Ipsy, Birchbox & Julep: Monthly Goodies

by Ginger on June 19, 2013

in Makeup and Beauty

Part of what started my whole makeup explosion was signing up for Birchbox, a monthly beauty subscription. It was fun, every month I’d get a handful of beauty items and getting that stuff in the mail made me happy (woohoo, something besides bills!). And then I started falling down the black hole of beauty subscriptions, because they’re fun! And bring me pretties! And here we are, in full fledged addict territory.

Right now, I have three monthly subscriptions (not including Stitch Fix, which I’ve already talked about), and I thought I’d talk about them a little bit here in case any of you are interested–but if you want to see more of my makeup nonsense, I’m putting more of that stuff up on Tumblr. I find the subs very fun, with a relatively low price point for a little bit of fun mail…but be warned, it can lead to addiction! (The links below are referral links that get me points if you sign up through them, but you can always just google the companies if you prefer to do it that way!)

1. Birchbox. I’ve had Birchbox the longest–about 18 months–and it’s the most varied in terms of products. It’s $10 and every month you get a box with 4-5 items sent to you, and they can vary wildly from makeup to skincare to household items to food to perfume to nailcare to hair stuff, etc. Most of what you get from Birchbox is sample sizes, though you occasionally get deluxe samples, and there is the (very) occasional full size item. Birchbox has the widest variety for subscribers–I believe there are usually something like 30 different box variations–and frankly, it sometimes seems like there’s no rhyme or reason to why you got what you got, despite filling out a survey about your skin/hair/preference types. (Though! They just redid and expanded the survey, to allow for more customization than before. We’ll see how that actually affects boxes. If they could just stop sending me perfume samples, I’d be happy). Some people don’t like Birchbox, or get annoyed at the sample size, or get frustrated when they don’t like the boxes, but for me part of the fun is the mystery of it all. It’s a $10 surprise, and that element of it basically makes it worth it. The other really nice part is that you get points from Birchbox for reviewing the stuff in your box, and after you get 100 points, it’s worth $10 in their store. That’s how I managed to get a Clarisonic Mia for $40–I used several months of points along with a discount code. The point thing is a huge bonus. ALSO also, they occasionally send out totally free boxes, depending on your demographic information, in addition to your monthly box. I’ve gotten two since I started with Birchbox, and they’ve been great bonuses.

photo 2
My May 2013 Birchbox: Sunscreen, eyeliner, perfume, a leave in hair condition, and a pen.

My June 2013 Birchbox: Lipstick, self-tanner, nail files, nail polish, sugar scrub.


2. Ipsy. Ipsy is newer for me–I think I signed up in December. There are a few key differences between ipsy & Birchbox. For one, ipsy seems to PRIMARILY feature makeup and nail stuff, with some hair and skincare thrown in. You won’t see food items from ipsy, but you might from BB. For another, ipsy VERY often sends full size products–in this past month’s bag, almost everything I got was full-size–and if not, they’re likely deluxe samples. You’re not getting just foil packets of lotion with ipsy, but you might with Birchbox. Finally, ipsy MOSTLY keeps all the bags the same. This past couple of months they had some more variations, but even that was something like 3-4 variations not 30-40. And most of that was a “you get this OR that” kind of variation. This one is also $10, and frankly, if you like makeup, this seems to be a great value for your dollar. The brands tend to not be as high-end as you might see with Birchbox, but you get more full sizes, so there’s a decent trade off for me. Frankly, ipsy has been my favorite for the past couple of months, even when not everything is usable for me personally.

photo 1

My May 2013 ipsy bag: lipgloss, nail polish, bronzer lotion, perfume rollerball, concealer sample.

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My June 2013 ipsy bag: blush, eyelashes, glitter palatte, highlighter, lip pencil. (I got the bracelet for referring a couple of people to ipsy)

3. Julep. Julep is different in that it is primarily a nail polish subscription. I only just signed up for this one, and I was basically sucked in by all the gorgeous colors of polish they have. (If I’m honest, I specifically wanted ONE COLOR, and figured I would sign up for the first month and then cancel. So far, I haven’t cancelled). Julep is more expensive than the other two, at $20 a month, which seems to get you 2 nail polishes and an “other”(last month it was BB cream. Stupidly named DD cream. I’m waiting for ZZ cream to hit the market), or 3 nail polishes. Two key differences with Julep though: 1)They let you see what you’re going to get, and pick another option if you don’t like what was assigned to you, meaning you should theoretically always be at least somewhat happy with what shows up at your door (Update 2014: New users have the ability to customize their boxes with any of the polishes/products offered, so you really should be able to get a box you like), and 2)They let you skip if you don’t like what’s going out that month (or need to allocate your budget differently) (Update 2014: New users aren’t able to skip every month anymore. I believe new subscribers get 1 skip every 6 months or something? I dunno). They also have monthly “mystery” boxes, which are AFTER the main monthly box, if you feel like being adventurous (I was this month. The photo below is what I got). If you feel like signing up for Julep, try putting in FREEBOX as a code to get your first month free–I don’t know if that code still works, but it worked for me when I signed up.

photo 4

There are a ton of other beauty subs out there, some that are more expensive, some that are quarterly instead of monthly, some that are very niche (lips only, nails only, etc.). These are the ones I’m sticking with for now, but if you have one you love, I wouldn’t mind hearing about it to see if I need to…uh…research it at a later date. Yeah. Research. That’s it.

Lisa June 19, 2013 at 1:31 pm

I’m kinda bummed I didn’t go for the mystery box. I like those polish shades.

Lara June 19, 2013 at 10:19 pm

These are the three main ones I subscribe to as well. I also recently started BeautyBox5, which is OK and Topbox, which is Canadian only (I think). Ipsy and Topbox are my favourites, for sure.

The others I’m currently considering are Lip Factory, Starlooks and Wantable. Wantable seems a bit too pricey to me (about $40/mth with shipping etc.) I really, really, really wish we could get the Pop Sugar one here in Canada.

HauteLook also has a box on Friday – I’ll be looking into that 🙂

CC December 30, 2013 at 10:06 pm

I’ve been trying to figure out what to get for my sister’s birthday – and which subscription might be best suited to her, now that I know there is such a thing – and this post has been enormously helpful. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

jos March 18, 2014 at 12:54 am

I love ipsy! For the March 2014 Glam Bag I received the bareminerals lipstick, the bora bora eyeshadow quad, the chella blue eye liner, and the vita liberata luxury tan. I absolutely love getting new makeup every month! The website itself is a lot of fun, and so is following ipsy on Facebook, there is a strong sense of community with other women that are also interested in makeup.

Alex Smith July 19, 2015 at 7:51 pm

I joined Birchbox 3 months ago and I love it! For $10/month it is definitely worth it. For anyone on the fence about trying it out, I highly recommend giving it a shot. If anyone is interested in getting their first month free here is a referral link

Thanks! 😉
P.S. You can cancel at anytime so why not try it out for a month FREE?

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