We all need some frivolity in our lives, and my current one is subscription boxes. These are boxes of (usually) mystery products that arrive in your mailbox monthly or quarterly. They are sort of an update on the “fruit of the month” clubs of yesteryear, and while they encompass almost all types of products, most of the most popular boxes are beauty/fashion or toy related. What they do is combine the elements of gambling and surprise, and allow for some self-gifting at generally reasonable prices. Giving a good value is not easy, however, and not all boxes succeed. For every box that sends quality products, there is another that sells re-packed overpriced junk form China.
I’ve been giving many boxes a try, in particular those that have a good discount for their first box (if you do this, remember to cancel in time if you don’t want to be charged for future months), and finding the gems among the duds. Here is what I think of the subscriptions so far, divided by subject and with cute emoticons:
❤ Love it! ☺ Like it ☁ Just OK ☹ Don’t like it ☠ Avoid!
✈ Box is on its way
☺GlobeIn Artisan Box ($35/month – first box: $26)
This started as a box that sent out mostly products manufactured by artisans in the developing world, but lately it seems to be concentrating mostly on food items. That’s less exciting for me, and it’s a fairly expensive subscription so I may just get those boxes that have stuff I really want (they tend to post spoilers before sending out the boxes). They have superb customer service. Use code MSA for 25% off your first box. Read my GlobeIn Artisan Box review
✈ Out Of The Box Sampler ($27/month)
This is a box of handmade samples of items from artisans throughout the US. According to the site, these include “melts, scrubs, bath, body, tarts, candles, gourmet foods, jewelry, coupons, discounts and cards”. You don’t subscribe to this box, but rather you have to order it monthly. It goes on sale on the first Monday of the month and boxes sell out quickly (as in within 24 hours).
These are boxes that send out “deluxe” (i.e. large) samples or full-size of makeup, nail polish or skin-care, hair-care or bath products.
☹ Allure Sample Society ($15/month – first box: $10)
Offers 5 samples. These are mostly mid-level brands, though I did get a drugstore dry shampoo (which I liked). Unfortunately, the company that runs this box is quite dishonest. They ran out of one of the items guaranteed to be in the February box. Rather than substitute it for another one or do a full refund, they pretended they had forgotten to include it and only gave a partial refund worth much less than the item. Read my Allure Sample Society review.
☠ Beauty Box Five ($12/month – first box: 25-50% off)
BBF offers five large samples or full size products. They are mostly drugstore brands, however, and the products seem to be sourced from overstock liquidators. You can often find the same stuff they include at the dollar store. I got this subscription seduced by a BOGO offer – but the boxes are not worth even half the $12 price. Read my Beauty Box Five reviews.
❤ Birchbox ($10/month)
This is the box that started the whole subscription box fad. It includes 5 large samples of beauty products. They are mostly less well known, mid-priced brands. Many but not all their products are ingredient conscious. Birchbox allows you to accumulate points by reviewing products that you can then use to buy stuff from their online store, including gift subscriptions. I’ve been fairly happy with this subscription because it’s cheap, it allows me to discover new products I’d never buy otherwise, and they have great customer service. Use code JILLIAN for extra 100-points when subscribing. Read my Birchbox reviews.
☠ French Box ($24/month – discontinued)
Frenchbox is supposed to send 5 of “the latest products from France”. Instead, it’s February box featured two expired products – including a serum made in China – which they apparently got from AliBaba. The company that made the serum cautioned consumers to not use it. After much, much criticism from clients, FrenchBox apologized and now promises to send two new products to make up for the expired ones. I got my box after all this came about, so I refused delivery and I’m disputing the charges with my credit card. At this point, and until French Box gets their act together, I’d stay far from this company.
✈ Julep Maven ($25/month – first box: $3) is a nail polish + box.
Each month you get two nail polishes and another full size makeup item. You can customize your box, take the month’s box or skip a month. When you sign up you can get a welcome box for just $3 shipping by using this link and entering the code in the page. Welcome boxes change from time to time, I signed up to get the St. Patrick’s Day box . Cancel needs to be done by phone.
☺Petit Vour ($15/month)
It sends four large samples of natural/vegan products a month, often from small producers. I tried it for one month and really liked one of the products, liked another and had no use for the other two. I may try it again in the future. Read my Petit Vour review.
☁ FabKids ($30/month, first box: $15) for a chidren’s outfit size 2T to 12. Issue: too expensive/synthetic fabrics.
FabKids is an online subscription for children outfits. For girls, outfits consist mostly of either of a t-shirt and pants or of a dress and tights. You pay $30 a month and get to chose an outfit. You can skip any month. The outfits are stylish and nicely cut but they are made of polyester (but heavy polyester). I think they’re too expensive at $30, but I’m a bargain shopper and my kids have lots of clothing from thrift stores. FabKids usually offers 50% off the first outfit – and sometimes they’re even free. Keep an eye for offers. Cancelling took about 5 minutes in the phone. Review coming.
❤ Darby Smart ($19/month – first box: $9) for a full craft kit
Darby Smart sends you all you need to do a craft every month. I liked that the crafts they send are things that I haven’t done before. I was really happy with my first box and decided to keep the subscription – but then I found out that other people got a different kit. I’m not sure why, but I really liked mine. Use coupon HOWDYDARBY to get $10-off your first kit. Read my Darby Smart reviews
As I live in the Bay Area, with access to many international markets, I’m not the perfect market for food boxes – be they of the snack or the gourmet product variety. However, I am planning to check them out if they have a very good first box deal.
☁ Love with Food ($12/20/29/month for regular/deluxe/gluten-free boxes – first box: $2), mostly non-too-bad-for-you commercial snacks. Issue: Low value
Love with Food sends a variety of commercially packaged snacks (as opposed to bakery-produced), both from major and minor brands. They tend to send stuff without too many bad things in them. The company advertises heavily and is quite popular, but their boxes are quite a bad value ($7 worth of snacks for $12). This box may be a particularly good alternative to people who don’t have many options at the grocery store. You can get your first regular box for just $2 shipping and they have groupons for the large box for $9 (+$2 shipping). Read my Love with Food review.
✈ OrangeGlad ($22/month – first box: $7) for baked treats from independent bakeries
While this subscription seems expensive, I couldn’t resist the introductory offer of one box for $15 off, use promo code FIRST15. BTW, please use my referral code if you subscribe, so I can get a credit (and maybe order another box): margaritaog33783
These are boxes that mostly come with t-shirts, comic books and collectibles from movies, comic-books and games popular with the geeky crowd.
✈ Horror Block ($30/month, first box: $25)
I subscribed to this because the February box is supposed to be a Zombie theme an my 10-yo loves the Living Dead. Use code HORROR2015 for $5 off
☺Loot Crate ($20/month – first box $17)
Loot Crate is probably the most popular of the Geek boxes, and I have to admit that it is a pretty good box with pretty good value. They give you tons of geeky stuff, if that’s what you are into. I got my husband a box with a Groupon, but it wasn’t really his thing so we unsubscribed. My 10-yo, however, liked most of the stuff. Use code APRILLOOT to save $3. Read my Loot Crate reviews.
☁ Cate & Chloe ($40/month – first box $19) for 2 pieces of jewelry
C&C offers mostly delicate, classic jewelry, with lots of cubic zirconia. The pieces look nice and they seem well made (then again, they are rather simple), but they are silver/gold plated at best which is outrageous given the prices. You can find similar looking pieces at Ali Express for just a few dollars. First box 30% off with promo code CCINSIDER813. Read my Cate & Chloe review.
☁ Wantable Accessories ($36/month) for 3 – 4 pieces of jewelry. Issue: expensive
Wantable has 3 boxes: intimates, makeup and accessories. I got the latter using a 30% off discount no longer current (but wait until another one comes up before subscribing). I’m on the fence on this subscription. I liked two of the items I got, hated the other two. I was OK with the box for $28, would have felt ripped off if I’d paid $36. Read my Wantable Accessories review.
☺FabFitFun ($50/quarter – first box $40)
This is a quarterly subscription that includes fashion, beauty products and other things. I actually bought my box at 50% off, because the winter box did not sell well at all. That’s not too surprising as it didn’t have many exciting items, but it was great value at $28 (Californians have to pay tax). I’m waiting to see what’s in the next box before subscribing again. Note that cancelling this box was a pain, and that they warn you and threaten you that you won’t be able to use the discounts again. Use promo code TENOFF for $10 off your first box. Read my FabFitFun review
✈ Kloverbox ($25/month – first box $22.50), natural/organic beauty & cleaning products
Use code February 10 for 10% off
☺ Little Lace Box ($40/month – first box $30, subscriptions re-open in April), theme curated
This is a niche box of extensively curated items around a subject. In the past, it has been filled with interesting selection and has been a great value. They weren’t quite able to create their vision for the February box, which was my first, but I was still happy enough with it. I’m sticking with them for the time being. Alas, they’re not accepting new subscriptions for now. Read my Little Lace Box reviews.
☺Popsugar Must Have ($40/month – first box $35)
This is one of the most popular lifestyle subscriptions. It includes a variety of home, beauty, fashion and wellness items curated around a theme. I got the January box when it went on sale at 50% off, but you can’t trust that will happen with all boxes. The February box sold out before it was mailed out (I cancelled before getting it), but I wasn’t that in love with it. Use promo CHEER to get $5 off your first box. Read my Popsugar Must Have Review
These boxes usually include your choice of brand of tampons/pads, treats and a gift.
✈ TOM Box ($16/month - first box $8)
TOM Box is directed to teens/tweens. It includes a box of tampons or pads, makeup and cheap jewelry. I’m not convinced of the value of this type of box, but I figured at $8 it’s worth trying.
☺Black Box ($20/$40) a month for a box of make up, jewelry and accessories
This is actually a Goth box rather than a teen box, but it is perfect for my 12-year old girl. The regular box comes with black nail polish, makeup (she got a nice palette of eyeshadow on natural tones), hand-made jewelry (lots of charms) and a couple of other things. I wasn’t able to review her box because she absconded with it immediately – but she was happy and looking forward to the next one. The $40 box has more stuff and comes in a coffin shaped box. This subscription box is run by an artist/crafter who makes a lot of the stuff.
☹ IBbeautiful ($20/$30) a month for girl, tween or teen boxes.
I got this subscription for my 10-year old, but was disappointed that most of the items were dollar store stuff with little appeal. The one item she liked, a lip gloss, was made in China (yuck!). I’m still searching for a good tween box. Read my iBbeautiful tween box review
✈ PoshPak ($35/month) for girl, tween or teen boxes.
This is a rather expensive box so I’m hoping to be wowed.
BOXES I WANT TO TRY
Some of these I want to try regardless, but for the ones marked with an *, I’d first want to have a good promo.
* Blueberry cove beads $27
Boxy Charm $21/month
* Buddhi box $50/quarterly
* Goodebox $19/month
* Olfactif $18/month
Out of the Box Sampler, buy first monday of the month, $27 (etsy samples)
* Trendy Box $35/month
* Vegan Cuts Beauty $20/month
Do you subscribe to any of these boxes and want me to use your referral code? Is there another box you would suggest? Please let me know!