Battle of the beauty boxes

* This post was current as at 21 June 2014. Things may have changed since then.

How to go from a beauty dunce to beauty obsessed

Before reviewing the three main beauty subscription boxes available in Australia, I wanted to give you my background in 'beauty box expertise'. Scroll down if you're not interested in all that.

I remember the day: 21 December 2011. I'd never cared about beauty products and hated grooming in general, and I only wore make up when I absolutely had to. The only time I'd ever painted my toenails was for school formals; one year, only two toes showed through the ends of my open-toe shoes and those were the only ones I painted.

I joined Glossybox Australia (later overtaken by Lust Have It (LHI)) because a family friend had Facebooked about her new employment there. $15 per month seemed like a good deal for a surprise box of goodies - it was the surprise I wanted, not so much the content.

But then.

I wasn't one to open every product I received as soon as the box arrived. From memory, the Mirenesse lipgloss that changed me (to the point where my now-husband still wonders what the hell happened to his wife) arrived in the November Glossybox, but I didn't open it until just before Christmas. When I finally did try it out, I was gobsmacked - there's no other word for it.

Within 48 hours I'd become a VIP member and had ordered half the store. (Please note: while I still endorse the quality of Mirenesse products, after over two years' experience of being a customer, I do not endorse their customer service etc - I've never had so many issues with a company in my life. Their advertising practices deserve serious legal examination, as do their general business practices. The internet is rife with Mirenesse complaints, and for good reason.)

I stayed with Glossybox when it became LHI, and only unsubscribed when we moved to Berlin for two years, where I signed up with Glossybox Deutsch. On return to Australia, I quickly found myself signed up to LHI and Bellabox (on discounted annual subscriptions), as well as Violetbox monthly. I've been receiving all three for close to a year, and have also ordered a few one-off LHI FAB and Eco boxes in that time.

I have also since done a couple of makeup classes and now spend far too much time looking up new products, buying and trialling them when I can afford it, and reading the many useful beauty blogs that I should probably block from my computer so I can spend that time doing something more functional like gardening. 

But anyhoo. We're all allowed obsessions - where's the fun otherwise?

Violet Box - $22.95/month (now discontinued)

I'm putting this one first for a reason. It's by far the best in terms of products. Not only are they generally of better quality, but they're more interesting. Most people don't sign up to these boxes to receive cheap skincare samples they can find in Priceline, but to discover new and inventive products that they most likely don't already own. Of all the Violet Boxes I've received, only one was a bit ho-hum (although others loved it - it's so subjective and you can't always please everyone). Over time I will review all the boxes I've received from them and the others, so stay posted. Their packaging/presentation is also by far the best.

Another point for Violet Box - their customer service. They're generally fast at getting back to you, send out replacements for damaged products, welcome feedback, take time to answer product queries and are pleasant to deal with. Five stars.

Another positive - all their boxes contain the same products each month (the only variation might be eg the colour of an eyeshadow), so it's fairer. This means that when they send out a sneak peek of an item coming in next month's box (as all the boxes do), you know you will be getting that item.

A negative point - their website/shop. The website has recently been improved, but they don't have as many products on offer as the other two (that can sometimes be a good thing for your wallet!). We can probably put this down to their being the newest of the boxes, so the shop will likely improve further over time.

Another negative point - their reward system. Unlike the other two, if you use your reward points for a discount on an order, you don't earn points for the remaining cash you spend. Eg: order something for $50, use $10-worth of points and earn no points for that transaction, while for the others you'd still earn points for the remaining $40 you're laying out.

A positive point - timeliness. I always receive my Violet Box at around the same time each month. I know when it will come and don't wonder where it is. This matters - no one likes waiting.

Bellabox - $15/month (discounted bulk subscriptions available)

Bellabox used to be my favourite, for a few reasons: their boxes always arrived first each month, without issue; their shop and points/rewards system is by far the best and the best value; they have more specials than the others and more ways to get free shipping on orders; the first few boxes I received from them were better than the later ones. Their customer service also used to be better.

Now, however, their boxes are a bit hit and miss and not always the best value. Their customer service has gone terribly downhill; eg it takes ages to get a response from them and you have to call/post on Facebook to get them to answer your emails (many people have been encountering this issue lately, judging from their Facebook page).

I'm also still waiting on their June box and haven't received a tracking email yet, while most others have received their boxes already. Also, their sneak peek items aren't always included in the boxes you receive - as an example, in June they released three sneak peek items, and some people received two of these while others received none. I personally think that's ridiculous. Either everyone receives at least one, or everyone gets them all.

Their points/rewards system used to be the best in terms of completing surveys and being rewarded for doing this, but they're now having issues with their system and I've had to chase up missing points for the last few months.

I would now put Bellabox at the bottom of the list, but only based on the last couple of boxes and my recent customer service experience with them.

LHI - $19.95/month (discounted bulk subscriptions available)

These guys have improved a lot recently, likely due to many complaints about the timeliness of their boxes and also the quality of products received (they used to be the worst quality - it was like receiving a sample bag from Priceline. Nothing really exciting in there). In some months I received my box in the month following, as did many. Not cool.

The last few boxes have been a lot better however, and things seem to be running on better time (although I still haven't received my June box). Note that their packaging/presentation is the worst, and I don't like the plastic cosmetics bags they're sending out these days - so cheap. I'd rather no box or bag at all - that money could be spent instead on better products.

Their customer service is sometimes a bit slow; however I've also encountered a couple of particular staff who've been extra helpful and gone the extra mile.

A major positive - in the last few months, you've been able to choose one of the products you receive. Eg, a choice between a Teeez eyeliner or nailpolish, a choice in colour of a Mary Kay lip lacquer. This is a brilliant idea - all the boxes should do this I reckon.

Their website/shop - pretty comprehensive, although I don't find it as easy to use/nice to look at as Bellabox's. Their points/rewards system is ok. They offer the least amount of points for completing their monthly feedback surveys on the products you've received, and I reckon this should be looked at.

FAB boxes - these can be hit and miss. I've been lucky enough to pick the few I've wanted when I've already seen what's in them. The jewellery tends to feel cheap and sometimes looks cheap too; the beauty products are generally better quality. My major issue with the FAB box is that so many of them come with earrings, and lots of us don't have pierced ears.


Violet Box is definitely the best box overall. However, if you're new to beauty and want to spend less per month/don't have many products in your armoury yet, you may prefer to start with one of the others.

If I were new to beauty subscriptions, I'd probably start with the LHI women's box (you can get a good discount on your first box) and wait to see if Bellabox pulls its socks up. With any of the boxes, you can cancel your subscription at any time if you're not happy.

At the end of the day, the best thing about these boxes for me is definitely the surprise element. I get so excited about receiving them, it's ridiculous - not only when I actually receive them, but in the week leading up to their expected arrival. It's a simple reminder that spending as little as fifty cents a day can really make a difference to your mood. We should all spoil ourselves sometimes, even with things we don't really need - what's the purpose of life otherwise?

Are you subscribed to any of these and do you have a favourite?

You may also like

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Thanks for posting this, I found your comparison very interesting. I'm currently subscribed to Bellabox, Lust have it women's and FAB. though I'm seriously thinking of dropping FAB for Violet Box.
I've never though how much these boxes cost when calculated per a day, it makes me feel better about the spending that way ^-^.
Since you have been subscribed to these boxes for a while now I am curious whether you go month by month or annually.

littlewhitetruths. Powered by Blogger.