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Ipsy Glam Bag BB By Beauteque TestTube by NewBeauty

The Best Beauty Subscription Boxes

We hope you love the products we recommend! We do a lot of research and testing before making our picks for the best thing to buy in each price-point. Just so you know, BuzzFeed may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. Prices and availability subject to change. For more info on how we choose products and make money, go here.

Ipsy Glam Bag

  • Tailored to a personal beauty profile
  • “Deluxe” sample sizes
  • Delivered in reusable makeup bag
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BB By Beauteque

  • K-beauty focused
  • Features all full-sized products
  • Great for discovering new products and brands
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TestTube by NewBeauty

  • Curated by NewBeauty editors
  • Eight or more full-sized products per shipment
  • Offers $150 of value every other month
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Ever make the mistake of buying lipstick in a shade that totally sucks? Same. Ever wanted to experiment with a new serum without having to pay for the whole vial? Also same. In a perfect world, we’d all be able to test-drive products guilt-free, but for now we’ll settle for the next best thing: the subscription box.

 

Whatever your beauty routine, there’s a lot to love about beauty subscription services. First, they’re convenient. Second, they’re economical (no, really!). And third, they prove that the best beauty hauls are the ones delivered straight to your door, preferably in a pretty box. But boxes can be hit or miss, which is why we plowed through heaps of neatly packaged goodies to find the best beauty subscription boxes worthy of your investment.

 

Before we dive in, a quick note: Because of the ever-shifting array of products beauty subscription services provide, we chose to focus on each box’s ability to deliver on its promises, as well as overall experience and value. We also limited our testing to those that offer a multitude of labels, rather than brand-specific boxes that cater to loyalty. So who’s got the best beauty subscription box? The answer depends on how much you’re willing to spend.

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Ipsy Glam Bag

Starting from $10/month

The Details

Free shipping

Five deluxe samples per month

$25/month gets you the Glam Bag Plus

What / Who It's Best For

  • Beauty noobs hungry to try new products
  • Beauty obsessives who love to experiment
  • People who want a beauty bag that’s all about THEM

Why We Love It

What makes the Ipsy subscription so much better than others in its price range? For starters, it’s actually, well, a bag! Where other beauty subscriptions are often packaged in unwieldy, good-for-nothin’ boxes, Ipsy’s Glam Bag comes in a reusable, zippered makeup bag (great for traveling, storage, and gifting).

But Ipsy’s best angle is that it tailors its monthly selections for each customer based on a 12-question beauty profile, meaning you’re bound to get stuff you love (or, since it’s just $10 a month, afford to get some stuff you don’t love).

Ipsy Beauty Bag product top view

Now that just about everyone is in the beauty-box game, it’s easy to forget about the early days. Allow us to rewind, for a moment, to 2011. Ah, simpler times. The online beauty-tutorial scene was taking off, and YouTube’s most recognizable makeup guru, Michelle Phan, decided to ride the wave and launch a beauty sampling company. She called it Ipsy: a play on ipse, Latin for “self.” And though she walked away from the company — and her YouTube fandom — in late 2017, that hasn’t stopped Ipsy from growing to more than 3 million subscribers to date.

The secret to Ipsy’s success lies both in the quality of its product and its customization. Here’s how the signup process works: You fill out a questionnaire about your skin tone and eye color, along with makeup and skincare preferences. You’re then asked to pick out brands you love (or would like to try), and the range of companies is considerable — from drugstore brands like Maybelline and Nyx to mid-range companies like Kat Von D and Smashbox and luxury brands like Shu Uemura and Tom Ford.

Ipsy Beauty Bag makeup

Then Ipsy creates a bag for you, choosing five deluxe samples from nearly 60 options. Each bag, Ipsy says, offers around $50 worth of products, which means you’re getting about 80% off retail price.

We know what you’re thinking: A beauty profile is all well and good, but is it accurate?

The answer is yes! We indicated that we were looking for anti-aging skincare and that our favorite makeup products were highlighter and blush. Our Glam bag came kitted out with an anti-aging collagen serum from Derma-E, two firming eye masks, and deluxe samples of both a liquid blush and a highlighter from IBY and Beautaniq — plus a full-sized lip gloss from Buxom. The products matched our lead tester’s skin-tone and product preferences and also offered brands they had never purchased before but wanted to try.

Ipsy’s “deluxe” samples were generally one to two times larger than those of other bags in its price range. BirchBox, for example, offered many single- or two-time-use samples, which made it difficult even to begin evaluating whether we liked the product or not. If sample size really matters to you, you can upgrade to Ipsy’s Glam Bag Plus, which promises five full-size products for $25 a month. Each bag is apparently worth around $125, but there’s currently a waitlist to subscribe, so keep that in mind if timing is critical. Because both subscriptions are tailored to your profile, choosing a plan comes down to budget and personal preference. Some of our testers didn’t love the idea of full-size samples taking up all their medicine-cabinet space.

It’s worth noting that Ipsy doesn’t include information about the products in the bag. Instead, users are directed to go to the Ipsy site and log into their accounts to access info and tutorials. Easy enough, but not ideal if you have scant Internet service. That said, the information there is comprehensive and offers a quick and easy way to purchase full-size versions of the products in your bag (ah, now it makes sense).

Ipsy Beauty Bag open with product

One other small perk of Ipsy’s Glam Bag program is that each month you earn points to put toward “free” additional products — an incentive similar to Sephora’s Beauty Insider program. But beware: building up enough  points for purchases may take a while. We earned 10 points for purchasing our first Glam Bag, but most products available for purchase with points (a sunscreen, a sparkly eye blender, and a concealer brush) required around 600.

Our only caveat? While we found signing up for the bag an enjoyable process, canceling the subscription required going through several screens and an email confirmation. Ipsy REALLY tries to hold onto customers. As with any subscription box, it’s always a good reminder to read the fine print; it’s very easy to miss a charge cycle and end up paying for a box you don’t want.

Luckily enough, we didn’t have that problem. When it comes to a budget beauty box that offers high returns with low risk, we think you’ll agree that Ipsy is your best bet.

User Reviews

"This is my third month with Ipsy. My daughter got me hooked! I love it!!!! I can't wait to see what's in my bag every month! Love love love Ipsy ♥️♥️♥️♥️"
— Debbie From My Subscription Addiction
"Ipsy is like having a birthday present delivered each month. The cost of it is moderate. I always think that it's worth the ten dollars when I get the bag in the mail. The only disappointing thing I could say would be that hand lotion gets old. Give me colors and new things to try. I have found my favorite concealer and blush through Ipsy. I think it's worth the money."
— Carrie of Humble, Texas From Consumer Affairs
"Ipsy does an amazing job with packaging their boxes beautifully and I feel that they are personalized. We always feel like we are receiving a special treat just for us in the mail. I always feel each month as though Ipsy has spent time choosing specific beauty items that I, as a mom of six teenage daughters, would use to pamper myself with. We have been so thankful to subscribe with them. I was able to try out products that I never would be able to afford normally and to know that they were high quality. I then was able to purchase a few regular-size products for gifts for my daughters."
— April of Coventry, CT From Consumer Affairs
"You get what you pay for. I love the value of the products, very useful and each item is of good quality. Good brands too, and each item is a different brand. I love how they change it up each month. Each size is full-size and not samples and allows for multiple use. Fast shipping as well. Love the bag it comes in that can be reused for other things, makes a great makeup bag, and each month is a different bag all with cute designs. I can rate my samples each month and it allows me to choose stuff that is more personal. The items are each personalized to my skin tone and what matches my likes. I will continue to be a long-time customer."
— Heidi of Columbus, OH From Consumer Affairs

Ipsy

Made for makeup lovers

Where to buy

$10 at Ipsy
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BB By Beauteque

Starting from $24/month

The Details

Shipping and tax not included

Six full-sized products a month

Focused on K-beauty

What / Who It's Best For

  • The K-beauty curious
  • Folks who are all about the K-beauty 10-step skin routine
  • People who aren’t shy about snail mucus

Why We Love It

Here’s a pro tip, courtesy of Essence Grant, BuzzFeed’s senior beauty editor: “You can go to most beauty stores like Sephora and get samples, so paying a monthly subscription fee for them just doesn’t make sense.” Her point? Turns out size does matter, which is why we’re recommending BB by Beauteque’s beauty box over all others in the $$ category. Compared with other boxes in its price range, Beauteque delivers the most product for the price.

BB by Beauteque Beauty Box top view

Founded by Elina Hsueh in 2015 (when she was just 18), Beauteque sources its products directly from Asia — Hsueh’s mother is in charge of finding cool products — which means Beauteque has a direct window into the latest K-beauty innovations. What makes K-beauty so special? Rather than relying on makeup to mask troubled skin, K-beauty is concerned with achieving a natural, fresh-faced glow. And K-beauty is as much about creating a consistent skincare routine as it is about the products themselves.

No, BB by Beauteque’s boxes aren’t customizable the way some of its competitors at other price points are, but the company sticks to providing primarily skincare products that most people can use and adapt. If you’re looking for a makeup-focused subscription, this probably isn’t the one for you. But if you’re keen on trying new skincare and bodycare products with creative ingredients (donkey milk, anyone?), you’ll get a lot out of this box.

BB by Beauteque Beauty Box skincare products

BB by Beauteque wins for best value by offering a superior discovery experience and more full-sized products than its price-range competitors. Fellow K-beauty box Mishibox couldn’t match Beauteque’s product sizes. Another competitor, Boxycharm, offered an array of makeup that wouldn’t necessarily work with most skin tones. And Glossybox’s products didn’t appear to be of the same quality as Beauteque’s selection.

The box we received was titled “Deep Detox.” Each product featured activated charcoal (which is said to detox and deep-clean your skin) as its main ingredient: a charcoal carbonated bubble mask, a charcoal cleansing foam, charcoal nose-pore strips, charcoal cleansing wipes, and a charcoal sponge. Yup, a lot of charcoal! Another box from August 2018 featured kawaii — Japanese for “cute” — themed products. September’s box was self-care centered. All told, the curation feels thoughtful and allows you to really delve into a product area.

BB by Beauteque Beauty Box products

There are a couple of things that may sour you on the Beauteque box, though. One is that the products — though full-sized — aren’t necessarily expensive, so the savings aren’t huge. We did the math and found that the retail value of the items in the “Deep Detox” box came to around $50, or roughly $8 a product. That doesn’t speak to a lack of quality, though — it just reflects the generally lower price point of many Korean beauty brands. Others have noted that the products themselves lack proper instructions in English, but the box does come with a broadsheet guide discussing ingredients, brand, and use for each item.

If you’re looking to save some dough, paying for a year up front knocks the price down to $22 a month. And if you’re not sold on the regular beauty subscription box, Beauteque also offers a mask-only sub box called Mask Maven (starting at $13 a month). The company makes it easy to switch a standard box out for a mask-centric one with the click of a button. Whatever you choose, you can’t go wrong with BB by Beauteque.

User Reviews

"This is absolutely the best beauty box I have ever gotten. I've subscribed to dozens of different ones over the years and this is the ONLY one I have never once been disappointed with. I've actually stopped subbing to all other ones except Beauteque. The products are always huge and great quality. I love that they mix skincare, tools, and makeup in one box. I really can't recommend this box enough. You will not be disappointed with this one if you love Asian beauty products!"
— Mitsuko From Cratejoy
"Beauteque monthly sent a lovely box: two luxe face masks I have yet to try but which are gorgeous; a hair mask; body-peeling spray with an exfoliating mitt, which I thought was a brilliant pairing (it works awesome); and, last but not least, an eye stick, which is super cute and feels really nice under my eyes. Warning to new customers: They ship at the end of the month, so I didn't actually get September's box until October 2, but once it ships it gets here quickly and I felt it was worth the wait. :)"
— Erin From Cratejoy
"This monthly box always gives full-sized products: none of that sample-sized BS. Every month is a delightful surprise where you can try different beauty products that are not repeated."
— Sarah From Cratejoy
"Clearly a great subscription box for anyone who’s into K-Beauty. There was a nice assortment of items and the total retail value was nearly triple the cost of the box!"
— Wendy Rose From 2 Little Rose Buds

Beauteque

K-beauty on a budget

Where to buy

$24 at Beauteque
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TestTube by NewBeauty

Starting from $30 every other month

The Details

Shipping and tax not included

Mostly full-sized products

Curated by NewBeauty editors

What / Who It's Best For

  • People who live for the luxe life
  • Suckers for skincare
  • Beauty-product hoarders

Why We Love It

When it comes to beauty boxes, “Wow factor is a must,” says BuzzFeed’s senior beauty editor, Essence Grant. And, boy, does TestTube by NewBeauty deliver. We tested three boxes in the $$$ price range, and NewBeauty’s subscription box came out heads above the others — and was least $10 cheaper than other luxury boxes. Plus, it offers nearly $150 worth of products in each box. Sign us up!

TestTube by New Beauty open box

Launched by the beauty-innovations magazine NewBeauty in 2006, the TestTube was actually the first beauty box on the market. The TestTube — which is offered every other month, rather than monthly — offers a stunning array of full-sized products that come packaged in a colorful tube, accompanied by a comprehensive booklet explaining each product and its use. The tube is tall and sturdy enough that it could be repurposed to hold kitchen utensils or office supplies and could even be used as a gift box. Unfortunately there are no customization or profile-based options with this box, so you essentially have to take what they give. But the bag we received was mostly focused on skincare rather than cosmetics, so shade range wasn’t much of an issue.

Our box contained a remarkable 10 products, eight of which were full-sized. They ranged from items for hair and and dental care — Briogeo’s Rosarco Milk Reparative Conditioner; a teeth whitener from Supersmile — to an ingestible collagen powder, a face serum, lip balms, and a body scrubber. Test Tube’s booklet took pains to talk about each product’s background and special uses.

TestTube by New Beauty beauty box all products

TestTube includes well-known brands, like Dr. Perricone (which you might find at Sephora) alongside indie offerings like the Montreal-based vegan cosmetic brand Laritzy. There were a mask-and-moisturizer set from plant-based German beauty brand Kneipp and a body scrubber from Daily Concepts. The box feels like a perfect mix of reliably known brands and products and new discoveries. Oh, and did we mention you get a subscription to NewBeauty with purchase, too?

TestTube by NewBeauty beauty box

All in, our TestTube contained 10 products worth around $150 — which means you’re getting almost $125 of products for free in each box. One of the products included in our box — Glytone Enhance Brightening Complex facial moisturizer — retails for $74, more than double the monthly cost of the subscription itself. Yes, it’s a bit more expensive than some of the other boxes, but it’s singular in its value proposition. Plus, every other month proved to be a proper cadence for the amount of products you get — we were satisfied and at no time did we wish this box was monthly.

The only problem with the box? Making room on your bathroom shelf for all your new stuff.

User Reviews

"TestTube 2.0 by NewBeauty is by far my favorite beauty-box subscription service! It mainly focuses on skincare, which is my favorite kind of products. They also include some makeup and hair-care products, too! They send the box right to your door every other month. Sometimes they also have limited-edition boxes that are even more amazing then their regular subscription box! I buy every box that they come out with because they are that good. The boxes contain full-sized , travel-sized, and sample-sized items. A great mix! I highly recommend!!"
— Melissa W. From Influenster
"Many powerful ingredients pop up over and over again in the best beauty products — these pages explain some of the science that makes these products so effective. The booklet also has product pages that are very detailed and list the problem, solution, retail price, and insight from the editors regarding each product."
— Brandy From Hello Subscription
"TestTubes are AMAZING. I love testing new products and giving back my opinions and giving options. This is definitely good quality and will definitely recommend it. Love testing different things and love getting to test new things I’ve never seen or had before."
— Brittany P. From Influenster

NewBeauty

So much for so little!

Where to buy

$30 at NewBeauty
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