about sorting through 80+ products online, Persona has all of its customers complete an online assessment that's extremely thorough and asks questions about medical history, medication use, health goals, and more. Once you've completed the assessment, Persona will develop a personalized vitamin pack that's targeted to your health priorities. Customers will receive both morning and evening vitamin packs that contain a different set of ingredients depending on their desired health outcomes.
Customers may also choose to select curated vitamin packs that are centered on more specific health goals, such as Weight Loss Support, Stress & Immunity, Energy, or Beauty Within. Since these vitamin packs typically contain half of the ingredients that come in Persona's personalized vitamin packs, they are usually cheaper, but the only catch is that you cannot add or remove ingredients from these packs.
While prices and ingredients vary, you can expect to pay around $60-100/month for a customized vitamin pack that contains around 8-10 ingredients on average. If you decide to go with a curated pack instead, you can choose from options such as these:
- Weight Loss Support ($32.79/month) - Includes Appetite Support (chromium and herbal blend), Blood Sugar Balance (ALA and Benfotiamine), and Foundational Multivitamin
- Energy ($17.59/month) - Includes Cordyceps, Vitamin B12, and Green Tea Extract
- Sleep ($24.79/month) - Includes Melatonin, Herbal Rest (magnesium, hops, l-theanine), and Ashwagandha
Best For: People who want to complement their diet and lifestyle with vitamins and supplements but have no idea where to start and don't want to spend a fortune.
Check out our Persona details and reviews to learn more!
5. Blue Apron - Best Cooking Subscription
Price: Starts at $47.95 per week. Sign up here!
About the Box: We highly recommend trying Blue Apron if you're running out of ideas for your weekly meals or want to enjoy date night at home rather than spend way too much money out at dinner. Blue Apron is one of the most popular meal kit delivery service subscription boxes among the MSA community and each subscription box comes with pre-portioned ingredients and easy-to-follow instructions so that anyone from novices to top-notch chefs can successfully prepare and enjoy their home-cooked meals.
Customers can sign up to receive 2-4 recipes per week (each serves 2-4 people) and select meals from 1 of 4 categories: Signature, Signature for 4, Vegetarian for 2, and Wellness for 2. Signature meals include a wide variety of dishes whereas meals from Wellness for 2 typically fall under Weight Watchers and are low carb. Here are examples of meals you may find within each category:
- Signature: Pan-Fried Crispy Chicken, Romesco Shrimp & Couscous Skillet, Pan-Seared Steaks & Aioli
- Vegetarian: Creamy Butternut Squash Pasta Bake, Black Bean & Poblano Pepper Enchiladas, One Pan Udon Noddle & Spicy Peanut Stir-Fry
- Wellness: Seared Chicken & Kale Salad, Sheet Pan Yuzu-Orange Glazed Trout, Garlic-Caper Chicken
As we mentioned earlier in the article, some brands charge and ship subscription boxes on a weekly basis - Blue Apron happens to be one of them as it's a weekly meal subscription service and designed to be used frequently. However, you can always modify your subscription and postpone shipments along as you do so before the cutoff date.
Best For: People who want to learn new recipes and enjoy chef-inspired meals in the comfort of their homes.
Check out our Blue Apron details and reviews to learn more!
6. Bean Box - Best Coffee Subscription
Price: Starts at $16.50 per month. Sign up here!
About the Box: Bean Box is the perfect subscription for coffee lovers who feel that their cup of joe just isn't working the same anymore or have grown tired of using the same brand of coffee each and every day. Bean Box sources its coffee from small-batch, independent roasters and offers both a coffee tasting subscription and a coffee bag subscription. Customers can select from whole bean or freshly ground coffee and can choose from among the following roast preferences: all roasts, light roast, medium roast, dark roast, espresso, decaf.
The coffee tasting subscription contains 4 different coffees that each provide 4-6 cups whereas the coffee bag subscription comes with a 12oz bag of a single coffee that brews between 24-36 cups. The coffee tasting subscription is available for $16.50/month and the coffee bag subscription can be renewed on a weekly, biweekly, or monthly basis for $20, $22, or $24 respectively.
Examples of coffee that you may find in the coffee tasting subscription box include Brazil Canaan Estate by Middle Fork Roasters, Colombia Proyecto Recolectores by True North, Costa Rica Reserve by The Vashon Island Coffee Roasterie, and Roaster's Choice by Lighthouse Roasters.
Best For: Coffee lovers who are looking to expand their palates and shake up their morning routine.
Check out our Bean Box details and reviews to learn more!
7. Vine Oh! - Best Wine Subscription
Price: Starts at $59.99 per quarter. Sign up here!
About the Box: To be fair, Vine Oh! is more than a wine subscription - it's a full pampering package for women. Each subscription box from Vine Oh! comes with 2 bottles of California Wine and 5 or 6 surprise items that include makeup, jewelry, sweets, and more. Vine Oh! offers its quarterly subscription box for $59.99 per box but also allows customers to purchase their subscription boxes for the year once annually to save money altogether.
Curious about the types of goodies that may come in your box? Here's what was included in the Fall 2021 box by Vine Oh!: 2018 Wicked Bliss California Syrah, 2019 New Crush California Chardonnay, Willow Collective Blanket Scarf, Jules Smith Cosmic Cuff Set, (Re)Fresh Dry Shampoo, Carly Rae Studio Wine Lover Tote Bag, Sweet Chaos Vanilla Chai Popcorn.
Best For: Wine lovers who also want other treats thrown into the mix to help create a full-blown pampering session.
Check out our Vine Oh! details and reviews to learn more!
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