Share: would you pay for monthly beauty boxes?

Looks like the monthly beauty box is trending in Asia now because I just received three requests over the last two weeks to review them. This service, which took off in US and is also popular in UK, is apparently building market share right here.

For those who do not know, this is a personalized service where a personal beauty box with about five selected products – from skincare to makeup to cult beauty tools – is sent to your doorstep each month for a small subscription fee, ranging from something like S$15 to S$25. The rationale behind such beauty boxes is that they help consumers discover cool beauty products from well-known brands as well as emerging gems without having to pay the full price.

Handpicked items & curated according to your beauty profile
To retain the mystery factor, subscribers to such beauty boxes would not know what to expect, and are supposed to be surprised by items customized to their personal beauty profile, which they would have filled out when they signed up for the service. According to most of the services, items are handpicked and include the latest and most exciting cosmetic and beauty products. And going by some of the reviews I’ve read, some items are full-size while others could be merely samples. So all in all, it’s a bit of a hit and miss, depending on your preference and the items curated for that month (read:depends on your luck).

Novelty & short-term thrillS
I guess there is a novelty to the whole idea and this concept will appeal to the true blue beauty junkie. I also think some ladies will sign up for the services to get some short-term thrills but I wonder if they’ll hang on to their subscription for a full year given that some services allow for cancellation at any time without any penalty. However, I believe such services will do fairly well because there are always people who are willing to pay S$15 to S$25 to get some nice items, even if it’s just for a couple of months.

Not for me
I’m not reviewing any of the services as yet because I doubt their items will work for me unless they’re all natural or organic. So such services definitely do not appeal to me. I can just imagine myself having to find people to give away the items to on a monthly basis should I sign up for such a service. But I will definitely be more interested if it’s a handmade accessory box instead!

Would you or would you not?
So what about you ladies? Have you subscribed to such a service? Or would you consider subscribing to such a service?

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  1. Paris B says:

    I will subscribe for curiosity sake but not for the long term because I’ve seen the contents of many of these boxes and they don’t attract me. One or two items that are more rare or cult favourites we can’t get easily will tempt me but when I see that its all samples (nevermind that they’re deluxe sized) I’m less inclined to want to pay money for that.

  2. Miss Vinny says:

    Oh no, unless they’re formulated for sensitive skin and so on, count me out. I don’t want to use any of that, even if it’s free.

    But you know, using too much AHA and other exfoliating or harsh products can lead to sensitive skin so no, it’d be good to protect your skin and not try anything at random.

  3. sesame says:

    Some of the items are quite nice and like you mentioned, rare or cult faves so they do appeal. But unfortunately, it’s not every time.

  4. sesame says:

    You raised a good point about suitability for sensitive skin. I guess skin care products would be tricky and probably makeup and others would be more appealing for some pple.

  5. Alexandra says:

    When I first came to know about these beauty boxes, my initial response would be yes because I love opening packages and love to discover what is inside. ( silly me ? ) But when I gave more thought to it, I don’t think that I would go for these because I am too picky on products.

  6. espenine says:

    Count me out, my skin is too sensitive and acne prone to be trying random skincare/makeup every month!

  7. Stephanie/Yukaeshi says:

    It works both ways for me- on one hand I have pretty sensitive skin so trying out samples before committing to a full size can help my skin, pocket and sanity; but on the other if the samples provided to me don’t suit me it would be a waste of money subscribing, as I won’t be able to use most of them.

    Nevertheless, I am looking forward to subscribing to one and seeing how it goes! ?

  8. Altessa says:

    I actually subscribed to the service for one month but cancelled after that. I agree it is thrilling to receive the box and see what’s inside, but in the end I didn’t use many of the products which I felt was a waste of money. There are probably only 1 or 2 products that I would really use.

  9. Audris says:

    Skincare not really, unless it’s hand cream or something that needn’t be too customised for the skin type (e.g. Aftersun soothing lotion etc.). Makeup, depends on the labels? I guess I’d surf around for reviews of the items in the boxes received and check that out against the subscription fee and try for a short term period, like you said, rather than take out a year’s subscription. For green/organic skincare, I’d think the subscription fees would be higher.

    I’ve signed up recently for Megs Makeup, US-based. The shipping fee for intl users is US$15 so quite alright. So far, the reviews on the contents have been pretty decent too, like FS Urban Decay products, Tarte.

  10. stella says:

    i can definitely see myself subscribing to this service if i were still around 20-23 years old and experimenting with beauty products…but now that i’m 10 years older and know what works for me, i wouldn’t bother. why fix anything if it ain’t broke, i have enough problems waking up to get to work in time everyday for a start lol.

  11. Jyoan says:

    Haven’t heard of this service prior to your post. I am not inclined to subscribe because I tend to view these as money-making gimmicks.

    If there was a review about how great a certain item is, I would buy it myself, and I’ve done so for many things over ebay, even if it means paying for shipping from US.

    So if I need something like a NARS, Tarte, or Philosophy Bath, I’d do it off ebay directly instead of hoping it comes with the box every month, but it doesn’t.

    That said, if there’s really great review for a certain beauty box, and it allows cut-off at any time, I don’t mind having a go for say half a year, just for the kicks of unwrapping. LOL.

  12. Mary says:

    Even if the contents are good, I still see it as money spent that otherwise wouldn’t need to be. It’s a nice little luxury, but definitely not a necessity. I’d rather spend money and know I’m getting something that I want or need.

  13. Heglaé says:

    I tried Eco-Emi, a monthly box only with natural and organic products. For US, it’s US$15, but international costs US$30, so I signed it for 2 months. I already received my first Eco-Emi of november and I was pleased. But I think it’s expensive to pay US$30 every month, so I canceled my subscription.

  14. sesame says:

    I guess it’s quite a thrill but my suspicion is, we’ll end up with stuff that we do not need and they multiply by the months!

  15. sesame says:

    Ah…yes, this is a waste for those with sensitive skin cos you can never tell what will work so better to save the $.

  16. sesame says:

    I hope you will have some fun with your subscription…I guess it’ll be quite a thrill to receive the box, at least for the first time!

  17. sesame says:

    I see…the companies are quite clever as in charging $15 seems little but based on your experience, if you pay for that every month and get stuff you don’t need, it’s really a waste.

  18. sesame says:

    Yup, I agree that body care products are probably easier to try. I would think makeup, especially those cult brands, would be quite popular…like the one you’ve subscribed sounds interesting with the brands mentioned. But they would have to rotate the stuff to create that novelty too.

  19. sesame says:

    Ah…interesting. I guess it’ll appeal to the younger crowd who are more into experimenting then. I agree that it’s best not to change skin care products unnecessarily.

  20. sesame says:

    Haha…yes, the kick of unwrapping and seeing what you’ve got is probably what draws pple to subscribe to such services. But I think it’ll fizzle out and like what you’ve mentioned, why not just purchase the cult product you’ve been eyeing rather than relying on such a service since you can’t be sure what you’ve get anyway.

  21. sesame says:

    True…$15 and maybe you’ll end up with just one sample you like. I suppose it’ll be good if we can select the items but then, that would eliminate the surprise element.

  22. sesame says:

    Oh that sounds interesting! But yeah $30 is quite ex…but I’ll go and have a look at the service. ?

  23. Miss Vinny says:

    No, I wouldn’t pay for such a box since I’ve got sensitive skin and it’d be ridiculous of me to keep sampling products, organic or not, which may not suit my skin.

    Furthermore, a lot of samples often turn out to be stuff I don’t need or even want. Besides, quite a few skincare products turn out to be dupes of one another. Some are like just plain useless as you could just use a toner or hydrosol for fulfilling the purpose.

    Btw, did anyone ever have this problem with Watson’s products? And did they ever manage to demand a refund? I bought 2 bottles of Bod’s cleansing gel today: they’d a buy one get one free offer. For 1 of the boxes there was no expiry date printed on the price tag, unlike on the other box. So when I opened the box to check, it turns out the expiry date was printed as Feb 2012! What a cheater… ><;; I think I'm going to demand for an exchange since I ought to be entitled to that. Though I suspect they won't allow it since the box was unsealed, I'm still going to go for it.

  24. Rebecca-Monique says:

    I subscribe to four (GlossyBox, JolieBox, Carmine and Feel Unique). By February, I’ll unsubscribe to two of them. I think the concept is great but you’re right in pointing out that you end up accumulating samples that you don’t ever use and don’t intend to. Plus not every item will be to ones liking. Sometimes there will only be one product in that monthly mox that is a gem and works for you.

  25. sesame says:

    Oh I have an issue with some of the expiry date of products I bought from Watsons. But it was my fault for not looking carefully so I didn’t ask for an exchange. I hope they’ll change it for you.

  26. sesame says:

    Wow, you subscribed to four of them! I’ve seen some of their boxes and they look quite good and so it must be fun to just sample them initially. But I can understand how it is possible to want to try something like that. I was looking at Eco-Emi that Heglaé mentioned in the comments and am kind of keen to try it just once or twice for the fun of it cos the products look the sort right up my alley. Haha…

  27. Miss Vinny says:

    Ouch, I wonder why Watson’s doesn’t pay better attention to the freshness of their inventories. Then again, they can afford to write off losses but still… it’s an occurrence I’ve been noticing far more frequently. That’s why even at their sales, I’m still wary about the expiry dates. But too bad about today… I was totally tired and out of it. >_<;;

  28. Eva says:

    I personally wouldn’t, just because I really try to finish up my products as I cannot stand wasting them. I know I won’t be able to finish up products if I keep receiving new ones. Also, my skin tends to be sensitive. And while the products are handpicked for me, I’m very picky about what goes on my face.

    My friend tried one of these beauty box companies and she said that she had a terrible experience of trying to unsubscribe. Apparently her payments still went through. But of course, I’m sure this is not true for all beauty box companies.

  29. Stephanie/Yukaeshi says:

    Definitely! It’ll surely be a novelty because we don’t have those services here in Malaysia yet. I might be spoilt for choice in Singapore though since I heard they have a few of these subscription box things haha ?

  30. Miss Vinny says:

    Oops, forgot that I already wrote this reply. Sorry! *sighs*

    Yup, even then, certain skincare products may not function as well under Singapore’s humid climate. I remember rave reviews for Hada Labo lotions in Japan but when it comes to Singapore, the lotions sometimes caused pimples and other issues. Same for makeup products too: they hold really well in other climates but melt like crazy when it comes to Singapore. And who wants to layer tons of products, just to wear that eyeshadow or foundation? Even for normal skin, it still might breakout very very badly. I’ve actually heard of people’s skin getting worse and worse that day, until they can no longer even wear any cosmetics.

    Btw, know any good range of unscented haircare products for stopping dandruff and for oily scalps?

    And I’m super thankful I didn’t listen to the Bod SA as she kept trying to convince me that their shampoo is good for dandruff. I doubt it is ‘cos I’d already looked up everything earlier.

  31. Miss Vinny says:

    Wow, that sounds quite a dubious experience. Mind sharing the name so everyone can watch out too?

  32. Jyoan says:

    Miss Vinny, actually I think they do know, and that’s why they put it up for sale. It’s normally the case with Guardian, as I like to get my contact lens lotion from them because the combination in which they pack is better.

    But I always check, and I found out that 3/5 times, I will not buy because I can never finish so many bottles in such short time.

    Even when I buy from optical shops, I make sure to check the expiry dates. No matter how, it is a sale item… …

  33. N. says:

    I would if there was appealling products inside. The one available to my country isn’t quite worth it.

  34. Teigh says:

    I just subscribed (but won’t receive until January) to White Apricot’s Green Grab Bag. It works like Eco-Emi where the products are natural, organic, vegan. I think they’re fairly new…I believe the first bag came out in October. I’m trying to get into more eco-friendly products and will be giving this service a try for a few months.

    I may also give Beauty Army a try when they launch in January.

  35. sesame says:

    I think you can try to swap since you’ve just purchased it. But I wonder if their stocks are fresh. I think some products move slower and hence, they try to provide old stocks during sales.

  36. sesame says:

    Oh…that’s a shame. I wouldn’t subscribe if the only option is using credit cards. There is a high chance of payment going through despite cancellation.

  37. sesame says:

    Not that many. One I know of, another two were from outside Singapore – HK.

  38. sesame says:

    Yes, true. Weather is a major issue for some skin types. Like the girls in Korea can layer so many stuff on their face but I doubt we can afford that here. Anyway, it’s not a good idea to layer too mcuh either.

    Unscented shampoo? Oh that’s tricky. I’ve never come across them. If I do, I’ll drop you a note.

  39. sesame says:

    I see…but most of them wouldn’t let you know the actual products you’ll be receiving. I guess you can get an indication from past boxes…

  40. sesame says:

    Haha…another green bag? Okay, I’ll go and check it out. I hope they have makeup items. ?

  41. Kim says:

    On the surface, beauty boxes sound appealing as it gives a chance to try new products. But after thinking about it, I’ll give it a pass cos 1) my skin is sensitive so dun want to upset it further unnecessarily 2) I’ll end up wasting, especially for products which do not suit me and if I can’t pass it on 3) Save $$ to buy products which I know agrees with me ($15 will add up to $180 in a year) 4) Minimise consumption, it’ll be nice to have more products but really, I don’t need more products cos I’m already struggling to finish what I have.

  42. Diane says:

    While the idea of getting something new excites me (like a kid opening a present)…most likely I would not take this as I would end up with tons of things and shelling out cash too…this is a nice concept though…first time I’ve heard of it!

  43. Jasmine says:

    I think these subscriptions are only worth it if the products are of a premium or absolutely difficult to find. I’d subscribe for an all-organic beauty box since Singapore doesn’t always get ready access to these cheaply!

    I also like the thought of something selected specially for you … marketing or not, I would specify my favourite scents, the sort of ingredients I’m averse to, those that I prefer, just so I can get the box worth my money!

  44. sesame says:

    I agree. For sensitive skin, you can’t afford to try too many products and it’s best to save the $ for what will work for you.

  45. sesame says:

    I think it’s nice the first time or two but the novelty might wear out especially if the items cannot excite enough. So the companies got to be innovative since it’s getting competitive.

  46. sesame says:

    Ya, true. I like the idea of natural/organic. I mean those words can make my eyes sparkle…haha…I might give those a try just to see how it works. Just hope it’s not miserable samples I’ll be receiving.

  47. Tammi Cherise Tan says:

    I came across this John Masters Bare Unscented Shampoo on BUD Cosmetic’s online store:

    If I’m not mistaken they also sell this at Sephora! (:

  48. Miss Vinny says:

    Nevermind, we’ll see if they allow a change. #k8SjZc9Dxk#k8SjZc9Dxk;; If they don’t, I guess I’ll just be a lot more wary then. I’m embarrassed to admit I never really bothered to check about these details in the past. I guess my mantra of “Sale? Cheap! Buy!” shouldn’t be used for skincare and haircare any longer.

  49. Miss Vinny says:

    Well, I wouldn’t mind if it’s October next year(expiry date for second bottle) but February is cutting it too close. Is Bod’s sold at other places than Watson’s?

  50. AgnesM says:

    Hi Vinny,
    I believe they do refunds. My brand new, unopened Pure Beauty Cleansing Water has some particles in it. I wrote in to Watsons and after confirming the branch that I wanted to visit for a refund/exchange, they promptly informed the manager ( in my case, it was the Tiong Bahru branch ) there.
    When I was there and showed the email to the Asst Mgr on duty, he just do a refund straight away, with absolute trust in me. He did not check the bottle, he did not ask for my receipt, etc. I just need to leave my particulars with him and return the bottle back to him. The whole process was fairly quick and he displayed excellent customer service attitude.

  51. Swati says:

    as you said this is a complete hit or miss and then one might end up not using any of the products also…but it is a nice idea for a short time like 6 months or say and if they starts a completely natural / organic beauty boxes, that would be more interesting to look at and may be a little more customization options should be provided to the customers as to what they would really like to pay for!!!

  52. Susan says:

    I am subscribed to a couple of eco/green boxes – Eco Emi, Green Grab Bag, and Conscious Box – mostly because I love receiving packages, but I also think they’re good deals. I end up using or at least trying everything, and I usually really like what I get!

  53. sesame says:

    I only see them at Watson’s.

  54. sesame says:

    I would like say if they allow us to choose by category eg. body range or hair care. But I suppose it won’t be possible for cost reasons.

  55. sesame says:

    Oh so there are a couple of green beauty boxes! Haha…I wish they will introduce them here…I will subscribe to those! ?

  56. Amanda says:

    That kind of service is not yet a hit in my part of the world, but I have the same opinion as you. I don’t think I will be hooked if the products they offer are not natural or organic. That said, I sort of turn a deaf ear to all those big beauty brands while shopping ?

  57. Miss Vinny says:

    Hi AgnesM, thanks for that info. I’ll try my luck by sending them an email then. I tried posting on Facebook but they’re probably too busy to attend to my query.

  58. Audris says:

    Ok, I couldn’t resist googling for Singapore beauty boxes and just subscribed to Bellabox. Will review it when I get my first box. It’s really just to see what the experience is like.

  59. Pollya says:

    I won’t subscribe to such boxes too — yeah, better save the $15-25 every month and buy something that I will like and is suitable for my skin. As it is, I have quite a lot of samples on hand — some probably more than a year old by now, I think!! — that I can’t seem to use up fast enough! (obviously these brands are not that ‘enticing’ for me)

  60. sesame says:

    Haha…I actually kinda dislike samples unless they’re from brands I want to try. Like you, I usually just hoard them and then realize they’re not used after a long while.

  61. sesame says:

    Haha…I’ll go and check out on your blog!

  62. sesame says:

    I suppose cos of our interest in natural/organic and that’s why you’re not keen on the big beauty brands. It’s a good thing as in you’ll have less temptations. ?

  63. EcoBeauty says:

    I do LOVE surprises, no doubt about that. In fact, I was very excited rummaging through the paper bag of goodies I got from the Green Beauty giveaway as soon as I got home *wink* and that’s while already knowing what’s inside. LOL, Imagine if I didn’t (have to say thank you again :)!) Anyway, reason I won’t subscribe to these surprise beauty boxes is same as yours. I’m quite strict with the products I use now. They should be relatively more natural, if not organic, and shouldn’t contain certain ingredients. So if I already know I’ll be getting products I’ll refuse to use for sure, there’s no thrill even if I don’t know exactly what they will be. But then again–I’m not sure what’s the point of getting new products month after month if I’m already happy with what I’m currently using. They’ll probably just end up in a dark, lonely corner somewhere in my closet.

  64. sesame says:

    I think if the products are right up our alley, it will intrigue us more? I know I’ll be quite thrilled to receive natural/organic bath care, hair care, skin care, nail polishes, etc cos I get thrilled even just seeing new stuff in the stores! Haha… Okay, whether I use them is another story but at least, the thrill is greater than receiving the other brands that I can’t be bothered to even finger. ?

    Glad you had fun going through the bag. I was very happy to pack the items! And if you do use the Botani products, let me know how it is. Kind of keen to give that one a trial.

  65. Lil says:

    LOVE Eco-Emi. The boxes are all hand-made and each item is wrapped with tissue paper and a ribbon. It’s always so pretty, like getting a Christmas present each month! I’m in the US so it’s only $15 a month for me, and totally worth it!

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