Sunday, August 24, 2014

Birchbox vs. Ipsy

Disclosure: Affiliate/referral links.
I recently decided to cancel my Ipsy subscription, which I've had since 2012, when it was still called My Glam. Instead, I've decided to start getting Birchbox again. Because I am sure that this is as exciting a development for everyone else as it is for me (ha), I thought I'd write up a little post about why.

I really preferred Ipsy for a long time. When I quit Birchbox in January 2013, it was because I was getting fed up with getting tons of little foil packets of things and perfume vials all the time. It looks like the samples they are sending now are more interesting, and they also have an option to only get a maximum of 6 perfume samples a year. Nice! Another reason I quit Birchbox in favor of Ipsy at the time that I did was that I was really into makeup and not particularly interested in other things like skin or hair care products. Ipsy seemed to be much heavier on the makeup/nail polish, while I kept getting moisturizers I didn't want from BB ("I'm plenty moist already!"). These days, though, Ipsy has been including more non-makeup items, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. I'm finding myself more interested in skin care than I used to be, and my skin has been getting drier, so I am even fine with moisturizer samples.

Ipsy was also great for me when I had a smaller makeup hoard, because it sort of forced me to try out products I might not have considered. Like I probably wouldn't have picked out a bright red lip gloss for myself at that point, but it turned out to work really well (and got me hooked). Plenty of those products were full sized, and so they really made up a useful part of my collection. I think it this point part of the problem is that I own so much shit that most of the makeup they send me is either going to be a duplicate of something I already have or something I am really, really not interested in. I am rarely getting unusual and unique products from Ipsy anymore - or at least that's how it feels. Instead, I'm getting more black eyeliner and mascara or neutral lip glosses from brands I am already familiar with, etc. This month's bag was kind of the last straw for me, because there was absolutely nothing of particular interest to me. The only full size product included was a cheap green apple scented lip balm that I probably would have turned my nose up at in middle school. I think it might have glitter in it. Fuck no. (Snob.)

Here are the other things I got this month in my Ipsy bag:

(GlamGlow YouthMud TingleExfoliate Treatment, Absolute You're the Balm, Urban Decay Pervesion mascara (you can buy this sample for $10 from Sephora), Lord & Berry eyeliner, Manna Kadar Sheer Glo highlighter)
I haven't used any of these yet, because I've been packing and moving and unpacking (which is also my excuse for the bad phone photo), so this is not an actual review, just a reaction. The Glam Glow sample is something I guess I wouldn't have paid for without trying first, I guess, but it's something I wouldn't have tried period. It's called "Tinglexfoliate Treatment," which is something I would generally avoid, because I don't like tingly skin care products. The Urban Decay mascara sample is nice, but I don't really need more mascara. The pink highlighter is fine too, but again, I already have too many highlighters. And the Lord & Berry eyeliner is just silly. For some reason photos don't clearly illustrate exactly how ridiculously tiny this thing is, but it's a fucking nub. And from what I hear, it's not a particularly impressive eyeliner, either. I think it is a very strange choice for L&B to send to Ipsy. How is this thing going to introduce their brand to people and impress them? I own a couple of Lord & Berry lip crayons that are excellent and a fantastic foundation, so I know it's a decent brand. But this is not good advertising. As for the Ipsy bag this month, I don't usually care too much about this, but this is a particularly fugly one.

As you can see, they're not necessarily terrible products, but they're just not exciting for me anymore. My reaction to Ipsy lately is just kind of blah.

So I decided to give up Ipsy for Birchbox. BB has more brands than they did back when I last subscribed, and they are often more expensive brands that I wouldn't be willing to spend my money on without trying them out first. The sample sizes are still relatively small, but it looks like there are far fewer foil packets being sent out. Finally, they have a rewards system that is vastly superior to Ipsy's. With Ipsy, you can usually only accumulate enough points to earn a reward (1000) in a year's time if you refer friends. I got some referrals from my blog, but most people probably aren't going to want to spam their friends enough to do that. Even when you get enough points, the rewards aren't consistently appealing. Late last year and early this year, I got things like a full size Benefit High Beam, a BareMinerals lipstick, and a TokyoMilk Dark lip balm, all of which were awesome. Lately, the options have been significantly less awesome, including some no-name makeup products that had already been sent out to people as part of previous Ipsy bags. Boo. Recently they have started adding 500 points rewards from time to time, but they tend to sell out rapidly and still aren't very exciting.

BB, on the other hand, lets you earn points by reviewing the things in your boxes, and you can spend those points on products from their shop. 10 points = $1, and you get 10 points for every sample you review. If you review 5 samples from your box, you've earned back half the cost of the box in credit. You also get points when you buy things from their shop. And there are hundreds of good things to buy from them, unlike Ipsy's limited selection of sad rewards. That alone makes BB appealing to me, but I've also been interested in the things they've sent me (and even when I don't like something, at least I get a buck for it).

Here's my Birchbox from August:

It's not a spectacular box, but it's more interesting to me than Ipsy was this month. The No. 4 leave in-conditioner is actually pretty wonderful, and I wouldn't have tried it on my own, because . . . leave-in conditioner, whatever. Generous sample, too. You all know I love Paula's Choice, though I'm a little sad that I got something I had tried before and wasn't impressed by - obviously they couldn't have known that. This is probably 3-4 weeks work of product, though, so it would be good for someone who hadn't tested it before. The LAQA "lip lube" crayon is really not fucking good, which sucks, because I usually love lip crayons. I guess people like these LAQA crayons in general, but this particular one looks mostly invisible, except where it settles into lip lines something fierce and makes me look like a corpse. It does work well under lip gloss for adding some extra color, though, so it's not a complete waste. The teeny tube of SPF had cream is kind of pointless. I have plenty of moisturizing SPF that would work just the same.

If you're trying to choose between the two, I would suggest going with Ipsy if you are just getting into makeup and open to exploring/collecting lots of new things for cheap. I would go with Birchbox if you are more interested in skin care or are curious about sampling more expensive products (but ultimately getting less volume for your money) and want to save up points for rewards. I've also tried a few others (Julep, Beauty Box 5, BoxyCharm) and BB seems best suited to me at the moment. If you have any questions about the others, let me know.

So it's Birchbox and me now for the foreseeable future. I still do really like getting a surprise package of little goodies in the mail every month, but Ipsy and I just grew apart or something. I'm not going to do posts about BB every month - I just thought that since I got both subscriptions this August, a comparison might be useful. You can find many, many monthly reviews of subscription boxes out there, though, if you want them.  And if you feel like signing up for Birchbox, you're obviously very welcome to click my invite link.

Update: Check out the awesome Birchbox I got for September. 7 products! Big ones!


  1. Ipsy does tend to be really samey from month to month. That's why I quit eventually. Birchbox has good months and bad months but at least it's really cheap?

    1. Yes! As much as I like NYX and as much as mascara is generally useful, it just hasn't really been a fun surprise lately. Add in blah rewards and an ugly bag and teeny products, and it just doesn't have the appeal for me it used to. But I agree, $10 + points for Birchbox and I don't think I'll be let down too much.

  2. I have always wanted to try these beauty boxes but can't put up with samples. I am currently doing julep where I get full size of everything and I pick what I want in the box so I don't end up with shit I won't use. Some of these beauty boxes need to step up their game. Foil packages kill me.

    1. Yeah, it seems like Ipsy used to send out more full sized stuff. For the most part, I think you have to pay more to get that now. I'd rather do BoxyCharm for $20 than Julep, though. I was never very impressed by what I got from Julep.

  3. I don't know what I did wring in filling out my Birchbox questionnaire originally, but all I ever got was foil shampoo packets and generic lotion. Basically, the stuff I take out of hotel rooms. Not awesome. Whereas with Ipsy, I get lipgloss and trial sized hairspray and stuff I like. But, I love tacky little bags. If I hated pink, I'd hate ipsy.

    The Birchbox points seemed cool, but the downside is that the product reviews are worthless. Everyone is trying to get their points by reviewing things after having received a 0.0045oz sample, so the reviews read like they were written by a fourth grader who waited until the last minute to finish a book report.

    1. I totally agree about the reviews. You don't even have to write out the review part to get the points, so it would be better for people just to skip it! It's definitely necessary to research the stuff they sell elsewhere - also the people reviewing them have probably only tried them once, if that.

      I saw somewhere that if you put your income in a higher bracket on the BB survey, you get better stuff. I don't know if that's true. Also, you can go back and redo the survey - though I really wonder how much effect the survey for either of those subscriptions actually has. I did see that a few months ago BB actually sent out hotel products! Gilchrist and Soames! That's the watery lotion and shampoo you get at the Marriott or whatever. Bleh.

  4. I have very limited experience with Ispy (one month and it probably wasn't their best one), but so far I like Birchbox a lot better. I wish they sent out more make up products, though.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...