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Which beauty box subscription is the best deal?

We subscribed to six beauty boxes from Birchbox, FeelUnique and more, and compared the RRP of the products to see which gives you the most bang for your buck

Which beauty box subscription is the best deal?

With so many beauty subscription boxes on offer it can be difficult to choose which to commit to, but getting a great deal is a good place to start.

We ordered a range of beauty boxes in September to see what we’d find inside and whether it was worth the money.

We subscribed to FeelUnique, Lookfantastic, Birchbox, Glossybox, Latest in Beauty and Cohorted. Once the boxes had arrived we looked at the products in each box and worked out the recommended retail price (RRP) for each product.

Obviously prices are subject to change, as are the products that come with personalised boxes – our findings are a snapshot from September.


For a comprehensive overview of beauty subscription boxes, including introductory offers and membership deals, read beauty subscription boxes compared.


Birchbox beauty box

Birchbox

Sign up at: Birchbox.co.uk

When our September box arrived the first thing we noticed was the pleasant fragrance. The products came in an attractive metal tin which can be reused and the cardboard packaging is recyclable.

We received five products in the tin which, according to our research, amounted to just £30, the cheapest of any box we ordered. We also found it difficult to find the products stocked online which would prove annoying if you wanted to buy a full-sized product after trying a sample.

We found the Birchbox website easy to navigate and the cancellation process is straightforward. We also like that when you sign up for your subscription you’re asked a number of questions about your skin type and colour, hair and general interests to tailor your boxes to you.

Products in the September box: So Eco Gentle Facial Buffer (£3), Sukin Natural Balance Leave-In Conditioner 50ml (£1.59), The Beauty Crop Coco Aloe Mist (£9), Feel Free Feel Fruit Lemon Body Cream 50ml (£1.40), Balance Me Radiance Face Oil (£15)

Running cost of membership: £13.95 a month

How do I cancel? Log in to your account to manage your subscription


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Cohorted beauty box

Cohorted

Sign up at: Cohorted.co.uk

To say we were impressed with what we found in the Cohorted beauty box is an understatement. We counted nine products amounting to £284, though for the pricey subscription fee you’d expect as much.

Big-name brands such as Rodial, YSL and Elemis were mixed in with lesser-known brands like Ofra and Prismologie, and sent in a fully recyclable package.

This box was in support of breast cancer awareness and included diagrams and important information on the topic. This was encouraging to see, though it wasn’t made clear whether any profits would be given to a breast cancer charity.

Before you sign up to Cohorted and wonder where your beauty box is, you should be aware that your subscription will start the following month. So expect to wait a while before your first one arrives.

Products in the September box: Elemis Pro-Collagen Rose Hydro-Mist 50ml (£43), Delilah Lip Line Long Wear (£20), Rodial Dragon’s Blood Eye Gel 15ml (£64), Yves Saint Laurent La Laque Couture 10ml (£15), Rodial Dragon’s Blood Jelly Eye Patches (£6), BDK Parfums Natural Spray 2ml (£7.28), Prismologie Comforting Meridian Balm 75ml (£85), Ofra Signature Highlighting Palette (£26.96), 111Skin Rose Gold Brightening Facial Treatment Mask (£17)

Running cost of membership: £39.99 a month

How do I cancel? Fill out a request form in your subscription dashboard or contact the customer service team before the last day of each month

FeelUnique beauty box

FeelUnique

Sign up at: Feelunique.com

If you’re very choosy about what you want to receive, with FeelUnique you can pick what you get sent and you can choose from pages of products. We saw a good mixture of cult brands and household names.

On arrival, we noticed that the box smelt great and liked the canvas bags they included, which would be handy for storing your products. The packaging the box came in was recyclable.

Obviously, the value of your box really depends on what you pick. We found that ours came to £53 overall which isn’t bad for the subscription fee.

Impressively, all the products we went for were from big-name brands, including Urban Decay and YSL.

Products in the September box: Bed Head TIGI Curls Rock Amplifier 43ml (£5.99), Urban Decay All Nighter Long-Lasting Makeup Setting Spray 15ml (£10), YSL Pure shots Night Reboot Serum 7ml (£13.77), Sigma Beauty E05 Eye Liner Brush (£11.25), Ghost Orb of Night 10ml (12)

Running cost of membership: £13.95 a month

How do I cancel? Contact the customer care team

Glossybox subscription box

Glossybox

Sign up at: Glossybox.co.uk

The box was wrapped in a bow and looked great before we even opened it. We were sent six products plus a chocolate bar, which was a nice touch.

All the brands were fairly niche, but there was a nice spread of perfume, skincare and makeup products. In the end, our box worked out at £75 which is impressive for its subscription fee. The boxes aren’t tailored to you, but you do get a sneak peek of what to expect in next month’s box.

The only real issue we found with Glossybox was the customer service. You’re forced to pick a category for your query which means if yours doesn’t fall into a given category it’s sent to the wrong person. We ended up getting a few generic responses when we asked specific questions about the subscription.

Products in the September box: Seba Med Antibacterial Cleansing Foam (£2.99), Figs and Rouge Skin Perfecting Serum (£42), MCobeauty Cheek and Lip Tint (£12), More is More Judith Leiber for Her (£6.90), Spa to You Cleansing brush (£6.99), Vitamasques Pearl Sheet Mask (£4.99)

Running cost of membership: £13.25 a month, £11.75 a month for a year

How do I cancel? Sign in to your account to manage your subscription or contact the customer care team. Make sure to cancel before the 14th to avoid being charged for your next box

Latest in beauty beauty box

Latest in Beauty

Sign up at: Latestinbeauty.com

It’s great that you can pick all of the six samples that come in your box each month. Though we felt it was strange to see Primark makeup on there and lots of brands we’d never heard of. It made us wonder whether the box would actually be good value.

When it arrived it smelt great and came in recyclable packaging. But when we added up the RRP of our chosen products they amounted to around £41 which, compared to the other boxes, isn’t great. It’s the second-lowest value box of the lot.

There are star ratings on the Latest in Beauty website which is handy when you can’t decide which products to pick, though we felt the site was tricky to navigate. You can also only cancel in the seven days before your next payment date, which could be a recipe for an accidental next payment.

Products in the September box: Karin Herzog Hand and Nail cream 25ml (£6.99), E’lifexir Natural Beauty Push-Up Buttocks Cream 25ml (£2.67), Lord & Berry Ultimate Lip Liner (£13), Sport FX HIIT Highlighter (£10), Lipcote Original Lock Lasting Lipstick Sealer 7ml (£3.69), Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula Gradual Tanning Moisturiser 20ml (37p), Cetaphil Daily Defense Moisturiser 5g x 3 (£3.90)

Running cost of membership: £12.95 a month

How do I cancel? Sign in to your account to manage your subscription

Lookfantastic beauty box

Lookfantastic

Sign up at: Lookfantastic.com

You don’t get to pick your products or have your box tailored to you, but the contents of the next Lookfantastic box will be posted on the website so it won’t be a total surprise.

When the box arrived we noticed it smelt great and was packaged neatly with a magazine inside. Included were a few well-known brands such as Christophe Robin and By Terry, as well as lesser-known brands 3ina and SVR.

The six products that came in September’s box came to £64, which puts it bang in the middle of the other brands in regards to value for money.

As Lookfantastic is a beauty retailer, there’s only a small section of the site dedicated to their beauty box service. Because of this, you’ll probably find the site is lacking in clear information on the T&Cs of the subscription service.

Products in the September box: Beauty Pro Brightening Sheet Mask (£4.95), SVR Palpebral Creme (£15), Ameliorate Smoothing Body Exfoliant (£9), Christophe Robin Hydrating Melting Mask (£8), By Terry Baume De Rose (£14), 3ina 575 Eyeliner (£12.95)

Running cost of membership: £15 a month

How do I cancel? Sign in to your account to manage your subscription or contact the customer service team


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Woman applying makeup

Tips before you commit

  • Consider which courier your chosen beauty box brand is using. We heard from a Which? staff member about their Birchbox beauty box never turning up. Hermes claimed her letterbox was too small and as she was out at work full time she could never open the door to them. Hermes doesn’t provide contact details or a collection point to pick up and, though she was refunded every time, she never got the products she signed up for.
  • How much control do you want? There are a range of approaches that brands take with box curation. Some allow you to pick the products every month, others will tailor boxes to you with a questionnaire and some will simply send the same box of products to everyone.
  • Plan your cancellation carefully. Set reminders to cancel boxes and if it’s not clear how to cancel on the website always contact customer care to avoid any hidden charges.
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