Ahhh... the holy grail of subscription boxes: beauty. We're betting there's, at least, a few of you out there who have tried Birchbox, or maybe Ipsy. But, there is a veritable wealth of other options on the market when it comes to cosmetic boxes. In previous weeks we covered accessories and fitness subscriptions, but now is the time to move into the real foundation (pardon the pun) of the box market.
It can be difficult to find new products up your alley: With so many new brands continually entering the market, and old favorites pumping out fresh, innovative products, how do you know what additional things to incorporate into your routine? What extra concoction is worth your dollars, is going to make your skin that much softer, your hair that much shinier, your cat love you that much more? (Just kidding, cats operate outside of anything created in this universe.)
Of course, these boxes aren't just for discovering the best new products for you to permanently place in your existing beauty rotation. Sometimes, it's just fun to get new things to try out. Who doesn't love a good surprise? After all, wasn't it Marc Jacobs who said, "People don't know what they want. They just know when they see it"?
Our Favorite: Boxycharm
Cost: $21 per month.
The dirt: Boxycharm was a favorite not only because of its value but because one of the company's main features is that they only send out full-size beauty products (as opposed to most others which rely on sample sizes). Our box contained nearly $100 worth of eye-related products, and we loved every single piece.
The Coastal Scents Revealed Smoky palette ($20) featured 20 different colors, ranging from a deep navy to a pearlescent, barely-there shade. The Starlooks Luxe Longwear Eyeliner Pen ($19) was super pigmented, and the Royal and Langnickel Revolution Boxycharm Brush Set ($23.97) was a good basics kit that included a detail, crease, and smudger. The product that surprised us the most was the Blinc Mascara Amplified ($26), which doesn't coat your lashes like a normal formula, but instead forms "tubes" around them that can be removed with warm water later. It impressively stays on and won't budge until you decide it has to go. This little box is worth the bucks (and how few bucks you have to spend, at that!).
Code: Use "BOXYNYLON50" to get 50 percent off shop orders until May 10 (one-time use, while quantities last; excludes past month boxes and subscription plans).
Beauty Box 5
Cost: $12 for an individual box, $10 per box with a three-month subscription, or $8.25 a month with a 12-month subscription.
The dirt: Beauty Box 5 delivers, you guessed it, five products every month that are both full- and sample-sized. Spanning the beauty spectrum, they send a mix of makeup, accessories, skin care, nail products, and more that range from drugstore brands to niche, eco-conscious, and even vegan names. Should you like any of the sample products in your box, you can head over to their online shop to find the full versions and other brands adored by BB5.
We received a Manna Kadar Beauty 3 in 1 ($19), which was a gorgeous all-in-one powder blush, highlighter, and eyeshadow, an Elizabeth Mott Thank Me Later Eye Shadow Primer sample (full size $20) that gave us great color payoff and zero creasing, a Starlooks Custom Lip Liner ($16) in a dark nude-like color, Epic Balm Premium Lip Balm ($3.49) with three organic oils that had a delightful blueberry scent, and Hemp Nation Kiwi-Mango Body Wash (full size $7.99) that's packed with antioxidants and essential fatty and amino acids.
Code: Use "NYLONBABE" at checkout to receive a bonus item in your first box—a full-size Marsk Mineral Eyeshadow ($24 value). Expires May 31, 2016.
Cost: $49.99 per box, delivered four times a year.
The dirt: This quarterly box gives over $200 in full-size premium products in every delivery, promising a range of fashion finds, beauty secrets, and amazing fitness gear. They make it abundantly clear they're "more than a beauty box," though our favorite finds within were actually the beauty products.
The ISH Contour Kit in Light/Medium ($32) instantly became our new favorite palette with a highlighter, blush, bronzer, and contour that were all highly pigmented. A bottle Marrakesh Hair Oil ($23) was a nice surprise, a tried and true hair miracle that imparts gloss and cuts down on drying time and we loved the Hello Legs lotion, which has yet to come to market but is a rich body lotion combined with shaving cream and a touch of "blade butter." Also included was a Jook and Nona Gold Plated Tag Necklace that said "dream" ($65), a Thirty One Bits $25 gift card that scored us two pieces of jewelry, a Kitchen Herb Garden DIY Kit with basil, mint, and thyme ($35), a Jus D’Amour Bath Bomb Trinity ($28), Merrithew Mat Strap Plus ($15), and Bodipure Glove and Socks ($10).
Code: Use "nylon10" at checkout to receive $10 off your first box.
Cost: $21 for one box, $19 per box with a six-month subscription, and $18 per box with a 12-month subscription.
The dirt: Focusing on non-toxic cosmetics and natural, toxin-free goods, goodbeing makes you fell, well, good about getting a box. Featuring four or five products in a variety of sizes that are selected according to your profile, most boxes will include a makeup item, but also rotate in everything from fragrance to accessories. They guarantee you'll get products that are worth at least double the box's price, and indeed, our box's contents totaled about triple the $21 price tag.
Included in our box was a beaded Water Rafiki Bracelet ($10), which provides one month of clean water to a child overseas, Orglamix Lip Scrub ($15), packed with coconut virgin oil, organic neem, and rosemary leaf extract, Pangea Organics Egyptian Fennel with Grapefruit & Sweet Orange Lip Balm ($14), which yes, seems steep for a lip balm but we're not lying when we say it made our lips buttery soft, flowery-meets-spicy Prim Botanicals The Body Oil ($12), and American Provenance Pinups & Paramours Sweet, Fresh, & Tropical Solid Perfume ($12.50), a simple blend of beeswax and grapeseed, coriander, mandarin, and tangerine oils. Also snuck in was a $10 credit code to online consignment store swap.com.
Code: Enter "GOODNYLON16" at checkout to receive a bonus full-size product in your first box. Good through May 31, 2016.
Cost: The My Maven subscription is $24.99 a month, or $19.99 for a three-month prepaid subscription, and includes more than $40 of products. The Maven Luxe subscription is $39.99 a month, or $34.99 for three-month prepaid subscription, and includes more than $60 of products.
The dirt: Julep's Maven boxes feature their own products and, should you not want to be completely surprised, there is the option to personalize your box or add additional beauty products and polish. They curate five new boxes a month, each tailored to a certain style profile (you take a quiz upon registration), so even if you don't preview anything, you can be sure you'll love what they do send you.
Our box contained two polishes and one creme-to-powder eyeshadow. The polish colors had the best dark vibes and included "Finley," a deep, navy blue with a hint of gray, and "Jenica," a metallic that was gunmetal-like with tons of texture. Both polishes went on smooth with zero bubbles and lasted an incredibly long time. Julep attributes this to a special five-free and vegan-friendly formula that allows 30 percent more oxygen to permeate the nail. The shadow stick came in a shade called "Putty," which admittedly is not the most glam of names, but was almost light mauve and swatched as a delicate, barely-there color.
Code: Follow this link to receive a free RSVP eyeshadow palette and brush when you purchase a box ($54 value).
Cost: $14.99 a month.
The dirt: Specializing in full-sized vegan and cruelty-free beauty products, LaRitzy promises to send approximately $60 worth of product in each box. On some months, they even feature boxes packed with products worth more than $100, and our box (woo!) fit in that category. What broke the bank was the Palmetto Derma Rejuvenating Antioxidant Mask ($64). The mask contains aloe barbardensis leaf, kaolin clay, and hyaluronic acid, and is 70 percent organic and 99 percent naturally derived. Some users have reported it acting like a very light peel, but it just made our skin glow. Also included was a non-foaming gentle cleanser from Lather Cucumber Milk Facial Cleanser that's paraben-free, sulfate-free, and lightly-scented Lovefresh Moroccan Rose Absolute Natural Deodorant ($24). Our favorite product, though, was the Doe Hair Pact – Bora Bora ($17). Chock–full of oils (seriously, it has coconut, jojoba, avocado, castor, lime, and guava oil), this conditioning leave-in not only had our hair as shiny as it normally is after a salon visit, but it smelled delicious and had us craving all the tropical drinks.
Code: Use "NYLON" at checkout for 10 percent off your first month.
Cost: $15 a month.
The dirt: Every month, Petit Vour sends four personalized beauty miniatures that are cruelty-free, non-toxic, vegan, and ethically made. A beauty survey upon signing up helps Petit Vour determine what to send you and they give you the opportunity to earn points through purchases, reviews, and friend recommendations that can be used toward future buys.
Our box included several star items, including Juice Beauty Stem Cellular Booster Serum ($19.50), which once applied to the face, went from a gel to a cool, water-like texture and felt instantly hydrating. The Graydon Hair Smoothie (~$2) was also a winner. With essential oils of parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme it not only smells amazing but is a great detangler and conditioner. We also received French Girl Organics Rose Lip Polish ($3.75), which, as a sugar scrub, was hard to not eat once it was on our lips, and HAN Skin Care Cosmetics Eyeshadow in "Taupey Plum" ($13), made from a natural rice base with anti-aging ingredients, plant-derived colors, and natural pigments.
Code: Use "NYLON" when you sign up for a subscription in April or May and receive a free AILA nail polish ($17 value).
Cost: $30 a month with free domestic shipping and $8 international shipping.
The dirt: If you love nail art, and are obsessed with nail wraps, you need to know about Scratch. Every month, Scratch sends a box with three sets of nail wraps designed by a featured artist. They also send the tools you'll need so you're not without a file or accent tool. Our box was love-themed with bold symbol-packed Eye Heart You Nail Wraps, wavy HeartBeats Nail Wraps, and Love Is… Nail Wraps, our favorite with little chocolate bars, slices of pizza, and more (yes, pizza is love). All of the wraps can also be purchased individually on their site for an average of $9 a pop. Every wrap is limited-edition and boxes often have surprise items inside like charms and foil to send your nail art over the top.
Code: Use "ScratchxNylon" to get 20 percent off any orders in the Scratch shop.