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Ipsy VS Birchbox

Monthly curated sample subscriptions seem to be on the rise in popularity. Or maybe I’m just behind on knowledge, because there are A LOT of sample box programs out there that I’ve never even heard of. From health to food, pets to products for your toddler. And of course, there are several options for cosmetic samples. It seems like one of the companies that was able to set itself apart due to good marketing is Birchbox. They were the first company that offered monthly samples that really caught my eye. But another company that also offers a monthly sample subscription was recently brought to my attention–ipsy (formerly MyGlam). They both offer a monthly beauty product sample mailing for a flat $10. Both have interactive websites with lots of video tutorials. But what are the differences, and is one better than the other?  Let’s find out…

This November Birchbox consisted of John Varvatos Artisan eau de toilette (for him), Oscar Biandi Pronto Texture SprayModelCo Fibre Lashxtend Mascara, The Leakey Collection Pure Marula Oil, & Archipelago Pomegranate Soap.

Beth and I have been receiving samples from Birchbox for several months now. It’s a great way to review multiple products and let you know what we think of them! And it’s also just fun to get a box of samples in the mail. The nice thing about Birchbox is they ask you a lot of questions before curating your box, so you receive samples you’ll hopefully enjoy. Above is the November box that was shipped to me, and the products are all different than the ones Beth was sent in her box.

In regards to the Birchbox website… you can order all the products shipped to you in your sample box from the Birchbox website, and earn points for doing so. For every 100 points you earn you’ll receive a $10 credit towards the Birchbox shop. There are lots of articles, videos, how-to tutorials (including DIY projects), and a blog. There’s even a Men’s and Home shop, which also offer curated sample boxes.

This November Glam Bag from ipsy consisted of Nailtini Nail Lacquer, the Balm Meet Matte Eyeshadow, bareMinerals Marvelous Moxie Lipgloss, Starlet Cosmetics Intense Eyeliner, & Chella Eyebrow Defining Gel.

Ipsy was created by Michelle Phan, who has an incredible YouTube channel with LOTS of fun tutorials. The YouTube feeling kind of carries over to ipsy. There are tons of video posts from everyday users on the site. In fact, the positioning statement is “Beauty By You”, and the site highly encourages users to create content (just as YouTube does). You can’t purchase the products included in your sample “Glam Bag” from Ipsy directly–you’re redirected to each product site if you want to purchase it. Ipsy is pretty darn good about offering discount codes to apply to orders of said product though, so you can purchase them at a reduced price.

So, is one sample monthly subscription better than another? Honestly, I am pretty happy with both. I might lean towards Birchbox for one reason, and that is I don’t need a new cosmetic bag every month, like ipsy sends. It’s a waste to me. I can recycle the cardboard box that the Birchbox samples come in. I suppose I can always donate the bags from ipsy to a thrift store, but I like the recycle idea better. But both companies offered high quality products to sample, so can’t complain there.

One of the biggest differences truly is in their websites, and the way you order products. I’m going to have to give the win on this to Birchbox. It’s set up more like Sephora, where you can earn points that will get you more product. And Birchbox is a one stop shop, plus you can combine multiple products to reach free shipping thresholds. Ipsy is just driving you to specific retailer websites, so you don’t know if you’ll get free shipping until you’ve ordered.

As far as video, at Birchbox you’ll get a lot more professional video. Ipsy also has some beautifully produced video, but there is also a lot of amateur video on the site, but that can be VERY entertaining. Both sites offer a plethora of video reviews and how-to’s.

In the end, I think you’ll be happy ordering either of these monthly sample subscriptions if you like sampling higher end cosmetic products. If you harbor an inner tree-hugger like I do, go with the Birchbox since more if it can be recycled. If bags are your thing, or you have a good way to re-purpose them, then ipsy will treat you right. But make sure to check out ipsy founder Michelle Phan’s YouTube channel, she really has some fun video tutorials to watch!

Originally posted on 11/21/12.

Author: Sarah

A self educated health enthusiast, I love geeking out on the latest information on healthy eating and exercise. Although this may happen while drinking a glass of wine...

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  • michelleg

    Thank you for this informational article. I needed to know this!

  • Kara Davis

    I tried both, and I definately prefer Birchbox; it is more like a Sephora (online) experience (as you shared), and it just has a more adult, professional feel to it. I”ved loved the quality of the product so far, and their customer service is top-shelf (five stars). There was a no hassel-sign up experience with Birchbox, whereas with Ipsy, unless you let them in on your entire online memberships and post that you’ve joined Ipsy: (facebook, twitter, instagram) etc., you get regulated to ‘wait list’ status. Clever marketing strategy? Not for me; I don’t appreciate feeling like I’ve been manipulated into being ‘part of the club’ ! I cancelled my subscription after one month. With their online ‘tutorials’ you have to weed through a lot of bad content to get to what is worthwhile. I don’t have that amount of time to throw away :)