Subscription & Sampling Programs: What would you like to receive (or give) this holiday season? forums

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Greetings Makeup Talk members!

That time of the year is fast approaching! You know what we’re talking about: the time you start making holiday shopping lists and rack your brains on what to buy for your loved one. Or when you daydream about what you would like Santa to bring you this year - and don’t you want to evoke a reaction like this?

This is why we, the team at Makeup Talk, have come up with a plan to help you find guidance and inspiration for the upcoming holiday shopping madness. We’re planning to publish a useful and well-researched gift guide covering the following areas:

  1. Makeup
  2. Makeup Brushes and Tools
  3. Sample Subscription Programs
  4. Skincare
  5. Hair
  6. Nails
  7. Body and Fragrance
But we need your help! Here’s how your invaluable expertise with beauty products can come into play:

  • Think of a product in each of these categories that you’ve been using and really love. Think of whether you’d like to gift it to someone you love (or you secretly want it for yourself.)
  • Leave a comment in this thread on why you love that particular product or go to any one the other threads listed above. We encourage your feedback in more than one category but if time’s not on your side, we’re happy to get your input in at least the area you feel most knowledgeable or passionate about.
We’ll then use some of our magic techie tools to compile your feedback into a comprehensive holiday gift outline. And best of all: we’ll give credit in the final piece to those of you who contributed a lot.

If you’d like to get notified when the guide comes out, subscribe to this thread or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Thank you all in advance and really looking forward to your posts!

With so many subscription services out there to choose from it's so hard to pick just one so here are my top 5 favorite companies, their prices and why I love each one.

5. Julep - a monthly nail polish service for $19.99 (plus applicable tax).

Julep is among my top 5 and it's the only reputable nail polish subscription service out there. You can give the gift of a subscription for either 3 months, 6 months or a full year OR buy a $25 gift certificate that can be used towards one month of service.

  • 3 Months of Maven    $59.97
  • 6 Months of Maven    $119.94
  • 12 Months of Maven    $239.88

The polishes Julep sends out are Julep brand polishes and has recently expanded to include not only nail polish and nail related items but also makeup such as lip gloss and mascara. If a member doesn't like the box choice that month they can try a different style - there are five to choose from each month - OR they can skip a month. If a member loves that box along with all the other products they have the option to buy the entire collection or pick a couple for an extra fee. For the nail polish lover Julep maybe just the thing for her.

4. Test Tube QVC - a quarterly beauty box that you can subscribe to for one year or select only one box for $29.96 plus $6.72 shipping (plus applicable tax). It works out to about $40 every three months. There is also Test Tube by New Beauty for roughly the same price (no tax) but I love the one offered from QVC more because it typically contains more cosmetics than the one directly from New Beauty.

Either would make a great gift but if you want to get a QVC Test Tube as a gift you can only order it during certain times each quarter or you can purchase a QVC Gift Card to be used towards the purchase of a Test Tube. If you want to order one for December the I would suggest keeping an eye on their site around the middle of October as the current one on their site is the current quarter and not the 4th (and final) box of the year.

3. Birchbox - a monthly subscription service for $10 a month

Birchbox has remained among my Top 3 favorite subscription companies and was my first subscription that got me hooked on getting a monthly treat in the mail. I think most people would enjoy Birchbox because they have more higher end products for only $10 plus they have one of the best, if not the best, rewards system in place - each item you review from the products you get you earn 10 points; earn 100 points and you earn a $10 credit to use in their store which can potentially mean FREE FULL SIZE products! Who doesn't like free?

2. Ipsy (formerly MyGlam) - a monthly subscription service for $10 a month

Ipsy is among the more unique subscription services as they offer not just four to five samples per month but they include a different cosmetic bag each month. I would recommend Ipsy for teens as the products in it are geared more towards a younger demographic.

1. Beauty Army - a monthly beauty box for only $12 per month

Unlike other monthly subscription services the member gets to pick what samples they want to try each month or skip a month if there isn't any thing they want to try that month. Like Birchbox, Beauty Army has a referral and a review perks system in place earning the member either a free month (through referrals) or 20% off items in their online store (through reviews).

Previous subscription services I had and liked.

  • Beauty Bar's Sample Society. Very similar to Birchbox except it's $15 a month instead of $10 and there are no perks other than a $15 off $50 monthly promo code. The products are on par with Birchbox, sometimes better due to size, but it's basically identical to Birchbox.

For men there's Birchbox Man. At $20 a month this monthly service is geared towards the man in your life. Unlike Birchbox the items in the monthly box have included underwear, socks and t-shirts as well as tech gadgets along with personal hygiene products and even food.

When selecting a subscription to gift, perhaps the most IMPORTANT thing to consider is the recipient--I gifted three months of BB to a friend who considers herself quite the fashionista, and she simply hated it, because she felt the sizes were too small. She may have preferred SS, but I didn't care, since it was clear that for all the envious looks she had given my previous BB's, she was clearly going to hate WHATEVER I got her. (She also tried to claim that the Dior mascara was fake...yeah, no.)

With that in mind, I do feel Birchbox (due to their diversity) is the "safest" sub to gift, especially if you pay for the gift sub with points you've been stocking up. (As much as everyone lauds the point system, it really isn't that large of a motivator for me).

That said, and bearing in mind that everyone likes different things, when comparing subs, I'd be more inclined to group roughly by "best for age group".

For Teenagers: MyGlam OR Conscious Box. MyGlam tends to go more in the "teen" direction with the products they provide--brighter colors, more mass-market brands. Conscious Box, while not strictly a beauty sub, often has neutral-colored cosmetics and would appeal to the common teen desire for eco-friendly products (not saying you have to be a teen to care about the environment, but every teenage girl I know has gone through a bout of super-eco-consciousness)

20s - 40s: Surprisingly, I would recommend Glossybox for this demographic, based on the brands included tending towards the pricey and because the colors that have appeared in the color cosmetics items they've sent are often more neutral and/or "mature" shades. I'm still not a huge fan of Glossybox, though.

40s-60s: Sample Society, hands down. The emphasis seems to be on skin care in this box, which is great for those of us who spent our younger years focusing on other things. Many women have already gotten their preferred "look" down to a science by the time they are in this demographic, so color cosmetics have a higher likelihood of not fitting the recipient's needs/desires.

60+: Julep. Straight up. By this point in a woman's journey through beauty, she knows what she likes, and the area where she is most likely to be open to experimenting is her nails. Plus, there is still the generational thing about "a lady always has perfect nails". Julep also has had very few "hiccups", so the stability of the service is something that I think makes it a good bet for the older crowd.

I believe choosing a box has more to do with the style and personality of the recipient more than anything.

1. Sample Society would be my first choice. They have great products, good sample sizes and amazing customer service. They send out a mix of makeup, skincare, perfumes, and nail polishes so it is usually a well rounded box. They usually send out more traditional colors instead of cutting edge. This is the only subscription that I haven't cancelled at one point or another because they always kept me happy.

2. MyGlam/Ipsy is a great choice for a bolder recipient. They have brighter colors, funkier scents, and bold polishes. I enjoy the contrast that this box brings to some of the other more subtle choices.

3. Beauty Army is a great choice for people that are very particular. This is the only subscription that you can choose your own items. By changing your profile you can alter your potential choices. Especially for people who may have allergies or sensitivities, this allows them to control their own choices. They have a lot of skin, hair and bath products and only occasional makeup.

4. Starbox is a great choice for people that are primarily makeup centered. They send out their own products with a new theme each month. You receive full size items not sample size so if you love the product, you already have it. They have great customer service as well.

5. Glossybox is actually one of my favorite subscriptions in terms of content. They usually have good sizes with a wide variety of products and colors. They are more pricey than some of the others. They also seem to have a lot of customer service issues.

6. Birchbox Man is the obvious choice for the man in your life. Very few subscriptions focus on men making this choice a good one. There is a good variety of products with a reliable service.

1. Makeup: I am in love with the Ellis Faas Glazed Lips in Sheer Blood Red (L301) that I received in my August Glossybox. It is a bit on the expensive end of the spectrum, but you definitely get what you pay for. The packaging is brilliant - it looks like a long silver bullet - and I love that you crank the handle to get the gloss to come up through a paint brush-like tip. It applies so smoothly and looks amazing! Lasts for a very long time, too. I'm not a fan of glosses because they are always sticky or goopy and have bad chemical odors. Not Ellis Faas! Definitely worth the money. Another favorite I've discovered recently is Perfekt's Lash Perfection Gel. It's the only product I've found that is better than my tried-and-true Maybelline Great Lash. I have short, fine lashes and Perfekt's Lash Perfection Gel grabs on to each and every lash and lengthens them and makes them look really soft and full. Seriously, it was like I had Bambi lashes. Love it!

2. Makeup Brushes and Tools: N/A...I use my fingers!

3. Sample Subscription Services: I currently subscribe to 5 different sample subscription services and the one I have found consistently amazing is Glossybox US. It's a bit more expensive than Birchbox, Beauty Army, and the like, but it's definitely worth it. The samples are always big and seem more high-end in their packaging, size, and quality. The box's presentation itself is very posh, and definitely gives a sense of sophistication and glamour whereas other services may look a bit cheap and/or juvenile. I've used every single product I've received in my Glossybox and discovered many new brands that offer products that actually work. This box is the real deal, no bells and whistles or gimmicks. Glossybox is a quality sample subscription service and the company I feel my money is best spent at.

4. Skincare: My newest love is Shea Terra's Rose Hips Black Soap Deep Pore Face Wash. This soap really is black, which is kind of off-putting, but it works absolute wonders on my skin. It claims to work like a natural version of microdermabrasion by removing dead skin and I believe that it really does achieve this. It sloughs off my dead and dry skin and leaves my face squeaky-clean. This soap has improved the smoothness of my skin which in turn has improved the application of the rest of my moisturizers and makeup. My foundation looks much more even and smooth. And the best thing about this product is that it's 100% natural with no dyes or fragrance. It feels good knowing I'm getting results without using chemicals.

5. Hair: I have fine, curly, color-treated hair that I've spent a decade torturing with hair dye, blow dryers, and flat irons. This damage caused my roots to fry and my hair to fall out substantially leaving it embarrassingly thin and coarse. It would take forever to grow long, and when it did it was thin and pathetic looking. I had no body or volume at all and I'm convinced my pony tail was the width of a penny! It caused severe emotional distress from the low self-esteem I developed and I thought I would have to live the rest of my life always self-conscious about my thin hair and bald-ish spots that developed near a natural 'cow-lick' in the back of my head and right on top of my head near my bangs. If I went just a day without shampooing it, it would become very oily and stringy, and my scalp would show noticeably through. I decided to make a drastic change in my hair routine that I never thought I would be able to do: I stopped blow drying and flat ironing my hair. I stopped using any heat at all and started letting my hair dry naturally. I made my own natural shampoos and conditioners and reduced my shampooing from every day to every other day, then every three days. I bought some dry shampoos to touch up the oily roots and usually pulled back my hair on no-wash days. At first my hair didn't know how to react - it's naturally curly and I've been straightening the curls out for so long that once I stopped, they didn't seem to know which way to twist and turn. It looked a little awkward, but after about a month or so I was already having amazing results and my hair was becoming fuller and softer. Now, about 6 months later, my hair is the fullest and healthiest it's ever been. It's grown back at an astounding rate and now grows long and strong quickly. Letting it air dry has allowed my natural curls to come back and they give my hair body and bounce. My current obsession in caring for my hair is hair oil. My hair wouldn't have improved so much without it. I apply it at night before bed and let it soften my hair when I sleep. Sometimes I apply sparingly it in the morning to wet hair. I avoid my roots because I already have enough natural oil there, but hair oil products have significantly softened my dried out ends. This allows my curls and waves to set much nicer and more evenly. The hair oil that I love the most is Macadamia Natural Oil. It smells amazing and leaves my hair de-tangled and so, so soft! I don't think I'll ever stop purchasing this hair oil. It has totally changed my hair and my self-confidence - I just can't say enough about this product! Love it!!

6. Nails: I am absolutely in love with ULTA nail polishes. They are totally affordable and I've always gotten them on sale or 'Buy Two get One Free'. I find the formula to work wonderfully, dry quickly, and the colors are vibrant and fabulous. My favorite color is 'Eye Popping Poppy' and it reminds me of a vintage, muted cherry-red. I always top off my top coat with Essie's Quick-E Drying Drops which gives the surface of my nails an oily finish so that rather than sticking and smudging, they smoothly glide off of whatever touches them and that's very helpful to a klutzy girl like me who always smudges my polish as soon as it's applied.

7. Body and Fragrance: I received Harvey Prince's Hello in my Birchbox this summer and I fell in love. It's hands-down the loveliest, most pleasant perfume I've come across in a long time. I love that they developed the company for their mother and that they use natural and essential oils without parabens and sulfates and any of that nasty stuff. I've sampled a few of their other scents including Flirt and Ageless and I'm always impressed. I ordered a full size Hello from their website because it was so amazing. The smell makes me happy and relaxed.

I have given BirchBox to my mom, friends as well as my worker girls for gifts. That was always my GO TO for sample boxes and most of the girls had never experienced a sample box before then, however, I feel like BB is really lacking lately. I was going to renew my moms but I think I might go with another one for her.

My top 3 boxes at the moment are StarBox (Starlooks), Glossybox and MyGlam (Ipsy). They all send a nice variety of items and most send make up. Starlooks more than the other 2 but they're all great.

I do like Julep but it's fairly expensive.

I dont mean to hijack this thread or anything , but my family does a secret Santa, and my person is my sister. I usually get her exactly what I like, but she is going to be giving birth right around Christmas. I was thinking of getting her a mommy/baby sub or a pampering sub but I don't know of any. Can anyone suggest some?

I dont mean to hijack this thread or anything , but my family does a secret Santa, and my person is my sister. I usually get her exactly what I like, but she is going to be giving birth right around Christmas. I was thinking of getting her a mommy/baby sub or a pampering sub but I don't know of any. Can anyone suggest some?
I have seen a box called blumm box around. I dont subscribe to it as my babies are a bit older, but i am always seeing advertisementa for it.
Originally Posted by CookiesGirl327 /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I dont mean to hijack this thread or anything , but my family does a secret Santa, and my person is my sister. I usually get her exactly what I like, but she is going to be giving birth right around Christmas. I was thinking of getting her a mommy/baby sub or a pampering sub but I don't know of any. Can anyone suggest some?
I did Bluum for a bit and it was geared more for younger babies and mommies.

I know there are a couple others as well that are geared towards older babies.

Bluum is 12.00 a month.

I dont mean to hijack this thread or anything , but my family does a secret Santa, and my person is my sister. I usually get her exactly what I like, but she is going to be giving birth right around Christmas. I was thinking of getting her a mommy/baby sub or a pampering sub but I don't know of any. Can anyone suggest some?
I love Citrus Lane!
Originally Posted by CookiesGirl327 /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I dont mean to hijack this thread or anything , but my family does a secret Santa, and my person is my sister. I usually get her exactly what I like, but she is going to be giving birth right around Christmas. I was thinking of getting her a mommy/baby sub or a pampering sub but I don't know of any. Can anyone suggest some?
Bluum is okay if you are on a limited budget and can find a daily deal for it.  It isn't worth the full $12 per month, in my opinion, and I have had big challenges with their customer service, but at $18 for 3 months of a cute present with a few samples, I would consider doing it again.

Ecocentric mom has subscriptions and you can choose for mom, pregnancy or new baby.  I only got it for one month, and it was eco friendly samples for my baby.  There were tons of items, but I would rather have a few bigger things than a ton of little things.  I do know some people love it.

My favorite sub is Citrus Lane.  They send a great box of 4-5 items that are curated for your age/gender child.  It is beautifully packaged and I have enjoyed every box I have gotten from them.  The value has also always been great.  They have a pregnancy box also.  You can frequently find discount codes for Citrus Lane.

Another idea is Wittlebee which is a clothing delivery subscription.  I liked the items they sent... 8 pieces for 39.99 and again, it is common to find daily deal sites for this subscription where two months are half price.  Many moms prefer to pick out adorable newborn clothes themselves, so this might be a better first birthday gift or some such. 

There are tons of great baby boxes out there that I haven't tried.  Good luck finding the perfect gift!