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Birchbox membership…. thoughts?

March 29, 2011

So I’ve recently been alerted to this beauty subscription service called Birchbox. What is it? Here’s the blurb on their site…
“The Birchbox:
Each month, you’ll receive a selection of 4-5 samples that we’ve tried (and retried) ourselves. You’ll receive anything from skincare to makeup to cult beauty tools, from well-known brands as well as emerging gems…”

So, you get a pretty brown box once a month filled with an array of beauty products for $10 a month, or $110 for 12 months. Talk about a bit of a thrill when you get to your P.O. Box!


Part of the appeal is that the samples are from really, really good brands, e.g. Nars, Stila, Deborah Lippman, Lipstick Queen, Sue Devitt, and such…. basically, department store brands, Sephora availabilities, and some cult brands. Also, every box is composed with a theme and they come with tips and instructions on how to use the products to the best of their qualities or to match current trends. I get the sense that it isn’t just the regular blurb you get at the back of each product’s box, since they have a pretty decent blog going on at the site which shows some real knowledge and thought. Finally, they also have a shop on their site where you can get full-size products – they seem to be at regular store price, although they try to tempt you to buy with them through some rewards program.

I’m a damn sucker for subscription programs, as they tend to bring about pretty good deals or some amazing finds (Angelica turned me onto JewelMint for classy looking jewelry at a good price, but that’s for another day!). My reservation here though is that you’re paying for samples. Granted, they are deluxe sized samples, and that can mean a good week or two’s worth of use sometimes, maybe more… but there’s no denying that these are things that you might be able to score for free at your local mall. I can’t help but get mad at myself when I think of it that way. Can I justify paying for free things?

I guess the premise is that you’re paying for someone doing the hard work and research/discovery/getting-brave-enough-to-ask-the-snotty-Nordstrom-lady-for-samples for you. And you’ve got to admit, that takes some time. Not to mention the fact that you’re certainly going to get something you’ve never heard of nor expected before… And you can’t help but be curious about the tips, depending on how good they are. So maybe, you’re really paying for a really knowledgeable friend who happens to be a beauty editor with a glut of schwag to give away. Is that worth $10 a month? What do you think? I’m leaning to yes, but not until I get my post-graduate job sorted out… Until then, I’ll have to put on my best smile for the Nordstrom lady.

As a postscript, some research makes it clear that on occasion, you do get a full size of one of the smaller products, such as a lipbalm. Those alone can be worth more than $10 a month, given the caliber of their brands. So…. tipping point?

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