Ahh… the subscription beauty box, it’s like each month is your birthday! How fun is it to open your mailbox and find that little package has been delivered? It really is the best way to try out new beauty products in a super affordable way. But which box is better? Let’s compare.
Both Play! and Birchbox give you a somewhat personalized collection of five deluxe samples of haircare, skincare, perfume, and makeup products. The deluxe sizes are about the same size as a travel size. Also, both boxes cost about $10/month. Any items you like you can find for sale on the Birchbox or Sephora website. Upon joining each service asks you a series of questions so they can send you items more tailored to your preferences.
Neither subscription box is perfect. Birchbox does a good job of not sending you items you don’t want. I don’t wear nail polish very often and have never received a polish. I’m more interested in hair care so I always get a shampoo/conditioner and sometimes pony holders. The makeup I get is usually a good match but sometimes not right for my skin tone. Sometimes I’ll get warm instead of cool colors. Those go to my coworker.
Sephora Play! tends to send you set items, I have gotten an abundance of cleansers and masks, but so far no face creams. They are better at color matching makeup. Probably because I’ve been skin match in the store and that is in my profile. No giveaways to friends yet from my Play! box.
Birchbox ships on the 10th of each month. It arrives with a cutely designed box that holds all your samples. Each month has a different design. I have actually saved my boxes to help sort out my stash: a box for eye creams, a box for cleansers etc. Otherwise they are easily recycled.
The Play! box arrives the 3rd week of the month around the 21st. They bill you on the 1st however, so you get excited the box is on its way and you have to wait. Items come in a cutely designed cloth draw string bag each month. I’ve tried to find a way to reuse it but it just ends up in the trash. So there’s two dings; one for recyclability, and one for making me wait.
I have generally been happy with items I’ve received from either box. I do think Birchbox is newer “hipper” brands, while Sephora Play! has more established brands. This makes sense since everything in your Play! box you can also buy at Sephora. Birchbox gives you five deluxe samples where Sephora gives you five plus a 6th regular samples size.
Popular Birchbox brands are: Amika, Supergoop, Marcelle, Jouer & Davines. Sephora Play! has also sent Amika and Supergoop, but Lancome, Clinique, Peter Thomas Roth and Urban Decay as well.
Shampoo and conditioner samples are better from Birchbox. They both have Davines and Living Proof as popular brands. Birchbox generally gives you a 1-2 oz travel size you can try at least twice. So far from Play!, I have only gotten shampoo/conditioner samples as my sixth “bonus sample” which is a single use packet.
When you go to the Birchbox website and review a product you get points that can go toward a future purchase. This is a good incentive because most people try the products in the box and review them, so poorly reviewed products are weeded out.
Sephora adds 10 points to your Beauty Insider balance for each Play! box you get. They also include a points card to redeem in the store which gives you a mini make over and 50 bonus points for any $35 purchase. That is good to help your VIB or Rouge standing since that’s 120 to 600 points per year, depending if you purchase something additional each month. And of course, you can go to Sephora and review your products anytime.
I’ve gone back and forth with Birchbox and Sephora. Currently I’m doing Sephora Play! I like the slightly higher end products and love that I can get everything there. I had an eyeliner I LOVED from Birchbox, but it sold out and I have spent over a year searching for it to no avail. Which is a problem for new boutique brands. Also, my VIB status is solid thru 2019 and I am determined to reach Rouge Status this year. Rouge gets you a makeover anytime, exclusive products, invitations to events and a private hotline to Sephora. Whoo Hoo!